Waiting for Promised Lightning   Wednesday, September 28, 2011


VI.10.1.




Here's my post for the first week of Autumn, a season ever so ardently awaited after a long and awful summer.

Just a regular ol' post this week, with no big news, except that this will be my last post for a couple weeks. Dee and I will be escaping to the high mountain air of Colorado early next week. Though I will not post "Here and Now" while I'm gone, I will continue to write, since writing my poem a day is as essential an element to my day as breakfast,lunch and dinner.

Meaning, I hope, return with some good poems and new pics for the blog.

Until then, this is who I have for this week.


Charles Simic
Barber College Shave
On the Street of the Martyrs
Poor Little Devil
Streets Paved with Gold
St. George and the Dragon
El libro de la sexualidad


Me
poof!

From Crossing the River - Poets of the Western United States
Jack Heflin
Mules
Susan Tichy
The Bus from Sagada: Passing a Sacred Mountain
Leo Romero
The Miracle
Rosemary Catacalos
Tongue-Tied
Sandra Cisneros
In a Red-Neck Bar Down the Street

Me
currents
remembering to smile
the pull of the moon
hymnal


From German Poetry in Transition, 1945-1990
Hertha Kraftner
On the Death of a Poet
Reiner Kunze
Suicide
Hanns Cibulka
Acquited
Brigitte Oleschinski
No Path
Annerose Kirchner
Sunday

Me
waiting for promised lightning

Mark Scott
First Death
Crush
On a Bus in Torino


Me
a proclamation regarding the proper price of air

Samuel Hazo
Seesaws

Me
first frost
winter winds
a cool breeze in August
home fires
sunset
to cut a long tale short


Pat Califia
The Pony Girl
I Will Cry For You


Me
autumn light

Shail D. Patel
Mine
The Rule


Me
slipping away

Claire Kageyama-Ramakrishnan
Th Moon and Kaguya
Origins of an Impulse


Me
life in the provinces

Leslie Ullman
Ambition

Me
winter, 1964

James Laughlin
The Calendar of Fame
The Consolations
The Cold Lake
Motet: Ave Verum Corpus
The Malevolent Sky


Me
the holy fool

Carl Phillips
Our Lady
Cotillion


Me
term limits

Yang Wan-Li
Late Spring: On the Way to Yung-Ho
Sitting Up at Night in Late Spring
Third Day of the Third Month, Rain: Written to Dispel My Depression
Hearing Hsiao Po-ho and His Son Shang-Ti Reading Aloud at Night


Me
Adam, before the fall

Campbell McGrath
The Zebra Longwing
Florida


Me
the righteous arrive to plead my cause









I start this week with poems by Charles Simic, who always seems to come up with something nobody, or at least no other poet, ever thought of. Maybe that's one explanation for his Pulitzer Prize.

The poems are from his book Jackstraws, published by Harcourt in 1999.



Barber College Shave

In my head thrown back as in a nose bleed,
There are, of course,
A dozen or so replicas of myself,
Much reduced, wearing Halloween masks.

They sit at the same long table
Debating with a conspiratorial air
The baffling question of my true identity,
The contradictory evidence

Like a quick shuffle of smutty postcards:
Here he is hanging someone's pink panties
On a gravestone, smoking a cigar in a saloon
In Amarillo, reading philosophy at night,,
Asking the executioner how the chair works...
What the hell is going here, I shouted,
At which the apprentice barber rushed over
And threw a steaming hot towel over my eyes.


The Street of Martyrs

Catherine, whose neck was broken
On a steering wheel of a Buick convertible
While milk gushed from her breasts.
Max the giant whose mouth is a black cavern
Since his tongue was amputated.
Barbara, whose father kept her in ac closet
So no man could see her.
The All-American shortstop whose coffin
He says, will be a matchbox.

They stop strangers on the street
To warn them about sick and injured bugs
They may be stepping on.
If they meet someone with very large ears,
They try to hang their crutches on them.
When it snows, they walk in circles
Making snowflakes sizzle on the tip of their tongues.


Poor Little Devil

He's a devil while his mom's a saint.
He grins in church, looks glum pitching pennies.
Batty schoolgirls bring him candy
Tucked inside their sweatshirts.
Nipples smeared with licorice
For him to lick while his hairy tail
Brushes up against their bare legs.

Defenders of public decency
March and carry signs outside the museum
In which naked Christ hangs on a cross.
It's supposed to make you think.
Indeed, one day walking around the old neighborhood,
I did finally stop and think.

About the way they dressed him in a new uniform
With gold buttons and even a medal
So he lay there in the open coffin
Smiling wistfully for his mother.
Poor little devil, the mourners said,
One by one opening their umbrellas
Against something foul about to descend.


Streets Paved with Gold

Our prisons are dangerously overcrowded
And seething with violence, I've read today.
Is that why this small town is so empty?
Store windows with out-of-business signs.
Even the Star Theater is boarded up,
Its marquee blank save for the word MONSTER.

At the diner we heard so much about we found
The lone waitress standing on a chair
Hanging Christmas decorations on a string.
"She's an idealist in an undertaker's shop,"
You whispered as we read the stained menu
Waiting for her to turn and acknowledge us.

"Life in these hinterlands never agrees
With any philosophy of life you or I may have,"
I wanted to say, but it was too cold to speak.
On the street everything had that gray look
One gets for knowing such truths.
And the parking lot was a sheet of black ice.


St. George and the Dragon

When Queen Money
Sits naked in my lap,
And her fat bulldog
Comes to growl

While she rides me
Like a horsey
Using her long red hair
As a whip

And the ceiling at midday
Is a lush maze
Of tree shadows
Tangling and untangling themselves.

And all that comes to mind
Is St. George rearing up
With a lance to slay
The fire-spitting dragon.


El libro de la sexualidad

The pages of all the books are blank.
The late-night readers at the town library
Make no complaint about that.
They lift their heads solely
To consult the sign commanding silence,
Before they lick their finger,
Look sly, appear to be dozing off,
As they pinch the corner of the paper
Ever-so-carefully,
While turning the heavy page.

In the yellow puddle of light,
Under the lamp with green shade,
the star charts are all white
In the big astronomy atlas
Lying open between my bare arms.
At the checkout desk, the young Betelgeuse
Is painting her lips red
Using my sweating forehead as a mirror.
Her roving tongue
Is a long-tailed comet in the night sky.








Still waiting for rain; still disappointed.



poof!

second night
I’ve waited for rain
that didn’t come, large swirly
red and yellow blobs on the radar
inching closer and closer, thunder,
lightning, dogs running for cover,

and like the brightly colored scarves
that disappear in a magician’s hand,
poof!
just like that
the red and yellow radar storm
is gone, slowly creeping up as close
as the little town up the road
where I buy my bar-b-que
then gone
poof
poof
poof
like that
which is not to say it didn’t rain
at all,
a wet spot on a stepping stone
gleaming in the moonlight,
rain
like a squirrel peeing
on a flat rock…

big
efffing
deal!

