We'll Get There If We Get There When We Get There   Thursday, November 03, 2011





The big news this week is a new chapbook, posted in its entirety, by my poet-friend, Alex Stolis, whose work, including his previous chapbooks, you've seen here often.

As for my pictures, winter is a dark and sometimes scary time. So, I'm welcoming the winter soon coming with some dark pictures, framed by the gold of passing autumn. Or something like that. It's hard to get a consistent effect with pictures taken at different times with different cameras, but some of the photos actually came out the way I envisioned.


Paul Guest
Audio Commentary Track 1
Poison
Regarding Your Application For Many Imaginary Positions
Elegy for the Plesiosaur on the Advent of its Predicted Return
Praise


Me
weary

Pat Mora
"Woman Mysteriously Disappears"
Distance
My Mask
My Hands


Me
sex: parts is parts - it's all in how you use them, I'm told

Audre Lorde
The One Who got Away
Depreciation
Syracuse Airport


Me
inside/outside

William Matthews
Fox Ridge State Park, Illinois, October
Just a Closer Walk with Thee


Me
mushroom umbrellas

Ryokan
Written in My Hermitage on a Snowy Evening
Summer Night
Empty Bowl - Two Poems
Winter


Me
24-7

Alex Stolis
The Girl Who Lived In The Tree (his latest chapbook)

Me
best damn chili in Texas

From Reversible Monuments
Alberto Blanco
Quantum Theory
Antonio Deltoro
Eggs Laid by a Tiger
Gerado Deniz
Ignorance
Francisco Segovia
There Where You Sleep…
Natalia Toledo
Temple
Silly Ghost


Me
about a poem by Alberto Blanco

Sharon Olds
Nurse Whitman
The Mother


Me
the devil can find you anywhere

Thylias Moss
Water Road
The Blue Territory of Sissies


Me
the girl in white stockings

Wilfred Owen
The Last Laugh

Me
today is the only day of my life

From Five Inprint Poets
Varsha Shah
In Other Words
Stan Crawford
Blind Spot
How I See It


Me
there was a pasture there

Dana Gioia
The Gods of Winter

Me
all good stories









I start this week with several poems by Paul Guest, from his book My Index of Slightly Horrifying Knowledge. The book was published in 2008 by HarperCollins.

Guest, recipient of a 2007 Whiting Award, is a visiting professor of English at the University of West Georgia.

His first book, The Resurrection of the Body and the Ruin of the World, won the 2002 New Issues Prize in Poetry, and his second book, Notes for My Body Double, won the 2006 Prairie Schooner Book Prize. He has a memoir pending with Ecco titled One More Theory About Happiness.

I think I would enjoy just reading a book of his titles.



Audio Commentary Track 1

As you can already see, everything is fucked.
I really can't remember why
but we hadn't slept in three days,
drowning rubbing alcohol by the bottle
and falling into stuporous public sex
at skating rinks and professional wrestling matches.
And there were the strange dares:
someone had heard lethally ascetic Canadian monks
were able to cause their intestines
to erupt in horrifying geysers from their abdomens
and all of us wanted to be the first
to figure out the trick of it.
So maybe in context you'll understand
why most of the movie is missing sound
as we come to know this painfully shy woman.
Why Samantha weeps during sex
or is emotionally unavailable
to the people who need her most -
the dullards in the exact change lane.
That we all forgot to rig the microphones
really does challenge the audience
to stay with the story by reading lips.
Or by accurately guessing her thoughts
as she naps on the sofa under general anesthesia.
And her feelings for this man
unlike any she's known before
with his toothless optimism and total amnesia.
If you're able to overlook how close
we all were to massive organ failure,
you'll see some magic. Like this shot
of a tear streaking down her cheek
and through the precipitous ravine of her cleavage.
They were real, I should add, the tears.
The producer would call from Bogota
where he had arranged
for her children to be tutored in cages.
The shot was hard on everyone
and the parasites didn't help
so I tried to keep the atmosphere light.
Which was hard to do
when everyone suffered from 106 degree fevers
and clinically undiagnosed paranoia.
But we pushed through
because we cared about the story
and eventually bothered to look at the dailies.
The only scene with sound was the last.
Which seemed almost poetic.
Above the landfill, their naked bodies,
above the clothes left in hurried heaps,
a ;choir of gulls are sadly cawing.
To me each convulsive sob sounds like joy.


