Color Splash   Thursday, November 17, 2011





All as usual,good poems and photos. I played with the photos this week, using a feature on Photobucket called "Color Splash" that allows you to change your color photos to black and white, then, using a little paintbrush thing, return the original colors to places on the photo that you choose. It makes an interesting effect, and is really striking if done on the right photos. Maybe I did; maybe I didn't, but I did it anyway.



Here's this week's posse:


David Meltzer
Lamentation for Celine
Lamentation for Jack Spicer


Me
another few moments in the prosaic saga of me

Bobby Byrd
Motel Room
Traveling by Air
Body of Christ, Texas


Me
all fuzz-brained

Philip Larkin
High Windows
Forget What They Did


Me
deep thoughts to be thunk in 2009

From Poetry for the Earth
Basho
Year’s End
Anna Akhmatova
Tashkent Breaks into Blossoms
Walt Whitman
From Song of Myself
Alice Walker
On Sight

Me
just another artifact

From the Kanginshu
Six short songs

Me
time, liquid as a river, flows - as I wait

William Matthews
Night Driving
Eternally Undismayed Are the Poolshooters
Herd of Buffalo Crossing the Missouri on Ice


Me
boots, no saddle

From Spillway
Alex Richardson
Vacation
Bill Ransom
Catechista

Me
discovery

Federico Garcia Lorca
The Guitar
Riddle of the Guitar
Farewell
Gracela of the Bitter Root


Me
it is early, still, in our relationship

Octavio Paz
Night, Day, Night

Me
a real loss to poetry

Shirley Kaufman
Bread and Water
Snow in Jerusalem
"The World’s Longest Tramway" at Albuquerque


Me
spiders dancing

James Hoggard
Conception
Getting Groceries
By the Riverside Down


Me
thanks a bunch









First off this week,here a a couple of pieces by David Meltzer, from David's Copy: The Selected Poems of David Meltzer, published in 2005 by Penguin Books.

Meltzer, born in 1937, is a poet and musician of the Beat Generation and San Francisco Renaissance. He also a jazz guitarist, Cabalist scholar, and the author of more than 50 books of poetry and prose.



Lamentation for Celine

Dead the day Hemingway blew his brains out in Ketchum.

Celine died of contagious poison
crawled on hands & knee3s to our plate
& puked it all out

like Artaud, Rimbaudhe chucked up his gripes
& barfed back at the dogs

Mean Frog doc loved his kids
had none, had icey blue eyes
WW I shrapnel in his brain
and electric sander hits a knothole every second

Disorder prophet
healer, wife-beater
one with people who talk to themselves
argue with history's phantoms
confer with shadowy bomb-throwers in burgundy silk suits
framed in cinema alleyways
offering up gold for bridge or a boat
or Paradise to slay the King murder the Leader

Upstairs, a radio's too loud
a man pounds his head against plaster
a sniper loads up
another man bangs his wife's head open with an iron fryingpan
rushes her howling to the doctor's pigpen salon
& Louis-Ferdinand swabs out the muck
sews her up & out she goes, she & the old man
hold to earth, stumble into Atlantis
knock off a half-pint
Celine was one with men
whose hair grows out of the heart
into the head & onto the chin
Remplestiltsken wolf-man

Like them he saw thru the world like a worm thru a tomato

Died the day Hemingway blew his brains out in a hunting lodge
in Ketchum, watching a mountain range disappear


Lamentation for Jack Spicer

Sir, I'm out of touch with stars.
The bar's closed. We go
stumbling down Grant to Columbus
to the Park to somebody's parked car.
Somebody says, Let's all go to Ebbe's.
Says Ebbe, Sure, why not, let's all go.
We're gone in the car, piled in the back
seat, breathing wine on the windowpanes.
This, seven years ago. Tonight.

It is pain to realize you're dead,
your last book on the shelf,
your last words to a nation
not indivisible but invisible;
a nation that will never will its mystery to poets
who even in Greece weren't poet enough to handle man
nor touch the dark forms. Gone.
Maybe that night it was Marco
who fell back upon a park bush.

We left him there to sleep.

The Jew in me is the ghost of me
hiding under a stairway

or retuning home to a hovel
to find table & a chair
wrecked by Golem's fist

bed broken, my black rags
hanging from his teeth.