****

I turned the water sprinkler
on at home a six this morning

it’s Thursday, my watering day
three hours, six to nine,
it’s what the law
allows…

and I was thinking
I would be able to skip
my watering day
this week
because of all the red and yellow
circus swirl on the radar…

not sure what I no longer believe in,
radar
or rain

maybe both








Here are several poets from the anthology, Crossing the River - Poets of the Western United States, published in 1987 by The Permanent Press.



The first poet is Jack Heflin. A graduate of the writing program at the University of Montana in Missoula, he taught, at the time of publication, at a small college in Monroe, Louisiana.


Mules

Near the tobacco barns
and red-graveled roads
where my father grew up
in western Kentucky
the mules begin to lose their teeth
and they gather around the rusted plows
and wait unharnessed. This morning
someone points at them from a car window
and disappears
down a country road
that leads to the trellised porches
where old relatives
squint across their jonquilled yards.

I am a long way from home.
I think I may be the man
who tugged at their halters
each morning before dawn.
If I call their names
they will know.


Next, a poem by Susan Tichy. Her first book of poetry, The Hands in Exile, was a winner in the 1983 National Poetry Series.


The Bus from Sagada: Passing a Sacred Mountain

Philippines

the man is trying to talk the boy
into giving me a flower. The boy
has been eating his flowers,
petal by petal, rolling each one
between his palms, then peeling away
the long yellow fibers, placing
the sweet pink between his lips.
Now he puts his shoes on the seat in front
and grins his small embarrassment.
I am large and single,like a calla.
He is just one of the Everlasting.
but the man is still prodding his shoulder -
he won't stop. So the boy,
though he's only seven or eight,
sits up straight with his hands on his knees:
there is something he has to do.

This flower has been carried from the boy's home.
Perhaps it was given to him.
Perhaps he pulled it
from a neighbor's bush as he passed.
It's damp, when he hands it to me, and cool.
One petal has been torn away
and a drop of nectar dangles at the wound.
The man is talking a mile a minute,
and laughing. the boy is shy.
And I don't know if I'm, expected
to eat the flower too.
I decide not. Steam

is beginning to rise from the carrots
and cauliflower packed over the engine.
The night guard, on his way back to town,
and just a boy, with red wool socks
pulled over the legs of his trousers.
Pulag says the man with the grin and points
to one dark side
of the mountain. I had forgotten.


Now here's a poem by Leo Romero, whose poetry was adapted into a play by the Group Theater in Seattle in 1985. At the time of publication, he lived in Santa Fe.


The Miracle

Celso had a vision
He saw the face of Jesus
on the the wall of a small house
by the church in Agua Negra
He would pass y there each night
on his way home from the bar
usually so drunk on wine
that he would see two of everything
And in fact he saw two Jesuses
though he knew there was but oe

By next day everyone had heard
of Celso's vision
That night there were hundreds of people
from the many mountain villages
gathered to see the miracle
Some say they saw the face of Jesus
others saw Satan, Mary, a Lamb,
a Cross, ad one little girl
even claimed to see the Last Supper
Those who saw nothing were quiet


The next poem is by Rosemary Catacalos. Her book of poetry, Again For the First Time, received the Texas Institute of Letters Award in 1984, the same year she received the institute's Dobie-Paisano Fellowship. At the time of publication she was Literature Director of the Guadalupe Arts Center in San Antonio.


Tongue-Tied

I am drunk and alone again
in your house,
this place with so many mirrors.
You have gone for food,
leaving me helpless against
these reflections on all sides.
Everywhere the air
is covered with our imprint,
with what is forbidden
and and also what is not forbidden.
I can only give in
and try to write this.
A stranger arrives
and sits in the next room
wondering why I don't speak.

All I have ever
been trying to do is speak.
It's just that sometimes
I'm an angel
with far too many names.
They clog my lungs and tongue
with their possibilities.
They keep me in a room apart.
They set me spinning into mirrors.
The names you call me by.
Sister. Lover. Teacher.
The names the others
have given me.
Our Lady of Miraculous Hands.
Our Lady of the Tainted Corners of Time.
Our Lady of the One Word
    We all Know But Cannot Say.
Mother of the Ferocious Teeth.
Mother of the Six Seeds of Spring
Mother of Hearts Waiting
    By the Sides of All Roads.
Ariadne of the Treacherous Thread.
Ophelia Who Died for Our Sins.
Phoenix. Venus.
Even just plain Demetres' daughter.
I have answered
to all these names and more.
And there are others still to come.

I suppose there is no reason
to say these things.
Except this house
is so full of mirrors.
And a stranger has arrived
and sits in the next room
wondering why I won't speak.


My last poem from the book is by Sandra Cisneros. Best known as a novelist with many honors, at the time of publication her book, The House on Mango Street, had recently awarded the Before Columbus American Book Award. She received a Texas Institute of Letters' Dobie-Paisano fellowship. At that time, she divided her time between Illinois and Texas.


In a Red-Neck Bar Down the Street

my crazy
friend Pat
boast she can chug
one bottle of Pabst
down one swig
without even touching
teeth grip
swing and it's up in
she glugging like a watercooler
everyone watching
boy that crazy
act every time gets them
bartender runs over
says lady don't
do that again








Looking at pieces from the 2004-2006 again. Here are several short poems from that period.



currents

thin crescent
in the still-light sky

first star
beside
it
floating
in the pale blue sea
of night awakening

drawn by currents
of impending
dark
to the wide-open mouth
of hungry moon
tides


remembering to smile

he remembers
that you're supposed to smile
when someone takes your picture,
but, through all the shadow years
he's forgotten how it's done

he wants to oblige, to be normal
as he used to b, so he tries
stretches his lips to a grimace

    it's something like this,
    he thinks


exposing white teeth clamped together
so as to bar the spirits that stalk him
day and night, waiting
for the moment of inattention
when they can seize him
again

it is the sharp-toothed leer
of the hunter, he shows,
while above, his eyes shift
with the panic of oft-hunted prey


This, a kind of a love poem, is from 2004. I used it in my 2005 book, Seven Beats a Second.


the pull of the moon

half moon
cut precisely by earth's shadow,
one part shining
in the clear October night
like a great yellow lantern in the sky,
the other, dark and mysterious,
though barely seen by the eye,
still a mover of tides
and midnight meditations

as in bright in you pulls me,
even more the secrets
of your darker
moods


Also from 2004.


hymnal

from somewhere in the very deep
a great blue sang today,
a song of salty tides,
of bright mornings
fresh with ocean air,
a song of love among the giants

from somewhere in the other deep,
an ever-growing choir responds,
sings off star-blinks and novas flashing,
of creation
and obliteration,
songs of spinning little worlds
that come and go and leave behind
the poetry of their time in passing,
each, another song,
sung and recorded for time never-ending
in a book of all the life that ever was born
to sing








Next, several poets from German Poetry in Transition, 1945-1990. The anthology was published in 1999 by the University Press of New England. As with most such anthologies, it is a bilingual book, German and English on facing pages. Translations are by the book's editor,Charlotte Melin.



