In the Third Quarter of the Last Days of Summer   Friday, August 19, 2011


Photo by Thane Zander
VI.8.4.




I have two specials for you this week.

First, I've brought my friend Anonymous back with Part III or his Message in a Bottle.

Also, spread throughout the post, are photos by my poet, now photographer, friend Thane Zander.

Thane is 52 and currently lives in Palmerston, North New Zealand where he works as a Peer Support person in the Mental Health field. Before that, he served for 27 years in the Navy, and then spent 7 years dedicated to writing poetry and short stories, including two years at University as a creative writing student. A couple of years ago he bought a digital camera and has been investigating the creative opportunities in the art of photography since.

Thane has two daughters, Amy and Ashleigh, of whom he is exceedingly proud.

Here's this week's crew.


Lorna Dee Cervantes
Note to David
First Station


Me
the dumb days of August

Aleda Shirlie
Blue Over Orange

Me
I do not want to write tonight

From Exchanges - Spring 1997
Zehra Cirak
Grandmother’s Nods
Hennrik Nordbrand
Pragmatic

Me
Old Mcdonald

From Pierced by a Ray of Sun
Natalia Robbins
Birth Elegy VI
Dona Luongo Stein
Visiting Day, Worcester County House of Correction
James Masao Mitsui
Destination: Tule Lake Relocation Center, May 20, 1942
Anonymous (from the Tewa language)
The Mountain Far Away

Me
Chinaski

Wendell Berry
The Fear of Darkness
The Plan


Me
Sol Brother

Anonymous
Message in a Bottle, Part III

Me
rear guard

Dave Rushlander
Wasted
Journal Entry 12


Me
wanting to drive the big bus

From The Faber Book of 20th-century German Poems
Volker Sielaff
Sleepless
Matthias Goritz
For Volodya in Moscow
Jan Wagner
Frogs
Hauke Huckstadt
No One Home

Me
the fish who seeks his sea

From Women of the Red Plain
Li Xiaoyu
The Silk Dream
Lin Zi
Yes, I Admit
Yang Liuhong
The Butterfly Specimen

Me
case closed

Rienzi Crusz
Let Us Now
When Tarzan Shook Hands with God


Me
there is a field

Devreaux Baker
Bear Berry, Mullen, Red Willow Bark
Changing Woman


Me
a community; a house






Photo by Thane Zander




I begin this week with something by Lorna Dee Cervantes, from her book Drive: The First Quartet, published in 2006 by Wings Press.

Cervantes is a fifth generation Californian of Mexican and Native American (Chumash)heritage from San Jose. She currently is an associate professor at the University of Colorado.

The book includes five distinct collections produced during the period 1980 through 2005. The collection I've drown from is titled "Letters to David: An Elegiac Mass in the Form of a Train." The collection begins with a journal entry followed by several poems. I use this week, the journal entry and the first poem.



Note to David

From Journal Entry - April 25, 1984

     Today, goddamned David Kennedy drank himself to death. After holding up in a Palm Beach hotel suite he was found
on the floor of his room between two king-sized waterbeds.
     Two beds! It rang through my ears like a mantra. Two beds. $250 a day he paid for that room & most of the time he stayed in the downstairs bar. Cops couldn't find evidence of any hard drugs, only the vodkas and grapefruit juice the bellhops said he drank steadily from 8 in the morning until 12 at night every day.     I picked the paper off the kitchen table which is mostly littered with my books from the night before: Prescott's Conquest of Mexico & Conquest of Peru, The Fall by Albert Camus, an aesthetics and anthology, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Dog, by the Welsh poet, Dylan Thomas, A Handbook of Style, The MLA Guidelines for submitting papers, Nathaniel West's Day of the Locust, Marcuse's One Dimensional Man. I start reading the accompanying articles about the trials & tribulations of life as a Kennedy as I pick up my, by now, lukewarm coffee and head back to the room, over-stepping the fish-hooked shards of glass from a broken lightbulb.     "When he was 12 years old, young David stayed up in his hotel room late at night and watched his father on television. A family friend found him seated in front of the set switching the channels to the different news broadcasts to watch the tape play over and over. The friend recalled that thee was no tears, only a look of stunned horror."
     "The day before, on a family outing, the senator had saved David's life when the boy was being swept away in an undertow."     I remember the day Robert Kennedy was assassinated. I remember it better than when the President was shot. I felt it more. I was in the seventh grade, and that was the first year I was every truly aware of politics or the wars of the world. That was the day the next door the next door neighbor poisoned my pet cat to keep it off her lawn. I remember the sweet smell, like bitter almonds some say,but to me it smelled like she was vomiting rock candy. When I found her I could tell by the way she looked at me that it was too late to save her. I didn't even bother to call anyone. Just held her stiff, retching body & I remember I didn't cry. I felt solid, smooth,like ice but dry, warm. I remember the sun that June morning. It burned the hairs on my arms & I remember how strange the heat felt, like needles of radiation entering in through the pores in my skin. It was numbing me. I held her on the ground. She was too convulsive to hold in my arms and I tried to tell her that. The ants around us were swarming as if excited by the smell of her cooling flesh. I stopped watching her die and smashed ants. Sick. they were so many frantic kamikazis. I wondered if it was a sin. So much minute life snuffed out could leave a blotch on my soul like murder.
     I put the paper down and go to the desk by the window. Under it is a cardboard box where I keep a lot of old stuff. In case there's ever a fire, I plan to heave it out & then jump out after it. I don't even have to look for the diary. I know exactly where it is. I reach in between the notebooks and pull it out. I turn the leaves to the page as I lie back in my bed. June 2, 1968. Today, Robert Kennedy was shot! Kitty died.
     That was the day I learned the word: apocalyptic.


