Tokyo Must Be Saved   Friday, July 22, 2011


VI.7.4.




My new book, Here and Now, finally got posted to Amazon's Kindle shelves. No explanation at this point for the three week delay, but I'm satisfied this time that at least it got done. (Now if they can just get the cover posted with the book, all will be well, or at least weller.) The book has been available at Barnes and Noble and at the IBookstore for a couple of weeks; not available yet at Sony's EBookstore, but that was expected. They're always last ones to the dance.

Other than that, nothing to talk about this week, so straight to this weeks line-up of poets.


Charles Harper Webb
Weeb Dreams He Is the Antichrist
Getting Laid
Weeb, Cowering in a Corner of the Sundance Inn
Weeb Dreams He's Thrown in Jail for Becoming Discouraged in Public
Dog Days in Hermann Park


Me
in the time of emergence

Siri von Reis
Over the Weekend, Rich Masters and His Wife,
Lawrence Singleton Lives in a Trailer,


Me
a big deal in Tivoli

Vandana Khanna
Train to Agra
Against Vallejo
Two Women


Me
party time

Dennis Scott
Beesong
Companysong


Me
4 a.m.

Campbell McGrath
Dawn
Early July
The Beach
Reading Walt Whitman at Dawn
Beauty


Me
about tattoos

Sidney Wade
Poetry and Pleasure
The Vulgate of Experience


Me
about the straight and narrow

Chiyo-ni
Fifteen Haiku

Me
scary Unitarians

Fady Joudah
Landscape
Scarecrow


Me
approximately excellent

From Alehouse - Poetry on Tap
CJ Sage
Donkey
Dietrich Rapalski
San Francisco
Truth Thomas
BET

Me
pu-leeze…

John Poch
Expecting
Thief


Me
early

C.P. Cavafy
In the Evening
To Sensual Pleasure
Gray


Me
summer morning, briefly

Robert Bonazzi
With Your Taste
He Flaunts Hunger”


Me
world-renown









I start this week with several poems by Charles Harper Webb, from his book of often very funny poems, A Weeb For All Seasons. The book, which tells stories about a persona Webb created and calls "Weeb," was published in 1992 by Applezaba Press.



Weeb Dreams He Is the Antichrist

To impress some girls, he walks
upside down on the underside
of Loon Lake's moon-lit surface,
like a fly on a mirror made
of night. His head is pulled

toward the weed-bottom.
Blood rushes to his brain.
His skull swells like a balloon.
Trout flash toward him -
tapered obsidian blades.


Getting Laid

You had to have a gimmick -
hot car, stud haircut, brother in San Quentin,
Hobie surfboard, varsity sweater, electric guitar.
Lacking that, you had to have a line.
He'd made a list.
"Sit on my lap: we'll talk about whatever pops up."
"Lie down. Let's get something straight between us."
He'd seen Lennie Mongonia, Ben Todd,, Ray Salazar
toss out such golden zingers, ahd haul in giggling
girls like Linda Cole, who made Jayne Mansfield
look like an acromegalic shoe-shine boy.

Once with knock-kneed Susie Zimmermann
he got as far as "Would you possibly consider
sitting on my..." Then he broke and ran,
flinging "science notes..." over his shoulder,
from which steam was rising. He spent weeks
in front of his mirror, practicing "Hey babe,
the surf and I are up, so let's get down."
He'd written that himself, striving
for a balance between class and cool -
Weeb, who drove his mother's Simca,
and had to ask directions to the beach.

Things did not progress.
The between-class ballet of poked-out chests
and soulful sgtares - the cool guy's Swan Lake -
was for him Afternoon of a Spatz. Junior year
he wormed a locker next to the Candy Meyers.
That gave him two semesters to accomplish
what the whole track team had managed in an hour.

The first day of the second week of classes,
he attacked a la Mongonia, set to run
his hand from beehived hair, to neck,
to shoulder, down into bursting brassiere.
He'd just stammered "Hi, uh, how're they hangin'?"
when her platinum wig came came off in his hand.
She smiled and caromed her locker door
off his twitching nose.
The halls ran red.

Wherever girls were snickering, he was there.

He was 16 years and 7 months advanced,
resigned to cherries on his grave,
when Jeanie Armstrong, a mousey sophomore
he barely knew, asked him to a church picnic,
where, in the weeds outside a barn
as fiddles squealed and callers brayed
and chaperones beamed on the nice young couples,
she for no known reason saved his life.


Weeb, Cowering in a Corner of the Sundance Inn

They're real! This place is full
of six-foot-three-and-over cowboys,
Stetson hats, beer-guts shading hand-
tooled belts. The world still holds
tough-as-rawhide, Wild Western barbarians
who can take plenty, and dish out more,
who do down swinging, come up shooting,
who've never read a book or missed one,
who've outlived longhorns and the Chisholm Trail
and are still alive and kicking
the holy shit out of piss-ants like me.