Yes, it's true, everyone has to find an aim in life.



another few moments in the prosaic saga of me

for the past several years
I have eaten breakfast at the same
restaurant, a pleasant place,
food fair, waitresses who wait
for me in the morning, concerned
if I’m late, as if I might have fallen
into the depths of the Mariana trench,
or taken by the rapture, or abducted
by inter-galactic aliens, then relieved
and somewhat peeved when I finally walk
through the doors all fine and dandy
after oversleeping-

there are great windows
that I can sit by and imagine weather,
usually better than the weather I can see,
and the people zoom-zooming on I-10,
some commuters, some far-travelers,
all subject to my fantasy-extrapolations
of their lives, the trees and the wind and
the meadow across the way where the deer
but no antelope roam - all this imaginary
landscape and wifi and an electrical
outlet in the last booth by the wall
that they try to hold for me, and just
enough other breakfasters come in
to maintain the quiet buzz of humanity
that I require to fire my creative impulses
and whatever poem I’ll write for the day

for the past couple of the several years
I’ve been eating here, I set myself the goal
of spending no more than $5 a day for breakfast,
including coffee and my senior discount…

I tend to do this kind of thing to myself,
set myself up with some kind of ridiculous
quest like this that I’m too stubborn
to turn away from even when the foolish
triviality of the quest becomes apparent
to everyone, including me…

except now,
when I have become very tired of one
toasted biscuit with sausage gravy
every morning, $4.95, less senior discount,
$4.71, not including $2 tip about which
I made an executive decision early on
not to apply to my $5.00 ceiling…

so I have decided, just decided, in fact,
that I will abandoned my every day $5.00
limit and set one day a week, Tuesday,
probably, when I can raise my breakfast
ceiling to $10 - enough for half a waffle
or half an eggs benedict, or one egg,
toast and bacon or sausage (no ham)
or maybe even a whole bowl of oatmeal
(no toast)

and with this ever-so-slight adjustment
I am certain my quest (though minutely altered)
will continue undiminished or abandoned
or left by the roadside of promises
broken - a promise to myself, the worst
kind of broken promise…

I can hardly wait until next
Tuesday...

I'm thinking egg-benedict,
$7.94
with coffee








I have three poems by Bobby Byrd, from his book White Panties, Dead Friends & Other Bits & Pieces of Love. The book was published by Cinco Puntos Press in 2006.

Byrd, poet, essayist and publisher, grew up in Memphis. In 1963, he went to Tucson where he attended the university. In 1978, he and his family moved to El Paso and have made the city and border region home since.

I would say, though, in defense of little Ozona that, small though it might be, they have a first class Dairy Queen and a very good Mexican restaurant run by a cook/artist proprietor.



Motel Room

Ozona,Texas.
Empty. Empty
As a wine bottle


Traveling by Air

The schizophrenic woman
black curly hair square jaw
smoked her cigarette
and watched the full moon
navigate the bright skies.
I said: "It's a pretty night, huh?"
She didn't answer my question.
She knitted her thick eyebrows
and puffed on her fag.
Thinking is work.

She was moving ideas around
in her head like furniture.
Furry clouds scattered like frightened dogs.
She said she sees things printed in the sky.
"The clouds tell me stories.
Like a regular storybook.
Look, there," she said, "there's an angel."
I follow her finger toward a cloud
swirling around the moon.
The night got darker.
The woman swallowed more smoke
and blew it at the sky.
the smoke was a shield to protect us.
A weapon.
She said: "I don't like angels.
They can't be trusted."
She smashed the cigarette into a dish and lit another.
She took a drag and sucked up the smoke through her nose.
She was an expert.
The fresh cigarette was like a new idea.
She relaxed. She lay back in her chair.
She said: "My mom and dad,
They're both dead.
They just went away.
I'm glad.
But lots of times I see them in the sky.
And today I saw an airplane
big enough
to pick me up and take me away.
It had windows and a toilet and everything."


Body of Christ, Texas

September 1999

A motel room for 45 bucks a night.
The American League Championship Series.
Boston ahead 2-1, bottom of the 7th.
Good.
I hate the Yanks.
I fix a martini.
Life is okay thus far.
But Knobloch doubles to left.
Score tied 2-2.
Fuck the Yanks.
There's no hope for the world.
There never was.
Than comes the knock on the door.
A skinny woman wants me to help her with her boat.
The boat sits on a trailer and the trailer is hitched to a red Trans-Am.
The car is old and beat-up.
Yellow Mexican plates.
The woman is taller than I am, wearing those black wedges on her feet.
I like tall women.
Silver toenails.
Brown hair.
Sunglasses.
Leathery brown skin from too much sun.
She lives near a Mexican beach on a street at the edge of middle age.
She wants to die before she's 50.
She has long leg, and she's so thin
I could put my fist between the flesh of her thighs.
the boat is a white speedboat.
It has two huge Mercury outboard Motors perched on the stern.
She uses the boat to smuggle prophecy and other contraband
into the heart of the American Empire.
I tell her that Mercury was the messenger for the gods.
Also a thief and a capitalist.
Like a good American citizen, she says.
Like George Steinbrenner,I saay.
Like the fucking Yankees.
She says I have been selected.
She says we will be going somewhere soon.
My job is to be ready.







