Moonwalk   Thursday, November 10, 2011

Good stuff soon,but first this message from our sponsor.






My fourth book, Always to the Light, available now at Amazon (Kindle) and Barnes and Nobel (Nook) and soon, if not already, at the iBookstore and Sony's eReader store.

Previous eBooks, Pushing Clouds Against the Wind and Goes Around, Comes Around also available.









Aside from the shameless self-promotion above, it's same'o same'o this week, good poetry and some pictures from our trip to New Mexico and Colorado that I didn't use a couple of weeks ago.



From The Defiant Muse
Anonymous 17th Century Spanish Nun
My Parents, as if Enemies
Adela Zamudio
Manhood
Gloria Fuertes
I Don’t Know
Not Allowed to Write

Kyra Galvan
Ideological Contradictions in Washing a Dish

Me
such fun

Michael Van Walleghen
Lake Limbo

Me
I am a Veteran

Deborah Digges
Akhmatova

Me
bits and pieces from a Thursday morning that seems like a Monday

Juan Felipe Herrera
Shawashte

Me
I write passionately

From Restless Serpents
Bernice Zamora
Penitents
A Que Hora Venderemos Todo?
When We Are Able

Jose Antonio Burciaga
Sacra
Yucca


Me
no more honking at little old ladies

Thomas Crofts
Remote District
Grendel


Me
it’s my time

Margaret Atwood
Two Miles Away
Nothing New Here


Me
what keeps me on the road

Czeslaw Milosz
And Yet
Reconciliation
Reading the Notebook of Anna Kamienska


Me
time’s up

From Paper Dance
Julia Alvarez
Homecoming
Sandra M. Castillo
Abuelo Leopoldo Sneaks a Bite of Cream Cheese
Adrian Castro
Pulling the Muse from the Drum

Me
just in case I can’t get the fire started

From Chinese Love Poetry
Du Fu
At World’s End, Thinking of Li Po
Wang Wei
Green Gully

Me
another good day

Wendy Cope
Duffa Rex
Narrative
Making Cocoa for Kingsley Amis


Me
reply to a critic who takes himself and me much too seriously

nila northSun
babe
little red riding hood
in memoriam


Me
moonwalk









First this week, four poets from the anthology, The Defiant Muse, subtitled "Hispanic Feminist Poems from the Middle Ages to the Present." The book was published in 1986 by The Feminist Press of at The City University of New York.

All four of the poems I'm presenting this week were translated by Kate Flores, co-editor of the anthology.



The first poem is by an anonymous nun from Alcala in late seventeenth century Spain.


My Parents, as if Enemies

My parents, as if enemies
of the life they gave me,
alive have buried me here
between wickets and iron bars...

Where all that I can feel
is that a pleasing mate,
even if imaginary,
is more pleasing than a convent gate.


The next poet is Adela Zamudio, from Bolivia, who lived from 1854 to 1928. After attending public elementary school, she received additional tutoring from her father and her mother. She taught at the Escuela San Alberto and later directed a girl's high school, now known as Liceo Adela Zamudio. All her writing dealt with the social struggles of her country. Avoiding any form of religious fanaticism, she gave her revolt a substantial intellectual stance. In 1926, two years before her death, her native city awarded her the Crown of Distinction. Today, she is considered a precursor of South American feminism.


Manhood

   When, parched by the thirst of his soul,
man, traveler in the desert,
gathers up his laurels
at the threshold of the doorway to glory,
"Stay here!" he tells his wife.

   But when, turning to an arduous undertaking
he feel his courage flagging,
"Come, come," he tells here then -
"You are my companion
in my time of struggle and pain."


The next poet, Gloria Fuertes, was born in Spain in 1918. She began to write before she learned to read, she said, reciting her first poems to kids in her neighborhood. "I was taken to Radio Espana to recite my poems and later they took us to war, which turned me into a pacifist and I went on writing for children."

The poet died in 1998.


I Don't Know

I don't know where I'm form.
I wasn't born anywhere;
I was here already
before that business about the apple,
that's why I'm apolitical.
None the worse that I'm a woman,
and will not give birth to martinets
nor will my hands be soiled
with the smell of guns,
so much better that I'm this way....


I wasn't planning on using this additional poem by Fuertes, but read it and decided it told us a lot about her. It was translated, not by Kate Flores like the other poems, but by Robert L. Smith and Judith Candullo.


Not Allowed to Write

I work for a newspaper;
I could be the manager's secretary
and I'm only the cleaning woman.
I know how to write , but in my town
women are not allowed to write.
My life is nothingness.
I don't do anything naughty.
I live poor.
I sleep at home.
I ride the subway.
For supper, broth
and a fried egg, so let them talk.
I slip into saloons,
also into streetcars,
I sneak into theaters
and dress up on bargain sales.
I lead a strange life.


My last poem from the anthology is by Kyra Galvan, born in 1956 in Mexico. She began to write poetry as a child, but studied political science in college. She has published translations of Anna Akhmatova and Dylan Thomas and was completing her second collection of poetry when the anthology was published.


Ideological Contradictions in Washing a Dish


Between yin and yang, how many eons?
      - Julio Cortazar



Ideological contradictions in washing a dish. Oh, no?
And I would also like to explain
why I make up my face and why I use perfume.
Why I want to sing the beauty of the male body.
I want to clarify to myself this racism that exists
between men and women.

To clarify to myself why when I wash a dish
or sew on a button
he does not have to be doing the same thing.
I paint my eyes
not out of imbecile automatism
but because it is the only moment in the day
that I return to ancient times and
my hand become Egyptian and
the shape of my eyes places me in History.
My eyeshadow embalms me eternally
as a women.
It is the ancestral rite of the clown:
red cheeks and colored mouth.
I paint myself thus to dignify myself as buffoon.
I am repeating/continuing a primitive act.
It is like painting buffaloes on the rocks.
and although there are no caves or buffaloes any moae
I have a body to texturize to my taste.
I use perfume not because it is advertised
by Catherine Deneuve or Bardot uses it
but rather because I suffer the sickness
of the 20th century: the need to possess.
Believing that in a bottle there can repose
all the magic of the cosmos,
that I am going to rid myself forthwith
of the smell of my heredity,
of the gravity of the capitalist crisis,
because I am above all/female.
they say that women are weak/men strong.
Yes and our races are so distinct.
Our sexes so variously complementary.
Yin & yang.
On the other hand is the mystery we will never uncover.
I shall never be able to know - and I should like to -
what it is like to be encased in a masculine body
and they will never know what it is to smell like a woman
to have camps and headaches and
all that jewelry we are accustomed to wearing.
Two physical universes n constant dialectic
with the nostalgia for a durable union
where the fusion of two unknowns
reaches the depth of understanding.
there is a compulsive need
to give reasons for the schism
to sharpen racism with smiles
And girlfriends         and boyfriends
         they will never comprehend
They will understand the distance that separates you
from friend/lover/enemy/stranger.
   That reconciliation is a maximum effort.
The union, the sublimation
   of our innate mysteries.
That washing a dish
means at times to affirm
the contradictions of class
   between men and women.