The first poet is Hertha Kraftner. Born in 1928, her bio says she was among the first of German postwar poets to reconnect with the Expressionist and Surrealist generation. She committed suicide in 1951 in Vienna, her birthplace.


On the Death of a Poet

My friend the poet is dead.
We buried him under an acacia tree.
His companion - a real shrew -
scrubbed the restaurant soup out of his tuxedo
(he wore it for the funeral)
because all his life, she said,
he had longed for purity.
She also thought the acacia smelled too strong,
he had always complained privately
about her heavy perfume.
She in turn had suffered, o, suffered she had
from his smell
of ink remover and stage dust
and cut-open paper and sometimes
- unfortunately - sometimes of a kind of powder
that she never used.
That's what his companion said
on the way home from the grave,
and that was all that could be said about his life.

Meanwhile he lay quietly under the sweet acacia tree.
If he had known it, he would have stayed yup for nights
and tortured himself over some verses,
verses about white acacia blossoms
and a gray, moist morning
and bones bleaching under the grass.


The next poet is Reiner Kunze.

Born in eastern Germany in 1933, he studied philosophy and journalism in Leipzig in the early 1950s, until, under political attack, he left the university before graduation to work in Czechoslovakia. He began his writing career in 1962, and, finding publication of his work blocked, moved to West Germany.


Suicide

The last of all doors

But one has never
knocked on all the others


Hanns Cibulka is the next poet from the book. Born in Czechoslovakia in 1920, he was a soldier and prisoner in Sicily, then worked as a librarian.


Acquitted

Launching ramps, academies,
where bacteria replace sandboxes,
what does that angel mean
with his sword of flames before paradise?
Artificial suns
explode
over the skin of the earth,
a quantum hail
pummels
your body,
the stone begins to scream
outraged islands
dive back into the ocean.

Acquitted
you were, by nature,
the woods are without speech
and also the rivers
give you no reply,
you have come of age,
you can

stomp out your own image
in the ash,
in the dust of the earth
plant
a rosebush.


Brigitte Oleschinski is the next poet. Born in Cologne in 1955, she lived, at the time of publication, in Berlin where she studied political science. She seems to me, at least from this poem, to have completed a full return to German post-war expressionist traditions.


No Path

Always the tire tacks lead, along such fallow paths,
at chirping noon to the resting places of crumpled dove-
wings, between potsherds and tin, where the
poems still cling like blown out fingers.

Motionless the hour doubles itself into a ball under the heat, intertwined
with brick shrub. All around the nodding of the awn,
over which back and forth glimmering beetles hasten.

Once a cow was buried here. Sewn
into its rib cage was a sack. In
this sack a face.


My last poem from the anthology for this week is Annerose Kirchner. Born in Leipzig in 1951, he studied at the Becher Institute in the late seventies and writes poetry, opera libretti, prose and radio plays for children.


Sunday

Flying carpet dealers exchange
one to one
clowns for tin soldiers.

My mind thinks German
and tries on muzzles,which are handed out free,
or go for a dime a dozen.

Tomorrow, a boozy voice
whispers in my ear,
we emigrate.








So, okay, it's Friday, but I have to write a poem anyway.



waiting for promised lightning

pumping gas

pumping iron

pumping my fist
upon receiving a $5 coupon
at Bar-B-Que-Is- Us

pumping
Mary Sue in the back seat
of a '48 Hudson - oh
how soft
those seats and Mary Sue

(you don’t have to read the above,
it’s what I call
“priming the pump” -

dropping a few irrelevant words
down the well
with hope that the addition
to the well of
irrelevant
words
will
through force of the Heimlich Maneuver-
or some such science-word
thing having to do with one force
activating a countervailing
force -
will cause good words
to rise
to the surface
being irresistibly pushed there
by the irrelevant word

meaning, according to the Heimlich equation,
that an actual poem will start
somewhere
below -

...patience
may be required
being
it’s
a process thing
and process things
must
process
else they would be called
miracles
like Jesus’ face on a tortilla
or Jimmy not cracking corn
when the master’s gone away
or my 1906 computer
suddenly humming and buzzing
and computing
again
or the phone company guy
arriving before 11:59 for a service visit
promised between 8 a.m. and noon,
or me getting a hot date
when I was fifteen years old
or next week,
whichever comes first -

miracles,
you know,
where would we be without them,
the miracle of conception
and birth,
the miracle of divining wisdom,
the miracle
of Slinkies and Hula Hoops
and Rice Crispies
snapping and cracking and popping
ever time,
the miracle of meteors not crashing
into the earth
like last time, except this time
making us the new dinosaurs, converting in the tar pits
into some future form of fuel
for the finally and again
ascendant cock-
roach, no longer getting squashed
in kitchen corners - that’s why cowboy boots
have pointy toes, you know -
doing the squashing this time instead)

...and the little circley thing is circling
on a blue screen
which means the aforementioned pending poem
is still process, but not so quickly,
so if you have something
else
to do
you should go ahead and
take care of it

an I’ll give you a call
when the processing
poem
is processed, arisen, so to speak
from the depths by the force of the
Heimlich processing primal
push
to relevancy
in this portion of the universe

but maybe since the phone guy
hasn’t come yet
I’ll just email
you
or maybe send a tweet
which I almost never do, fearing
being pigeon-holed
as just another tweeting
twit

waiting
for promised lightning








Next, I have a couple of poems by Mark Scott, from his book Tactile Values, published in 2000 by Western Michigan University.

It's a new book and a new poet for me. I'm not sure yet if I like his stuff.



First Death

When I was almost ten
my youngest brother
asked me to ride bikes with him.
I went to a movie with a friend.

I cried that day,
because everyone else was crying.

Twenty years later,
I couldn't make the smallest decisions.
When asked in an office if I knew why,
I cried for about an hour.

I should have gone with my brother on the bike.
I never saw him again.
I can't remember what he looks like.


Crush

"to have a crush on someone" -
that's a schoolgirl's phrase,
the lexicographers say.

But I have a generalist's temperament
(like Napoleon's)
any aunt or schoolgirl can daunt and tether,

and I have had cruses all my life,
once on my aunt, my uncle's wife,
sometimes for many days together.

Crush
ecrasez,
crescit sub pondere virtu:


What's so passing about it?
It is Byron's "Everything by turns
and nothing long,"

and you would have to have
Frank O'Hara's mental life
in Georg Simmel's metropolis

not to be ground up in its mills.
How pervious and flappable
can you afford to be?

"Marble does not laugh," said Diderot -
yes, but even marble twitches
intermittently.


