Flotsam & Jetsam   Thursday, March 17, 2011


VI.3.4.




No featured poet this week, just me and my library poets, again. Almost all my poems this week are old, from 2008 and 2009. That's because my poems back then weren't nearly as crappy and the ones I'm writing today and I believe if one can do less crappy one ought to do less crappy.

Photos this week are the same as last week, plus a couple, revised with some of the tools on Photobucket.


As self-untaught in art as I am in poetry and most everything else, I spend a lot of time saying dumb-ass things, usually talking more to myself than to anyone else, trying to convince myself of something that is probably obvious to everyone else.

But I know what I’m trying to do, even if I can’t always find the right way to describe it.

For example, one of the things I’ve been trying to do with my photos is to come up with abstract images that still retain a representational shadow within the imagery. I think that might not make any sense to anyone but me, but that’s the gist of it.

Not there yet, but working on it.

The thing I did this time, and will continue to do in the future that I have not done before, is keep track to the steps I've taken so that if they produce something I like I can do it again. Duh! What a revolutionary idea.

As sorry as I am to break away from the deeply engaging discussion above, here are the poets for this week.


Joyce Carol Oates
Marsyas Flayed by Apollo
Winslow Homer's "The Gulf Stream"
The Consolation of Animals
How Delicately


Me
loose coins rolling across the floor at midnight

Kabir
Two untitled pieces, re-imagined by Robert Bly

Me
no papers

Yusef Komunyakaa
Boat People
Thanks


Me/Theodore Kaczinski
Machineries of Joy and Desperation - A Found Poem

Daniel Nathan Terry
Still Life (Vanitas)

Me
have a nice day

Jack Myers
Away

Me
but then…

Langston Hughes
Snail
Stars
Dream Dust
Color


Me
the way is so very hard

Catherine Tufariello
Pentimento
Plot Summary


Me
that’s all there is to it

Tim Seibles
Like This

Me
if I believed

Carol Connolly
Immaculate Corridor
In a Word


Me
the first day of the rest of my life
think of this as an instructional video for the times


Alice Walker
African Images

Me
walking is so pedestrian









I start this week with several poems by Joyce Carol Oates, from her collection The Time Traveler. The book was published in 1989 by E.P. Dutton.



Marsyas Flayed by Apollo

In this late great oil by Titan, the satyr
Marsyas is being flayed alive, handing upside
down from a tree. What technique is required
We have to guess, skinning a fellow-crature alive;
what surgical precision, patience, craftsmanly
pride - the usual secrets
of someone's trade.

Does it require practice, or can it
be done properly the first time?


Winslow Homer's The Gulf Stream, 1902

If there is a God of the Gulf it is a God
    of water, not waves but water,
all the globe turned water-pocked, ris-
    ing and falling tireless, for-
ever. Here is our story.

The Bahamas, the aftermath of a storm.
    On the deck of a small heaving fish-
ing sloop lies a Negro, superbly muscled,
    doomed, bucking the waves
of the Gulf Stream which are china-

blue, notched like the fins, tails,
    and teeth of white sharks
following in his wake, The sloop's mast
    has broken off. The waves
are tinged with blood.

The sharks appear to be cavorting
    like porpoises,but we know
that if there is a God of the Gulf
    it is a God of crazed beauty
and appetite, a gut with teeth,

a painted form you might say like
    any other. Art's great terrible
truth composed in brush strokes out of
    so many small lies.
To the right of the canvas, in the back-

ground, there is a funnel of water rising
    dreamily out of the sea to no purpose.
And though on the horizon a ship has appeared -
    ghostly, four masted, story-
book - itg cannot save the doomed man,

it is irrelevant to his story.With what
    composure he stares off the canvas,
indifferent to his fate! As if, long
    ago he memorized all the forms.
of the Gulf, now it is time to forget.


The Consolation of Animals

It's their not knowing how they must die.
The emptiness of their beautiful eyes.
The heat and damp and pulse of their breaths,
the way joy seizes them like a miniature death -
and no shame in it.


How Delicately...

How delicately the fish's
    backbone is being
lifted out of its
    cooked flesh -
the sinewy spine, near-

translucent bones
    gently detached from
the pink flesh -
    how delicately, with
what love, there can be no hurt.