Sometimes the cure is worse than the diesease.



all fuzz-brained

walking
around Alamo Heights,
near the coffeehouse where
I spend my morning, a chilled, over-
cast day, walking,
trying to clear my head,
fuzz-brained this morning
from the little atomic pill
I took last night to get some sleep…

and it’s nearly eleven o’clock
and I’m trying to write a poem
hours after I normally write my
poem and it does seem poets have
a daily shelf-life and mine has
expired and I am
due
for the poetry barge
that dumps expired poems
into the Mariana Trency in the Atlantic,
or maybe the surplus van where
expired poems go
to be distributed to
the lyrically
needy
starving for the word, even
old, used-up words
from old used-up
poets,
overdue, past their sell-by-dates
even for the Goodwill
poetry
store,
a defunct-poetry
contribution
scornfully refused
like
a torn tee-shirt
with obscene words
screen-printed front
and back,
or a three-wheeled lawnmower
or a two-legged bar stool,
or a wobbly, bottom-rusted,
one-wheeled wheelbarrow...

and old, mis-used poets
past distressed,
no good
even for the desperate…

and
I am desperate,
standing on the corner of poetry avenue
and inspiration highway,
holding my little cardboard sign,
hungry for the word
“will work for a poem,” the sign
says,
“veteran poet,” the sign says…

I’m fuzz-brained, the sign says,
took a little atomic pill last night
to sleep, and now I’m fuzz-brained
and can’t find my little morning poem
anywhere - not actually all said
on the little cardboard sign,
but implied by the capital letters
and blood red ink of the sign...

desperate…

“help !” it says, “send me a poem…”

“roses are red
violets are blue…”

“I’m all fuzz-brained,
how about you?”








Next,I have two poems, including the title poem, by Philip Larkin, from his chapbook, High Windows.



High Windows

When I see a couple of kids
And I guess he's fucking her and she's
Taking pills or wearing a diaphragm,
I know this is paradise.

Everyone old has dreamed of all their lives -
Bonds and gestures pushed to one side
Like an outdated combine harvester,
And everyone young going down the long slide

To happiness, endlessly. I wonder if
anyone looked at me, forty years back,
And thought,That'll be the life;
No God any more, or sweating in the dark

About hell and that, or having to hide
What you think of the priest. He
and his lot will all go down the long slide
Like free bloody birds.
And immediately

Rather than words comes the thought of high windows:
The sun-comprehending glass,
And beyond it, the deep blue air, that shows
Nothing, and is nowhere, and is endless.


Forget What Did

Stopping the diary
Was a stun to memory,
Was a blank starting,

One no longer cicatrized
By such words,such actions
As bleakened waking.

I wanted them over,
Hurried to burial
And looked back on

Like the wars and winters
Missing behind the windows
Of an opaque childhood.

And the empty pages?
Should they ever be filled
Let it be with observed

Celestial recurrences,
The day the flowers come,
And when the birds go.








Here's a poem from 2009, complete with original dedication. Seems things never change.



deep thoughts to be thunk in 2009

Dedicated to all the deep thinkers at "National Review," "Weekly Standard" and the like as well as all those deep thinkers formerly occupying high levels of government and currently seeking to hock their GWB magic decoder rings.

as with many people
I like to think deep
thoughts
about things i know
nothing
about

an explanation,
some might say,
as to why
all
the world’s problems
I solved
last year are back on the table
today

balderdash,
as we
deep-thinkers like to say

obviously
the world wasn’t paying
adequate attention

meaning
I’m just going to have to
deep-think
louder
in 2009








I have several poets from the anthology, Poetry for the Earth, with the very long sub-title, "A collection of poems from around the world that celebrate nature. The book was published by Fawcett Columbine in 1991.



The first poet from the book is the Chinese master, Basho


Year's End

Year's end,
all corners
of this floating world, swept.


Next, something a little longer by Anna Akhmatova. The poem was translated by Richard McKane.


Tashkent Breaks into Blossom

1

As if somebody ordered it
the city suddenly became bright -
every courtyard was visited
by white, light apparitions.
Their breathing is more understandable than words,
but their likeness is doomed to lie
at the bottom of the ditch
under the burning blue sky.

2

I will remember the roof of stars
and the radiance of eternal glory,
and the little kids
in the young arms
of dark-haired mothers.


And now, something by the father of modern American poetry, Walt Whitman.


From Song of Myself

I believe a leaf of grass is no less than the journey-work of
   the stars,
And the prismire is equally perfect, and a grain of sand, and the
   egg of wren,
And teh tree-toad is a chef-d'oeuvre for the highest,
And the running blackberry would adorn the parlors of
   heaven,
And the narrowest hinge in my hand puts to scorn all
   machinery,

And the cow crunching with depress'd head surpasses any
   statue,
And a mouse is miracle enough to stagger sextillions of
   infidels.
I find I incorporate gneiss, coal, long-threaded moss, fruits,
   grains, esculent roots,
And I have stucco'd with quadrupeds and birds all over,
And have distanced what is behind me for good reasons,
But call any thing back again when I desire it.