Poison

I never thought I'd tire of being a mammal:
the flexible hair, the summers off,
the endless sweetness of milk,
the half-ecstasy of live birth
duking it out with the napalm fever
so much death engenders. But fire ruined
me, at least it ruined my teeth:
what once were grim experts
at ripping raw beast from the bone
turned soft when food did
over fire. Served mush, mammalian teeth
slipped away, smaller each
millennium. Ours are the worst
in all the animal kingdom
and when I look to the marmot's face,
to the mongoose's maw
meant for the cobra's white flesh,
I see my better. No matter
how deep in the darkness I diagram the trebuchet,
or feather the arrow's fletch,
the stone pried from the river
is still the river's tooth
and the throb of blood in my hammered thumb
I suck like a poison
I want.


Regarding Your Application For Many Imaginary Positions

Regard your application for many imaginary positions,
such as Glorious Leader of the Lutheran Jihad,
which you were good enough to explain
would pay no salary and convey no health benefits
or even obligate us to acknowledge you
as a fellow human being, we wish to thank you
for every assurance your tendency
toward unfettered rage is in you past,
and that a movie like A Clockwork Orange
or the good parts of Saving Private Ryan
would give us an idea of how you've wasted
the best years of your life. All of us
nodded when we saw ourselves i you
and your poignant cries for help
even as we forwarded them to the legal department.
We trust you don't mind.
We appreciate your seemingly robotic sense
of initiative and attention to detail,
to say nothing of the shockingly candid
photographs of you in bed with your girlfriend,
though we respectfully suggest
there are very few women who enjoy
what the professionally shot set
appears to show you doing,
and further we have reason to believe
you picked her up on Ninth Street
behind the weird carwash
one night when the desperation was too much to bear.
That is whey it gives us no pleasure
to say we have found someone else
who best seems to fit our imaginary needs
at this time. Not only do we wish you luck,
we wish you wold stop burning effigies across the street.


Elergy for the Plesiosaur
on the Advent of its Predicted Return


We find your bones all the time and try not to be sad.
We're not even sure how late we were
to your funeral or whether we sent flowers
or told great stories of how you lived
on your own terms and without regret
and that for you the most important thing
was family. And awesome displays of predation.
Carbon dating can't say whether
the toasts we raised to you and your epoch
would have burned your alien face
with embarrassment for all the wildness of your youth
or swallowed you up in laughter,
as you might have tried to swallow us
on another day in the long life of ancient hunger.
And we hope the words we said
to all the mates you'd won with rituals
impossible for mammals to even comprehend
helped to assuage the thing that was grief

that was in the and would never fade,
they swore y the dangerous volume of their tears
and the veils of black weed
they wore in in the fathoms of their bereavement.
To your children looking on you
who said to themselves that you only slept
and would wake when all this was over
and everyone had left who swore
to honor your last hunt with all theirs to c ome,
we can only theorize how much they felt
of our terrified stabs at consolation
and whether they would have
let us keep our arms. The fossil record
so far contains no evidence
we attend the depositions of your body
as it was lowered into the murk
while any beasts sadly lowered in the depths
or whether the tears finally came
when upwards we desperately kicked
to the air of the world that was soon to be our own.


Praise

Your whole life might pass without thinking
of the debt of gratitude you owe
Walt Disney. Thank you, Walt, for Goofy,
the man-dog hybrid, wherever you are
cryogenically contained, cheating death
in that bunker beneath one ride
or the other. Thinking of this, I'm invaded
by happiness. I can't even sigh
as the autumn sky deepens like your breath,
anonymous former lover, to whom
these poems are always piping
up, in what no one has ever called the axilla
of the night. Meaning,I think
of you when it's unbearably dark
and the world has drawn so close
my face no longer dreams of secret proximities.
Just dull air. Thank you,lungs,
for abiding even still, for never leaving
your obscure post within the pink
shell of my aerobic life, my life humming
with heat. And thank you, Godard,
for saying the only things
a good movie needs are a girl and a gun.
In agreement I admit I am
tingling. In the silvered light
I'm dreaming of the red-haired girl
and the murderous gun,like a bazooka.
Thank you, Elegantly Branded Suburban Utility Vehicle,
for not running me down each day
I stop to speak to fenced-in schnauzers
who hat me for my freedom.
Thank you, blessed
thirst for oil. I'm thirsty, too,
though this would surprise
on on I loved, who helped define
for the idea of direct address,
and it's your hair fanning out in the waters
of each sad poem and your heart
that was amazingly cruel
and thank you, living world,
that you don't cease, that you go on and on and on.