On a Bus in Torino

He calls the meridionali shitheads,
says if he were still a soldier
he'd take them, break them up.

Spit's in his whiskers,
his umbrella's poised. "God fuck!
Pricks! You're wrong, you're wrong."

They've wrecked the ticket machine.
The soldier says how much it costs.
They cock their wrist.

The driver breaks.
"You know what you've done?
I did World War Two,

mother Mary fuck God.
I fought for you."
"Look, shit,"one of them says,

"Get off here. Get the fuck off here."
A nun steps up between them.
Shithead says to shithead,

"Finish it. finish it."
The nun says "Enough."
"I know, sister," the soldier says,

"But mother Mary fuck God!
I did World War Two for them
and they bust the ticket machine."

"I know," says the sister.
The soldier stabs the floor,
shithead calls him a shit.

"There weren't kids like you
when I was a kid.
I did World War Two." Then he turns

to me. "Nice place for a foreigner,
Italy, isn't it?
I did World War Two. God's a pig"








I get a lot of kidding at my favorite coffee house for insisting that my latte comes with no foam.



a proclamation regarding the proper price of air

I
am very insistent
and specific -
“no foam, none,
not a bit,”
I say when ordering
my lattes
because foam
is bubbles
and bubbles is air
and I’m not yet
so civilized
as to be willing
to pay for air,
though
many I know
are

they are also
willing to pay for water
in a bottle, because
it’s supposed to be special,
from some secret
spring
in some secret
mountain glen,
or some such marketing crap,
when it’s from the same
garden hose
I’m quite happy to drink
from

(do you know
that it requires 4 bottles
of water to make 1 water in a bottle -
I read that somewhere -
3 bottles
of water to make the plastic bottle
and 1 bottle of water to fill it)

anyway
I’m quite happy
drinking my water from a lawn
water hose…

I like the way how cool it is
coming from those underground pipes
and how it splashes up in your face
(not a drinking problem I have,
just not so fastidious
in my drinking methods as are
some)
and how if you’ve been
outside
working in the sun
you can just take the water hose
and hold it over your head
(assuming you haven’t been working
outside in the sun
in your Sunday best clothes
in which case
you should go inside
and change before holding the water hose
over your head -
myself
I don’t work outside in the sun
in my Sunday best clothes, more often,
instead,
I’m wearing my Tarzan pants,
not really pants
at all,
modeled
after Tarzan’s garb in the jungle
in his pre-production code
movies

and it’s quite
all right to get my Tarzan pants
wet
after working outdoors in the sun
so that’s what i
do)

and anyway
I don’t believe in drinking my water
from a bottle of water
that took 4 bottles of water
to make,
just like I don’t think it’s financially
prudent
or morally appropriate
to pay for foam
which is actually bubbles
which is actually
air
which ought to be free

that’s
my take
on water in a bottle
and foam in a
latte








My next poem is by Samuel Hazo, taken from the anthology, The Best American Poetry - 2005, published by Shribner.

It's an interesting and different kind of poem that first appeared in The Atlantic Monthly.

Hazo,born in Pennsylvania in 1928, is the founder and director of the nternational Poetry forum in Pittsburgh, and is also McAnulty Distinguished Professor of English Emeritus at Dukquene University, where he taught for more than 40 years.



Seesaws

The bigger the tomb, the smaller the man.
The weaker the case, the thicker the brief.
The deeper the pain, the older the wound.
The graver the loss, the dryer the tears.

The truer the shot, the slower the aim.
The quicker the kiss, the sweeter the taste.
The viler the crime, the vaguer the guilt.
The louder the price, the cheaper the ring.

The higher the climb, the steeper the slide.
The steeper the odds,the shrewder the bet.
The rarer the chance, the brasher the risk.
The colder the snow, the greener the spring.

The braver the bull, the wiser the cape.
The shorter the joke, the surer the laugh.
The sadder the tale, the dearer the joy.
The longer the life, the briefer the years.









Here a few more short poems from 2004, several out of season, but I'm willing to pretend summer's over if you are.



first frost

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


winter winds

winter winds
sweep
the north hills
cloud
the city
with cedar pollen
that leaves me gasping
like a blowfish
on a stroll down Grand Avenue


a cool breeze in August

from the north
in a season of southern winds

trees sigh
with early morning pleasure

welcome this reminder
of better days to come


home fires

full moon bright
on black winter sky

    wisp of cloud
    like chimney smoke
    crosses


drawing me home


sunset

sun lies low
behind gangly scrub oak branches

yellow jigsaw

puzzles
at the end of day


to cut a long tale short

blind
mice three
flee

un
suc
cess
fu
ly









Next, I have a couple of poems by Pat Califia, the author of several fiction and nonfiction books which address the politics of sex, gender, and pleasure. She is a longtime SM community activist and a prominent anti-censorship feminist. Her frequently controversial publications, lead her being tagged by a contemporary as "the author most often banned by Canadian Customs."



The Pony Girl

Responsibility is my harness.
Ambition and my fear of silence
Fasten it about me.
I wear a life that fits more tightly
Than any whalebone corset.

Each muscle within me
Is in bondage to
My schedule and my plans.
I ride my body until
It screams in protest
Against the tension imposed
By the speed at which I travel.

My destination is a mirage,
My ears flicked back
To keep out praise.

Bind me.
Make palpable what I carry
Embedded in my spirit.
I can be silent with
A bit between my teeth.
Put me through my paces,
Keep me in check with
Your hands and your thighs.

Given one task only,
To keep my eyes on
The toe of your boot,
I discover a world
Simple enough to make sense,
]simple enough to live in.

Your demands are cruel,
But you are easier to please
Than the voracious maw
Of the future.

Under the spur off
Your command,
I do not need a name
And if my head is held hight
By a tight rein,
I no longer need my pride.

Test me.
I am free to do
Whatever you like.


I Cry For You

I cry for you
In other people's beds
Lucky for me I always wail
After I come
Or everybody would know
That the pleasure I do not
Take from your hands
Is an unwelcome gift

I mourn for you
When some sharp-tongued kid
Makes me laugh with her green malice
You would have said it better
In fewer words
Hatred is one of your talents

And God knows love
Was never one of mine
I am well-suited for
Disappointment, rage,
I waited all my life for you
And now I have decided
I will not have you

Because you will not have me
Deprivation suits you
Long waits for brief joy
All the things you like
Are very bad for you
And you used to like me a lot
But I drive you away
Still I drive you
As the last wolf on earth will be driven
To seek the vanished caribou
You will curl up around my absence
Every night you sleep alone
And when you find company
(Which happens oftener
Than you'd like to admit)
I will come between you
Bigger than a bolster and
Impossible to kick out of bed
You cannot kiss another woman
Without kissing your memory of me

I have your smell inside my nose
I have you skin under my nails
Your pupils are printed onto mine
And we will meet again
Holding other people's hands
And speaking volumes
Over their uneasy heads