Here's another of those poems I wrote in 2008 that I kind of like, even though it's kind of obsolete in terms of subject matter. There are still larger themes to it though that aren't so obsolete, the fine pleasures of revenge, for example.



loose coins rolling across the floor at midnight

i do
dumbass
things sometimes
trying
to get back
where
there is no getting
back to

a part of my mind
refuses
to accept this
no matter
how many times
and how many ways
i try to explain it


****


i watched
a dance troupe
rehearsing
tonight,
a very sensual
performance

how
warily
unaware
of their bodies
these young women
seem


****


every
so often
i get a chance
to exercise the skills
essential to my everyday life
for many years, now long past,

and,
like stretching
after too long in a too-soft chair
it just
feels
so damn good


****


how,
i mean how in
the world
could anyone with more than half a brain
vote
for that Arizona fossil
and his Alaska pony girl
running-mate.

i mean
the choice
this time
is a no-brainer

but
people i know
who are quite intelligent
and knowledgeable of the world
are going to do just that

what is it that moves them
that causes them to ignore the irrationality
of the action
they intend to take

in a race
between the tired and discredited past
and a promising future
why
would anyone bet on the past

i am
flummoxed


****


it sometimes
occurs
to me, usually way
late, like tonight,
that i really did
make a fool of myself
today

and i think,
boy,
i won't do that again

knowing for
certain
i
will


*****


one
of the
sonsabitches
i hold responsible
for the pool of anger
still simmering in a corner
of my gut, a rage i expect to
carry with me to my grave, pled
guilty today to a misdemeanor count
of political corruption with a a $10,000 fine
and i feed on his humiliation but it is not enough
for it should have been a felony and someone else
will pay the fine just as someone else has always paid
the price of his corruption, as did i and so many more I know


****


revenge
so so sweet
revenge
even
when incomplete

now
i will sleep







Next, I have two short pieces by the mystic poet Kabir, as re-imagined by Robert Bly.

The book is Kabir - Ecstatic Poems, published in 2004 by Beacon Press.

The poems are not titled.



~~~


I know the sound of the ecstatic flute,
    but I don't know whose flute it is.

A lamp burns and has neither wick nor oil.

A lily pad blossoms and is not attached to the bottom!

When one flower opens, ordinarily dozens open.

The moon bird's head is filled with nothing but
    thoughts of the moon,
and when the next rain will come is all the rain
    bird thinks of.

Who is it we spend our entire life loving?


~~~


The buds are shouting:
"The Gardener is coming!
Today he picks the flowers,
tomorrow us!"







This is another poem from 2008, about a homeless woman I used to see every morning outside a coffeehouse I used to go to.



no papers

the autumn
lady
street person
was
dancing
in the parking lot
this morning

dressed
in her normal
browns
& reds
& golds

slow-moving
arms
and hips
and shoulders
and head to a kind of
calypso beat

not in a world
of her own
as you might think
but
in the music

she
stops when i drive up
walks to the rail
and pretends to look down
at the river

i've said hello
to her several times
early in the morning,
like now,
but she never responds,
because she is black
and i am white
because she is woman
and i am man
because she is homeless
and i am homed
because she is the queen
of this street
of this parking lot above the river
of the water
as it flows in her river
and of this and every morning

and
i
am just a trespasser
a passer-through
a migrant
with no
papers

meaning
no
good morning
hellos
are required
or to be acknowledged







Now I have two poems from the anthology Unaccustomed Mercy, published by the Texas Tech University Press in 1989. The book is a collection of poems by veterans of the VietNam war.



The two poems I've selected are by Yusef Komunyakaa. Born in 1947 in Bogalusa, Louisiana, Komunyakaa served in the U.S. Army from 1968-1971, including service in VietNam from 1969-1970. An Information Specialist while in the army, he has a Bachelors degree from the University of Colorado, a Master's degree from Colorado State University, and an M.F.A. from the University of California at Irvine. Recipient of numerous awards and honors, he has published five books of poetry and has appeared in many journals. At the time of publication, he taught in the writing program at Indiana University.



Boat People

After midnight they load up.
A hundred shadows move about blindly.
Something closer than sleep
hides low voices drifting
toward a red horizon. Tonight's
black string , the moon's pull -
this boat's headed somewhere.
Lucky to have gotten past
searchlights low-crawling the sea,
like a woman shaking water
from her long dark hair.