In vain the speeding or shyness.
In vain the plutonic rocks send their old heart against my
   approach,
In vain the mastodon retreats beneath its own powder'd
   bones,
In vain objects stand leagues off and assume manifold shapes,
In vain the ocean setting in hollows and the great monsters
   lying low,
In vain the buzzard houses herself with the sky,
In vain the snake slides through the creepers and logs,
In vain the elk takes to the inner passes of the woods,
In vain the razor-bill'd auk sails far north to Labrador,
I follow quickly, I ascend to the nest in the fissure off the
   cliff.


And last from the anthology, I have this by Alice Walker.


On Sight

I am so thankful I have seen
The Desert
And the creatures in The Desert
and the desert itself.

The Desert has its own moon
Which I have seen
With my own eye.

There is no flag on it.

Trees of the desert have arms
All of which are always up
That is because the moon is up
The sun is up
Also the sky
The stars
Clouds
None with flags.




.



What a shock. I'm old.



just another artifact

in my coffeehouse
in the afternoon
listening
to a couple of college students
behind me
talk about, prepare for,
a history test…

American history
from the fifties, sixties and seventies,
history I lived, prime-time
me

and how strange
it is to hear my life from
a college lesson plan, from
a history book…

the names are the same,
Eisenhower, Kenedy, Johnson,
Nixon,Agnew, John Foster Dulles, Nikita
Kruschev, Charles DeGaulle, Mao, and the
places are the same and the wars
and their battles are the same, Suez,
Berlin, VietNam, Chicago…

but how remote and dry they all sound
coming from the mouths of babes, so much
simpler it seems when they talk about it
than it was at the time,
so different it all sounds
without the passions of the time,
such an artificial sense of order
when the past is seen from the future…

maybe not the first time this kind of chronological
dissonance has happened in my life, maybe
just the first time I heard it

and how strange
it is to hear it, to recognize
how so much of my life has been relegated
to freshman history, how bizarre it feels
to be of the past
when it’s the future I still
look to

I feel the dust
settling
on my grave, and,
in the young voices of these students,
new grass growing
over it








I had saved this space for a young poet I met here in San Antonio last week. I read some of his stuff and liked it. Apparently he couldn't get his material to me in time for this post. Maybe next week.

In the meantime, here are some pieces from the book Simmering Away, a collection of songs from the Kanginshu, published by White Prine Press in 2006.

The Kanginsbu is a classic Japanese poetry collection which appeared in Japan in the early 16th century.

The poems, translated by Yashuhiko Moriguchi and David Jenkins, are not titled.


^^^


Who is this
     (you naughty boy!)
that hugs me tight
and bites me,
a married woman

     but it's fun
     we're in full bloom
          at seventeen
          we're in full bloom
          at seventeen

but nibble gently -
if your teeth leave marks,
then he will know


^^^


My hair
that I had just tied up
has loosened,
     gently tumbling,
     as my heart
     has fallen for you


^^^


How I envy
this my heart
     always with you
     night and day


^^^


with love in your eyes
   pour your wine
     into my cup
   pour your wine
with love in your eyes


^^^


The plum blossoms
are manhandled
by the rain,
the puffs of willow seed
by the wind,
     and always,
     our world
     by lies


^^^


The scent of fine incense
leaks through the reed screen

     cold wind in the trees

on such an evening
you can even sense
the fragrance off the moon








I am a punctuality fanatic. Best to just say that some people in my circle of domesticity are not.



time, liquid as a river, flows - as I wait

I am married
to a woman who sees time
as a liquid,
flowing like a river,
subject to such diversions
of speed and course
as an individual’s needs
and desires might
direct…

I on the other hand
know
that time is a product
of another kind of
motion,
the moon circling the earth,
the earth circling the sun,
the sun intent in its own galactic
revolutions, and the galaxy, itself,
moving within a universe
that takes its own path, motion,
always constant, making time,
also always constant,
making her always late
and me always early

my wife believes
time is a liquid flowing,
like a river, easily distracted
from its normal course

and it so frustrates me,
even as I write this, waiting,
understanding the constancy
of all but us, the need for us
to adapt to the constancy of the universe
and not the other way around

I wait,
as the moon circles
and the earth circles
and the sun circles
and the galaxy circles
and as the universe moves
ever outward, not caring if we are late,
like now, though
I do,
under the moon and the sun
and the universal motions
of galaxies and universal tides
as I wait
and wait and
wait…

another constant
in my life








I have three poems by William Matthews, from his book, Search Party - Collected Poems. The book was published in 2004 by Houghton Mifflin.

Matthews was born in Cincinnati in 1942, and educated at Yale University and the University of North Carolina. He taught and lectured all over the United States. At the time of his death in 1997, he was professor of English and director of the writing program at the City University of New York.

He won the National Book Critics Circle Award in 1995, two years before his death.



Night Driving

You follow into their dark tips
those two skewed tunnels of light.
Ahead of you, they seem to meet.
When you blink, it is the future.