I cry for you
In other people's beds








My Sunday poem, inspired by another poet's Sunday poem.



autumn light

so
I’ve read
all the other poems
and it’s time
to write my own
and I’m thinking about
the autumn light I read about
in one poem, thinking how true
it is, the idea that autumn light is
different,
orange, reflection of pumpkins
scattered for sale
in a church parking lot, jack-o-lanterns
for the poor and hungry and untutored
in the grace of Lord Jesus Christ, Savior
of all, but especially a savior of those who will
buy a pumpkin for the poor, demonstrating
their deep and Christian concern for pumpkin farmers
and other less fortunate among their human
fellows, that’s why autumn light
has an orangish tint, I think, although I am sure
there will be some who prefer a more scientific
explanation, not involving in any way, pumpkins
and the poor…

but who would you rather believe in, some
grubby scientist or Santa Claus…

and of course summer light
is entirely different,
thick and heavy and shimmery,
steam-soupy venting from the Devil’s
subterranean glen of the simmering
wicked, air full of curses and foul fulminations,
air with all the sweetness of a rattlesnake’s
insisent tongue…

entirely different
from winter air, flowing across the prairies
direct from the high mountains
where giant snow leopards leave their lairs
to hunt at night, sharp, frigid, unrelenting light that
pushes the blood to pump, makes the lungs expand
to draw the thin richness of oxygen that turns
the pumping blood red and rich, air re-conditioned
in the light, cleansed of sweat-
heavy summer air hanging on past its time,
air that breaks the morning dark
for sharp winter light, sharp, that’s the word
for winter light, sharp like the daily-sharpened
blade of a hunter in the woods cleaning his kill,
or the butcher, behind his counter of fresh cut
flesh …

not at all like spring air, soft and almost weightless, airy light
that floats above the passions of spring re-birthings, light
with a smell of hope that all does not end, that all comes
again, spring light to clean the thick musk of a house
closed for months, tight against winter's sharp intrusions,
smelling of days like a prisoner’s cell, confined, waiting
for release, spring lit air, the release, clouds of re-commitment
to life and all it’s pleasures…

but of all the light,
it’s autumn’s I love the best,
escape for me
from the weight of summer’s oppression

so I slept this morning
outside in the dawning autumn light, covered
against the chill but welcoming its relief from the hanging
dogs of summer

time, again,
to remember a sweater in the morning light








Next, I have two short poems by Shail D.Patel. The poems are from the October 2007 edition of Poetry. The poems are the poet's first published works.



Mine

Pain trains an undisciplined mind.
I will end yours if you end mine.

Little feet, little feet are playing
Hopscotch among the landmines.

Hope has worked miracles before.
If yours didn't, how can mine?

I would have learned to welcome night,
If only you had been mine.

How dare you put words in God's mouth,
Shail?
Why not. He put ashes in mine.


The Rule

Discipline. Free will
Doesn't mean freewheel.

But what about Eros? Let
Eros harrow whom he will.

I have sipped my sip
and poisoned the well.

I am well pleased with my thirst.
I know my thirst no evil.

You will die of thirst, Shail.
If the salt sea wills.








I wrote this next poem in 2004 and used it in my 2005 book. A curious thing is that now, nearly seven years later, I, at 67, feel much less of the "slipping away" thing I talk about in the book than i did when i was younger.

I lay the improved attitude to the power of commitment, in my case to poetry, making me feel better about almost everything.

Of course the world and the country is still going to hell, but I decided to not make that my most pressing business any more.



slipping away

i
my mind is blind
to the crisp autumn sky
and the creek running clear
and the squirrel
teasing my dog,
a backyard clown
mocking
the quivering,
puffed-chest forward
self-righteousness
of a small dog
facing a large world...

my eyes see none of this,
for like a fist
clenched tight on itself
I am closed to all but anger,
a simmering constant
since the last election,
anger,
not just at the loss
of mine against theirs,
but at the outcome
as a symptom
of the progress of my life
in these later years,
like a lifetime
of being on the wrong side

ii
I feel the passing of time now
like never before,
time and opportunity
slipping away,
life space lost
like water squeezed
from a cloth,
disappearing in an eddy
down a drain,
leaving an approximation of me
to fill the place I had before
until the day I need no space at all

iii
as I read the obituaries in the morning
or stand at the grave of my father,
as I did this past week in a park
green with the growth of recent rain,
I cannot reconcile the contradictions
of death and life, how the life I see
in the obituary photos and the light
I remember in my father's eyes
can disappear in an on-rush of dark,
one minute to the next, life to death,
how it is that I too will slip some day
into that vortex of night and never return

iv
I think of the eternal nature of atoms
and how they combine and recombine
over uncountable eons to create
illusions of form
and in some of those illusory forms
a spark of life and consciousness
and beings like you and me
and all those whose obituaries
I read every morning
and my father, dead 25 years,
the illusion of him gone forever
to seed the soil he lies in
and the grass and trees and clouds
over his head and, someday,
in the great recycling of brings
all the old to something new,
perhaps another form with life
and a sense of self and a universe
outside of self that is the cradle
of that which is, evidence that
for life forever we first must die








My next two poems are by Claire Kageyama-Ramakrishnan . They are taken from her book, Shadow Mountain, winner of the Four Way Books Intro Prize in Poetry. The book was published in 2008.

Kageyama-Ramakrishnan was born in Santa Monica and raised in Los Angeles. She received her B.A. in English from Loyola Marymount University and earned a M.F.A. in poetry from the University of Virginia. She also earned an M.A. at the University of California, Berkeley. At the University of Houston she earned a Ph.D. in literature and creative writing. She lives in Houston with her husband an HIV/AIDS researcher at Balor College of Medicine and teaches at Houston Community College.



The Moon and Kaguya

It's September 15, 1989.
I'm twenty years old.
My name is Kaguya.

I speak to a flamingo wall.
Autumn lilies smile
in their sleep.
The sky listens.
A wise wind
blows my voice

into the dying apricots.
My hair is dark
as sumi ink.
I let it grow
and trail the back
of my kimono.

Now I change
into a morning dove.
I gather three-hundred twigs
to cup my eggs.
There's a blue jay
on thee wire.

I think I'll go
and become a butterfly.
I weave myself
a sugar cocoon
and sleep all year.
A child has licked
my wings.
I can't fly. I'll hide
in a giant pagoda.
A Velveeta moon rises.
A mother opossum is dead.
She lies on the cornstarch hill

curled like a croissant.
Blackbirds have ripped
her belly apart.
Her cubs wait
on the powder trail.
Flies and ants

carry her body in pieces.
They leave behind
her chocolate fur.
I pause
where crows form doves
on the plum horizon.

The oily sea is full
of seaweed lizards.
The sky is empty.
I'm grey on a square
in Escher's drawing
Yesterday

you dressed like a yellow tail tung.