Twelve times in three days
they've been lucky,
clinging to each other in gray mist.
Now Thai fishermen gaze out across
the sea as it changes color,
hands shading their eyes
the way sailors do,
minds on robbery & rape.
Sunlight burns blood-orange.

Storm warnings crackle on a radio.
The Thai fishermen turn away.
Not enough water for the trip.
The boat people cling to each other,
faces like yellow sea grapes,
wounded by doubt & salt.

Dark hangs over the water.
Sea sick, the daydream Jade Mountain
a whole world away,half-drunk
on what they hunger to become.


Thanks

Thanks for the tree
between me & a sniper's bullet.
I don't know what made the grass
sway seconds before the Viet Cong
raised his soundless rifle.
Some voice always followed,
telling me which foot
to put down first.
Thanks for deflecting the ricochet
against that anarchy of dusk.
I was back in San Francisco
wrapped up in a woman's wild colors,
causing some dark bird's love call
to be shattered by daylight
when my hands reached up
& pulled a branch away
from my face. Thanks
for the vague white flower
that pointed to the gleaming metal
reflecting how it is to be broken
like mist over the grass,
so we played some deadly
game for blind gods.
What made me spot the monarch
writhing on a single thread
tied to a farmer's gate,
holding the day together
like an unfingered guitar string
is beyond me. Maybe the hills
grew weary & leaned a little in the heat.
Again, thanks for the dud
hand grenade tossed at my feet
outside Chu Lai. I'm still
falling through its silence.
I don't know why the intrepid
sun touched the bayonet,
but I know that something
among those lost trees
& moved only when I moved.







Here's another piece from 2008. Maybe I ought to just us all old poems this week; call it the "golden oldie" issue.

This is kind of scary poem (not really mine and not really a poem, included here under the "found poem" rubric), for what it says and for who wrote the original from which is drawn, but mostly, considering the source, for making so much sense.



Machineries of Joy and Desperation - a found poem


but
we are suggesting
neither
that the human
race
would voluntarily
turn power over
to the machines
nor
that the machines
would
willfully
seize power

what
we do suggest is
that the human
race
might easily
permit
itself to drift into
a position of such
dependence
on the machines
that it would have
no
practical choice but to
accept
all of the machines'
decisions....

eventually
a stage may be reached
at which the decisions
necessary
to keep the system running
will be so complex that
human being will be
incapable
of making them
intelligently.

at
that stage
the machines will be in effective
control

people
won’t be able to just turn
the machines
off
because
they will be so
dependent
on them that turning them
off
would amount to
suicide

Theodore Kaczinski, AKA The Unibomber, from his journals







Next I have a poem by Daniel Nathan Terry, from his first book, Capturing the Dead. The book was the 2007 winner of the National Federation of State Poetry Societies Stevens Poetry Manuscript Competition and was published by that organization. It is a book of war poems, the war in this case being the Civil War.

Presently pursuing an MFA in creative writing at the University of North Carolina at Wilmngton, Terry is a former landscaper and horticulturist. Although this is his first book, his work has appeared in several journals.

I'm only using one poem from the book this week, but I'll be back to the book in future weeks. It has some very moving poems, particularly to those who may have walked Civil War battlefields.



Still Life (Vanitas)
Unburied Dead of the Wilderness


I can see nothing
as it is without grieving
for what was - forest

floor tangled with twigs,
branches which trembled
green and desperate for light

now like amputated limbs.
Lead-poisoned, shot-pocked
trunks that pulsed resin

and rain. And these white
congeries of bones were men -
stripped femurs,

shattered knees,
spineless vertebrae,
nests of ribs

that held hearts,
speechless mandibles,
bowls of skulls emptied

of dreams. I gather
and arrange them
as if there is no distinction

between oak and father,
river birch and husband,
ash and son.







Now,for another 2008 piece.



have a nice day


nice
is such a cotton-candy word
and who in the world
would
want a
cotton-candy day

especially
like in the summer

just thinking about it
makes me want to
take a shower

and now i have someone
who when parting
says
“have a blessed day”

that’s
just too much pressure for me

why not
just

have a good day

i like that best of all
because there are so many
ways to have a good day

a day of north winds
blowing leaves
in a forest

a day of lying
in a soft meadow
under a baby-blanket-blue
sky

a day
when a new friend is found

a day
when a lost love
returns

a day
when your child takes
his first steps
toward your arms


a day when a good fight
is won

all these are good days

and who wouldn’t
want
one








Here's a poem by Jack Myers, a poet I've not used before. The poem is from his book, One on One, published in 1999 by Autumn House Press.