Eternally Undismayed Are the Poolshooters

for Robert Preston

A slow circular flail of fan
not moving the still air.
Shee-it. Slap of pool balls. Hot.
Arms sag from sweat-stained sockets,
drenched tendrils.

"It's so hot at my place
you can hear the paint crack."

Everything's slick with a soft sweaty grit.
In the parking lot
a sponge-tongued beagle
spurns a dirty puddle
shaped like a woman's foot,
crumples into the shade
beneath a Buick, sleeps.

She loved heat.
On the beach for hours
like a snake, then daintily
to the water, foamtoes,
one deep breast-heaving breath
and in.

"104 out there. Too hot to fuck.
I once love a woman left me
on a day like this."
We woke marbled with sweat.
"Those days I was working straight commission,
I could sell a truss to a trout.
I said, my love
let's buy an airconditioner.
She put my shirt on, then her slacks."
Like a bride aiming her bouquet of a tubby friend, she tossed me
her underpants and left.
"I haven't seen her since."

Each ball slides for no reason
where it wants,
glasses of beer warm up to room
temperature (about 78 degrees)
at the same pace
the balls click quietly
like tumblers in a lock.
Freddie brings the paper in,
hangs around, goes back out.
Nothing from the poolshooters,
faces of camels
working their gums
among the smoke rings.


Herd of Buffalo Crossing rthe MIssouri on Ice

If drangonflies can mate atop the surface tension
of water, surely these tons of bison can mince
across the river, their fur peeling in strips like old

wallpaper, their huge eyes adjusting to how far
they see when there's no big or little bluestem,
no Indian grass nor prairie cord grass to plod through.

Maybe it's because it's bright in the blown snow
and swirling grit, their vast heads are lowered
to the gray ice: nothing to eat, little to smell.

They have their own currents. You could watch a herd
of running pronghorn swerve like a river rounding
a meander and see better what I mean. But

bison are deeper, deliberate water, and there will
never be enough water for any West but the one
into which we watch these bison carefully disappear.








Don't wear boots anymore (as a diabetic, have to be more solicitous of my feet, but I wish I did.

This is a poem from 2009.



boots, no saddle

never
was a cowboy
but did wear boots

most of my adult
life,
always owned

two pair of dress boots
one black
and one brown

worn depending
on the color suit
i was wearing that day

one pair of
not-dress-up boots,
that were the dress-up-pair

last replaced
and one pair of
work-outside-in-the-rough

boots,
the-not-dress-up boots
in their final

incarnation -
never paid more than
$100 for a pair of boots,

no fancy stitching,
no alligator or lizard
or emu or boa constrictor,

just your basic plain old cow-wear,
and all were beneficiaries
of multiple visits

to shoe repair elf
as they made their way
through their various lives

from boardroom
to muddy field -
well-traveled

were my boots
when finally
discarded -

now
i’ve been to
run-of-the mill

shopping mall
boot stores
with boots on their shelves

with $3,000 to $4,000
price tags
and have never figured

out
why people with that much
money to spend

on basic footwear
would spend it
on ready-made off-the-shelf

boots
when there are so many
master-craftsmen

in the business
of custom boot-making
in South Texas,

cobblers
to presidents and kings
who would custom-create

a one-of-a kind pair of boots
fitted precisely to the buyer’s feet
for half that price -

has to be some kind of
deviant mental or moral condition
is the way i see it

from my perch
in the $100 boot
section








Next, I have two poets from the Spring/Summer 1999 issue of Spillway.



The first poem is by Alex Richardson. He received his master's degree in creative writing and Renaissance drama in 1991 from the University of South Carolina. At the time of publication, he lived in Mississippi.


Vacation

We rest cross-legged on the silver porch
And talk about ourselves:
You say you have a certain feeling
For our future.
That everything we say we want
Will work its way into our lives.
We fill in the last crosswords together:
four letters for "Indian garment,"
Seven letters for "Indefinite time,"
And talk some more about what we'll do
Tomorrow or the next day.
Having said everything twice
We look respectfully to the sea,
Receding from where we sit
Sipping tea and whiskey,
Read tide charts and ocean almanacs,
Occasionally lifting our heads
Towards the perfect flight of gulls,
The windy dives of pelicans
Undulating green.


The second poet from the journal is Bill Ransom, author of many books of poetry, short fiction and journalism and a nominee for a Pulitzer Prize for his poetry.


Chatechista

Guatemalan villagers-lay down a red and white bed of petals
in Mayan design from the airport to the national cathedral.
Tomorrow the Pope will kiss the grieving earth and
crush the petals under his new bulletproof tires.

Soldiers fidget at the ready while a giant cross
tilts into place at the end of the fragrant path.
Their gazes flick about the crowd, and their
fingers click select to full auto on their rifles.

Religion is a dangerous business here. The president
preaches in tongues and offers real blood to the highlands.
This woman beside me stinks. She walked barefoot
three hundred miles for a glimpse of the car of the Pope.