Please, God, I hate being a Post-
Existentialist. I'm really sorry I scoffed at you.
Those crucifixion jokes were dumb.
I'll never mention Mary's Mons again
if you'll just zap all my belongings to Montana,
make me grow another foot -
No jokes, God, please - and loan me
money for some Tony Lama boots.

Let me laugh loud and drive a pickup.
Let a 12-gauge and a 30.06 hang proud in the window.
Le me punch cattle on open range,
track cougars, battle blizzards,
smoke my Malboros where I can breathe
clean air. And let me never fail
to come here Friday nights,
get plastered, deck some city boys,
band the big-boobed waitress in the women's can,
then stagger out to sleep it off
under Big Sky sequined with stars that never change.


Weeb Dreams He's Thrown in Jail for Becoming Discouraged in Public

I sit on a straw-stuffed bunk
and think "Jail's not so bad."
My social-worker girlfriend
has exaggerated. Through a crack
in the door, I see the sheriff's
office. He strides in
swinging an iron key on a ring.

The phrase "Toying with my freedom"
jumps to mind; but I forgive him.
He's so tall, so clean-cut,
so well-built, with such honest
eyes, he's sure to set everything
right. Except he leaves
and in stumbles his deputy -

a wizened brown man with a twisted
leg, who trips over his cane,
and curses with a hick accent.
I laugh. This beats Gunsmoke.
Then all at once the brown man
is leering through my bars.
"Looky out that winda, bo'ah."

I hear fierce hammering
and sawing, note the gallows
spouted like a magic beanstalk
outside my cell window.
"At's fer folks'et makes funa
m'laig." He spits tobacco
in my face and limps away

while drenched in sweat
I struggle to remember
if its ACLU or UCLA
that I need, and what
the number is, and how,
in 1881, I'll ever reach
a telephone by dawn.


One more.


Dog Days in Hermann Park

A jogger in red shorts strokes
a bikinied girl's Afghan.
Two giggly nymphets stop to pat
a bleached-blonde surfer's Lab.

A satin-suited Brother walks
spike-collared Dobermans;
a miniskirted blonde prostrates
her soul to Black Dog Power.

Gay blades discuss their poodles
and the latest poop on AIDS.
A setter sniffs a dachshund's butt;
their owners introduce themselves.

If it doesn't wag its tail and go
"Bow-Wow," no one will speak of it!
Weeb drops his mud-puppy in the lake,
and trudges home alone.








Most often in the poem-a-day biz, you finish your poem for the day with an "oh, well" that takes care of that for today. But once in a while you get a pay off - you finish your poem, not with the air of a necessary job done, but, instead, with the thought of how glad you are you set down to write a poem and how pleased you are with what you came up with.

The next poem is from one of those pay-days, when, poem done, I felt good about what I had accomplished beyond just relief that the work is finished. I think it's a good poem, one the best I've done i quite a while.



in the time of emergence

an old Navajo chant
speaks of the “time of emergence”
and I think
of the all-there-is emerging,
not a product
created by the hand of god,
but an creation
that emerges from the mind of
the all-mother/all-father,
creation not of a single event,
a job of work, completed
over the course of a week of seven god-days,
but a continuing process
of never-ending creation, a creation-flow,
an emergence of ever-deepening truth,
like the night emerges
and from the night a day emerges
and from the day a night;
like the sea
emerges from the deep, breaks
on shores far
from where it’s water-essence
began,
then returns to the deep that sent it,
and back again to the same or different shores,
far-traveled, enriched by its journey;
like rain on hay
left in the field over night,
the fire of creation
processing within , its
musty odor rising again
with the fallen rain to become a cloud,
drifting over continents,
over prairies and mountains and cities
and great forests, across the oceans
bringing the musty smell of wet hay
with new-falling rain
around the world and back again
to mowed field where it began;
like we begin,
in a moment of passion emerged
from one of us to another,
then the continued emergence
through a life of ins and outs, comes
and goes, contributing, as we come and go,
our own passions to the universe
we are part of again, flowing through our time
until our end in a moment of
death-ecstasy, souls singing
as we re-join the all -there-is
from whence we came

our part
of the great emergence
complete
until we, like the sea,
return again to new and different
shores,
enriched
by our time drifting
in the creator’s
emerging conscious








Next I have two poems by a poet new to me from a book I just bought last week.

The poet is Siri von Reis, and the book is The Love-Suicides At Sonezaki, published by Zoo Press in 2001.

von Reis, born in 1931,, is an American botanist, author and poet. She has worked as an investigator at the New York Botanical Garden.

She has, at least in the poems I chose a talent for deadpan delivery of the most shocking closing lines. I think the second piece below is maybe the most shocking poem I've ever read, revealing to me what appears to be system-insanity.