At the time of publication, Myers, was director of the creative writing program at Southern Methodist University and a faculty member of Vermont College's low residency program. His earlier book, As Long As You're Happy, won the 1985 National Poetry Series open competition.



Away

The boy's been punished again
and pushed to his room.
He sits there all ears,
listening to his disappearance
so hard he can feel
the bacterial silence
colonize the waiting,
the the waiting grew huge,
blot out like a suicidal impulse
that makes the waiting last
as long as he lives.

Mother's flying around the kitchen
downstairs like a Chagall dark angel,
thunderous pots over a tiny atoll.
Father is a ship sailing by,
a metal smile wincing on the horizon.

The boy swallows it all,
especially the pure blue distance
that teaches each new moment it is
obsolete, then erases the last.

He erases the past and runs away
again and again until at last
like those wagon wheels
in Western movies
that spin so fast
they change directions
without stopping,
his leaving feels like
an arrival.

It's amazing how something trivial
turns out to be the story of your life,
like how I held up
different colored Jujubes
to the light of a spectacular
Technicolor emptiness
and loved chewing on their guts,
how something so much itself,
that intrigued and nonplused him,
changed everything into itself.








2008 was a pretty good year, I'm thinking.



but then…


finding myself
turning into something
of a cave creature
i decide
today
is the day i will go out
explore
look for some photo
opportunities
stretch my legs
with a little walk in the brush
visit a farm
moo to a cow
cluck to a chicken
grab a pitchfork
and pitch some hey
why not
pretend it's midnight
and howl at the moon
or
maybe just
open my mind to the
sunshine
smile at the wind
and smell some grass

but
then
it’s awful nice
here
air conditioner blowing
cool
cool music
lots of room
friendly young ladies
to refill
my coffee mug
and a good poem's bound to show up
if i just sit here long enough

but
then
we passed
some really nice
picture spots last weekend
when it was way too dark to stop
and we were both too hungry to stop
and a clean bathroom was still 15 miles away
i should go back there and take those pictures today

but
then...







Next, I have four short poems by Langston Hughes. The poem are from the collection, The Dream Keeper and other poems, published by Alfred A. Knopf in 1994. The book first appeared in 1932, when Hughes was 30 years old. He died in Harlem in 1967.

It is Hughes' only book written specifically for younger readers.



Snail

Little snail,
Dreaming you go,
Weather and rose
Is all you know.

Weather and rose
Is all you see,
Drinking
The dewdrop's
Mystery.


Stars

O, sweep of stars over Harlem streets,
O, little breath of oblivion that is night.
   A city building
    a mother's song,
   A city dreaming
    a lullaby.
Reach up your hand, dark boy, and take a star.
Out of the little breath of oblivion
    is night.
   Take just
   One star


Dream Dust

Gather out of star-dust
   Earth-dust
   Cloud-dust
   Storm-dust
And splinters of hail,
One handful of dream-dust
   Not for sale.


Color

Wear it
Like a banner
For the proud -
Not like a shroud.
Wear it
Like a song
Soaring high -
Not moan or cry.







Another from 2008, written while someone was trying to shame me because of my eating habits. As an occasional striver for the Tao, I was not entirely unmoved.



the way is very hard



the way is hard
so very
very
hard

but pork chops
are tasty
and prime rib
a savory dream
come
true

beer
battered
bayou catfish
float my
pirogue

and
with a golden fried
drumstick
as my scepter
i could
rule
the world

but
it’s so hard
to eat
those you’ve come to
love

reason
enough
to shop at the super
market
and not at the farm







Here are two poems by Catherine Tufariello. She has taught literature and writing courses at Cornell, The College of Charleston and the University of Miami.

The poems are from her book Keeping My Name, published by Texas Tech University Press in 2004.



Pentimento

Our house still harbors memories of you
In haunting pentimento - like the faint
Unfocussed images that flicker through
From a distant channel, or surface in the paint
Of a landscape grown translucent with the years.
A lake develops depths, from which a drowned
Nude body glimmers, or a dim face peers
Between two trees, half-hidden in the ground.
Fugitive shadow, fed on my regret,
Made strong by my refusal to forgive,
You inhabit the house in silvery negative.
How long before my body will forget
your scent and touch, recorded in pores?
How many times it held and harbored yours.