I have a hard time sleeping because of back problems. My nights are mostly ups and downs, sleep an hour, get up, walk around the house, go outside, sleep another hour in my recliner, get up, etc. etc. I can take pills to sleep, but they turn me into a zombie the next day, so I just stay tired a lot.



weary

I’ve been up
three hours now
and It’s still barely light
so what am I going to do
next week when the time
changes and I will have been
up for four hours now and how
I envy the sleep of babes, how I
envy the sleep of consecutive hours,
dreams unbroken by pain, dreams
of a young man who dreams of
possible things not old man
dreams of past times
and past people,
memories of
days lost
I am
so
wearied
by the night
too tired to sleep
too tired to dream
always so tired, too
weary to forget
and dream
again
new
.
.
.









Here are several short poems by Pat Mora. The poems are from her book Borders, published by Arte Publico Press of Houston in 1986.

Mora, an El Paso native, won the Southwest Book Award for Borders and for her first book Chants.



"Woman Mysteriously Disappears"

That's what
the headline
would say
but I'm too clever.
I grip
bridge rails
when inviting rivers
call me
far down
below
tempting me
to dare.
When I'm with you
I secretly
grip furniture
and door handles.
I never star
into your eyes
for long.


Distance

My cat is wounded, blood
on the patio. Was it some Tom
seeking a soft, dark place to hide?
She hides, under bushes
she lies alone.

Tail-tensed she limps
toward me over damp grass,
each step a thorn. I stroke
her carefully: so soft, so soft.
When I clean her cut, we flinch,
We'll both be bruised again.

I hold her small face in my palm,
look into her eyes, but I don't
hold her close. I hate our softness.


My Mask

Leave it by the bed.
I wear it everywhere.
It's just that your fingers
stroked so slowly, so warmly
I didn't even notice when
you eased it off.. My face
must be pale,frightened.
Yours is.

I'll fling the mirror you hand me
against the wall.
No, I won't look
at a woman who hides nothing.


My Hands

comfort each other while you're gone.

Two widowed sisters,they hug
each other gently.

Sometimes they forget
and reach to rub your back.
They stop

embarrassed. They almost touched
the wrong man.

I worry
they may become hermits.








Every once in a while I like to try to write something that plays with old assumptions, something to help people think about things they think they know, truths that might be weighing them down more than they think.



sex: parts is parts - it's all in how you use them, I'm told

I
know
this fella,
have coffee
with him
sometimes
and we were talking
about this whole sex
business
one day and he said
I’m not homo-sexual -
just
want to make that
clear,
he said,
but I’m not so straight
either,
and I wouldn’t say
I’m
bi-sexual
cause it seems to me
that just leaves out a whole
bunch
of possibilities -
I guess, he said,
you could just call me,
an
anything-between-two-or-more-consenting-adults-
that-feels-good-
sexual

I told him
that seemed mighty
strange
to me and that i would have
to think about it
for a while,
but
you know,
maybe it's just a
reflection of
my naturally horny inner
pagan,
but
the more I think
about it
the more trouble
I’m having
coming up with
an
argument
against
it









My next three poems are by Audre Lorde, who was born in 1934 and died in 1992. During her life, she published ten volumes of poetry and five works of prose. In addition to many other honors and awards, she was named New Youk State Poet in 1991.

The poems are from her last book of poetry, The marvelous Arithmetics of Distance, containing 39 poems written between 1987 and her death. The book was published in 1993 by W.W. Norton.



The One Who Got Away

The youngest sister
works a dangerous ground
mildewed     combustible
beyond glamour or choice
she is last seen
leaping he dangerous pegmatite
under noon's mercy.

Each day she lives
a bright ransom
going away     beyond the guilty
cut to the border     evening
hounds baying across the clearing.

Each day a new landscape
but never a woman
peeks out from the folds
of her bed-scented mirror
to whisper     you are the fairest
daughter.

And every midnight
over her nightmare's shoulder
a swollen girl
belly pressed against glass
waves goodbye
through the slanting rain.