First Station

June 5, 1968

I remember
it was a very
hard day
there were
buds
the size
of plums
on the
sugar tree
daddy
was a word
wandering
in the night
your daddy
talked
nationwide
the chosen
prince
you were on
the doorstep
of his shoes
between two
worlds
in that LA
motel
you were in
your pajamas
he was on
the floor
I remember
the sun
was very hot
you were in
a worldwide
disneyland
your dad
the TV mascot
through the race
wars I spent
my life
ducking
the bullets
from
duck
bombs
came
through the
worn hole
of my elegant
dreaming
only crackpots
dream
in color
only the insane
order flowers
the color
of living
blood you
ordered
your life
ended
ripped
from the script
that day
the red
anemone
burst
your eyes
glued
to the set
your eyes
still holding
that vast
expression
rapt as
St. Francis
Receiving the
Stigmata
that morning
they found you
stuck between
two beds
in your Brazilian
Court suite
you hung
a painted flower
over your head
your last
request
still for art
they call you
and artist
they call you
the other
victim
in an endless
film loop
the willful
repeater
in your dreams
you heard
the shot
over and over
again
saw
the bloom
swell
saw it drop
I duck
in the dream
American satellites
killers
every one
falling
indiscriminately
from the sky
armed junk heaps
US stars and stripes
forever
painted
on the side
like a piece
of Jasper's
Rauchenerg's
falling
the way
the sky looked
dripping
not rainbows
but anemones
beautiful
watercolors
I remember
white phosphorous
burning through
the debris
of five months
before your
superman
pulled you
from the tow
the life was
saved
but the knife
left a hole
the size
of a needle
mark
on your skin
and the red
blower
bloomed
on my pants
brown
as the blood
of a father
gone
fifteen years
dead
the flower
you said
was very sexy
you were seduced
she was very
sorry
for your father
as the plum
was ready
to split
she turned on
the set
duck!
I said
duck!
but the
television
showed it all
cowboys and
gangsters
young girls
stalked
young boys
getting ripped
from the horse






Photo by Thane Zander




From the sublime to....this.



the dumb days of August

it’s not just
that I didn’t want
to write a poem this morning, but
that I didn’t want to get up at all

and now that I have
I think it was a
mistake

it’s the heat -
the entire month of August,
bringing on the state of sweaty-dumbinicity ,
the dumbs of August
as the heat leaches all the vitals
from my physical essences, ambition,
curiosity, hope, charity and,
especially,
brains

most especially brains

it’s why the blonde babes
of bikini beaches
to the north, south, east and west
are generally
so vapor-brained, the vacuum enfeebled space
between their eyes demonstrating
the known and scientifically tested and valid,
as documented in Popular Science,
fact
that blondliness
is a certain sign
of overexposure to brain-shrinking
heat

I was a little bit blond
in my youth, but I’ve overcome
the effects through liberal application
of rubic cubish mind-games
and New York Times crossword puzzles
and careful parsing of the deepest logical constructs
of certain right-
winged
flavors-of-the-month
so proclaimed by the Elders
of the Protocols of the
We-Got-Ours-So-Fuck-the-Rest-of-You
Society,
also known as the
"Let's Put Morals back in Morality Coalition
For the American Way"...

but i digress

the point is
i have worked hard
at intellectually stimulating activities
that enhanced my brain power
and reduced my heat-induced blond inhibition
on thoughtful thinking
and was, consequently,looking forward to being
more and more
brainly
as my hair buried the blond past
in a grey thicket and my cranium
became
more and more
a Caesar salad bowl of insight
and ideas of the highest smartness,
all my mental marbles intact
and clicking...

but I worry about this heat
and what it’s doing to my so carefully preserved
forms of
cogitationalism,
as evidenced by my difficulty for the past couple of days
to master the complications
of getting out of bed and putting my shoes on,
shoes, I must add,
that don’t even have laces to master

then,
when I finally got up this morning,
looking in my bathroom mirror I’m positive
I saw wisps of blond over my left
and right ears

which might mean
that this is my last poem
until the weather cools down
and my brain, reverting to a winterly mode,
returns to a state somewhat
less
blondly unambitious





Photo by Thane Zander




The next poem is by Mississippi poet, Aleda Shirley. The poem is from her book Dark Familiar, published by Sarabande Books of Louisville, Kentucky, in 2006.