Her foot, black with gangrene, split like a ripe plum,

oozes something thick and green onto these crisp,
white petals. "Help me," she whispers, "in the name
of God." She will die here, and soon, with or without God.

But I spend a handful of Ceclor on my conscience
and tell her the foot has to come off. She nods.
Her lusterless eyes stare at the pills in her palm.
I shift my aging sack of healthy flesh upwind.








Clarity, fading quickly, is the best I ever do.



discovery

the serenity
of the moment
before

the micro-gnat
of a second when the universe
stops to inhale

before breathing again
with a gasp of stars
shaken and stirred in their orbits

the idea,
the thought complete,
all the pieces floating in confusion

slide through the chaos
to find their place
together

and you know
you finally know
how your life fits in the greater

pulsing ocean of creatures
like and unlike
yourself

the greater scheme
is yours, now it is only
to not forget

again








Here are four short poems by Federico Garcia Lorca, from his book In Search of Duende. (Duende, as frequently used, refers to, in modern parlance, "soul" or authenticity.)

This is a bilingual book, Spanish and English translation on facing pages.

Lorca, born in 1898, was executed in 1936 by anti-communist death squads during the Spanish Civil War. A poet, dramatist and theatre director. he achieved international recognition as an emblematic member of the "Generation of '27," an influential group of poets that arose in Spanish literary circles between 1923 and 1927, essentially out of a shared desire to experience and work with avant-garde forms of art and poetry.



The Guitar

The guitar
begins its weeping.
The wineglasses of dawn
are shattered.
The guitar
begins its weeping.
It is useless
to hush it.
Impossible
to hush it.
It cries monotonously,
as the water cries,
as the wind cries
over the snowfield.
It is impossible
to hush it.
It cries
for distant things.
Sand from the hot South
asking for white camellias.
It cries, arrow with no target,
evening with no morning,
and the first bird
dead on the branch.
Oh guitar!
Heart mortally wounded
by five swords.

(Translation by Christopher Maurer>)


Riddle of the Guitar

At the round
crossroads,
six maidens
are dancing.
Three of flesh,
three of silver.
Yesterday's dreams pursue them,
but they are held fast
by a golden Polyphemus.
The guitar!

(Translation by Christopher Maurer.)


Farewell

If I die,
leave the balcony open.

The little boy is eating oranges.
(From my balcony I can see him.)

The reaper is harvesting the wheat.
(From my balcony I can hear him.)

If I die,
leave the balcony open!

(Translated by W.S. Merwin


Gracela of the Bitter Root

There is a bitter root
and the world has a thousand terraces.

NOr can the smallest hand
shatter the door of water.

Where are you going, where, oh where?
The sky has a thousand windows
- battle of the livid bees -
and there is a bitter root.

Bitter.

The ache in the sole of the foot
is the ache inside the face,
and it aches in the fresh trunk
of night only just lopped off.

Live, my enemy,
bite our bitter root!

(Translated by Edwin Honig.)








This is a poem from 2009. Mr. Potter is still there, along with her year-old son, George, so-named because of a resemblance to Boy George. Both accept my offering of food, daily, but not my offer of an ear-scratch.



it is early, still, in our relationship

smooth, soft fur, a banker-cat,
slick,
dressed
in charcoal gray,
yellow eyes, pink tongue,
and white needle teeth
ready to foreclose on any food
that wanders her way,
dead or soon-to-be dead
if mouse or lizard or
other scurrying thing

a street cat,
sly, shy,
she has come to accept me
as a reliable food source,
comes to my front porch when
she knows i’m around,
sits and waits for a handful
of kitty chow,
appreciates
my patronage but still won’t
let me come too close -
i sat with her, about a foot and a half away,
for ten minutes this afternoon,
the closest she’s let me,

we talked,
or rather i talked
while she munched the cat food
i brought out for her, she watched
while i talked, watched and munched,
listened?
i don’t know, could be...

it’s still early in our relationship,
but i think we have begun
to communicate...

i think i'll call her
Mr. Potter
unless
gender identity issues
become a problem








Sticking to bi-lingual, Spanish/English books, here is a poem by Mexican poet, diplomat, and winner of the 1990 Nobel Prize for Literature, Octavio Paz. He was born in 1914 and died in 1998.

The poem is from the book The Collection Poems of Octavio Paz, 1957-1987. It was published by New Directions in 1990.

The poems were translated by the book's editor, Eliot Weinberger.



Night, Day, Night

1

Stream of light: a bird
singing on the terrace.
In the valleys and mountains
of your body it dawns.

2

Fire asleep in the night,
water that wakes laughing.

3

Under the leafy canopy of your hair,
your forehead:

        a bower,
a clarity among the branches.
I think about gardens:
to be the wind that shakes your memory,
to be the sun that clears through your thicket!

4

At the foot of the palm tree,
tall as a savage,
rippling green against rhe warrior sun,
you rest.