Depreciation
     Staten Island, 1986

First the plumbing breaks down
a minor valve slips with a hiss
as the first guests sit down
amontillado in hand.

Between the leek soup and curried flounder
an era begins in the basement
the furnace gives up
its castiron forever     slowly
the pump stutters     groans
refusing to move
we promise each other
future celebrations.


Syracuse Airport

Clean jeans and comfortable shoes
I need no secrets here     at home
in this echoless light
I spread my papers out
around me.

Opposite     alert
a grey-eyed lady takes fire
one pale nostril quivering
we both know women
who take up space
are called sloppy.








Dogs and cats, ever so strange and different, what must it be like to live inside their heads.



inside/outside

it’s all a circle,
these lives we lead,
everything goes,
and in it’s time, comes
again…

like this bright,
beautiful morning,
sky clear, the light blue
of bright - yellow sunshine
and yellow -laced
shadows…

I’ve been here before and will,
with luck be here again
and again and again, knowing
even as I luxuriate in this cold bright,
that dark will come again, welcoming
that dark, for bright
is not bright without it, as
day is not day without
the brackets of night - people
who live in a dry desert, how they
welcome the rain, people who live in
a forever cloudless sky, how they
marvel at a cloud’s slow passing…

and as I think of my circular life,
I think of my dog,
lovely, sweet Reba, for whom
very minute is the only minute, like
all dogs, living in the moment,
every minute a lifetime, sixty life-times
in an hour, how
disconcerting, how
wonderful
to be so inflicted,
so blessed,
to live like that is to live
outside the circle of time,
to live in the constant changing
forever strange
and forever
new

and I wonder
if I could ever be dog enough
to live a life
of so many lives








Here are two poems by William Matthews. They are from his book, Blues If You Want Them, published in 1989 by Houghtoh Mifflin.

At the time of publication, Matthews was a professor of English at City College of the City University of New York.



Fox Ridge State Park, Illinois, October

Past the round barn at the quarterhorse
farm, past the Separate and Hurricane
Baptist churches. past rangers drowsily
uncrumpling to fill their crisp
uniforms, past Acorn Avenue, past
the concession stand already shuttered
against winter, as deep into the park
as I could drive, I drove.
Those rangers might have drained a third
of a thermos by now,I thought and scuffed
some leaves. I wish I owned
a dog. I let the slow yeast of boredom
moil, tepid and languorous, and stood
and stared at a swatch of air
through which a crow had flown
five minutes before, or ten.
"Dawdle" is active. I just stood there.
I didn't crack a joke or smile.
If I could have leased the nervous
system of a radish, I'd have paid
beyond my wildest dreams of poverty
and ruin to stand and let my dreams
subside, as they did slowly
on their own, as sick of me as I'd come
to be of them. With half a sack
of floury lime for the outhouse
and the rest in reserve, the fall stood by
like a waiter, ready, when we
were, to present the bill, while
I and my dreams stared into
the crisping, sap-starved woods
and did some math of our own.


Just a Closer Walk with Thee

Smoke rose and ashes fell.
Dad could explain and so could Mom:
Just wait until
you'reolder.
Across the lawn

the sun dragged its relentless
blessing. A crow
let loose a laugh and two aunts kissed
him. Oh no, oh no.

The day went on and on.
Mom said sullen. Dad said tantrum.
Someone was gone:
the child burned like a lantern.








Temporarily interested in plying with shapes, I'll get over it.

In the meantime...



mushroom umbrellas

born on the bloody tail of a cataclysmic war growing up under mushroom
umbrellas sprouting like daisies in the southwestern desert envying
my neighbors fall-out shelter
practicing duck & cover
in my
first grade
classroom
watching
cartoon
depictions of
cold war disaster
missing friends as they
withered, their heads
protruding form an iron suit that would encase them
for the rest of their life - knowing now times never so bad now that they couldn’t be worse









Next, several short poems by 18th century Japanese hermit-monk Ryokan.

The poems are taken from One Robe, One Bowl, the Zen Poetry of Ruyokan, published by Weatherhill, an imprint of Shambala Publications. The books first edition was in 1977. My copy of the book is from the fifteenth printing in 2005.

The poems were translated to English by John Stevens.