This poetry biz, in addition to keeping me out of politics and other such deviltry, is a lot of fun.



such fun

such
a childish game is
this poetry
biz

playing
with words
and half-baked
philosophies instead of blocks

putting this word
here
and that word
there
and discovering in the space
between
the possibility of a idea that will make sense,
maybe even show
the brilliance I have long-thought
hidden
behind the everyday façade
of the life I pretended to live

all that’s needed -
just one more word and one more
perfect place to put it…

^^^

I played cowboys and Indians
when I was a kid,
with little figures I made out of mud,
figures in battle ready positions behind fortifications
made out of large fresh-turned clods from the potato field
next door, scenarios of attack
and counter-strategies
to thwart the attacks
played out on both sides, darts
made of needles attached to matchsticks
with thread from my mother’s sewing room,
paper tails to make them fly true,
killer bolts from above, from me, the god
of cowboys and Indians, the Great Spirit
who did not take sides, merely harvesting
the mud soldiers of each side…

such fun,
playing god, play like the poem
I will write tomorrow and the day after,
a lord of creation, making stories out of wisps
of truth and fiction…

^^^

and how great it is I will write those stories,
how great it is that the long years
of exile are over, the years when
the child was kept stifled in the cellar
with crazy Uncle Sally and all his war stories,
the improbable days of Italy, 1943, and London
blitzes and German stormtroopers frozen dead
in Russian snow - old demented Uncle Sally who
never got closer to battle than the USO party
he crashed in 1941, good old Uncle Sally overcome
by his stories and in retreat, a refugee, like me
from the greater lies of grown-up truth,
the better me, hidden away, like Uncle Sally,
while the other me
did all the things the other me was required to do

until…

such fun it is
today
to be out of the cellar…

and such fun it is
to play
again
each day with
you








Next,I have a poem by Michael Van Walleghen, from his book Blue Tango, published by the University of Illinois Press in 1989.

Van Walleghen, born in 1938, published six volumes of poetry, the second of which More Trouble with the Obvious, won the Lamont Poetry Prize of the Academy of American Poets in 1981. Before retirement, he was Professor of English at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and was the first director the the University's MFA in Creative Writing Program in 2003.



Lake Limbo

A cold drizzle
nearly every day
this week. the lake
green-gray, white capped
the tiny each littered
with oily dull debris
a wrack of styrofoam
weeds and plastic rope
and where the water stops
a yellowish stiff froth
shivers and flies apart
all morning all day
in the steady gale...

Even the snot-beaked
seagulls look marooned
and stand blearily around
in little gangs, freezing

flat broke, unemployed

**

Behind the scenes somewhere
a kid with a black eye
a figment of the weather
starts chopping down a tree.

He's been on vacation now
since 1948. His parents
are probably next door
playing cards, drinking gin...

Listening to the lake
I can hear the slap slap
of his dull ax murdering
every tree in Michigan.

I can hear him muttering
like a lost motorboat.
I can hear him snarling
like a troubled chain saw.

Self-loathing, rage
childhood without end...
These are calibrations
on an old barometer

in love with the abysmal.
The air is full of ghosts
voices, an ironic yodeling
as from the same two loons

that shamed me as a boy
chopping idly at trees
or killing birds up here
with my BB gun. Everything

seems precisely as it was:
childhood at its worst -
a Tierra del Fuego of desire
on the brink of paradise.








I wrote this last week, my contribution to Veteran's Day activities.




I am a Veteran

I am a Veteran (1966-1969)
though I never thought much
about it, most men of my generation
and the two generations before me
served and I grew up assuming
I would too, not a thing I looked forward to
but an expectation common to my time

I usually don't do anything special on Veteran’s Day,
though I did several years ago march in the parade
downtown, but only as part of a contingent of Vets
hoping to see Wesley Clark elected as president,
another losing campaign for those of us who served
during Korea and Viet Nam and, being Democrats
as well, already intimate in our knowledge of losing
campaigns

I did get , though, for the parade, a little red, white, and blue
ribbon to pin to the lapel of my blue jean jacket,
where it still stays pinned today,
survivor of many trips through the washing machine,
resilient, it is still
red, still white, and still blue,
un-faded and un-frayed

and I like that

and when I wear my jacket in the early winter
before the stronger north winds blow, I feel, myself,
like the ribbon, less-faded and less-frayed,
and when I wore it a couple of weeks ago to the
Georgia O’Keeffe museum in Santa Fe, the volunteer
lady selling tickets said, “Thank you for your service,”
kind of a trendy thing to say, I know, but it was still
the first time anyone ever said it and it felt good
and I am encouraged to start saying it myself when
appropriate

I am a Veteran, this little piece maybe the most I’ve ever
made of it and maybe even this is too much for a soldier
who never shot at anyone nor ever was shot at, a soldier
who never left blood, his own, or of his friends,
or even of a dread, dead enemy on any field of battle,
a soldier who never feared, never raged,
never fled, never wept through a stench of death
blossoming like flowers in a bright, fresh field…

those who know,
know there are Veterans of military service and Veterans of war -
one can be both or one can be just the first…

I am a Veteran of just the first and I recognize the difference
and that is why, though I am a Veteran,
I don’t usually make much
of it








Here's a tribute to Russian poet Anna Akhmatova by Deborah Digges. The poem i's from her book, Rough Music. The book was published in 1996 by Knopf.

Born in 1950 in Jefferson, Missouri, Digges, received degrees from the University of California and the University of Missouri, as well as an MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop.

She was the author of four books of poetry including Rough Music, winner of the Kingsley Tufts Prize, and most recently The Wind Blows Through the Doors of My Heart, published after her death in 2009. Her first book, Vesper Sparrows, published in 1986, won the Delmore Schwartz Memorial Prize from New York University. She also wrote two memoirs, Fugitive Spring and The Stardust Lounge.

This, a powerful piece, worthy of Akhmatova.



Akhmatova

So it had to be -
she doused the muse in kerosine, set her afire,
burned down the house of poetry.

It was a common kitchen stove.

She may have taken comfort in the warmth.

As for the cries of agony,
they would hereafter ghost the margins,
howl on in each cyrillic character omitted by decree -
"Dear Stalin, I have seen your way..."
"Dear Master, my poems belong to you now, to the state..."

since women are the most dispensable to tyrants.
Children can serve so beautifully as ransom.
they learn, besides, to carry any flag.
And men will die into a tortured beauty,
their broken arms laid straight against their sides,
their privates, even by their enemies, napkin-covered.