Over the Weekend, Rich Masters and His Wife,

of Lakewood, Colo., mowed their lawn and
wrote a note for the mailman, instructing him

to contact the sheriff's office through
a portable phone placed in their mail-box,

with fifty dollars for his trouble,
the message explaining as well how to enter

the house, where to find the two
of them and names of family members to call,

- all wills, driver's licenses and other
important papers having been put in easy

reach. It seems the middle-aged couple had
spread a quilt, a blanket and shower curtain over

a love-seat, so it would not be stained,
and, facing one another, each holding a gun,

pulled the triggers. According to Captain
Blackhurst of Jefferson Count, neighbors

said the pair had been married
for many years and were very close.


Lawrence Singleton Lives in a Trailer,

tending his yard in a remote corner of the San
Quentin compound. He keeps a nighttime curfew,

visits a psychologist weekly. "We hardly know
he's out there," says Parole Officer David

Langerman. "When he needs to shop, he lets us
know. Technically, we escort him, but anyone on

the streets has more to fear from the unknown
than from this little burned-out guy.

In three weeks, Mrt. Singleton will be given
early release for good behavior and will be under

no obligation to tell officials his whereabouts
nor to take any longer the medication that

would sicken him if he drank alcohol.
According to Langerman, Singleton is wholly

defused and says he doesn't even need the drug -
he doesn't lose that much control. "I never

live in the past," says Mr. Singleton.Afterten
years in prison, the once burly 60-year-old

still maintains he was mistaken for someone else.
Miss Mary Vincent says she still fears

the man who raped her and cut off her arms.








There you are, thinking it's never going to rain again, then, boom, a big old thunder-burster down-pouring creek-rusher.

Of course, that doesn't mean it's ever going to rain again.



a big deal in Tivoli

the wind blows,
the trees bustle and rustle,
waving, birds leaping
from the dancing limbs,
the sweet smell of rain coming
fills the air, the dogs run for cover
as thunder sounds
in the distance...

and that’s all,
just another looked-like-rain day
here in the drought belt

waiting for rain around here
is like waiting for a train
in Tivoli, Texas…

there ain’t no train
in Tivoli,
and hasn’t been for a hundred
years

but…

then
with a crash and a flash
and a roar
on the tin roofs
all over town

a train comes to Tivoli...

frogs
in their muddy baths
sing a hallelujah
chorus







Next, another poet new to me, Vandana Khanna, and another book just bought last week.

Khanna was born in New Delhi, but has lived most of her life in the United States. She attended the University of Virginia and received an M.F.A. from Indiana University, where she was recipient of the Yellen Fellowship in poetry.

The book, Train to Agra, was published in 2001 by Crab Orchard Review and Southern Illinois University Press.



Train to Agra

I want to teach you -
in that city where the snow

only shimmers silver
for a few hours. It has taken

seventeen years. This trip,
these characters patterned

in black ink, curves catching
on the page like hinges,

this weave of letters fraying
like the lines on my palm,

all broken paths. Outside,
no snow. Just the slow pull

of brown on the hills, umber
dulling to a bruise until the city

is just a memory of stained teeth,
the burn of white marble

to dusk,cows standing
on the edges like a dust

cloud gaining weight
after days of no rain. Asleep

in the hot berth,my parents
sway in a dance, the silence

broken by scrape of tin, hiss
of tea and underneath,

the constant clatter of wheels
beating steel tracks over and over:

to the city of white marble,
to the city of goats, tobacco

fields, city of dead hands,
a mantra of my grandmother's -

her teeth eaten away
by betel leaves - the story

of how Shah Jahan had cut off
all the worker's hands

after they built the Taj,so they
could never build again.I dreamt

of those hands for weeks before
the trip, weeks even before I

stepped off the plane, thousands
of useless dead flowers drying

to sienna, silent in their fall.
Every night, days before, I dreamt

those hands climbing over the iron
gate of my grandparents' house, over

grate and spikes, some caught
in the groove between its sharpened

teeth, others biting where
they pinched my skin.


Against Vallejo

I will die in Ireland on a cold day on the coast
when the sea burns against darkening rock
and the mist hangs low over hills. It will be
a Sunday because Sundays are days of rest
and worship and because I have worked
a lifetime only to have my spine ready to snap.

I've never seen Ireland, and my family
will not understand my longing for swift wind
smarting my skin, my fingernails turning
the blue of cornflowers. I will want to be burned
like a true HIndu, my soul set free of this jaded
body, this broken vase - so my skin can mist
and my bones crack, splinter like burning wood.

Vandana Khanna is dead. They will not understand
me far away from the heat and dust of Delhi, cloistered
in a damp room, my fingers stiff from writing.
This after years of thirst, years shivering under woolen
shawls brought back from Kashmir. They will not
understand you, feverish, whispering Spanish words
into my mouth because I love the way
vowels sound against your lips.

Or rather, I will die in Spain on a Sunday afternoon
when the stores have closed for the sun, men sitting
in the shade of a magnolia outside my window,
sipping from cold oranges, cut and soaked in sugar
water. I have never been to Spain but will want
that heat, reminding me of my home. I will die
from the inside out, a fever turning my veins gray,
thighs bruising easily like fruit.

And you will spread my body out like a cold sheet,
cover my hands with henna, thread my body with beads,
and no on will understand why but you, because I
have worked a lifetime, and today I am tired of metaphors,
of empty leaves that rain like ash.