Shirley is the author of two books, the first of which the first, Chinese Architecture, won the Poetry Society of America's Norma Farber First Book Award in 1986.



Blue Over Orange

October's first cold day & when I get in the car
my breath forms a brief chrysanthemum
on the inside of the windshield & I'm aware

suddenly, of all the yellow leaking form the world,
the lost green veins of the leaves. On my list
of errands the last stop is the video store where

the movies I watched in college are not classified
as Cult Favorites or Classics & the beautiful boy
who works the counter rolls his eyes when I take out

the Truffaut for the dozenth time. Not again, he says.
He's nice to everyone, but he sees me, if he sees me at all,
as an adult woman in a dark coat, with an expensive bag.

We touch only when we exchange money. The lobby
of a narrow French apartment, an allee of poplars;
those are scenes from a movie, not my life. I'm unlikely

to rent the movies that excite him: Japanese animation,
a documentary on mountain climbing, seventies concert films
from before he was born. Hours later, at home

with my glass of bourbon, he's with me still, & I think,
out of nowhere I tell myself, about how when I was thirteen
& we lived overseas I saw middle-aged NCOs

with beer guts & sunburned scalps walking the streets
of San Angeles City, holding the hands of girls
not much older than I was, girls paid to be adoring,

who covered their mouths when they giggled
& wore strange yellow nylons the color of no human skin.
When we'd walk down those streets, my friends & I,

our raffia bags stuffed with devalued pesos,
Filipino boys would sit on their haunches & make
wet clucking noises at us. Back then I imagined the misery

of the teenaged prostitutes, though not in any detail,
& the men's daughters stateside, reading
Tiger Beat in their rooms, trying on Yardley lipstick.

Later I thought about the wives, left behind
at Lackland or Minot or Clovis, the scent
of coffee,Salems, Emeraude, & something that may

or may not have been history pushing them to the sides
of their own lives; now I think of the men -
how little of life turns out to ba a choice, after all,

& the way those choices we do make
can transform beauty into pathos or desire
into commerce. We are, all of us, almost alike.





Photo by Thane Zander




Nothing makes one fell less like writing than trying to follow a writer who is so much better than anything you're going to come up with.



I do not want to write tonight

I do not want
to write

tonight
I read a new poet
and it was like flying
inside a skyrocket
crashing into the sky
exploding over an ocean
a thousand sparkles multiplied
in briny reflection
above
and below
and all around
and I am struck
dumb by the green fire
above
and below
and all around
and do not want
to write
tonight





Photo by Thane Zander




Here are two poems from the Spring 1997 issue of Exchanges.



The first poem is by Zehra Cirak.

Born in Istanbul, Cirak was moved to Germany as an infant in 1963. She has lived in Berlin since 1982, publishing in numerous anthologies and has won stipends to continue her work.

Her poem was translated from German by Elizabeth Oehlkers


Grandmother's Nods

Is it true?
Can it be that in those years leived long ago
she had lips
that pressed like a hot iron
on Grandfather's mouth
till he glowed with her love?

Today Grandmother's face is lipless
since Grandfather's beatification
she's drawn them within like her soft words
the folded slit
which once so flattened Grandfather
rarely opens now

Today Grandmother will be 99
and to all our begging and bothering
to tell stories from long ago
she nods without a word
sometimes shakes her head
looks through us and smiles
as if she sees Grandfather
she blinks and still knows despite the distance
his sore lips


The second poem is by Hennrik Nordbrandt, a Danish poet with more than 20 published collections of poetry. This poem is from a collection of elegies he wrote after the sudden death of his girl friend.

The poem was translated from Danish by Thom Satterlee.


Pragmatic

The things that were here before you died
and the things that have come after:

To the former belong, first of all,
your clothes,the jewelry and the photographs
and the name of the woman you were named after
and who also died young...
But also a couple receipts, the arrangement
of a certain corner of the living room,
the shirt you ironed for me
and which I keep carefully
under my pile of shirts,
certain pieces of music, and the mangy
dog that still stands around
smiling stupidly, as though you were here.

To the latter belong my new fountain pen,
a well-known perfume
on the skin of a woman I hardly even know
and the new light bulbs I put in the bedroom lamp
by whose light I read about you
in every book I read.

The former remind me that you were,
the latter that you no longer are.

It is the near indistinguishableness
I find hardest to bear.





Photo by Thane Zander




A lesson from one of the old-timers.