But women? Women are nothing.
They create the beast to know the depth of their desire.

They are like sparrows,
the battered coming closest for the grain,
or the part in the song where the oboe
breaks your heart like time itself,
then sneers to laughing.

If poetry is fire, it can't be written in fire,
but sometime after, written in ashes
along the frozen road
if it be written down at all.

Yes, one can kill the thing not yet language,
feel one's mouth fill up with stones.

Better we all let go the lie
that art can save a life, except perhaps its maker's,
and even then, one might argue
this is deception,

a false sun to fix the years
toward the day that one might simply see one's child again.

Surely inside her a vast Caina, a crown fire.
Oh, the lovers have given what they can
only to remain men.

They would say, "Something has gone our of her
and nothing offered in its place."

After the boy is taken a third time back to prison,
she would admit there's little left.
Life is a wild undoing! -

And when the poem she once burned down, burned
to the ground in the other life, reconstitutes itself inside her,
it is like someone else's shadow cursing,
figures approaching on the road.

It is a stone tied to a rope hurled round and round,
and the whistling,
and the terror of the blow.

At worse, it's just a door, the one that closes onus now,
and this lamp through the window.

See, they sit apart - old mother, aging son.
Oh, much, too much is lost.

Still they begin.

Too much lost - twenty-one years!
In fact they'll never come to like each other.
She cannot find the child's face in the man's.








The next poem is from 2008. I was still working, on an occasional project by project job, scoring state high school writing assessment tests from around the country. Usually boring, though sometimes a fourth grader would write something to demonstrate that he hadn't been confined yet to English teacher lockstep - bad test strategy if one wants to advance to the fifth grade. I didn't take my third and final, final retirement until about a year later.

Projects rarely last more than two or three weeks, but very long weeks it always seemed - lot of boring, dead time for looking out the windows to see the day we weren't a part of.



bits and pieces from a Thursday morning that seems like a Monday


1
green lichen
on bare
branches
over brown
grass gathered
in the cold forest
like boy scouts
at camp


2
sunshine
on a foggy day

seen from my
high place
tree tops
float
in cotton swirl


3
the hive
buzzes
with low voices
all eyes tight
on computer screens

every now and then
loud laughter
at something seen
in a child’s writing
wakes
the room


3
a thermos top
pops
and brown coffee
eyes
open like
Pavlov’s
dog


4
green winter rain
anticipates spring

too soon


5
work done
wandering halls
waiting
for approval

will write a poem

soon








Next I have a piece by Juan Felipe Herrera from his book, Giraffe on Fire. The book, a wild ride that it's really hard to pull a single piece from, was published in 2001 by the University of Arizona Press.

Herrera, a poet, performer, writer, cartoonist, teacher, and activist, was born in Fowler, California in 1948.

Such a pool of words he gives us; hard to know what we've caught, even as we pull our line from the pool.



Shawashte

I am coming back to the fiery humor of Mexican towns. I've been dragging
topaz-colored branch my mother gave me - flicking, since
the early years . I've been dragging these curly papers filling with light
at noon the navy yards from the west and the smoke looms up, this oil
and green steel where you lose flesh in one swing - one handsome swing
from the young jackhammer -= this was Woody Herrera's death in '64.
What could they do with the stump figure and his peach-checkered leg?
Where did they bury his son's curses? Where did he walk?

I went through the tiny veins, through the cobblestone
back to El Colorin, eighty miles to the east of the Pacific in central Mexico.
I was asking for salt. At times, I was even more simple and
received the sharp sweetness; the kind you get from a Mexican lime
and if you are lucky from your own eyes as you gaze across the streets
full of ring vendors, Indians and fancy melting cars. I went inside.
I wanted to touch the belly under the waters - darkness opening up
a black fan with amethyst sparkles where the face was. I even slept
in a shredded hammock; the wet insects dropped from the ceiling
to click their jaws, go up again - scale the ruins.

There was a Ferris Wheel with a Spanish girl wearing a pearl necklace;
the background - roses and chrome. There was a spattered bus leaving me
in the town plaza of Guatemala City - I had to fight for a ticket south;
I wanted to go deeper. The Indians crowded to see me, looking down
at the ground. Their feet were swollen, but they carried a shawashte,
a walking stick, blackish and stonelike, finished like a clarinet,
a clarinet of resentments. In El Salvador,that's how far I got one year
I lived on a finka with a robust zookeeper, a plantation man who dressed
in fatigues. I never knew his name. We drank wine once. Once,at dinner
we sang Addios muchachos, companeros de mi vida. Everyone in Latin America
knows this song. Then I climbed up the volcano, the hills and met
the workers and their fenced-in vegetables and their love for oranges
right after they are picked, sitting cross-legged, maybe warming
tortillas on embers, they are the ones I love the most, they are the ones
tied down toa boot whose shadowy strings follow me.

I had written two pages about this. There is nothing memorable, nothing
here, the publishers said. I kept on, going through my overesized clothes.
My color was something between a burgundy and a brown; passions
consumed me, I think - something between a burgundy and a brown.
My cheeks were hollow, my hair, oily, longish to the midback. I wore
muslin and huaraches, the type tourists buy - not meant for wearing
because they are pointed. I was clown of sorts. I strayed, at times
I joined others - a Chicano from East L.A., with green eyes, a kind
cameraman who kept on, now he lives in Brazil,there were others:
tall women and some men with notebooks, sketchpads - they were
writing too, they talked about their grandmothers whom they never
met, they talked about El Paso and the Juarz border, they mentioned
shame, they mentioned water. These were the tillers and scrubbers,
they said, these were th prayers.

for the little ghost in the grasses, for the two-headed calf
for the feeble kid, frozen with a tiny leg
for the braids inside a plastic back from the pharmacy
for the daughter walking ahead, past the terrible gates
for the husband made to drink gasoline by the patrol
for the American officer with one eye


We camped under an old tarp and ate sweet dough baked over a wire.
It tasted like licorice and rice. We shuffled backstage, put on pebbled
masks, we called it the Theater of Freedom, and used other words too,
like teatro and carpas, for years we performed in the tobacco collectives
in northern Veracruz, and back in Hollenbeck Park, in East L.A., where
my buddy was from, even in Chino Prison, on the West Coast, too.
The inmates asked us to take cartoons and letters back to their wives.
One time we went to Granger, Washington, up north, I had never seen
the snow, so powdery, with lights, I grew up in Southern California.
Who's to say what I'll see next, I told them. My words were spontaneous.
I used words like rebozo, lotus, my favorite animals were the deer and
the eagle. The others used words like bronze and nation and phrases
like viva la mujer, there was something behind all this, free from
bitterness, in the shape of a harp behind us.