Plot Summary

This story is full of surprises after all,
That seemed in prospect so unpromising
I nearly closed the book. The lovers fall
In love on schedule, to be sure; and spring
Follows their winter of mutual despair
and reunites them, as we knew it would.
Put thus, the plot's familiar: nothing new there,
In the grand scheme. Look closer, now. Who would
have guessed old Ivan had it in him to fall in love -
Really in love - in the first place? Or that Anna
So childlike and conventional, would prove
So brave? Canaan follows exile - but that manna
Would feed the wanderers? Oh, who would guess
Such bread would blossom in this wilderness?







How we miss the simple life of the good old days of 2008.



that’s all there is to it


Frank's
Fresh
Fried Fish

on a little spit
of sand
sticking out
into
Oso Bay

fish
anyway
you like it
as long as you like it
fried

and the beer
of your choice
as long as you choose
Lone Star or
Tecate

big
windows
on either side
suck gulf breezes
across scarred wood tables

in the kitchen
the sound of grease bubbling
at the tables
fried fish on paper plates
rings

of beer bottle dew
hot sauce
ketchup
plastic forks
and jalapenos

lots
of talk
mostly loud
mostly
profane

a place
to eat fried fish,
Frank says,
and that’s all
there is to it







Here's a poem from Hurdy-Gurdy, a collection of poems by Tim Seibles. The book was published by the Cleveland State University Poetry Center in 1992.

Seibles was born in Philadelphia in 1955 and grew up there. He attended Southern Methodist University in Dallas where he taught high school English for ten years. He earned an MFA from Vermont College at Norwich University in 1990, the same year he received a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. In 1991, he was awarded a writing fellowship form the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center.

Since this first book was published, his poems have been published in many literary journals and anthologies as well as four additional collection of his work.

He is a professor of English and creative writing at Old Dominion University, as well as teaching in the Stonecoast MFA Program in Creative Writing and teaching workshops for Cave Canem. He lives in Virginia.


Like This

All afternoon someone watches
the shadow off a branch
climb the legs of a chair,
and from someplace behind her
you can hear the scratchy whine
of a radio not quite tuned - but climb
is not the word; the shadow
moves like something poured, spilling
up rather than down
the wooden legs, and
though she is not
thinking exactly this
the woman knows that climb is not
the word - she is not
climbing out of this mood;
in fact, she is falling
to the mood just above it,
just as she falling
to the mood just above it,
just as she fell
awake this morning -
the alarm tripping her up
into the world, the sudden
click like a catapult, and now
from this altitude her bed
is a blurry speck, hard
even to remember: blue sheets?
striped? Her whole apartment
a tiny rectangular box
somewhere down there
where she crossed and
uncrossed her legs, and
the woman thinks that if she
really were high up
like a jet, like someone standing
no-hands on the wing, she
would not be so
involved in the inch
by inch of shadow taking over
a chair, she would be
climbing hand over fist
through the air, using her thick
nappy hair as a rudder, thinking why
haven't I
always lived like this,

while all the radios in America
whimpered someplace
behind her - the simulcast news
of her defection
spilling up and filling her
blouse the way a swimmer's hand
silvers with ocean, her
strong arms turning
the beige silhouette of shore
to smoke
as she weaves the water
into a second skin, a shadow
she can leave there like something spilled
across the floor, something like
that one there,
that one - behind you, climbing.







This is an older poem than the ones before, a whole month older. It was written in September 2008; all the others were from October.

As a non-believer, religion and faith are a mystery to me, but still something worth thinking and writing about.



if I believed


if i
believed
in Jesus Christ
as my lord
and savior
i'd try not to be
an asshole about it
as so many are
and i wouldn't be
one of those
staid and dour
churchgoing
stiff-upper-lip-
pew-potatoes
that populate
all those grand
churches
with robed priests
and high-rise
steeples

none
of that corporate
salvation
for me

i'd be
a holy-rolling
hell
on wheels
singing
dancing
look-at-me-lord
fool
every minute
of every hour
of every day
of the year
and not
give a shit
what
people thought
of me

i mean
for Christ’s sake
pious
is ok
but
resurrection
and eternal life
that'd be
something to jump
and shout about







The next two poem is by Carol Connolly. The poem is from her book, Payments Due, Onstage Offstage, published in 1995 by Midwest Villages & Voices.