Old McDonald

the poet must be more the poet
of his stories or plots than of his verses,
inasmuch as he is a poet by virtue
of the imitative element in his work,
and it is actions he imitates.
.....Aristotle's Poetics



Old McDonald
had a farm,
e-i
e-i
o
and on this farm
there were
oink oinks
quack quacks
cluck clucks
moo moos
etc etc
that did nothing
but oink
and moo
and quack
and etc
and that amused
children
and that’s a pretty
good thing
but it’s not art
it’s just a little
nursery
rhyme
but then
one
day
the animals
quit their mooing
and quacking and
cluck clucking
and whatever
and took action,
tied Old McDonald
up in the barn
and took
over
and McDonald’s
farm
became
Animal Farm
and there was art
as defined by Mr.
You-Bet-
It’s-Greek-To-Me
Aristotle





Photo by Thane Zander




Next, I have four poems from Pierced by a Ray of Sun, a small anthology compiled by noted librarian Ruth Gordon. The book was published in 1995 by HarperCollins.



The first short poem is by Natalie Robbins. The only biographical information about contributors in the book is their birth year (in this case 1938)and I was unable to fine a "Natalie Robbins" via google that I could be sure was this poet.


Birth Elegy VI

I've learned something:
nothing is fair, but
you can't change the rules.


The next poet is Dona Luongo Stein, born in 1935.


Visiting Day, Worcester County House of Correction

I am a good girl, I have come directly
from my Ancient Greek Class for a visit;
I have brought the shoes you wrote for; although

I am afraid of the high spiked fence,
towers around the walled yard, and the beefy
guards staring at my spring dress blown against

my thighs, I walk from the yard filled with
daffodils, hyacinths, and sculptured bushes
into the prison. I imagine your

brown eyes filled with patience as you wait while
one door is unlocked then locked behind you:
they bring you to me. You are not in a striped

uniform but wear a gray work suit. You
are as neat as you always were at home;
hair trimmed, face absolutely clean-shaven,

and nails their neat half-moons. I look at
everything but your eyes while you talk.
You have become a tape recording: you

ask where my mother goes, and when, then call
her a whore. Quickly I hand over
the shiny black shoes; I cannot look at
your eyes, they are not yours, Father.


The third piece is my James Masao Mitsui, born in 1940.

I think I might have used the poem before, from another book, but it is so powerful to be such a minimalist thing, I am pleased to use it again.


Destination: Tule Lake Relocation Center, May 20, 1942

She had raised the window
higher

than her head; then
paused

to lift wire spectacles,
wiping

sight back with a wrinkled
hand-

kerchief. She wanted to watch
the old

place until the train's passing
erased

the tarpaper walls and tin roof;
she had

been able to carry away
so little.

The finger of her left
hand

worried two strings
attached

to a baggage tag
flapping

from her
lapel.


The last poem from the anthology was translated from the Tewa by Herbert J. Spinden. It's author is unknown.

Tewa is spoken by Pueblo people, mostly in the Rio Grande Valley in New Mexico, north of Santa Fe. From the the 1980 census thirty years ago, only 1,298 speakers, almost all bilingual in English. Each pueblo or reservation where it is spoken has a dialect of its own.


The Mountain Far Away

My home over there, my home over there,
My home over there, now I remember it!
And when I see a mountain far away,
Why,then I weep. alas! What can I do?
What can I do? Alas! What can I do?
My home over there, now I remember it.





Photo by Thane Zander




Maybe another lesson here...



Chinaski

if you live
to a reasonably
decent age,
you’ll look back
and discover that
99.5 to 99.9 percent
of your span was boring
as cold dishwater

so what is one
to write
about

consider
Bukowski
who turned his life
into books and poems
that never mention the name
Bukowski

Instead
we’re left to wonder
about
Hank Chinaski





Photo by Thane Zander




Here I have two poems by Wendell Berry, from his book Collected Poems, 1957-1982, published by North Point Press.



The Fear of Darkness

The tall marigolds darken.
The baby cries
for better reasons than it knows.
The young wife walks
and walks among the shadows
meshed in the rooms.
And he sits in the doorway,
looking toward the woods,
long after the stars come out.
He feels the slow
sky turn toward him, and wait.
His birthright
is a third-hand Chevrolet,
bought for too much. "I
floorboard the son of a bitch,
and let her go."


The Plan

My old friend, the owner
of a new boat, stops by
to ask me to fish with him,

and I say I will - both of us
knowing that we may never
get around to it, it may be

years before we're both
idle again on the same day.
But we make a plan, anyhow,

in honor of friendship
and the fine spring weather
and the new boat

and our sudden thought
of the water shining
under the morning fog.





Photo by Thane Zander




We live in age of amazing stuff, just about every day.



Sol brother

I read a story once
that imagined
stars
were sentient creatures,
unimaginably remote
from all others like themselves,
great lonely beings
who, through loneliness
and the weight of billions
of years of life,
grew wise as any god
ever imagined

I remember this story as,
just minutes ago,
I heard on the news
of the discovery of something
called “plasma dust,”
inorganic matter that
creates
little DNA-like links
that define it, that replicates
itself, that grows, and that, in all
other ways, demonstrates
something that looks like
a kind of inorganic life
flourishing in the blazing
furnace
of
stars like our own,
a kind of life
unimagined
by anyone but, maybe,
a science fiction writer
forty years ago





Photo by Thane Zander




Here's the third and final part of Anonymous' Message in a Bottle.