This was 1968, this was 1974, no one cringed then, no one whispered,
we walked out of our houses and crossed the street as if underwater -
you couldn't see our eyes or even the way our hands were shifting,
the language was unknown - you could feel the heat waves though,
maybe, someone traveling, rushes, fragrances, this was 1979, maybe
some are still going on. I heard Carlitos Robles took his children to Italy,
Parma, they said, and Dolores Valencia made it to Berlin, every day,
from the bitten walls - she makes sure the she takes the old signs down,
she says, and she puts up something from the backpack, a soda cup,
maybe with pieces of pumpernickel for the birds, a funny little meal
under the sky. I am picking a small meadow, ahead - two bushels
of bright reddish leaves in a basket, a Greyhound depot on the other
side, forlorn, with a foolish clock, it is late spring, I can tell it is a
Mexican town, by the smoke and the women's laughter, more smoke.
All morning I've been hearing tiny currents rushing through the trees,
I am walking alone, more with my left than my right, like my father.
There is much work to be done, he would say, so many ruins
to sweep, so much blue dust to settle.






The older I get, and the more I become disconnected from everyday things that are supposed to count, the more I appreciate the luxury of purposeful vagaries.



I write passionately

I write passionately
of things about which
I have only vague knowledge...

it is the privilege
of the poet
to thus
expound

it’s the reason a poet
can be a good
poet
but a lousy astrophysicist
or historian
or plumber or astronomer
or brain surgeon
or long-haul truck driver
and other such occupations
for which the luxury
of factual imprecision
is not allowed

poets,
political commentators, and
sociologists - we are
indeed
a fortunate breed of
cat








Next I have poems from the two-poet book, Restless Serpents. (Read a collection by one poet, then turn the book over and upside down and read a collection by the other.) The book was published in 1976 by Disernos Literarios of Menlo Park, California.(I have one of a first edition of 2,000 copies, a very fine used bookstore find.)

First, I have three poems by Bernice Zamora, then over and upside down, two poems by Jose Antonio Burciaga. Burciaga's book includes his own illustrations.

The book provides no information about either poet.



First, the poems by Bernice Zamora.


Penitents

Once each year penitentes in mailshirts
journey through arroyos Seco, Huerfano,
to join "edmanos" at the morada.

Brothers Carrasco,Ortiz, Abeyta
prepare the Cristo for an unnamed task.
Nails, planks,and type O blood are set
upon wooden tables facing, it is decreed,
the sacred mountain range to the Southwest.

Within the dark morada average
chains rattle and clacking prayer wheels jolt
the hissing spine to uncoil wailing tongues
of Nehuatl converts who slowly wreath
rosary whips to flog one another.

From the mountains alabados are heard:
"Es una columna atado se
hallo el Rey de los Cielos,
herido y ensangrentado,
y arrastrado por los suelos."


The irresistible ceremony
beckoned me many times like crater lakes
and desecrated groves. I wished to swim
arroyos and know their estuaries
where, for one week, all is sacred in the valley.


A Que Hora Venderemos Todo?

You tell me I must not bear
More children. Indeed
We agree eight are too many
For this world. You counsel
Me on the fruits of joyful mis-
Conception. You take me aside
To your corner and whisper
A-B-O-R-T-I-O-N
As though I do not
recognize the end.

Gracias, anyway, Ciudadano,
My conception is not diminished;
My utility is inutility.
Gracias todoel mundo,
But it is who claim
Indifference to the world.
It is I who am
Exquisite in nakedness
Against the odds
Of benevolence.


When We Are Able

When we move from this colony
of charred huts that surround
our grey, wooden, one-room house,
we will marry,querido,
we will marry.

When the stranger ceases to
come in the night to sleep in
our bed and ravish what is yours,
we will marry, querido,
we will marry.

When you are able to walk
without trembling, smile
without crying, and eat without fear
we will marry, querido,
we will marry.


Here are the two poems by Jose Antonio Burciaga.


Sacra

The General washed the cup
Over a pyramid of dirty dishes
And her tears went down the drain.

He then declared a boycott
On love affairs and broken hearts
Due to a monsoon of tears.

Even though there was no shortage of salt
The Morton Salt Company said,
"We can expect our tears to be spiced,
As long as rivers burrow our faces."

Tigre lay on the floor
Occupying half the room.
And turned on the vibrator.

Emy's face was puffed with tears
And the man that hung himself last year
Though she was weeping for the General.

The faithful walked out on my Letania this morning.
The ungrateful faithful.

An acorn fell outside,
Landing on a mousetrap.
The pachukos sat stone faced
Staring from their portraits.

"I'm gonna line them up against the wall,
and have an exhibition."
Then he laughed a tired laugh.

Four fokers were out of commission
And Two had missed on kamikazi dives.

Carlos came
And talked to the sun at length.

Donde esta Juana?
She ran away without saying a donde iba.

Two more hours, Emy said.
Give me two more hours.
Can't we leave at four?


Yucca

Just a crown of thorns
A majestic sun of horns
Sorrow and beauty couldn't help but bear
And dwell in every ray of green and umber
As if a thousand stars up high
Were mirrored on the ocean desert.

         palo pinto, texas
         febrero 1070








Why we all grow up polite in Texas.



no more honking at little old ladies

i live
in a state
where otherwise normal people
(we can hope)
carry guns hidden
somewhere
on their person

now
i’m not talking about
gangbangers
bank robbers
kidnappers
professional killers
or others of the more
relaxed interpretations
of the law persuasion

no, i’m talking about
ms. suburbia
at the grocery store
picking melons
and rice krispies
for the kiddos,
the banker
in his pinstriped suit
the baldheaded school super-
intendent with the bow tie
and madras sports jacket,
the guy in the gimme cap
driving his pickumup truck
with the riding lawn mower
in the back, the clerk
at the five and dime store
(now referred to as the $ store),
the librarian reading proust
and the orange-haired woman
at the hair dressers
reading people magazine

all these people

packing heat

and you can’t be sure
who is today and who isn’t

i don’t know what it’s done
for the good of the state
but it’s turned me
into one hell’uv a polite driver

no more honking
at the little old lady
slow to move
when the light changes

she’s likely as not
to step out of her
1988 chevy vega
and pop a cap
in your
ass








Here are two poems by Thomas Crofts, from his book of mostly strange poems, Omnibus Horribillis, Poems 1987-2007. The book was published in 2007, self-published I assume, since no publisher is identified.

In Googling for information on the poet, I found two Thomas Crofts' - one a lawyer and one an associate professor of literature and language at East Tennessee State University. The associate professor is the most likely suspect, but I hesitate to name him with certainty since this book is nowhere mentioned on his rather extensive website.



Remote District

At 54 Harty Place,
riveted by uncouth paradoxes,
and in receipt of many gifts
delivered by fist and boot,
I stayed to watch
the delicate warping of words
my terrible head was hollowed out,
low winds coursing through
houling and gerrufong

But why send our creatures
your sheela-na-gigs and your banshees
rustling under my bed,
your messengers to my door?