(Kaguya, there isn't such a thing)
Be quiet moon, I just created it.
(You're only a woman, Kaguya.)
I'm a woman god.
Go away moon - get out of my poem.


(Who will be the moon if I leave?)
I'll make myself the moon.
I rise a new mother.
My children are th e platinum stars.
I feed them corn pebbles.
They ask me my name.

I tell them, I am the pickled moon of November.
Do not be afraid. The terrible moon
has gone away.


The sun is shining over Europe.
Tonight, I must rise in the East.
I help the wind grind shriveled
sardines into the soil.
We pull back our hair
like dried mushroom stems,

take scissors, cut it off,
until there's nothing left
but a stump of azaleas.


Origins of an Impulse

I can't tell you how it happened, just that
it happened after wet concrete, a shade
more salmon than pink. Brown ants
hurried with the current claiming bread
crumbs. It happened after the seeds of
interest spilled through me, after the garden
unfurled its roots. I learned to tie shoelaces
and spell "sand," "glass," " sage," "tar,"
"paper," "apple," and "orchard," after
my cousin died, never aged. It happened
after my sister and I stood on the left side
of the plaque,after a dusty breeze flinging
sand in our eyes and hair blew our coarse
strands to and fro in mid-air, messing up
our parts, our usually straight hair. It happened
after the sand irritated, tickled the unbaked
spaces between our toes, our feet pressed
into the foam of our flip-flops. It happened
after my mother gave me a typewriter, sky
and light blue, some ink ribbon. I wrote
how much I loved her. It happened after
our neighbor poisoned our dogs, mailed
postcards calling us "Shits" and "Japs,"
after one dog died. I wanted to dig its body
from the ground. It happened in grade school
when classmates said I had the nose of a gorilla;
in high school, when a classmate pressed
her nose with her hand, mocked the flatness
of mine. I gave up yellow, my favorite color,
started a lifelong love of lavender, wrote of
my mother's face in my face, staring at me,
her disdain when I dyed my hair red. It happened
with the anger of an electric typewriter, a dark
screened computer during college. It happened
wen I saw my mother's face in my face,
It happened with love, the impulse to write.








A good part of the day wasted, nothing changed except that I ended it more frustrated than I began it.



in the provinces

i
did it again yesterday,
spent too much time in
political argument,
discussion,
intercourse,
screaming match
on Facebook…

I am blessed
with friends, including
an unusual percentage
of such
who are, by any rational
definition,
wackos
of either the left or the right

well-meaning folks all,
prone
to posting their wacko
version of reality
on Facebook, such wacko
versions of reality relating
to actual reality
as a gas cloud in the toxic soup
of Venus
relates to a pecan grove
on a spring-cool hillside in Texas

and
I, subject to my instinctual mission
to correct fuzzy thinking world-wide (lost
cause though that may be) am prone
to responding ,
feeling a need, a duty even,
to shine a ray of rational thought
into their hysterias

a truly stupid
thing to do, I know, but I do it
anyway,
some kind of irrational compulsion
to be rational, and I am always astounded
at how astounded they are (both left and right) to discover
someone who has not yet received all the wisdom
they assume - sign of a kind of intellectual
amoeba life of intersecting cells
of party-line thought

intellectual provincialism, thinking no thought
that isn’t shared by all in their particular intellectual
province

growing up in a very small town
in very south Texas
I know about provincials
of all kinds, the particular shared truths
of a particular place and time and how they define
the way a life is supposed to be lived,
from certainty as to which is God’s preferred
religious practice to how to properly
fry your okra and boil your grits to whose
high school team plays the best football, and,
knowing all that, knowing also
all about the fate or heretics
as well

it’s clear I need to quit sticking my nose
into other people’s alternate reality
bubbles,
perfect instead
the knowing smile
of a zookeeper
watching primates in their mating
frenzy

it’s the rational thing
to do








Here's a poem by Leslie Ullman. It's from her book, winner of the Iowa Poetry Prize, Slow Work through Sand, published by The University of Iowa Press in 1998.

At the time of publication, Ullman was director of the creative writing program and the University of Texas - El Paso and also on the faculty of the MFA program at Vermont College.



Ambition

I
More than anything I wished I'd been named Mickey
like my mother's friend with the red convertible
and hair that cupped her head boldly, a bowl
of black feathers. My hair was the brown
of old grass, curly and sad, and it
never moved when I shook my head.
I was afraid of thunder and scrambled eggs
and other children. I was afraid of my bed at night
with no one to talk to. Mickey would tuck up
her feet and my mother handed her a drink
and I'd watch her, feeling a plan stir
behind my eyes like a room taking shape
with the lights off. Once she put down the top
and took me for a ride all my own - then Greenbay Road
was a tunnel of sky and leaves, blue wind
and summer, no waiting in the back seat
while my mother bought milk and cigarettes, no dinner
eaten early in the kitchen, bite by bite
like a job to get done - just both of us
flying, and my future rushing at the windshield.

II
All through first grade I placed myself
behind the girl with the longest hair to watch
her ponytail, which fell to her waist,
while the teacher read aloud. It followed her
like an angel, full of light, crouching
over her shoulder or nuzzling her back.
I watched until my own neck felt its weight.
That summer I tucked a cream-silk scarf
in my waistband and leapt over gulches,
reared, wheeled at hydrants turned to rocks
and cacti in my path. My tail lingered a moment,
an echo, everywhere I had been.

III
Once I learned to skate, winter
became my season. I stayed outside
until dark, gliding and darting,
leaning into the curve of a future.
The night the gold trophy took its place
by my bed, I stayed up overnight
at my best friend's house. The trophy waited.
It filled the room with a swelling image
of me, the crowd's cheer,while I fell asleep
a mile away. My throat burned with all the wind
I had swallowed that day, pumping
towards the finish that kept fading like a wish.
Over and over I saw the blue ice crack
at the starting gun, then the first
long turn, and the big girl in racers ahead;
I was neither boy nor girl, a sprite
stroking into pure white, winter's heart.

IV
I think none of us knew when prime rates
and measles and parent-teacher secrets
thickened the air in our house invisibly
as dust, along with dinners to gibe
and go to, cocktails every evening,
the lawn to keep trim, my brother or me
breaking our parents' sleep
with nightmares we couldn't describe;
when my parents' supple young selves
withdrew, taking with them a laughter
I may only have dreamed; when disappointment
seemed to have blown in from somewhere
like hard weather, and I took it upon myself
to perfect and polish and arrange
words like lovely stones,
to win the young gods back again and again.








I watch and I listen and it begins to seem painfully clear that the dream, in terms of practical implementation, is gone, probably never to return.