Written in My Hermitage on a Snowy Evening

For more than seventy years, I have been making
Myself dizzy observing men.
I have abandoned trying to penetrate men's good and
   bad actions.
Coming and going is a sign of weakness.
Heavy snow in the dead of night -
Under the weather-beaten window, one incense stick.

~~

Light rain - the mountain forest is wrapped in mist.
Slowly the fog changes to clouds and haze.
along the boundless river bank, many crows.
I walk to a hill overlooking the valley to sit in zazen.

~~

After spending the day begging in town,
I now sit peacefully under a cliff in the evening cool.
Alone, with one robe and one bowl -
The life of a Zen monk is truly the best!


Summer Night

Late at night, the faint sound of someone pounding rice.
Dew drips from the bamboo onto the firewood pile
And the plants along the garden are also moist.
Frogs croak in the distance but then seem very close.
Fireflies light low, then high.
Wide awake, sleep is far off.
Smoothing out the pillow, I let my thoughts drift.


Empty Bowl: Two Poems

In the blue sky a winter goose cries.
The mountains are bare; nothing but falling leaves.
Twilight: returning along the lonely village path
Alone, carrying an empty bowl.

Foolish and stubborn - what day can I rest?
Lonely and poor, this life.
Twilight: I return from the village
Again carrying an empty bowl.


Winter

Drinking sweet sake with the farmers
   until our eyebrows
Are white with snow.

~~

Returning to my hermitage after a journey
   to distant mountain villages;
Along the fence, the last chrysanthemums linger.

~~

Late at night, listening to the winter rain,
   recalling my youth -
Was it only a dream? Was I really young once?

~~

The hour grows late, but the sound of hail
   striking the bamboo
Keeps me from sleep.

~~

Another blizzard - the mountains are
   covered with snow.
From now on, news from the town must wait till spring.

~~

I live in a hut in the mountains of Echigo,
   white peaks all around.
Ice, snow, and clouds blend together.

~~

In even a light snow, we can see
   the three thousand worlds.
Again a light snow falls.

~~

Wind and snow,then snow and rain:
   tonight, awakened by the cry of a wild goose
In the dark, endless winter sky.

~~

Lying in my freezing hut, unable to sleep
   only the quiet roar
Of water pouring over a cliff.

~~

I went to see the pine at Iwamura.
   All day I stood in the rice field
Getting drenched by freezing rain.

~~

I lie down near the hearth
   and stretch my feet to the fire
But still the cold pierces my belly.

~~

No begging in the town
   again today.
The snow falls and falls.

~~

Late at night, the snow
   is piling higher and higher
Muffling the sound of the waterfall.

~~

The freezing morning rain has let up.
   What should I do?
Fetch water? Chop firewood? Gather winter greens?

~~

In the shadow of the mountains
   the firewood burns, brightening
My cold little grass hut.

~~

Winter will soon be over;
   please, please come visit
My grass hut.

~~

My heart beats faster and faster
   and I cannot sleep.
Tomorrow will be the first day of Spring!








Here's an old poem from 2007. Another lament of the sleep-disfunctional.



24-7

I’m trying to find
an idea
that will grow
into my next poem,
something worth keeping,
something with depth
that can bring that moment
to a reader when it’s like
a dark day turns bright with the light
of an idea or an image or
a sense of the inner workings
of a poet’s mind and heart

and all I can think of
is how damn tired I am,
which leads me to think about
sleep and what a gift it is
and how the life we lead
spurns that gift
as if was a cheap plastic
doodad we receive in the mail
as some kind of promotion
for a product even cheaper

watch how a cat sleeps

mine does it so well, finding
a place next to me at night
that she’ll keep through the night
and most of the next day, arising
for just a few hours during the day
to do what cats do
when out of the sight of man

how intense is her short waking life
and how drab is mine, stretched over
the greater part of my life -
how deep and uncomplicated her sleep
and how short
and unsatisfying is mine








Next, I have another new chapbook from my poet-friend Alex Stolis which I will, as usual when it comes to Alex's work which I admire very much, post in its entirety.