Did you know they got drunk
on the money you gave them?


Grendel

          I am going.
          My face is painted
          They cannot see me.
          I am going.
          - CHOCTAW SONG


Some hyperactive sloth
or proto-yeti
or lich -
eyes like two headlights,
he rules the moors and strongholds.

It's no joke -
the dismal spirit, ancient swamp-riser,
lurkey turkey,
he's always coming, snacking and foully
     feasting,
his ancient gums grimy
with huge gobs of man-meat
huge morsels (unhappy man)
great bloody chunks of sin.

He is constantly coming
leaving men scissored and sampled,
cannibalized,liched, utter garbled;
returning them to his water-hold
alive with lampreys
and blasted zomboes.

Some kind of ghost,
or globster, or man -
some revenant archaeotherium?

Meowing
he creeps across the floor
          like a square of moonlight.








I rise early, to watch and feel the day beginning.



it's my time

breakfast
outside, first orange light
of sunrise come and gone,
dim now, with intermittent bright,
fog in the valleys, blue skies ahead
before noon -

mid-November
in central Texas, the time of year
when people passing though
think,
“what a nice place to live,”
something people visiting in the summer
never think

not yet 9 a.m. -
not a time for deep or meaningful
conjecture;
a time to laze, a time to let your mind
rock gently in the cool morning breeze,
a time when the ambitious
set aside their ambitions; a time
for feuds to be forgotten, love to be
requited, soft dreams to pass like clouds
across a fortunate sky, a time
when those suicidal decide to live

it’s mid-November
in the hills, it’s my time, the time
I hold like a flag
through the worst of
summer








Next, I have two, maybe three, poems by Margaret Atwood from her book, Two-Headed Poems. I say two, maybe three, because I'm not sure, from the way they appear in the book on separate pages, even though they make sense together, whether it is one poem or two. If it is two, the second is untitled.

I'll leave extra space between the two parts so readers can read it however they prefer.

The book was published in 1978 by Simon and Schuster under their Touchstone imprint.

Atwood, born in 1939 is a Canadian poet, novelist, literary critic, essayist, and environmental activist. She is among the most-honoured authors of fiction in recent history; a winner of the Arthur C. Clarke Award and Prince of Asturias award for Literature, shortlisted for the Booker Prize five times, winning once, and a finalist for the Governor General's Award seven times, winning twice.

While she is best known for her work as a novelist, she is also a poet, having published 15 books of poetry.




Two Miles Away

Two miles away, the humid weekend
jerks in thin lights along the highway,
bumper to bumper, groups
and separates at the corner store,
which could be anywhere.

But this is the hinterland: layer
of grass, layer of lukewarm dirt, laiyer of stones,
layer of winter.

Oblongs of earth, edged with fences;
in the middle of each, two sleepers.

Night rises from their bodies
and spreads over the hills,
musty, smelling of thunder;
the air around their heads
thickens with ancestors.

This is the land of hope
fulfilled, this is a desert;
like deserts it is nocturnal
and planted with bones.




Outside this house, the hammock
weaves one tree to another.
For once there is no wind.
Sandbox in moonlight, the glimmer
of shadowy toys, the green shovel,
the cracked white pail, the red star.

In the tunnel furrows, around our bed,
wild carrots, pinkish-mauve and stealthy,
creep over the rug, the cleared space,
and invasion of savage flowers
reclaiming their lost territory.

Is this where I want to be?
Is this who I want to be with,

half a pair,
half of a custom,
nose against neck, knee thrown
over the soft groin,

part of this ancient habit,
part of this net, this comfort,
this redblack night,
humility of the sleeping body,
web of blood.


Nothing New Here

Nothing new here,just rain
in the afternoon,anger, two minutes of hail
that punched holes in the broad leaves;
then moist sun.

In the clearing air
we crouch in the garden, reconciled
for the moment, pulling out weeds.
Ragweed, pigweed, milkweed,
we know the names by now.
This is the fifth year.

Nothing stays free, though on what ought
to be the lawn, thistles blossom, their flowers
as purple as if I'd bought them;
around the edges of our cage,
outside the wire, there's the dying
rose hedge the mice ate.

What defeats us, as always, is
the repetition: weather
we can't help, habits we don't break.
The frogs, with their dud guitar-
string throats, every spring, release
their songs of love, while slugs breed
in the rain under the hay
we use for barricades;
milkweed and pigweed, hte purslane
spreading its fleshy
starfish at our feet,
grabbing for space.

We know the names by now;
will that make anything better?
Our love is clumsier
each year, words knot
and harden, grow sideways, devious as grass.

Admit it,
this is what we have made,
this ragged place, an order
gone to seed, the battered plants
slump in the tangled rows,
their stems and damp rope sagging.
Our blunted fingers,
our mouths taste
of the same earth, bitter and deep.
(Though this is also what we have in common; this broken
garden, measure
of our neglect and failure, still
gives what we eat.)








I admit it, I'm a road-junkie.



what keeps me on the road

so a poet wrote
a poem today
about driving in the country,
somewhere, New York state,
I’m thinking, how the scenery
and her description of it
is so beautiful
and how fortunate she is
to see and experience such
beauty. reminding me how blind must be
those who wonder why I drive
everywhere and almost never fly

(last time 1972, so I suppose
I should drop the “almost” and just say
never fly, once every 40 years pretty
close to never in the minds of most folks,
I suspect)

when the answer is so
simple, I drive because there is so much
to see in this country as you pass, whether
on an interstate or a tiny two-lane,
it’s all just laid out there for you to look at
if you have the eyes and the wit to look,
the cities, all the little half-forgotten
towns, each with a history and memories
of boom times and bust, the grandeur
of the Rockies, the great American wall
separating east from west, the deserts, stark
and colorful in their own arid ways, the
great forests of the northwest, the Pacific coast,
surf anything but peaceful as it crashes against
rocky shores, moving America a little further east
with each passing millennium, the softer slopes of
the Smokies, the golden capitol dome in the
filtered coal-dusty light of West Virginia, all
the great and beautiful countryside of our
homeland, all never seen from over-stuffed
airports and over-stuffed airplanes, cloud-
cleaving buses passing blind over all of it

I’ve seen clouds from both sides, it’s
what passes under the clouds that
interests me
now,
so it’s not that I’m afraid
of flying, as some surmise, but that
I’m afraid
there’s too much
to see
and too
little time to see it

that keeps me on the road…








Next,I have three short poems by Czeslaw Milosz, Polish poet, prose writer and translator of Lithuanian origin was born in 1911 and defected to the West in 1951. His nonfiction book The Captive Mind, published in 1953 is deemed a classic of anti-Stalinism. From 1961 to 1998 he was a professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures at the University of California, Berkeley. In 1980 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Milosz died in 2004.