        Your body
a backwater in the shadows.
Stillness. Vast noon
barely throbs.
Between your legs time, stubborn, flows.

5

A vein of sun,living gold,
grooves, crosses, spirals,
green constellations:
the triangular insect
moves through the grass
at three of four millimeters an hous.
For an instant you held it
in the palm of your hand
(where fate traces its arabesque secrets):
it is a living jewel, a creature
fallen, perhaps, from Titania,

- and reverently you let it go,
back to the Great All.

6

The day,ultimate flower,
hour by hour it burns.
Another flower, black sprouts.
Imperceptibly you cross
the shadows and enter,
lady of night.
Barely a wave,
barely aroma, white,
you stretch out on my bed.
And become a woman again.

7

Plain of sheets
and night of bodies,
tide of desire
and grotto of dreams.

8

an intangible village
sleeps under your eyelids:
avid whirlwinds,
children of touch become flesh,
drink blood, are the changing
forms of desire
and are always the same:
face after face
of the life that is death,
of the death that is life.








I really had fun writing this poem; I hope you enjoy it almost as much as me.



a real loss to poetry

it was a golden night
no moon
stars buried
behind thick low
clouds
reflecting back to the ground
and streets and houses
the golden light of the city
never sleeping golden light
filtering through the trees
like spun gold orange shadows
in the golden night
and down at the creek water
flowed in golden bubbles of light
while the crickets
cricked
and the frogs farted
and oh crap
haven’t I done this
before
and who cares
anyway
poetry
is a serious business
and ought to be about
serious things
like
how about
that helium
if I ate a ham
and helium sandwich
would I rise to the ceiling
like those balloons they give
to kids at the supermarket
who let go of the balloon
and the balloon rises to the
ceiling which is lined with
balloons given to kids
who let the balloons go,
red blue yellow green
what a bunch of colors
lining the supermarket
ceiling
and what about if I ate
two ham and helium
sandwiches or maybe
three
would I float away
into the sky
if outside where
there is not super
market ceiling to keep
me safe would this be
a new mode of green
energy for air transportation
great airplanes guided
through the air by
teams of pilots gorging
on ham and helium sand
wiches and what about
the porpoise, Einstein
of the sea, Aristotle
with fins, Plato
with a snout and
a jolly smile what
do you call more than
one porpoise - is it
porpiees, maybe, and
what about a gathering
of porpiees not a “school”
cause that’s fish and porpiees
are not fish and not a “herd” cause
that’s cows and horses and sheep
and porpiees are none of those
and not a “swarm” cause that’s
bees and not a “flock” cause that’s geese
and chickens and not a pod because
that’s whales (which I think is
a silly name for something as vastly
gargantuan as a congregation of whales -
it would be much better if we called such
a gathering a “tundra” or something
else equally as vastly
gargantuan, but that’s just me)
and at least whales
are mammals like
porpiees and not fish even
though like whales porpiees
like the water and frolic all about
in it a least the porpiees I saw
at Seaworld like to frolic around
in the water so maybe a group
of porpiees who travel together
might be called a “frolic”
but that’s just a suggestion

and anyway I could go on and on
because there’s lots
and lots of important things
poetry should deal with instead
of getting stuck in frou-frou poems
about golden nights and cloudy skies
and absent stars and vanished moons
and crickets and frogs and what about
those frogs and the way they mate
in Amarillo has anyone ever written
a poem about that well I did
but no one else and that’s a real
loss to poetry

I’m telling you a real
loss








Next, I have three poems by Shirley Kaufman, from her book, Rivers of Salt, published in 1993 by Copper Canyon Press.

Kaufman, daughter of Polish immigrants, was born and grew up in Seattle. She graduated from James A. Garfield High School in 1940 and from University of California, Los Angeles in 1944, She and her husband immigrated to Jerusalem in 1973.

I've used the first of the three poems before,but it is such a powerful expression of oppression and hope that I decided to use it again.



Bread and Water

After the Leningrad trials, after solitary confinement
mot of eleven years in a Siberian Gulag, he told us
this story. One slice of sour black bread a day.
He trimmed off the crust and saved it for the last
since it was the best part. Crunchy, even a little sweet.
Then he crumbled the slice into tiny pieces. And ate
them, one crumb at a time. So they lasted all day. Not
the cup of hot water. First he warmed his hands around it.
then he rubbed the cup up and down his chest to warm his
body. And drank it fast. Whey, we asked him, why not
like the bread? Sometimes, he said, there was more hot
water in the jug the guard wheeled around to the prisoners.
Sometimes a guard would ladle a second cup. It helped
to believe in such kindness.


Snow in Jerusalem

After it stops the air is still
whirling around our house and the pine trees
shake out their iced wings the way
dogs shed the sea from their bodies
after a swim, a white curst slides
like shingles down the backs of the branches,
soft clumps loosen themselves from
sills and ledges, fall past our window
with the swoosh of small birds
or of moths at night that beat themselves
senseless against the lamp until
we switch it off and reach for each other,
warm and slightly unraveled under
the worn nap,under the flannel
of the snow sky, under the overhanging
sorrow the city listening to the
plop, plop, it's all coming clean now,
starting to thaw a little from the inside.