Two Women

We squat in the cool grass gnawing
sugar cane. brackish water brushes

the soles of our feet - your hair smells
of cloves - skin the color of sandalwood.

We talk of our men lost
in wars, lost in other women,

and of the children we gained:
sons, grandsons, daughters.

The sahib's wife calls, the green shutters
are open, and Verdi drifts

in the air around us.
It is time to shake out

the dust-clogged rug,
clean the brandy glasses,

and feed the remains
to the waiting dogs.








Another report from yesterday's rain, probably the last ever.



party time

recent rain
turned the creek
sloshy,
waking mud-crusted frogs
from their dry summer sleep,
turning the creek
at 2 a.m.
into a cacophony of bull-deep mating calls
and feminine-froggy squeals of procreating pleasure

if the creek was a West Texas roadside
dance hall,
I’d say the joint was
jumpin’







Here I have two poems by Dennis Scott from the book Crossing Water, an anthology of contemporary English-speaking Caribbean poets. The book was published by The Greenfield Press in 1992.

Scott, who lived from 1939 to 1991, was born and educated in Jamaica. In addition to his poetry, he was a teacher, playwright, actor, director and critic. He was former head of the Jamaica School of Drama and the co-chairman of the Directing Department of Yale University's School of Drama.



Beesong

And after all these Aprils
if this day my door should open
to a green yard, one of those
safe and unending Saturdays
turned like a page
startling, to a child with a jam jar
maybe I'd see him hunting
the sharp and jubilant hives
of April; and if I watched him
shut them up warm and a-buzz
in the bee hum honey of that
jeweled place,would I
know his delight,would I
recognize his face?

The yellow morning glory rang
lunchtime, languidly: bread and butter
pears and slat
fish, and we lay around later
like stuffed toys, talking of the rain
that suddenly washed those trees, those rooms
to delicate forests, shining with April dooms...

Would I remember that doorway
then, would I
run to the window, peering through the pane
at the crystal prison, knowing
what I know, at the thunder of rain
on the tin lid of my heart, the stung
and restless lightning-fall
the golden flowers shaking against the wall?

I close my door against the returning glory;
all gone. The child myself is
a stranger, curled calm on a wooden floor
in a story.
      I hardly remember.
There is no way to
recapture that afternoon
to set the slow, sad insects free,
and it's too far
to wake him, thought he sleeps
his way toward me.


Companysong

And that woman
her shoes cracking and scuffed
because the children must eat
if they are not to become killers

that man singing - how fat he is!
the follow-spot strikes gold on his rings -
but hear what clear spirals of music his voice climbs

a priest, married, setting aside the simple robe of his
    calling
takes to his bed some woman
in whom, too,he understands god's particularity

as much as the soldier with his belly sliced open
mud in his mouth (but he knew always
some things are not to be negotiated, like freedom,
    like love)

: this the confederacy that I wish: those
who in some way keep the light
from going out. In them
is the small miracle, the tenderness of a desire
that has no reason, that stops us falling
weightless into the dark, that offers us
a difficult and joyful fire








Having trouble sleeping lately,waking up too early. Going outside to watch the night doesn't help me get back to sleep, but it does reliee the boredom of being awake at 4 a.m.



4 a.m.

fresh breezes
at 4 a.m.
play
on my bare body
stir the trees
branches and leaves
spider patches
against
moon-bright sky

an ambulance
crosses the creek
lights and sirens
breaking the fading
night

the neighbor’s dog
barks
me back to bed








I have several short poems now by from his book, Seven Notebooks, published in 2008 by HarperCollins.

McGrath, author of several poetry collections, teaches in the creative writing program at Florida International University in Miami. His awards include the Kingsley Tufts Prize and fellowships from the Guggenheim and MacArthur Foundations.



Dawn

5 a.m.: the frogs
ask what is it, what is it?
It is what it is.


Early July

Showering outside
by candle glow: too lazy
to change the lightbulb.


Jellyfish season -
climbing back into this world
alive and tingling.


Alone on the beach,
one kite and me, drinking beer.
Sunset, July 1st.


The Beach

Beach chairs in the surf
so the moms don't have to move -
long day at the beach.


Jackson says it's like
a mad symphony today,
the sound of the waves.


Beach chairs rotating
around shade umbrellas like
sundial shadows.


Warm water - the smell
of Florida! The Gulf Stream,
blown west,waves hello.


Seaweed: someone says
it's like swimming in salad -
long day at the beach.


Reading Walt Whitman at Dawn

Wakened by the sound
of feet on the porch I find
two sparrows, hopping!


What is the dune grass
trying to do - praise the sun
or go back to sleep?


Friendly grasshopper,
tell me the name of that bird
and I'll sing with you.


Beauty

Beauty of this world -
walked six miles along the beach,
counting syllables


Beauty of this world,
starlight on the salt meadow -
ah,the moon is full!