III. All the king’s horses and all the king’s men



















Armed & Ready


I’m still moving. The city is where my head might be or on the outskirts of town mingling with the unwanted and used up. My breath made it back a minute ago, my thoughts, nowhere to be found. Go back to sleep, baby. I’ll be alright after a good night’s sleep. Promise to leave the light on. And I’ll promise to come home. You know everything vanishes, everything dissolves at the right temperature. Yet, you ask for nothing. Nothing but my hand on your heart
and a story, fragile and green.



















Diorama


It is quiet except for the steady hum of the refrigerator. All the shades are drawn. TV, radio turned off. The CD player is loaded. Final decision has not been made so three are queued and ready: Boxer, The National; Blonde on Blonde, Dylan; The Forgotten Arm, Aimee Mann. The dining room table is bare. One flower, in a narrow crystal vase, sits in the center. Purple Orchid. There’s nothing left to do. Go ahead. Turn the page.




















Night before haiku


We are color and light:
a bird on a sill
flash of pale blue




















Note on the Refrigerator


Dearest,

The sound of a bird, of thunder, of wind, of music; that is what we live for


I can no longer recall the different shades the sky
turns when it is filled with birds, empty except for
one or two renegade clouds. I don't want to be

buried. Want no part of this earth that has abandoned
me. I can no longer tell the difference between a call
of a tanager and the low rumble of thunder. I have

become both deaf and blind, unable to put syllables
together to make words; unable to arrange words
into meaning beyond hopelessness, despair, loss.

My only wish is silence. To forget; every thought,
every quiet glance and touch. Then hold my breath
and wait until stillness becomes enough.


Yours always
and for
ever











We can make that list now Brother John.
Check it twice. Once you gone baby,
you gone for good...




Lust

Two bits four bits six bits a dollar
long hair longer legs last call & gone.


Gluttony

2218 First Avenue South: free me up tie me
down ‘til I can’t see the Promised Land.


Greed

All the Way, Frank Sinatra; Don’t Explain,
Cat Power; Jean Genie, David Bowie.


Sloth

whatthehellwashernametheonethatsaid
you lucky young man damnshewaskillerhot


Wrath

Just one? What can a man do with just one?
Isn’t even worth crossing the goddamn room.


Envy

One.


Pride

Anything less than zero.

                    ...and good and gone shortcake.




Mourning Sonnet (XXVII)



I watch you breathe, your breast moves
with every inhale, stars blink with every
exhale. It is beautiful; it is truth. Your hands
smooth, your lips, slightly parted. The earthy

scent of sex lingers. I can’t imagine night
without your body. Naked you are a thin
beam of light breaking through the window.
Naked you are small as one of your hands.

We feel the weight of knowing, we are gravity,
we are complete, deliberate. Tell me your first
wish, made at midnight as a meteor burned

through a cloud. I want to know how it feels
to get lost in the motion of you moving within
me; that feeling of being home.





Photo by Thane Zander




One has to protect one's assets, particularly after you reach a certain age.



rear guard

it’s about
age 50 when men
begin to lose their butts

nobody knows why
and nobody knows where they go

maybe they all go to Vegas
and spend the rest of their days
flat-cheeked on a bar stool, or

maybe there’s an old men’s butt
graveyard, like the elephants
have,
just instead of ivory tusks
scattered across
a valley of final elephantine rest,
there’s piles and piles of Sans-a-Belt
pants like Ed McMahon used to pitch
on the Johnny Carson show, just laying around
butt-less on field of white cotton
underpants…

well past that age
of backside backsliding
I have, so far,
maintained my posterior,
mostly through careful and constant
monitoring, making sure said body part
does not get away from me by,
several times a day,
grabbing my ass
and whistling Dixie

it is clear,
in hindsight,
that this was an effective prescription
for protecting my assets,
seeing that it has worked very well
for me,
having still,
even in these later years,
my own carry-on
cushion
whence ever
I roam





Photo by Thane Zander




Next, I have two short poems from a poet friend, Dave Rushlander, who I haven't heard from in a very long line.

Dave, if you're out there, wave or something.

The poems are from Dave's book Voices in My Head



Wasted

I am a soft-shoe wastrel
    See me dancing
  through the
  puddles.
    Take care, beware:
I aim to pull you in.


Journal Entry 12

You open my journal
and press your thumb to my spine
shooting off synapses.
    wonder and pain
    shadowy darkness
    and firefly light,
open and then
closed.





Photo by Thane Zander




Here's a poem-like thing fresh off your newspaper's front pages. Despite the subject I don't consider it a political poem, but more like a warning from one who warned ten years ago and was not heeded.