"The World's Longest Tramway" at Albuquerque

Once on the Gornegrat I thought the wind
would sweep me out of my body,
all the immensity of light
and the gates wide open.
If I didn't look back
I'd be lost.

Looking back is the problem.
Every chunk of the poor earth keeps us
accountable, this scrub
and the dwindling pines
with their little white shelves,
one hill sliced flat,
and after that to the north
stubble, the parceled land, Los Alamos
on which the snow swirls
soft and elegiac.








Here's a short piece I wrote in 2009.



spiders dancing

the tree,
its bare
wind-dancer limbs
black
against the new-day sun,
like a spider
on its back
waving spindly legs
at the rush
of warming light

it’s that kind of day,
so fine
spiders lie
on their backs
to bask

today
I,
too,
will do
unexpected things








The last poems from my library this week are by James Hoggard, Texas poet, short story writer, novelist, playwright, essayist and translator. The poems are from his book Breaking an Indelicate Statue , published by Latitudes Press in 1986. This book, at $1.98, is one of those second-hand book store prizes I look for with ever visit.

Hoggard, former poet laureate of TExas and past president of the Texas Institute of Letter was, at the time the book was published Perkins-Prothro Distinguished Professor of English at Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls, Texas. Author of fifteen books and seven produced plays,he has won numerous awards for his work.



Conception

There was a man once upon a time there was
this man sitting at a smoking hearth and he
was silently shaking in his buttoned-up sweater
and his fingers coiled a pipebowl for warmth
then into the room came a woman wearing
a brassiere and halfslip and she stood
behind him calmly warmly still and he
this was once upon a time said nothing to her
kept shaking till the coals flew into fire


Getting Groceries

Passing by the produce
I notice how terribly soft
the avocados are

          Once in a car

The cart's wheels sigh
along the linoleum floor

          we lay beneath
          a stardrunk sky
          Clouds came, and rain

The frost on the orange juice cans
glues my hands
to iceburned tin

          Your eyes and arms
          have sometimes been
          a flood upon me

Marking my load
the register snickers at me
then gobbles my check

          and my fingers
          have disappeared in your hair

I should've gone ahead
and bought the damn avocados


By the Riverside Down

A woman remembered was
my babysitter at twelve is the one
who scratched her blue percale ass

and sang me Down
By the Riverside and told me while brushing
her unbunned gray frazzle-hair

that I was like a boy she knew
when she was young who--stopped,
asked me to check her singing heart

when my brother was asleep,
but it was soft and dry until
she took me singing with her down

by her riverside
where the waves were weak
and the feather-reeds long

and the air was full of powderspice
when I ws twelve and saved from dream-need
by her river-rolling heart.








I finish this week with a, what else, holiday poem.

Best wishes for the holidays to all who visited here.



thanks a bunch

will prepare
today
for my trip tomorrow,
300 miles
to South Padre Island,
where my brother-in-law
and sister-in-law
will be providing the traditional
holiday feast of roast beast
and all the requisite turkey goblish
fixin’s at their beach-side
condominium

although,
as it happens, I am not
a big lover of holidays
or of roast beast
(unless it’s pig or bovine beast)
nor am I a lover of beaches
or sand or salt or waves
kathumping
on sandy, salty, beaches,
especially when it’s winter
and the chances of espying
beach-clad honey-bunnies in tiny
tops and tiny bottoms,
is minimal,
I am still pleased to have
the opportunity
to be thankful to my
brother-in-law and sister-
in-law for their fine feast
and for the company of
others at the fine feast and many
other things not associated
with the feast at all
such as the fine Friday
morning
which will follow the holiday
feast and upon the arrival of which,
immediately post-breakfast
waffle at Katie’s Waffle Deluxe,
I will be hot on the highway
hying home to my regular life, for
which I am, above all else,
thankful








And that's the whole deal for this week. As usual, all work included in this post remains the property of its creators. My stuff is free for the asking, and proper credit.

I'm allen itz, owner and producer of this blog, and, by the way, let's not forget the following.


Available for Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Sony eBookstore and Appple ibookstore -


"Always to the Light"




"Goes Around, Comes Around"




"Pushing Clouds Against the Wind"




And
For those of a print-bent, available on Amazon


"Seven Beats a Second"



The copies on Amazon are being sold, through prior agreement, by my publisher. Copies are available directly from me at my website, www.7beats.com. I can't compete with the Amazon price, but if purchased from me, I will include a copy of the CD chimeras, ideals, errors by the

Ray-Guhn Show Choir



I haven't done any maintenance on that website in a couple of years but you used to be able to hear a cut from the CD. Maybe you still can.

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