Beauty of the world
and the foghorn bemoaning
its mortality.








All principles are conditional, that's my opinion, anyway.

Granting an exception to my general rule: I'll each person one tattoo - as long as it says "MOM".



About Tattoos

the thing with me
about tattoos
is that I hate them

being then great appreciator
of skin
I am

(the more the better
is my philosophy)

I’ve never seen
a tat
looking better
than the skin
it covered

except
maybe for that really ugly guy
over in the corner

he
could do with some more
ink








Now I have two poems by Sidney Wade, from her book, Stroke, published by Persea Books in 2007.

Wade is the author of four books of poetry previous to this one and has published poems and translations from Turkish in numerous periodicals. She is Professor of English at the University of Florida.



Poetry and Pleasure

A vagabond chill
rose up the fire-ramp,
gave me a wink and
a red verb then flew
down the messageway.

Some ravishing words
emerged prettily
from the underwood
and spread themselves on
the black velvet ground.

L'instinct du bonbeur
admired their beauty
and was pleasantly
stunned to smell so much
trouble in the air.


The Vulgate of Experience

In this tatterdemalion sandwich of Life,
it pays to pay attention to the light,

not to the oligarchic spread of heavy principles,
or to four-week traditions.

There are multitudes caught in the glare
and just as many stuck in a radiant head-book.

The book says even though we might reflect
the bruised glory of all the suns

that ever shone down on the earth,
mostly everyone's dreaming in a savage room

or searching for the beloved in the desert.
I admit I, for one, am clouded by experience,

though I'm feeling my way into a weird pre-waking
from the old parabola of darkness.

Some nights I sleep in wild weather
where the names of God change furiously.

Sometimes I wander in the available light.
the wind is always a perilous distraction.

On rare, sweet days I hear a brown, nut-like sound.
Inside this sound you can hear the imagination fluttering.

Here joy whiskers through the main arteries.
Here is where, if you hold out your hands, they will be filled.








What better use of a Sunday morning than to imagine interesting things.



about the straight and narrow

there’s nothing wrong
with considering alternate possibilities -

doesn’t necessarily mean
dissatisfaction
with your current state of affairs -

(I say that to avoid
any marial tension that might
arise
over this little
exercise in creatively imagining
alternatives
to the present what is and the past what was
and the perfect future what will always be
I promise)

it's just a natural curiosity
about the life that might come
from stepping off the path

nothing radical,
not like buying a red convertible
sports car, or running off to Acapulco
with the blonde at the coffeeshop

just a little step this way,
a step or two that way,
and all the things that are
your life, might not be
anymore, might be something
entirely
or maybe slightly
or maybe not at all different

that’s a question
for the philosophers -
how much of what is was
always to be, how much different
can a life be from what it was set out to be
at it’s beginning,
how many of the decisions
we make from cradle to grave
were made for us before we ever
even groped for the first time
for mother’s nipple

but
such questions are for deeper thinkers
than this minor poet,
tickling, at best, little ideas
from smaller questions than
deep-thinking thinkers
will ever spend their thinking on

like I just want to know
about small results for minor forays
off the mostly boring straight and narrow
my life is,
with minimal attention,
lumbering along

like
what if I took to a bit of exercise
daily, would I become grossly healthy,
with low blood sugar and cholesterol,
and mean and lean
and tanned and lovely and able to eat
coconut cream pie whenever I felt like it;
or what if I completely shaved my head and
presented my body to skin artists
of the highest quality for their most
beautiful work, would I immediately attract
the carnal attentions of long-legged,
similarly tattooed motorcycle
mamas with large breasts and dainty
ears that listen to my every word,
attendant to my every perverted
desire, like (don't tell anyone) midnight
fantasies
of acrobatic sexual antics atop
the Germanly studly roof
of a 49 Volkswagen
Rabbit?

with just a little exercise
every day
would Nobel-Prize-winning-professors
from all the major centers of learning
throughout the world friend me
on Facebook and contact me regularly
for up-to-the-minute updates on how
the cow
ate the cabbage;
would I win the lottery, would my local bank
contact me, apologizing for all the mistakes made
in my checking account for the past 35 years
and agree to credit my account with the millions
upon millions of dollars mistakenly deducted
because of the checks I wrote for the purchase
of stupid things that broke upon expiration
of warranty or made me fat
and old?

I should get some money back
on that kind of stuff - you too,
I'm thinking...

but
to the point,
would any of that or
even anything remotely like that
happen if I were to take one tiny step
off the pathway of my life
and do something entirely different
slightly that didn’t require
any great effort
on my part?

if not,
just forget it








Next, I have some haiku by Chiyo-ni, from the book,Chiyo-ni - Woman Haiku Master. The book was published in 1998 by Tuttle Publishing, with notes and translation by Paticia Donegan and Yoshie Ishibashi.