Connolly, who began writing poetry at the age of forty, was born, raised and educated in the Irish Catholic section of Saint Paul. In addition to being mother of seven children, she has worked as a columnist, a TV commentator, an amateur actor, cochair of the Minnesota Women's Caucus, chair of the Saint Paul Human Rights Commission, chair of the affirmative action committee of the Minnesota Racing Commission, playwright, and, of course, poet.



Immaculate Corridor

In the locked ward,
from behind a door shut tight,
halting Chopin falls carefully
to the floor,
one perfect chord
ahead of chaos.
Notice: "Music Room
Locked
Midnight to 8:00 A.M."
Scant strength at sunrise
for a sleepless player
without a note
to call his own.
A burn like that
affects your whole system.



In a Word

A woman I met
briefly,
and only
by chance,
said
"I like your
boyfriend,
but you are
smarter
than he is."
It had never
occurred to me.
I thought
it over.
He is taller,
stronger,
prettier,
younger
and she's right.
I am
smarter.
This news
changes
everything.







The next two poems are new, written last week. Neither are as good as the ones from earlier, but I though I ought to include something new.

The second one I decided to think of as a public service announcement, thereby giving me some excuse for writing it. I have no such excuse for the first one. But it is kind of funny, I think.



the first day of the rest of my life

the first day
of the rest of my life…

no, wait,

that was yester
day…

this is the second day
of the rest of my life, not much

to report
so

far -
far away

more interesting events
unfold

in the land of Blinkin’
and Nod

sailin’
their little shoe-ship

across the sea,
Winkin’

left behind,
it being the fourteenth

day
of the rest of his life

and it being his wish
to celebrate

the occasion
with his girlfriend

Trippin’
and it occurring to him

in his new
fourteen-day maturity

that spending another day
in a wooden-shoe ship

was not what he went
to college for

especially
considerin’ his degree

eminently qualifyin’ him
for lifetime appointment to a cushy job

in the Bureau
of Making Stuff Better,

Shoe-Ship Inspection
Division -

it’s about power,
he’s thinkin’, remembering

the time Blinkin’ and Nod
pushed him off their shoe-ship

in waters a-swarm
with puddin’ pops and sour milk sharks,

and
revenge, too, he’s thinkin’,

being honest
and congratulatin’ himself on it,

being honest,
I mean,

about his motivations
something rarely done in the families

of
Winkin’

Blinkin’
& Nod,

a real rebel was he,
first Winkin’

to abandon his shoe-ship,
for which he will not be rewarded

at the next Winkin’
family reunion, sometime about

the nine hundred and eighty-fifth
day of the rest of his life


think of this as an instructional video for the times

because
of my 30 years experience
in the business

and the continuing
very tight
job market

I have been asked
by several people recently
for advice on how to look for a job…

I give people all the regular stuff,
resume building, networking, contact
development and recording, etc.

but I start with more basic advice,
reminding them
that for most employers

hiring someone is an emotional
experience,
emotional elements thus are very important…

for example,
most employers look for,
more than anything else, a person

they feel assured
will show up for work every day, on-time,
and not screw things up when they get there -

if you can convince
the employer you’re that person
you’re halfway to hired…

but then there’s the most important
second half of the challenge,
based on the emotional fact

that most employers want to hire someone
they think they’ll like,
someone they wouldn’t mind working around all day,

this is especially important when talking
to the owner
of the enterprise you want to work for,

since business owners
usually see every dollar they pay their employees
as coming directly from their own grocery and vacation budget…

so the most important thing
for every job seeker is to try very hard
not to appear an asshole

because
no matter your qualifications or experience,
no one wants to spend a whole day with at work with an asshole

and you will not get the job

~~~

there is an important exception
to the rules above...

because human resource people
don’t care
about those things,

and they especially don’t care
if you are an asshole
since they figure they’ll never see you again

after the day they hire you…

so, if you’re being interviewed by the
human resource department
of a large company

don’t worry as much
about keeping your asshole tendencies
under wraps…

but, and this is very important -
while human resource people don’t care about how many assholes
they hire, they are very concerned

about people
they think might be troublemakers,
because they know

they’ll be dealing with troublemakers
over and over,
with negative impact on their two-hour lunches

and afternoon golf with Herb from marketing…

so,
if applying through the human resources department
of a large company

try very hard
not to appear to be
a troublemaker…

human resource people, after all,
do enjoy the leisure
they think they're entitled to

and would be in some work other than
human resources if they didn’t, something like city building code
enforcement or congress...

they will not look kindly on job applicants
who appear likely to make them
work for their paycheck

~~~

that’s my advice,
I hope you were paying
attention -

if you weren’t
I suggest there might be a really excellent job for you
in a human resource department in your city








Seems Alice Walker gets featured two weeks in a row, last week from one book and this week from another. The collection this week is from her collection, Once, published in 1986 by The Women's Press of Great Britain.