I certainly hope you do better this time.



wanting to drive the big bus now

twenty years
of change in this state
and he’s always been a rider,
never the driver,
even though he held the driver’s seat
during most of that time

because
being driver
requires a moral and intellectual
center
and he’s never had one of
those

but he’s got the good-old-boy background
and the good-old-boy accent
and does cowboy boots mighty
fine
and though lots of people in this state love him,
most just tolerate, because, well, hell,
he don’t do nothing, and gov’ment
that don’t do much ain’t likely to fuck up,
make hay prices go up; cattle price
go down, so let’s just leave him in charge
and maybe he won’t do nothing
for four more years - all in all, a good recipe
for electoral success in the great state of this
state - but now he wants to move on up
to the east side, wants to be driver
this time, in a bigger bus , this time -

well don’t say
I didn’t warn you, just like I warned you
last time a fella from the great state of this state
wanted to move on up to a bigger bus,
set aside the training wheels,
and he, at least had a good heart, but you didn’t
pay any attention to me
and look where it got us, and I’m thinking all this
this morning over breakfast because the fellow
in the booth right in front of me looks exactly
like the fella that ran against the fella who wants
to hijack the big bus this time around…

he lost, the fella who looks like the fella
in front of me,
and that’s just doo damn bad, maybe
for you
too





Photo by Thane Zander




Now I have three poets from The Faber Book of 20th Century German Poems. All three poets are young, the oldest barely more than 40 years old.



The first of the poets, and the oldest, is Volker Sielaff, born in 1966 in the Lausitz region. Currently he lives as a writer and freelance journalist in Dresden.

Since 1990, he published poems, essays and reviews in literary journals and anthologies. His poems have been translated into English, Czech, Hungarian, and Arabic. in 2007 he received the Lessing-award.

His poem was translated by MichaelHofmann,who was also editor of the anthology.


Sleepless

The racket of the birds
in the trees at a quarter
past three.

Cioran
complained of sleeplessness
all his life.

I
throw myself blindly
into the arms of the morning.

No experience
is communicable.


The next poem is by Matthias Goritz.

Born in 1969 in Hamburg, Goritz has taught at many German Universities as well as at Bard College in New York. A recipient of numerous fellowships, he has contributed prose and poetry to many magazines, anthologies and major German newspapers. He has also worked as translator and editor.

This poem was also translated by Michael Hofmann.


For Volodya in Moscow.

I go over to the window
and turn into a fine evening

What do people get up to in heaven?
If you die you're no longer in the world

In heaven they eat ice cream -
Or they will do if the have colour, at any rate

Is colour just a dreamspace
I'm in Mama's belly

God is making pizza there
When I get out, there'll be hell to pay

Mama yells
I say hello

I prefer not to imagine hell
I'm pretty sure it exists

Unlike a lot of things
Nothing is coloured white

My mothers are descended from apes
I'm sick of the sight of bananas

It all makes noise
And purgatory must be something like a chemical laundry

Everything in the world must die
And if we live on afterwards, for instance in heaven,

I bet it'll be raining.


The final poet from the anthology is Jan Wagner.

Born in Hamburg in 1971,Wagner is a poet and translator of poetry from English. He studied English and American studies in Hamburg, Dublin and Berlin and has worked as a freelance reviewer for various newspapers and publisher. He has lived in Berlin since 1995.

Translator for his poem was Georgina Paul.


Frogs

From 1800 until his early death in 1810 the scientist Johann Willhelm Ritter - inspired by the discoveries of Luigi Galvani - undertook numerous experiments on himself with the so-called Voltaic Pile.

the room - a chaos. what's not yet been sold
forms on the floor the scarcely decipherable formula

of his endeavour: wires, instruments
and books. empty bottles. his wife

is long since gone. and so is his last tooth:
"undeterred by respect for m own body" achim

von arnim said, he battles with the wine
and with the premise that all life consists

of electricity. outside on the lake
it is suddenly uncannily still - the frogs are in secret

transmitting the new codeword to each other.


One more from the anthology, since I like it. This one by Hauke Huckstadt, also born in 1969.

I was able to find nothing else about Huckstadt beyond his birthdate.

The translator was Michael Hofmann.


No One Home

The room we lived in together
was deserted.

I hung around in front of the window -
a piece of wood getting in your light.

You were at one with the grandfather chair
in which I write these lines,

where you spent whole weeks muttering
litanies of human physical deficiencies to yourself:

Books cracked open and stimulating
like packets of prescription medicine or distalgesics.

Orr halting intercourse
called to mind the injuries it was intended to treat.

In the morning, we conducted an autopsy on the wardrobe,
yanked open its doors, and reached

among the small bones of the coathangers
where we dangled together.





Photo by Thane Zander




This is a little piece I wrote this week after rearing a quotation from Persian mystic, Rumi.



the fish who seeks the sea

Rumi
tells of the fish
who vainly sought the sea
while the great ocean
was all around and
within him…

I am the fish

seeking glory
beyond the glory
of my mere existence

seeking beauty
beyond the unmined beauty
of my heart
and in every other heart
that touches mine

seeking wealth
when no wealth can buy
the things I most desire
or the forgetfulness that is
my greatest need

I am the fish

seeking gods
when the only God is within me,
within that cosmic speck
of my self that is born of all selves
but like no other one,
master of my own universe,
a creature of all universes
but like no other one,
my own self that will fade, with its universe,
when the time
for a newer self,
a newer reality,
arrives

I am the fish
and I am the sea I seek
and hope some day
to find





Photo by Thane Zander




And now,another anthology, this one, Women of the Red Plain, a collection of contemporary Chinese Women's poetry. The book was first published in China in 1992 by Chinese Literature Press of Beijing, my copy published by Penguin at the same time.