This is the first book in English on a woman haiku poet. The poet, Chiyo-Ni, also known as Kaga no Chiyo, was born in 1703 and died in 1775. A student of two of Basho's disciples, she was a poet, painter and Buddhist nun who worked in a time when haiku was largely a male domain.



~~~

wrapped around
this world's flower -
hazy moon

~~~

when not making a sound
is it their separation -
cat's love?

~~~

the butterfly
is standing on tiptoes
at the ebb tide

~~~

squatting
the frog observes
the clouds

~~~

moonflowers!
when a woman's skin
is revealed

~~~

roughed lips
forgotten -
clear springwater

~~~

she also cups
the springwater
for her traveling brush

~~~

twilight
is left
in the maple leaves

~~~

sleeping alone
awakened
by the frosty night...

~~~

staring
at my snow-white reflection
in the water

~~~

becoming flowers
becoming water drops -
this morning's snow

~~~

just for now
I spread the morning's snow
over the dust

~~~

sad, so sad
to miss the plum flower
before it fell

~~~

anyway
leave it to the wind -
dry pampas grass

~~~

farewell
floating flower -
the red poppy

~~~








Here's a poem from my next book, currently in proof and edit, titled Always To the Light and scheduled for release before the end of the year.



scary Unitarians

I see them
just about every Saturday morning

a couple
both tall and thin,
he, bald,
she with short, very blond hair

two
weak chins
between them

they
look so straight...
so white...
so clean...
you know they have to be
serial-killer-wife-swappers,
torture chamber
in the cellar
and not a mattress tag untorn
anywhere in their house,
perfect portraits
of the people the neighbors always describe as
sooooo nice, such good neighbors,
who could have guessed they could have
...insert the atrocity of your choice here....

those kind of people,
bad seeds
no one suspects
until the bloody harvest comes…

several years
ago
I read for a group
of Unitarians -
a room-full of people who looked just like
these two,
nice folks, as it turned out,
they liked my poems,
which excuses
a lot








Next, I have two poems by Fady Jourdah. The poems are from his book, The Earth in the Attic, Yale University Press in 2008.

Joudah is Palestinian-American medical doctor and a field member of Doctors Without Borders.



Landscape

I am the distance from birds to Jerusalem
In a metaphor I like, just because
It follows the laws of calculus,
Much as how the chicken crossed the road:

Not why, but how -
A humility of science:
In the first instance,
There is a point, A, which is fixed,

And a point B,which is in flux,
And I am the distance
Between them. In the second,
Two objects collapsing in on each other

In an oblique time,
The car pushing perpendicularly,
The chicken running hysterically
Across the long way out,

Children cheering on both sides
Of the upright road. Which goes along
With a story about my mother
When she was a newborn: They

Ran back to the tent
And found her cooing,next
To a bomb that didn't explode. And so
They named her the amusing one.

I do not say the shelling
Scattered them, I do not say
What Daniel my friend told me, how
He fled across four borders,

And with each
A cerebral malaria that nearly killed him.
The ducks,however,
Get it right from the first time.

The goats, less so, run
Straight ahead of the car for a while.
Before they find their sidestep. The drivers
Slow down, or gun it, and grin.


Scarcrow

The rice filed birds are too clever for scarecrows,
They know what they love, milk in the grain.

When it happens,there will be not time to look for anyone.
Husband, children, nine brothers and sisters.

You will drop your sugarcane-stick beating of plastic bucket,
Stop shouting at birds and run.

They will load you in trucks and herd you for a hundred miles.
Old men will teach you trade with soldiers at checkpoints.

You will give them your spoon, blanket and beans,
They'll let you keep your life. And if you jump off the truck,

The army jeep trailing it will run you over.
Later, they will accuse you of giving up your land.

Later you will stand in distribution lines and won't receive enough to eat.
Your mother will weave you new underwear from flour sacks.

And they'll give you plastic tents, cooking pots,
Vaccine cards, white pills, and wool blankets.

And you will keep your cool.
Standing with ees shut tight like you've got soap in them,

Arms stretched wide like you're catching rain.








I haven't mentioned my first EBook,Pushing Clouds Against the Wind, in a while. So, in addition to mentioning it, here's a poem from it. The book is available at a price of $5.99 or less, at all the major EBook retailers.

The poem is about a piece of property we owned that was way more trouble than it was worth, especially when it came time to sell it.



Approximately excellent

today
was another day
at the money pit

laying down
kitchen tile this time

it is said
to be a very precise
business
this tile-laying thing

and i’m not
widely
known as a person
of frequent
precision

more
of an approximation
type guy
that’s
me

but i put that old tile
down
anyway
and now my knees hurt
and my...
well
without bothering to name
all the various parts
just say
everything
hips down
hurts

and it may be
true
even precisely
true
that an individual
of a perfectionist bent
who insists
on a true northerly
orientation
might find fault
with the trueness
of the line
of my
tile

but another person

say
another person
of a more approximistic
nature
willing to drift
his orientation
a degree or two
or even three
north northeasterly
could very well look
at how my tiles
line up

and find it quite
sufficient

in fact
that person
knowing that the lowest professional
bid for this work
was 965 dollars and 37 cents
precisely
would almost certainly
say
that the free work
done today
was in fact
quite
excellent

approximately








Next, I have three poets from the poetry journal, Alehouse - Poetry on Tap, published quarterly by the Alehouse Press of San Francisco. The poems are from a 2010 issue.