The Girl Who Lived In The Tree


Table of Contents


In the morning, when it was raining
Rain Dogs
We built this city
We came upon this road on our way to somewhere else
Flying in circles with no place to land
Standing in line for the Alexander McQueen Exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art
The sun bends a cloud into the soft light of morning
I think about your hands, how they make me feel as transparent as glass
The Girl Who Lived in the Tree
In the evening, after rain
A choice between grief and nothing
What will become of the world when you leave?
Far from flowerbeds and wayward girls
A pattern of bridges in a crystal grey sky
When the world is no more than a lone dark hallway
Theory of the crows
What happens to longing left out in the rain
Now we have been shorn of beauty
Body lost, mouth empty
Empty fields wait for rain, we wait for night to fall as dark as the soil


In the morning, when it was raining

She places her hand on the glass, the sun cracks open a cloud. It is warm. She measures time in the silences between us. One day turns to three and into a week. She has everything she needs to run from the law. Everything she needs to keep from being saved. The neighbors are asleep. The road is slick with good intentions. I find a CD she burned for me. Track 1: a slow burn then crescendo. Track 2: a catchy bass line, quiet, LoUd, quiet. The wet grass shines, a street lamp flickers off. I already know how it ends: one rough edge, an unsent package. I’m a push pin on a map of Africa.


Rain Dogs

Tonight is silver. The moon, wet papier-mâché. Your hand slides up my arm. The wind, a penny whistle serenade. A car with a busted headlight lurches around the corner. You smile at our hard luck. Kiss me and ask if you can tell my fortune. Two might have been lovers whisper in a doorway. Under a halo of rain you take my hand, study the creases in my palm. Trace them with your finger. Then up my wrist. Quiet whorls on my forearm. We feel the indifference of time. For one moment there is no sound, no burden of proof. The past is locked in a small shadow; flesh against flesh.


We built this city

I stopped listening the day Jefferson Airplane became Jefferson Starship. What arrogance. What conceit. There is no fire. Only ash and scorched remains. We lean into the wall. My hands in your back pockets. You say you have no tears, no time to let out your breath.I touch the broken button on your blouse. Shift my leg between yours. Sand and gravel. Brick and mortar. We are dust and bones. We reassemble ourselves from flint, tinder.


We came upon this road on our way to somewhere else

We were driven back. It was the night of the lotus eaters. Driven by ill winds. Hands flat on the table. We weep. Haley Bonar sings about drinking. Today it is all over. Out. We weep for broken wings. For tulips, daylilies and purple flox, the empty spaces where butterflies fell to the ground. Pick up the clothes scattered about, sweep the floor. Talk to the dead, call it prayer. Feed the dog, let out the hem of your dress. Today is all out. Over. Nick Cave sings about Jesus. Take your time, baby. You are the earth, dirt, fire. I’ll be a fugitive. Shut my eyes to water and sky and the sun, moon and stars.


Flying in circles with no place to land

I make a list. Pack again. And again. It gets dark. Then darker. I think of scarlet pigeons, thunder, your voice soft and clear. Water is high on the river. An eagle circles. There is a shift and center becomes a blur of constant motion. I count days until I can name them on my fingers. Divide the days into moments. High grass, you in a slip. Low hung clouds, your shoulder brushing my chin. Thumbs hooked in the front pockets of your jeans, eyes pale with morning. It is faith. It is uncertainty. Time to pack. Time to move. Make a list.


Standing in line for the Alexander McQueen Exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

I grip two worn rosary beads in my fist. You are a thousand miles away. Planning a divorce. It could happen any day now. Breakfast dishes wait unwashed in the sink. Bed unmade and unslept in. Grocery list tagged on the fridge: six-pack, loaf of bread, peanut butter, AA batteries for the alarm clock. I measure time in words, sentences short enough to sweep away seconds. The woman in front of me asks How did he die? Seems such a shame. You shower alone. Mouth the words to your favorite poem. I shuffle forward. Wish you knew me before I was broken. When I could name the different shades the sky turns when it fills with birds.


The sun bends a cloud into the soft light of morning

I don’t believe in god or luck or religion or evil. I don’t believe people are inherently good or that if you step on a crack you will break your mother’s back. I don’t believe in signs, omens, talisman or rabbit’s feet. I don’t believe that truth will set us free, that grief shared is halved. I don't believe in anything outside of these things: this wall, this sand and your hands.