The first of three poets from the anthology for this week is Li Xiaoyu.

The poet, born in Hubei Province in 1951 was working as a railyway system hygienist in 1972 when she published her first series of poems. Beginning in 1976, she has worked for the Poetry Journal in Beijing, where she also attended the Lu Xun Academy of Literature as well as the Beijing University for advanced studies.


The Silk Dream

Moon thin as water
And watery candlelight
Shine upon China
A sleeping silkworm
Exhaling a long long thread of silk
On a nine-hundred and sixty thousand square
     miles
Mulberry leaf


Its skin cold as ice,luminous as first snow
This great river of silk
With its silent billowing waves
With hidden perfume drifting and shuddering
     shades of plum blossoms
With its dazzling riot of bright lights
With its soft soft footfall of a princess
In the quiet recess of the tall pillars
With its iridescent scales of dragon and phoenix
     dancing
To the music of bells and drums.
In the bronze mirror
Weave another song of the Yellow River
Another swirl of solitary smoke in a vast desert
Another and another city gate
Volume after volume of poems

Oh China
The China by the pines and beneath the moon
The China of bamboo tablets in raised hands
Oh the China of tinkling porcelain vases
Oh you the silken culture
All that's carved in stones, etched in bronze
The profound soul of Huaxia*
Arises
And soaring upward
This night
In the great silken river
Thin and airy as a cicada's wings
Slippery-soft as waves
Is there a Zheng He** setting sail for a distant
     voyage
To chart out a passage to the far far West into
A rippling soaring ribbon?

*Old name for China
**An ancient Chinese explorer



The next poet is Lin Zi.

Born in 1935, Lin did editorial work in both Tianjin and Harbin. Since 1981 she has devoted most of her time to writing.


Yes, I Admit

One mailbox, another mailbox
Every mailbox
     Is blinded in one eye.
Yes, I admit -
There's one unposted letter in my pocket.

One thought that undertakes no distant flight,
One wish that reaches no other shore,
And these now play havoc in my pocket.

Last night willfulness and confidence -
On my long checked thoroughfare
     Open a route of green lights.
My wavering emotions surge forth,
Exposing a bold corner,
Make a rubbing of the soul's true image,
Make the night into a silhouette cutting.

Stars no longer seem so remote
And out of the dawn clouds immersed with
     sincerity
Emerges an envelope, the color of blue sky...

In this moment,I wait between the mailboxes,
Waiting for someone to come out and argue
     with me:
I shall harden my indecision,
And in a second, decisive
     Mail off the letter...


The last poet from the anthology for this week is Yang Liuhong.

Yang, born in Beijing in 1965, spent her childhood years during the decade of political turmoil of the "cultural revolution" in the various cadre schools in the villages where her parents were sent. In 1986 she graduated from the Population Department of the Chinese People's University and, at the time of publication, was on the staff of the Social Institute of that university.


The Butterfly Specimen

No longer able to fly
You yet offer men the dream of flight;
No longer able to dream
You yet offer men the memories of summer;
You yet immortalize all memories.
Ages later when men
See you again
They will surely realize
Your memories, your dreams...





Photo by Thane Zander




Continuing my love affair with Rumi.



case closed

Rumi says:
“The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.
Don't go back to sleep.”


the wonder
of reading is in the
finding
of someone who seems
to read your mind,
saying exactly
the thing you have thought
and tried to say
in many ways, none
as clear or deep or true
as the words you just read

it is the bane
of the poet to find such a phrase,
jealous at its finding
and, at the same time, sad with lose,
knowing there is no more you can say
about this than that which you just
read

knowing
the subject is closed to you now,
never to be
reopened

knowing the futility
of having shot and shot and shot
and always missed
that which another poet has so cleanly
hit

knowing that poets read poetry
only at their own risk





Photo by Thane Zander




Next, I have two poems by Sri Lankan poetRienzi Crasz. The poem is from his book, Gamboling With the Divine, published in 2003 by TSAR Publications.

Crusz was born in Sri Lanak and came to Canada in 1965. Educated at the Universities of Ceylon, Toronto and Waterloo, he was, for many years, reference librarian at the University of Waterloo. This book is his tenth collection of poetry.



Let Us Now

"Let us now
in the embracing love of the Father,
wish each other
the Peace of Christ" so says Pastor Malone of St :Michael's.

So,my brown hand stretches
to greet the old lady standing beside me.

She turns, glares, extends
a thin pale index finger.