The first poet is CJ Sage. When not editing the National Poetry Review, Sage is a Realtor in Coastal California. Her most recent book of peoms is The Bank of Stay.


Donkey

Giver of ears
to kings and fools,
long-faced, desert-drifted

carrier of saints and baggage,
second-sighted field goer,
sermon-braying backtalker,

antagonist of failed prophets -
heel digger, sure-footed
self-preservationist, we trail you

to add a tail,
or trade you in for tall-tale magic.
We caricature you with droopy eyes;

we cartoonize our ennui onto you.
The truth: You'd rather freeze than fight,
rather figure than flee.

O wooly, cross-backed wanderer
we keep corralled; O dove-
gray guide and deliverer
of goods, you take our hay and keep us.


The next poem is by Dietrich Rapalski, an improvisational actor, poet and songwriter from San Francisco.


San Francisco

I suffered through
a long winter of no lovers
it was the middle of July
No one told the truth
everyone I loved was married
and I too sick to bear
the undulating breath
that love makes
I was certain of my own hand
undoing, all that preceded me
This, too, was not completely true
but true enough to suffer through
another bad season
I was too wasted to care
or so I thought.


And the final poet is Truth Thomas, a singer and poet from Washington D.C. who has published three poetry collections - Party of Black,
A Day of Presence
, and Bottle of Life.


BET

Watermelon glazed fried chicken
fills our screens.
Pimps on parade tattoo "Bitches"\
on sisters.
DJ Overseer & MC Whipping Post
play - Buckwheat
Hip Hop, zip-a-dee-doo-day
night & day
Bishop Money's undies - anointed
& for purchase.
Bootie Entertainment Television
of thee I sing.
Bootie Entertainment Network -
no ideas
but in bling.







We all tend to have certain expectations when we see a young attractive, seemingly intelligent woman. But then...



pu-leeze...

early
to mid-twenties
my guess,
blond,
dressed collegiate-
summer-break
casual

a teacher,
I gather, elementary,
seemingly accustomed
to competing vocally
with a classroom of kids
not yet taught
about when to use
their “inside” voice

or maybe
she just never had that class
herself
since
in this small
usually quiet
coffeeshop
her voice makes the rafters
waver
and the coffee in my cup
bubble
in sonic confusion

talking
loudly she is,
to a friend,
similarly situated
demographically

about
her love life,
so that
more than I ever wanted
to know
I know now
in clinically specific
detail

with 9
“likes”
in two sentences
and at least
a dozen
“you knows”
when it comes to the parts
where I’m sure I don’t want to
know
at
all

I ‘m
thinking,
honey, like
pu-leeze...








I have a couple of poems by John Poch, from his book Poems, published in 2004 by Orchises Press.

Poch was born in Erie, Pennsylvania, in 1966. He received an M.F.A. in Poetry from the University of Florida and a Ph.D. in English from the University of North Texas. He was the inaugural Colgate University Creative Writing Fellow, and now teaches in the creative writing program at Texas Tech University.



Expecting

The cattails nodding above the marsh in autumn breeze
fluff at the edges like buffalo fur. This is the ease
with which the prim girl says of the pregnant farmer's daughter,
She let herself go. This round of loneliness, this tatter
whitest on the hem of cotton light must be open
to gossip, pitying the truth inside it, hoping
the red-wing blackbird will make a cattail metronome
to a music of evening wind, knowing chickadees come
to line their winter nests with the down of failure's bed.
Think of the daughter standing in a doorway, her head
against the frame, her hair in tangles across her face,
fire light ini the strands' inadequate embrace.


Thief

Before the snow, I stand in a darkening field.
the milkweed of fall, like a city appalled at night,
take flight. The thinnest parachutists
leap past me, a bigger building being built,
no lights yet, so much undone, tee new nudist,
a gasoline pump in shadow: miles inside.

When sparrows starve in winter, coors
across the countryside are coaxed open
by their tiny, shinning, hematite-eyed prayers.
Bundled up, bread-handed, fortune shines back.
I look for cold because her breath could spin
a nail into blue yarn, so whit is the milk of it.

The season holds on like a possession.
Stained glass puddles around me like a shell
melted and thinking of the fall of a color
television, memory gone to snow.
The night sneaks down the hill with its oil coat,
Inside the lining, a blunt metal confession.








I wish I could quit waking up so early, but the early morning has produced some pretty good poems.



early

continuing
to wake up god-awful early
3 a.m. - 4 a.m.

sit
outside
listening to the city night

under
an anorexic
moon

looking
for stars
in a city-bright sky

pining
as always
for a night in West Texas

where
the dark is
dark

and the stars
spill
out of the sky

like
gems
from a jeweler’s velvet purse…

dark
on the desert where far coyotes sadly howl
and across the scrub and sand

quiet winds blow
whispers
from the mountains…

but not here
in the quasi-dark
and never-quiet

where
we make do,
living in the city

taking
what the city
offers, knowing

the desert
and the mountains
are there

waiting








Now I have three poems by Greek poet C.P.Cavafy, from the book Collected Poems. The book was published in an eleventh printing in 1992 by Princeton University Press. The book's poems were translated by Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard.