The three poems are from his book Provinces, Poems 1987 - 1991, published by The Ecco Press in 1991.



And Yet

And yet we were so like one another
With all our misery of penises and vaginas,
With the heart beating quickly in fear and ecstasy,
Ad a hope, a hope, a hope.

And yet we were so like one another
That lazy dragons stretching themselves in the air
Must have considered us brothers and sisters
Playing together in a sunny garden,
Only we did not know that,
Enclosed in our skins, each separately,
Not in a garden, on the bitter earth.

And yet we were so like one another
Even though every leaf of grass had its fate
Just as a sparrow on the roof, a field mouse,
And an infant that would be named John or Teresa
Was born for long happiness or shame and suffering
Once only, till the end of the world.


Reconciliation

Late, the time of humbling reconciliation
With himself, arrived for him.
"Yes" - he said - "I was crated
To be a poet and nothing more.
I did not know anything else to do,
Greatly ashamed bur unable to change my fate."

The poet: one who constantly thinks of something else.
His absentmindedness drives his people to despair.
Maybe he does not even have any human feelings.

But, after all, why should it not be so?
In human diversity a mutation,variation
Is also needed. Let us visit the poet
In his little house in a somewhat faded suburb
Where he raises rabbits, prepares vodka with herbs,
And records on tape his hermetic verses.


Reading the Notebook of Anna Kamienska

Reading her,I realized how rich she was and myself, how poor.
Rich in love and suffering, in crying and dreams and prayer.
She lived among her own people who were not very happy but
   supported each other,
And were bound by a pact between the dead and the living
   renewed at the graves.
She was gladdened by herbs, wild roses, pines, potato fields
And the scents of the soil, familiar since childhood.
She was not an eminent poet. But that was just:
A good person will not learn the wiles of art.








Here's another of my poems from 2008.



time’s up

I’m never without
my watch,
but, if, on some dark day,
the universe
goes into a skid
on icy rails
and I
am without my watch
and ask the time
of some imperturbable soul,
I don’t want to hear
about three
or a little past six
or almost noon,
I want to know what
time it is,
exactly

or when Dee calls
and wants me to meet her
downtown for dinner
and I ask when
I don’t want her to say
oh, sevenish,
which is not a time at all
but an anti-time,
I want to know
is that seven, seven-fifteen,
six-forty eight or quarter to eight,
cause I don’t want to be late
and I hate to wait when I’m early

but i am
time
compulsive
and Dee
is more attuned
to ancient spirits
who understood time, if at all,
only in terms of dark times
and light, moons, seasons,
events, heroic feats that mark
a particular memorable period
as in - oh, yes that was when
uncle hawk-flies-straight
killed the grizzly bear
which was before
leaping-fish
stole fourteen horses
from the Kikapoos,
but after
eyes-of-gray-wolf
married
that hussy
little-green-meadow
in the snow
up to their
knees

you have to ask
yourself
how did those guys
ever
get to dinner
on time?








Next I have three poets from Paper Dance, an anthology of 55 latino poets from north and south America.

Then anthology was published by Persea Books in 1995.



The first poet from the book is one familiar to frequent readers of "Here and Now."

Julia Alvarez was born in 1950 in the Dominican Republic , her family immigrated to the United States in 1960 after her father became involved in a political reellion. She published her first book of poetry in 1984, and her novel, How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents won the 1991 PEN-Oakland/Josephine Miles Book Award. She is professor of English and creative writing at Middlebury College.


Homecoming

When my cousin Carmen married, the guards
at her father's finca took the guests' bracelets
and wedding rings and put them in an armored truck
for safekeeping while wealthy dark-skinned men,
their plump,white women and spoiled children
bathed in a river whose bottom had been cleaned
for the occasion. She was Uncle's only daughter,
and he wanted to show her husband's family,
a bewildered group of sunburnt Minnesotans,
that she was valued. He sat me at their table
to show off my English, and when he danced with me,
fondling my shoulder blades beneath my bridesmaid's gown
as if they were breasts, he found me skinny
but pretty at seventeen, and clever.
Come back from that cold place, Vermont, he said,
all this is yours! Over his shoulder
a dozen workmen hauled in a block of ice
to keep the champagne lukewarm and stole
glances at the wedding cake, a dollhouse duplicate
of the family rancho, the shutters marzipan,
the cobbles almonds. A maiden aunt housekept,
touching up whipped cream roses with a syringe
of egg whites, rescuing the groom when the heat
melted his chocolate shoes into the frosting.
On too much rum Uncle led me across the dance floor,
dusted with talcum for easy gliding, a smell
of babies underfoot. He twirled me often,
excited by my pleas of dizziness, teasing me,
saying that my merengue had lost its Caribbean.
Above us, Chinese lanterns strung between posts
came on and one snapped off and rose
into a purple postcard sky.
And grandmother cried: The children all grow up too fast.
The Minnesotans finally broke loose and danced a Charleston
and were pronounced good gringos with latino hearts.
The little sister, freckled with a week of beach,
her hair as blond as movie stars', was asked
by maids if they could touch her hair or skin,
and she backed off, until it was explained to her,
they meant no harm. This is all yours,
Uncle whispered, pressing himself into my dress.
The workmen costumed in their workclothes danced
a workman's jig. The maids went by with trays
of wedding bells and matchbooks monogrammed
with Dick's and Carmen's names. It would be years
before I took the courses that would change my mind
in schools paid for by sugar from the fields around us,
years before I could begin to comprehend
how one does not see the maids when they pass by...
- It was too late, or early, to be wise -
The sun was coming up beyond the amber waves
of cane, the roosters crowed, the band struck up
Las mananitas, a morning serenade. I had a vision
that I blamed on the champagne:
the fields around us burning. At last
a yawning bride and groom got up and cut
the wedding cake, but everyone was full
of drink and eggs, roast pig, and rice and beans.
Except the maids and workmen,
sitting on stoops behind the sugar house,
ate with their fingers from their open palms
windows, shutters, walls, pillars, doors,
made from the cane they had cut in the fields.


The next poet from the anthology is Sandra M. Castillo. Castillo is a poet and South Florida resident. She was born in Havana, Cuba and left the island of her birth on one of the last of President Johnson’s Freedom Flights.

She attended Florida State University, receiving both a Bachelor's and ultimately Master's degree in Creative Writing.