This week I'm using a sequence of short poems, a much longer sequence, in fact, then I had intended.

Reading these little poems, I'm reminded of two poets I love, Li Po and Blaise Cendrars.



African Images

Glimpses from a Tiger's Back


i
Beads around
my neck
Mt. Kenya away
over pineappled hills
Kikuyuland.


ii
A book of poems
Mt. Jenya's
Bluish peaks
"Wangari!"
My new name.


iii
A green copse
And hovering
Quivering
Near our bus
A shy gazelle


iv
morning mists
On the road
an Elephant He knows
his rights.


v
A strange noise!
"Perhaps and elephant
is eating our roof"
In the morning
much blue.


vi
A tall warrior
and at his feet
only
Elephant bones.


vii
Elephant legs
In a store
To hold
Umbrellas.


viii
A young man
Puts a question
In his language
I invariably
End up
Married.


ix
The clear NIle
a fat crocodile
Scratches his belly
And yawns.


x
The rain forest
Red orchids - glorious!
And near one's eyes
The spinning cobra.


xi
A small boat
A placid lake
Suddenly at one's hand
Two ears -
Hippopotamus


xii
An ocean of grass
A sea of sunshine
And near my hand
Water buffalo


xiii
See! Through the trees!
A leopard in
the branches -
No, only a giraffe
Munching his dinner.


xiv
Fast rapiids
Far below
Begins
The lazy Nile.


xv
A silent lake
bone strewn banks
Luminous
In the sun


xvi
Uganda mountains
Black soil
White snow
And in the valley
Zebras


xvii
African mornings
Are not for sleeping
In the early noon
The servant comes
To wake me.


xviii
Very American
I want to eat
The native food -
But a whole goat!


xix
Holding three fingers
The African child
Looked at me
The sky was very
Blue.


xx
In the dance
I see a girl
Go limp
"It is a tactic"
I think.


xxi
"America!?" "Yes."
"But you are like
my aunt's cousin
who married so-and-so."
"Yes, (I say), I know."


xxii
On my knees
The earringed lady
Thinks I'm praying
She drops her sisal
and runs.


xxiii
"You are a Negro?"
        Yes"
"But that is a kind
of food - isn't' it -
the white man used to
eat you???"
        "Well -"


xxiv
Unusual things amuse us
A little African girl
Sees my white friend
And runs
She thinks he wants her
For his dinner.


xxv
The fresh corpse
Ofa white rhinoceros
His horn gone
Some Indian woman
Will be approached
Tonight


xxvi
The man in the
Scarlet shirt
Wanted to talk
but had no words -
I had words
but no Scarlet Shirt.


xxvii
floating shakily down the
nile
on my rented raft
I try to be a native
queen
a prudent giraffe
on the bank
turns up
        his nose.


xxviii
We eat Metoke
with three fingers -
other things
get two fingers
and one of those
a thumb


xxix
That you loved me
I felt sure
Twice you asked
me gently
if I liked the
strange
gray
stew.


xxx
Pinching both my legs
the old man kneels
before me on the
ground
his head white
Ah! Africa's mountain
peaks
Snow to grace
eternal spring!


xxxi
to build a hut
One needs mud
and sisal
And friendly
Neighbors


xxxii
Where the glacier was
A lake
Where the lake is
Sunshine
And redheaded
Marabou storks.


xxxiii
On a grumpy day
An African child
Chants "good morning"
- I have never seen
Such a bright day!


xxxiv
The Nairobi streets
At midnight
Deserted
The hot dog an
Folds up his cart.


xxxv
In Nairobi
I pestered an
Indian boy to
Sell me a
Hat
For five shillings -
How bright
His eyes were!


xxxvi
In a kunzu
lOng and white
Stands my African
Dad
The sound of drums
Fill
The air!