I accept this one-fifth brotherhood,
still believing, still refusing to snuff out

the last candle to our darkness.


When Tarzan Shook Hands with God

Many, many years later -
I understood the secret of Tarzan and his kingdom.

Herman Brix in the "New Adventures of Tarzan":
    a child watches with bulging eyes
    how the Ape-man fashions airy highways
    from jungle vines
    saves Jane from the leaping lion
    with only a "shoo!" and a violent gesture;
    who bathes in limpid waters as crocodile snouts
    cruise a body length away
    how by twilight he comes back to his tree-top home
    with a string of fish dangling from his waist,
    a basket of sun-ripe wood apple and mango.

Where paradise
    is eternal whispering of leaves,
    sweet mountain air
    gigantic trees thrust their heads to heaven,
    poetry in bird song, mountain dew,
    where the elephant comes like a hound dog
    to his clarion call,
    and God's silence seeps through
    the waking forest like spring sap.

I think I know
the secret of it all -
    Tarzan's contract with God,
        that warm handshake:

    "So long as you refuse the sin of Adam,
    so long as you see Me in every tree, shrub and flower,
    in every creature that breathes and roams your kingdom,
    you shall be lord of this jungle paradise,
    Consider these as my favourite lines of poetry,
    Learn them by rote."





Photo by Thane Zander




More Rumi.



there is a field

Rumi says:

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
there is a field. I'll meet you there.


When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase each other
doesn't make any sense.

_____

talking to a friend, he
a believer,
and me, not,
about the differences between
the old and new testaments
of the Christian bible,
when Rumi
intervenes -

the old testament,
the book of wrongdoing and rightdoing
and the rites and strictures
of both,
an earth bound by the regulations
of a creator
who lays out rules for everything
from how to pray
to what and when you eat

The Christ
of the new testament
having no time for such as that,
a prophet
who has no time
for rules old or new,
a prophet of the field,
where wrongdoing and
rightdoing
lie together in the grass,
irrelevant, too much world/
time/life, to spend any of it
talking about them, a field where
the great soul over all
souls
cushions the heads
of both the right and the wrong,
the good and the bad,
requiring
only acceptance of that great soul
to nullify all the harsh and vengeful warnings
that came before

a precious dream,
even if not
my own





Photo by Thane Zander




My last poem this week from my library is by Devreaux Baker. The poem is from the book Red Willow People, published last year by Wild Ocean Press. I bought the book this week at the second-hand book store. It's unusual to find a book so new on their shelves.

This is Baker's third collection of poetry. Her awards and honors include a MacDowell Fellowship, A Hawthornden Castle International Fellowship, three California Arts Council Grants, and the Helene Wurlitzer Writing Fellowship.



Bear Berry, Mullen, Red Willow Bark

Inside the walls of the pueblo
there is no electricity
no running water.

Outside the walls the other world
goes on.

We are gathering bear berry, mullen, red
willow bark, osha root, yerba santa.

Your grandmother says
This is a good smoking blend.

Inside the walls where willows are regarded
as relatives of the four winds,

knots of tourists
crowd around the pueblo woman.

She is telling jokes the
don't understand,

but they are laughing anyway.

Red willow is for prayer sticks
and amulets.


Changing Woman

Up at first light
blue, watery, thin,
Taos is dreaming herself
backwards,

onto the trail that moves
beneath my sleeping body.
A dark arrow forming

from Santa Fe and going further
all the way up the mountain
into the sacred waters of Blue Lake,

backwards through time,
scooping up all the stories
of the people,

carrying them cradled
like infants against
cold.

She is walking
up the; trail headed north,
spilling words
out of her mouth.

K'e, the kinship
way of Changing Woman.

She is leading the way
on blue horses
forming
out of snow.

A long black braid
oiled by many hands
of night falls down her back.

Ash tree, alders,
cottonwoods share
the dreaming place.

Smoky mountain fog dreams
where stories get passed
from heart

to hand to mouth,
moving down
through all the generations.

Outside snow is falling in
Not-Yet-Light places.

Taos is dreaming
beneath my body,
lifting my shape

into her arms,
bringing me with her
back up the mountain.





Photo by Thane Zander




Finishing off this week with a little tribute to the community of poets with whom all my poems of the past five years have been written.



a community; a house

Rumi said:

“There is a community of the spirit.
Join it, and feel the delight
of walking in the noisy street
and being the noise.
Drink all your passion,
and be a disgrace.
Close both eyes
to see with the other eye.”


___

a community
a house
the sweet noise
of poets
fearlessly
sighted

seeing
with the lens
of their unobstructed eye
the proud
and horrible stories
of our kind

speaking




Photo by Thane Zander



Another summer week ended, the month, the hottest on record, tomorrow, high predicted 105 degrees. I've had enough.

Just remember, despite the heat, that all the material presented here remains the property of its creators. You're welcome to my stuff; just credit "Here and Now" and me.

And "me" is allen itz, owner and producer of this blog, hot stuff, you betcha.





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