Abuelo Leopoldo Sneaks a Bite of Cream Cheese

I don't think Mother believed me when I first said
it had not been me who left teeth prints
on the cream cheese Tio Beto got through la bolsa negra.
I remember she approached me twice
and although I knew she asked because it was my habit
to overuse my adolescent teeth,.
I grew scared because I thought it wasn't the cheese
that worried her and this was a mystery
we didn't need: we were suspicious enough.
Carmina and Abraham had just taken el comite
from Ebita's father and Mother was afraid
they knew TioBerto knew where to get ham, milk, cheese
and that Tia Estela had worked for Lima
in the '50s and had known Lima's people
had conspired against Batista and would imprison
them both. We were filling out forms,
taking passport pictures, waiting
for our number to come up, hoping our neighbors
wouldn't find out before we were ready to admit
we had been claimed. Mother was worried
one of the relatives would end up in Manga Larga,
La Granja, El Principe, Melena 1, Melena del Sur.
She was praying all our family would have a flight
out in los vuelol de la libertad and that none
of our secrets would spill in juicios populares,
permutas. And because Paulina, was cleaning
our house on Saturdays, Mother approached her, too,.
Though I am not sure what she said or how she said it.
It wasn't Paulina, I remember her saying,
her fear growing like Abuela Isabel's heart.


Now, last from the anthology, here's a poem by Adrian Castro.

Castro is a poet, writer, and interdisciplinary artist. He was born of Cuban and Cominican heritage in Miami in 1967.


Pulling the Muse from the Drum

We petitioned the four directions
asked that their brother thunder their sister lightning
escort us on a stroll
around architecture of goatskin y wood
Escort us on a quest
to pull the muse from the drum

The relation between drum & tongue
was there
when the mythic word
heard it its first dialogue
between seer thunder ' seven lighting
something about cedar
wanting the charm of speech
The union was there
when the first word
the first drum
imitated sighs from jungles
a repartee
witnessed by jubilant stars

*

When chiefs' princesses
were traded for spice & steel
chained & herded into Spanish galleons
How ominous to watch from a bush
sons of Felipe or Charles
iron vested men stalking
the Ivory Coast

*

Drums with thunder's spirit
embedded in wood
(ache olu bata)
had to stay
yet memory brought the word
the song
ache olu bata
there was a rebirth
of sound

Rhythms arrived hidden in a pageantry
of scars & piercings
soon it was decreed
that no drummings/
toques de tambor
will be allowed
for it was a known fact
drums excited people
Masters did not want property
to rebel
drum became whisper of rebellion tongue of freedom
so feared by Spain

*

Yet wood & goat skin
continued their speeches
discretely in Caribbean jungles
The language of hands hide & cedar
could not be silenced
the ancestors' mother tongue
thundering who they were
where they came from -
(Oruba iyalo ile mio)
was their muse
was their poem

*

We hear the sound of history
through stained walls in Little Havana
graffiti park in Lower East Side
frozen lake Wicker Park Chitown
grooved into people's struts
It is you
It is me
is we
unidos Latinos
A collection of feathered drums
red & white
repiqueando
We pulling the muse
from the drum
the muse that is we








Another recitation of the trials of the poem-a-day-poet.



just in case I can’t get the fire started

it’s
been
a cold, cold day

dark
overcast
and a little wet

i’ve
been up
since 6:30

and now
it’s eleven hours
later

and i’m
at Olmos Perk
looking for something

in any part
of those hours
that suggest the possibility

of poetic
exploitation

so
what did i do
today

?

well
i finished the
first finished draft

of the first
of the four chapbooks
i want to do next year

but
that was all drudge work

no poetry there

i spent
a couple of hours at home
waiting for the chimney sweep

so
i’ll be able to have a nice fire
tonight

but
though that might spark a poem tonight
it does diddly for me

right now

i went to the used book store
and bought four books
a Neruda and three other worthies

i never heard of

but since i haven't read
any of the books yet
can see

no way to
weasel
a poem out of it

looking
around the perk
i see about 10 people

but none of them
blip
on my poetry radar

except
for the skinny blond
with the straight bleach-white

hair, serious, don’t-fuck-with-me glasses
and an attitude
that suggest if i wrote a poem about her

and she found out about it
she’d have to kill me

she’s not a happy camper,
pissed about something
something
to do with a man

i think
and being one such
i don’t think i want to know anymore

might
be safer
to just sit in front of the fireplace tonight
and write some doofus
poem
about the glow
of dancing flames
etc.
etc.
etc.
and you know

doofus

but production obligations
must be
met

and if am
if nothing else
dependable about that sort of

thing








Here are two poems from the anthology, Chinese Love Poetry. The book was published in 2004 by Barnes & Noble Books on behalf of the Trustees of The British Museum.

The book does not provide translation credits.



The first poem is by Du Fu, regarded by many as China's greatest poet. He lived from 712 to 770, a period spanning the highpoint of the Tang dynasty and the An Lushan rebellion in 755, after which he fled the capitol.


At the World's End, Thinking of Li Po

Cold is the wind that rises
    over this remote region;
Old friend, tell me your thoughts!
When will a wild goose reach me here
From the rivers-and-lakes
    where the autumn waters are brimming?

Writing is at odds with worldly success,
forest demons exult to have men come by.
You should join your plaints
    with the spirit of Qu Yuan -
Drop a poem from him into the Mile!


The second poem is by Wang Wei, a painter, calligrapher, musician, and poet, from the early Tang dynasty. He lived from 699 to 759.


Green Gully

If I want to reach Yellow Flower river
I always follow Green Gully stream;
It coils through the mountains
    with ten thousand turnings,
Hurrying along
    it barely covers a hundred li.
What a clamor it makes among the jumbled rocks!
Deep in the pinewoods
    how quiet and still it seems.
Adrift with water-chestnuts,lightly swaying,
Translucently it mirrors reeds and rushes...
    My heart is free and at peace,
    As tranquil as this clear stream.
    Let me stay on some great rock
    And trail my fishing hook for ever!








Rain, always welcome, but especially when it comes with a good gut-churning storm.



another good day

pounding, thundering
rain last night
blown near horizontal
by gusts of powerful
northwest wind

now it's
clear,
stars bright
in the black ink
of very early morning,
gibbous moon
shadowed on its edge,
preparing
for its Thanksgiving
curtain

I was up and watching
midnight’s rain,
standing in the elementals,
drinking all its fearsome wet,
and, now, hours later. dark still
bit close to dawning,
under the open sky as well,
standing in the calm
where before I stood in the storm,
looking forward
to the fresh-washed day waiting
just beyond the eastern horizon

it will be another good
day









Here are several short poems by Wendy Cope, from her first collection Making Cocoa for Kingsley Amis, published by faber and faber in 1986.

Cope was born in 1945 in Erith, Kent. After university she worked for fifteen years as a primary school teacher in London. She received a Cholmondeley Award for poetry in 1987 and in 1995 the American Academy of Arts and Letters Michael Braude Award for light verse.



Duffa Rex

I

King of the primeval avenues, the municipal parklands:
architect of the Tulse Hill Poetry Group;life and soul of
the perennial carousals: minstrel; philatelist: long-serving
clerical officer: the friend of everyone who's anyone.