I wrote the poem in 2006, 42 years from those good times.



winter, 1964

twenty years old;

knee deep in snow
in the Manzana Mountains;

barrel racing
in the Sandia foothills;

building an adobe shed
to learn the art of making sun-dried bricks;

soldering two pipes to make a plumbing connection
so we'd know how to do it;

mimeographed notes
air mailed from Washington,
wet ink smeared in their passing
from hand to eager hand,
the blood and gristle and bones
of the Great Society being created,
passed from hand to eager hand;

watching LBJ
climb down from his helicopter
on a parking lot by the quad,
a week before the election;

knowing the world could be changed
and that I could help change it

knowing for sure and for the last time
that I was with the good guys
and the good guys could
win...

such dreams we had,
and we're better for the having -

who dreams such dreams now








Next, I have several short poems by James Laughlin from his book, The Secret Room, published by New Directions in 1997.

Laughlin founded the New Direction publishing house in 1936, while still and undergraduate at Harvard.



The Calendar of Fame

"Farewell, farewell, my beloved hands"
Said Rachmaninoff on his deathbed:
And Joseph Hofmann, the great pianist,
Invented the windshield wiper
From watching his metronome.
Genius that I am, all I can do
Is hit wrong keys on my typewriter.


The Consolations

The delights of old age
Are the little adventures
Of the imagination.
A beautiful face recalls another
That was so much loved long ago,
And we console ourselves
Saying "I'm young again."


The Cold Lake

That day when we went up
To Sanct Wolfgang, high
In the little mountains
Above Salzburg, the water
Was so cold we could only
Stay in it swimming about
Ten minutes. Though the
Sun was shining, our teeth
Chattering. We ran to the
Little dressing box we had
Rented. It was so tiny we
Had to stand up; to make
Love and get warm.


Motet: Ave Verum Corpus

My mother could not wait to go
To Jesus. Her poor, sad life
(Though she was money-rich)
Was made for that, to go to
Waiting Jesus.

Jesus loved her that she knew,
There was no doubt about it.
Up there above, somewhere among
The twinkling stars, there was
A place of no more tears where
He was waiting for her, blood-
Stained palms and side, he
Was waiting.


The Malevolent Sky

The sky was always too close
over them. With the sun by day
and the stars by night. It pressed
them tighter together than they
could bear. Once they had been
tender lovers, but the remorseless
sky destroyed them. the sky turned
them into walking corpses, into
shades of their former selves.








I see this fellow almost every day and, every day, am a little jealous of the ease he takes with life.



the holy fool

I am fortunate
to know a holy fool…

while I read two newspapers
every morning
for confirmation that everything
that happened
yesterday
will happen again today,
he
greets
each new day,
each new hour,
each new moment,
as a fresh creation, something
never seen, never felt,
in this universe
before

he is young
but older than me

older than me
but forever young

he is all of life
forever new, all of life
In a bouncing ball, all of life
in red balloons, all of life
in a hissing cat
protecting its newborn, all of life
in a baby at mother’s breast, all of life
in an uncut stone, waiting since creation
to become something new, life in a
hollowed stone, a cup waiting
to be filled

he is the holy fool
and he inspires
me

he takes
life
and makes it live








The next poems are by Carl Phillips. The poems are from his book Cortege, winner of the 1992 Morse Poetry Prize, published by Graywolf Press.

At the time of publication, Phillips, recipient of an Academy of American Poetry Prize, taught at Washington University in St. Louis and was visiting professor of creative writing at Harvard University.



Our Lady

in the final hour, our lady - Of
the electric rosary, Of the highway,
by then Of the snows mostly - was

the man he'd always been really,
though, yes, we'd sometimes forgotten.
Still, even while he lay fanning

as one might any spent flame, where
it was hot, between his legs, and
saying it didn't much matter anymore

about dying, what came of having
come too often, perhaps to what in
the end had fallen short of divine

always, he said that more than the
bare-chested dancers and all-conquering
bass-line that had marked his every

sudden, strobe-lit appearance, at
precisely the same moment, in all of
the city's best clubs; more than

the just-heated towels and the water
he'd called holy in those windowless
too thinly-walled, now all but

abandoned bath-houses, he regretted
the fine gowns that he'd made, just
by wearing them, famous; and then,

half, it seemed, to remind us,half
himself, he recreated the old shrug,
slowing rising from his hospital

robe - not green, he insisted, but
two shades, maybe three, shy of
turquoise - one shoulder to show

the words still tattooed there:
Adore me; for the moment, it was
possible to see it, the once

extraordinary beauty, the heated
grace for which we'd all of us,
once, so eagerly sought him.


Cotillion

Every one of these bodies,those in drag, those
not,loves a party,that month is clear. The blonde
with the amazing lashes - lashes, more amazingly,

his own - tells me it is like when a small bird
rises, sometimes, like the difficult thing is not to.
I think he is talking about joy or pain or desire

or any of the several things desire, sweet drug,
too sweet, can lead to. I think he means moments,
like this one, sudden, when in no time I know that

those lashes, the mouth that could use now more
painting, those hairless, shaven-for-the-event arms
whose skin, against the shine of the gown, a spill of

blood and sequins the arms themselves spill from,
glitters still, but dully,like what is not the
main prize does always - I know this man is mine,

if I want him. Meanwhile around us, the room fairly
staggers with men, and an aching to be lovely, loved,
even. As in any crowd lately, of people, the heavy

corsage of them stepping in groups, the torn bloom
that is each taking his own particular distance,
I think the trick is one neither of joining or not

joining, but of holding, as long as I can, to some
space between, call it rest for the wary, the slow
dragging to nowhere I call heaven. I'm dancing

maybe, but not on air: this time through water.








Delusion shattered by a quick injection of math.



term limits

indignant
when I learned
I could only serve
two three year terms
I protested
to the powers that
be

"unfair,"
I said, "I can never
do all that needs to be
done
in six years"

I fumed
at the injustice
of it all

until
that little voice inside
that always denies me
the comfort
of long-term self-
delusion
posts
this blunt assessment
in the hard drive
between my ears

at my age
three years times two
could be a
lifetime
appointment








I have a poem now by classical Chinese poet Yang Wan-Li from the book Heaven My Blanket, Earth My Pillow. The book was published in 2004 by White Pine Press. The poems in the book were tanslated to English by Jonathan Chaves.

Yang, largely unknown in the West before the publication of this book, was born into a poor family in Kiangsi in 1127. Living a largely uneventful life, he studied very hard as a young man to pass all the examinations required to advance into the Chinese bureaucracy that ran the government (the only path to advancement for a young man), then rose through the years to a high position in government before his death in 1206.

I enjoy very much the elegant plainness of early Chinese poetry,the day-to-day life of it, and I particularly like the way Chaves has reflected in his translation that plainness without forgetting its elegance.



Late Spring: On the Way to Yung-Ho

Not many days of spring left
but living in the mountains, it's hard to tell:
green haze - wind blowing through the wheat;
white ripple - sunlight dancing on the pond.