xxxvii
On my brother's motorcycle
The Indian mosques
And shops fade behind us
My hair takes flight
He laughs
He has not seen such hair
Before.


xxxviii
An African girl
Gives me a pineapple
Her country's national
Flower
How proudly she
Blinks the eye
Put out
By a sharp pineapple
Frond.
I wonder if I should
Kneel
At her bare little
Feet?


xxxix
At first night
I sat alone
& watched the
         set
behind
      the
abeerdares
    During
      the day
        my legs
and the sun
    belonged
      to
    the village
      children.


xl
Under the moon
luminous
huts...
Brown breasts stuck
out to taunt
the sullen wind


xli
A crumbling
hut...
in the third room
a red chenille
bedspread
(by Cannon)
a cracked
jar
of violet
      lilies
      (by)


xlii
The native women
thought me
strange
until they
saw me follow you
to your hut.


xliii
In Kampala
the young king
goes often
to Church
the young girls here
are so pious.


xliv
settled behind
tall banana trees
the little hut
is overcovered by
their leaves
patiently it waits
for autumn
which never comes...


xlv
in my journal
I thought I could
capture
everything...
Listen!
the soft wings of cranes
sifting the salt sea
air.







One more poem from me to end the week. This one, written in 2008, a true story of an event that happened about 1972.



walking is so pedestrian


it was about
40 years ago,
the night
i picked up
the King of Denmark
at a gas station
in San Marcos
Texas

i was coming from
Austin,
heading
for Corpus Christi
by way of
San Antonio

I stopped in San Marcos
for gas and while pumping
noticed this guy
looking at me, like
he was trying to decide
whether he wanted
to talk to me
or not

i topped
off my tank
went inside to pay
the bill
and it was only
when i came out again
to go to my car
that he stopped
me and ask
where i was going

he said
he was going to
El Paso
and was looking
for a ride

i never was one
to pick up a hitchhiker,
having had some
experiences
as a hitcher myself
that made me wary,
but he was a decent
looking guy
clean clothes
seemed sober
didn’t smell
and was polite
so i thought what
the hell
and told him
to get in

we were only
about a mile
and a half down
the road
when he started
telling me
his story

he was the
legitimate
King
of Denmark,
snatched at birth
from his castle
in Copenhagen
and brought
to the United States
where he was sold
to a dairy farmer
in Kansas
who worked him
from sun up
to sun down,
dark to dark,
he said, almost
from the time
he could walk

he ran away
when he was twelve,
he said,
and had been looking
for a way to get back
to Denmark
ever since

he was getting
tired,
he said,
and was losing
hope
that he’d
ever get home
again,
but that wasn’t
the worse part

the worst part
was he was in constant
danger
since the pretender
to the throne
had his assassins
looking for him
since the day
he snuck off
from the farm
and if they found
him
he was a dead man
for sure

it’s really puts me
under a lot of pressure,
he said,
sometimes
i don’t know how much
longer
i can take it

by the time
he reached this point
in his story
we were on the outskirts
of San Antonio
(a much smaller city
than it is today)
so i told him
i was heading
south
while he wanted
to go north
and i needed to drop
him off

he said he wanted
to go downtown
to the bus station
and i said
well,
i’m not going that
way
but i can drop you
here
(the corner of
Austin Highway
and Broadway)

it’s a ways
i told him,
but from here
you can walk
straight on downtown
to the bus station
where you can catch
a bus to El Paso

walk,
he said,
i can't do that,
walking is so
pedestrian -
no way
for a king to make
a royal entrance
into a city like this -

i’ll just catch a
city bus...

do you have a
quarter
for the fare?









That's it, again. But before I end it all, a reminder that I have a new Ebook, Pushing Clouds Against the Wind, available on the Kindle, the Nook, the Sony Reader and the Ipad. Prices vary, but nowhere over $6.00. Amazon also has copies of my first book, Seven Beats a Second, a paperback,for about $15.00. Just key my name and whatever I have will come up. I mention that, because I have another Ebook, Goes Around, Comes Around, that should be available in a couple of months.

All the stuff in this blog remains the property of its creators. I just borrowed it and have to give it back.

You can borrow any of my stuff, as long as you give it back by properly crediting me and "Here and Now."

I'm allen itz, owner and producer of this blog, remaining confident, despite all evidence, that I will one day write another good poem.

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