"Pack it in," said Duffa, "and buy me a drink."

II

He digs for the salt-screw, buried in crepitant spud-
slivers. Speaks of his boyhoodin the gruntler's yarg, the
unworked cork-bundles, coagulations of nurls.

The mockery of his companions is unabated. It is the
king's round, they urge. His hoard is overripe for
commerce.

One by one he draws coins to the light, examines them:
exemplary silver, his rune stones. Treasure accrued in a
sparse week, to be invested in precious liquid.


Narrative

The sky was dark, the garden gnomes were still
When Schopenhauer observed, "I like them less
Than sausages - in fact they make me ill."
The vicar nodded once and murmured, "Yes,
But wouldn't Tacitus have praised the skill
Of all those jugglers on the Leeds express?"
It seemed they had decided not to tell
The governors that Fido wasn't well.

Nijinsky's role in this remains mysterious -
We know he knitted cardigans for both
The Spanish twins and, while he was delirious,
Composed an ode to economic growth -
And yet one wonders if Chagall was serious
About the cigarette or merely loath
To recognize what others took for granted
The yellow birdbath he had always wanted.


Making Cocoa for Kingsley Amis

It was a dream I had last week
And some kind of record seemed vital.
I knew it wouldn't be much of a poem
But I love the title.








This poem is from 2008. I take it out every once in a while to remind myself how boring are people who take themselves too seriously.



reply to a critic who takes himself and me much too seriously

look
there are no babies
being fed here,
no tyrants being brought
to heel,
no visit
to the homebound,
no rehab
of housing for the homeless,
no justice
for the poor and downtrodden

there
are no cures here
for diseases
that maim and kill

no
philosophy
to light the way
to personal fulfillment,
no formula
for turning water to wine,
lead to gold,
scrap bobby pins,
electric toasters,
and old video games
to a clean, inexhaustible
energy source

there is none of that
serious stuff

it’s
just a damn poem,
an old man’s game,
an alternative to daytime TV,
a reminder that there is still life
in this husk and thought
in this drying
shrinking
brain

if you read it
or
if you don’t
will have no impact
on the reality
in our struggling
needy world

I can live with that








Finally, last from my library this week, three poems by nila northSun, from her book a snake in her mouth, poems 1974-1996, published by West End Press of Albuquerque in 1997.

northSun was born in 1951 in Schurz, Nevada to a Shoshone mother and a Chippewa father, legendary Native American activist Adam Fortunate Eagle.

Raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, she is a graduate of the University of Montana-Missoula. In 2000 the "Friends of the Library" group at the University of Nevada honored her with the Silver Pen Award for outstanding literary achievement. Then-Governor Kenny Guinn appointed her to the Nevada State Arts Council that same year.[ In 2004, she received the "Indigenous Heritage Award in Literature" from ATAYL, an international agency.

She now lives on the Fallon Paiute-Shoshone Reservation in Fallon, Nevada and currently works as a grantswriter for the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony.



babe

is 10 years older
than me
used to babysit
when my parents went
to the flick
used to call me ugly
I had to call her auntie
we used to play airplane
she'd swing me around
by a leg & an arm
then let go against a wall
me being a dumb 3 year old
finally caught on & refused to play
we used to play cowboys & indians
she'd tie me to a chair
& leave me
crying pissing in my pants
finally i caught on to that too
i swore that when i got older
i'd beat the shit out of her

but when i got older
she carried a switchblade
& beat the living fuck out of
everybody
man or woman

so i just didn't play with her
anymore


little red riding hood

lying in the hospital
after a heart attack
gramma called as many of
her eight sons as she could find
she didn't call
her only daughter
babe age 34
gramma never knew where
she'd be
jail on the streets
in a bar in klamath falls
or shacking up with one of
her chicano or indian dyke lovers
in LA

babe left home at 16
married a regular capt. hook
complete with a patch over his eye
a damn good poker player but
she left him a year later

in & out of jail
car theft robbery
narcotics bad checks
she went from 120 to 180 lbs.
cut her long black hair into
short bleached chunks
got her face bitten & chewed
by her jealous girlfriend
started talking like a black pimp

gramma didn't call her
but she showed up at the hospital
a bottle of whiskey in one hand
a can of beer in the other
freshly beaten up
oozing cigarette burns on her arms
slobbering & crying
"momma, momma"
babe was the only one
who came to visit gramma


in memoriam

this is probably the last poem
about my aunt babe
10 years older than me
a born loser
used to help her mother
(my gramma)
make bathtub gin
served as bartender at gramma's
alkie parties
a juvenile delinquent
foul mouthed 12 year old
tried to shoot her brother
in a barroom
friends wrestled her to teh ground
he ran screaming
babe used to visit gramma
when she was drunk & loaded
beat up gramma pretty bad
a few times
babe was a dyke too
stabbed a girlfriend-lover
but later made up with her
one time another jealous lover
chewed up babe's face while she
was passed out or something
gramma walked in
saw this girl eating babe's face
gramma got mad
hit the girl with a vase
then started kicking her in the stomach
as she lay on the floor
rough bunch
anyway this is probably the last poem
about babe
she died last week
they found her body in the bathroom
of her favorite bar
plastic bag over her head
in her hand a can of PAM vegetable spray
the kind you coat fry pans with
od'd on the freon & alcohol
what a way to die
she was just 37
rest in peace








Beautiful days, beautiful nights around here this time of year. Today, looking out my coffeehouse window, beautiful,gushing rain.



Moonwalk

walking
under a full November moon,
a bright, shadow-casting
moon,
the stone steps down
to the creek
shining liquid white
as I step from stone
to stone,
carefully, barefoot,
conscious of the caution
to diabetics,
“watch your feet, always
guard you feet, “ but the moon
is too full, the night too bright
to watch anywhere but up, neck-stretching, to the
bright disc, gleaming like a new silver dime
in the sky, passing as I walk
beneath the bottom-side of tree branches
grasping black against the glare of the
moon

bright moon,
eclipsing the stars
as I open the creaking gate,
walk beside the creek…

it’s 4 a.m. -
the frogs and birds
still sleep; the water
stumbles over limestone rocks,
trembles as it flows through the grassy
creek…

I
stand
showered in moonshine,
turn,
climb back up the hill
on the gleaming white stones…

back to bed,
having drunk my fill
of November night and
moonglow








That's it. Normal cautions about ownership of all material included in the post; normal assurance that I don't mind other people using my stuff (with proper credit); normal identification of self.

And that's all, except the following.


A final bit of shameless self-promotion: When considering my new eBook, you might also consider my two previous eBooks:

"Goes Around, Comes Around:


and

"Pushing Clouds Against the Wind"


At all four retailers that carry the books, the new book and one other can be purchased for about $10; all three for about $15.

What a deal!

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