The scene is beautiful, but I'm feeling bad;
everyone else is happy - I alone am depressed.
So I walk through the countryside, gazing around
and, when I feel like ti, writing a poem.


Sitting Up at Night in Late Spring

1.

Spring passes quickly - I am ill.
and spring looks like autumn to my sick eyes.
Only the lamp takes pity on me
And brightens my depression on a sleepless night.

2.

My pain cries to heaven
    but heaven does not know.
Or heaven does know, but does not care.
I pick up the poems of Po Chu-i
and find a few moments of happiness.


Third Day of the Third Month, Rain: Written to Dispel My Depression

1.

I go out the door; it's raining, but I can't go back now,
so I borrow someone's bamboo hat to wear for a while.
Spring has tinted ten thousand leaves, and I didn't even know;
the clouds have taken a thousand mountains and swept them away.

2.

I look for flowers in the village
    but they hide from me on purpose;
and even when I find them,they only sadden me.
It would be better to lie down
    and listen to the rain
        in the spring mountains -
a quick downpour, then a few scattered drops.

3.

As spring dies the scenes grow more beautiful:
The poet will remember them for the rest of his life.
Level fields overflowing with green -
    wheat in every village;
soft waters reflecting red -
    flowers on every bank.


Hearing Hsiao Po-ho and His Son Shang-Ti Reading Aloud at Night

When I was young I was never away form my reading lamps;
I loved books so much that I grew thin and gaunt.
Now I'm old and lazy and can't rad anymore;
instead I lie and listen to my neighbors
    read aloud at night.








Looking at my old poems from the 2004, it occurs to me that I was a pretty down fellow, not nearly the more happy and contented I am now.

Maybe it was the war, stupid idea badly executed and bearing obscene fruit, maybe it was the politics, the despicable, swift-boated election, a feeling, since put away, off lose in my personal life, or, maybe it was crossing the age line to 60 early in the year.



Adam, Before the Fall

it's a picture in a magazine

an old silverback sits
amid the vines and bramble bushes
of his native rain forest,
a huge creature, but quiet and slow
and intent in each still moment
in the details of his
gorilla life


Adam,
before the fall

not knowing the devastation of his home
and his tribe,
the hunters who prize his meat as exotic taboo,
the fetishists who seek in his glands
the secret of some perpetual erotic high,
some eternal orgasm, some brute, untamed sexuality,
or of the seekers of kirsch, some knick-knack collector
who crows his wall with trophy heads, his floor with pelts
and, oh yes, how striking, a gorilla paw
for the keeping handy paperclips and gum erasers

not knowing how few are left,
how he and his family scattered around him
in their dwindling jungle are last survivors
of the great scourge of life called man

and a second picture

broad face full on, close up,
black eyes shining,
and in those eyes I see my death
and the decline of all my kind

Adams,
before the fall, deserted
by God








My last poems from my library this week are by Campbell McGrath, from his book Florida Poems, published by Harper Collins in 2002.

McGrath, whose awards and honors include the Kingsley Tufts Prize and fellowships from the Guggenheim and MacArthur Foundations, taught in the creative writing program at Florida International University in Miami at the time the book was published.



The Zebra Longwing

Forty years I've waited,
uncomprehending,
for these winter nights
when the butterflies
fold themselves like paper cranes
to sleep in the dangling
roots of orchids
boxed and hung
from the live oak tree.
How many there are.
Six. Eight. Eleven.
When I mist the spikes
and blossoms by moonlight
they stir but do not wake,
antennaed and dreaming
of passionflower
nectar. Never before
have they gifted us
in like manner, never before
have they stilled their flight
in our garden. Wings
have borne them away
from the silk
of the past as surely
as come merciful wind
has delivered us
to an anchorage of such
abundant grace,
Elizabeth. All my life
I have searched without knowing it,
for this moment.


Florida

If they had a spark of wit or vision
it would be known today as Cloudiana,
in honor of the mighty Alps and Andes
assembled and cast eastward as rain
and thunder each and every afternoon.

If they'd understood the grave
solemn ity of the sublime
it would be named for the great blue heron:

For longevity, the alligator;
for tenacity, the mosquito;
for absurdity, the landcrab.

If they had any sense
of history
it would be called Landgrab,

It would be called Exploitatiania,

for the bulldozed banyans,
lost cathedrals of mahogany and cypress,
savannas of sawgrass and sabal palm,
mangroves toiling to anchor their buttresses,
knitting and mending the watery verge.

Beautiful and useless, flowers
bloom and die
in every season here, their colors dissemble,
soft corpses underfoot.

If there were an justice in this world
it would be named
Mangrovia.








So much self-important silliness in the world, all you can do is laugh.



the righteous arrive to plead my cause

my breakfast
was cold
this morning

- my own fault,
being as how
I overslept

but nevertheless,
my strong conviction
that nothing is ever my
fault
leads me to believe
I should initiate
a demonstration in front
of this restaurant -

a cry of conscience,
assuming my moral responsibility
to insure
that no poor, overslept
person
such as myself
should ever again arise
from his/her oversleeping
to cold eggs and ham

I will be joined
by persons from the East,
warriors forever for the righteous cause
of the day,
who,
though
enjoying nice cozy warm breakfasts
all of their lives,
also enjoy a deeply human
and moral sensibility
that allows them to feel
my cold-breakfast
pain

- such deeply empathic
and morally uplifted are these
folks, true examples of the better
human kind, they are,
that they require no actual cold-
breakfast experience
to understand the psychological
damage
inflicted upon those
who oversleep
and are thus faced with a cold
pancake, uuuuugggh,
the very thought of it sets
the delicate empathic threads
that bind their special, deeper feeling
hearts
aquiver

they feel my pain and I am
uplifted
moved to my abjectly abused
core
honored even to be the object
of their fine-feelling…

they cannot allow this cold-breakfast
travesty to continue, they say,
so settled
now on their martyr’s cushions
in front of the restaurant
door, they are prepared now
to dedicate their disciplined activist
buttocks
to my cause…

but first,
being a democratic group
they elect a representative to
enter the capitalist-imperialist-military-
industrial -complex-loving and cold-breakfast-
serving-restaurant-pigs-of-the-establishment
establishment
to present their demands on my
behalf

(and order breakfast
for the 27 warriors for the rights of all human with whom which
they share this desperately abused planet
and they’ll certainly get to that problem once this cold-
breakfast atrocity is put to eternal rest
forever)

but
in the meantime,
hot coffee, hazelnut preferred,
and fresh squeezed
orange juice,
grown from non-genetically altered
organically grown trees,
as well,
of course







The end, for a while.

All stuff here belongs to its creators.

I'm allen itz, owner and producer of this blog. Color me gone.

1 Comments:
at 2:42 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

How sad that no comments have appeared when you have made such complex and nuanced poetry available for us to enjoy! I wanted to thank you for not censoring my poetry. I enjoyed your blog very much.--Patrick (once Pat) Califia

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