Cavafy, who was born in 1863 and died in 1933, lived in relative obscurity in Alexandria. No collection of his poems was published before his death, possibly because of his frank treatment of homosexual themes and his own homosexuality.



In the Evening

I wouldn't have lasted long anyway -
the experience of years makes that clear.
Even so, Fate did put an end to it a bit abruptly.
It was soon over, that wonderful life.
Yet how strong the scents were,
what a magnificent bed we lay in,
what pleasure we gave our bodies.

An echo from my days given to sensuality,
an echo from those days came back to me,
something of the fire of the young life we shared:
I picked up a letter again,
and I read it over and over till the light faded away.

Then, sad, I went out on the balcony,
went out to change my thoughts at least by seeing
something of this city I love,
a little movement in the street and the shops.


To Sensual Pleasure

My life's joy and incense: recollection of those hours
when I found and captured sensual pleasure as I wanted it.
My life's joy and incense: that I refused
all indulgence in routine love affairs.


Gray

While looking at a half-gray opal
I remembered two lovely gray eyes -
it must be twenty years ago I saw them

..................................................................

We were lovers for a month.
Then he went away to work, I think in Smyrna,
and we never met again.

Those gray eyes will have lost their beauty - it he's still alive;
that lovely face will have spoiled.

Memory, keep them the way they were.
And, memory, whatever of that love you can bring back,
whatever you can, bring back tonight.








Nights this summer (so far) have been usually mild and pleasant. But that ends quickly when the sun begins to show itself.



summer morning, briefly

sun
bright

shadows
stark

day
fresh again

for the
steaming

leaves
curl

from
yesterday’s

blisters
doves crowd

the deepest shadows
squirrels

flick their tails
and fuss

at the weather
complaining

like the rest of us
and doing no more

than the rest of us
about it








Last from my library this week, I have two poems by Robert Bonazzi, from his book Maestro of Solitude, published by Wings Press in 2007.

Born in New York City in 1942, Bonazzi has also lived in San Francisco, Mexico City, Florida, and several Texas cities. From 1966 to 2000, he edited and published over one hundred titles under his Latitudes Press imprint.



With Your Taste

With your taste in music
you should not be allowed
to blow your little horn in public

I live in close quarters with selfish
cats bent on comfort although
they do not smoke or read
my figments of solitaire

Being a voyeur of one's life
our cosmic joke of perception
without seeing one's own folly
in the reactions of others

Death cannot be an event in life
for only dying eventful and
we miss most of that
on a fading screen


He Flaunts Hunger

He flaunts hunger by skipping a meal -

One less dead animal, he figures,
but he will not stop at that.

When he eats two meals a day he feels guilty;
a single meal today yet the smell lingers.

Hungry, he talks to himself, wondering
if starving children stop talking entirely.

Tomorrow he will flaunt his vaunted hunger
by cutting out tasty snakes he sneaks.

One less cellophane plant, he muses, although
its wrapping will take a million years to disappear.

But do things every actually disappear?








Closing this week at what I hope is a fun poem about an artist's ego.



goddamn critics everywhere

she has watched me for several days
now

as I sit at my table
and type

finally
she speaks

“I’ve been watching you,”
she said,

“and I’ve been wondering
what you do.”

“I’m a writer,”
I said.

“oh,”
she said,

“what kind of writer,”
she asked.

“a poet,”
I said.

“Oh,” she said,
“what’s your name?”

I told her
and she asked,

“Are you a good
poet?”

“I’m okay,”
I said.

“I was wondering,”
she said,

“cause
I never heard of you.”

“I never said
I was a world-famous poet,”

I said.
“Well, that’s true,”

she said,
“and I guess you’re not.”

“not what?”
I asked.

“World-renown,”
she said,

as she turned her attention
to whatever trivial, unimportant,

non-world-renown thing
she was doing

before
and I was thinking

if one of the two of us
ever turns out to be world-

renown, it’s sure as hell
going to be me

(with my three published books,
purchased by literally

dozens of readers
who are neither family

nor friend)
before anyone knows

her name from either Adam or Eve,
and satisfied that I have

put her
in her place

I return to back my computer
to continue my daily chase for

truth
and beauty and

by-god
show her

how this world-renown thing
works






That's it for another hot and dry July week. As all of us here look hopefully to the east, where a tropical storm approaches the coast with a promise of rain for us by Saturday, I remind you that all material presented her remains the property of its creators. You're welcome to borrow anything of mine, as long as you properly credit "Here and Now" and me.

I'm allen itz, owner and producer of this blog, waiting eagerly for the wet.

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