I think about your hands, how they make me feel as transparent as glass

You fumble with my belt buckle. The rain sounds like static electricity. Wet hair in your mouth a thunder clap and you laugh at my inability to unhook your bra. It rains harder in fall, something to do with barometric pressure you say and I am sure you are making this all up as you go along. You tell me about your grandmother. Peppermint candy and the day she died. About her room

how the smell was an unfamiliar mix of ginger, cinnamon and sadness. Your kids are mostly grown, at that in-between awkward age. The age when you told me you lost your virginity. After practice. After lights out. In the middle of the soccer field on a plaid blanket you had planned to use on your first real picnic. You heard two owls call to each other, felt his

inexpert hands try not to be rough. Felt a sharp pain and warmth and thought so this is what love feels like. You didn’t tell but your mother knew. Told you later she felt it in the way you carried yourself as if you were looking for something you didn’t even know was lost. Father never knew, called you shortcake and teased that your skirts seemed to be getting shorter every day.

You still play soccer, like to lie in the grass and stare at the sky. You write poems for yourself and talk to your mother every day, swear that she listens. Sometimes, the air gets so still you can feel the sun’s breath. So still you are about to lose your balance. It is then you hear her voice. She says, Yes, it’s true; you have been found and you weren’t even looking.


The Girl who Lived in the Tree

It was this she feared. The end of words. A void so pillow-soft she would sleep forever. The woman-girl in a fairy tale. No witch. No prince to wake her. She could see the signs. The subtle shift in gravity. The feather lightness of grief. The curve of her hip against the door. Would you, could you. Can’t. It was cool for summer. The present a pastel green. The past a rusty oil on an off white canvas. I love. I love. I see it. Taste it. Smell it. Can no longer touch it. At this moment she feels used up. A small brown bird appears on her sill. Flies away.


In the evening, after rain

Rain is a language I can understand. The sky, a bruised pink
and purple. The sun is incomprehensible. No birds to fall
from flight, no sound but the rush of water. Hope you don’t
remember me. The way I waited for brittle bones to break,
the way I made a wish on the shorter half of the day you left.
Let’s be strangers again. This time we’ll learn to remember
differently. We’ll remember how to live with the loss of light.


A choice between grief and nothing

The end of every day: the same red wagon on the sidewalk, the same sky and stars, the same pegged shirts and sheets on the line drying in the breeze; multi-colored flags in the country of loneliness. She wants to feel the trembling stop, wishes for the sun to burst in two. Then breathe as the charred corners of her life melt. She longs for a Gatsby, a ginger smelling man, to take her shoes and walk her off to nowhere. Tell her you ain't got nothin' , making it sound as if she were everything.


What will become of the world when you leave?

I remember scarlet pigeons, a warm hand on the small of my back, St. Anthony Main, raisin bagels, a little boy who pretended to be blind. I remember the pop,pop, pop of an argument that burst like bottle rockets on the Fourth of July.

No matter what happens, no trace of now will remain.


Far from flowerbeds and wayward girls

Clouds slice skyscrapers into slivers
small enough to carry
on my tongue. In a day, a week,

a month, a year, we’ll be another photograph
on a shelf, one more
thing to move when it’s time to dust.

I listen to the nick and scrape of a chair
on the floor upstairs. Plan my escape
over the water.


A pattern of bridges in a crystal grey sky

I feel loss down to the soles of my shoes, I remember the look on your face
before I knew it would be the last time. If I had been paying attention, might
have noticed the way the lines by your eyes had creased when you smiled.
Now I wake up in a land of tall trees, a land of frost and wind that cuts a day

until it bleeds into nights with sawdust spread on the floor. The lights are
a dim orange, your hair pulled back. You save the next dance for me, it’s an
unspoken promise but my back is turned. I don’t remember the taste of your
skin how you used to sing Velvet Underground when you were ready to take

on the world, ready to face my lack of conviction. Can’t remember you touch
my cheek, tell me don’t ever, ever, even dare look back. Instead, I take a fall,
fold my hands as if in prayer. Bow my head. Grab the first bus to the edge of
town. Thumb a ride to the next nowhere/nothing/no place, imagine a cottage

buried in a hill yellow with windflowers. Imagine a crooked stream, the warm
impermanence of the sun against my face. The air is sharp, my mouth is dry
when tomorrow appears in front of me: bare legs tan, a hand in your pocket,
one on your hip, head tilted as you listen to the chatter of leaves in the trees.


When the world is no more than a lone dark hallway

To fill the cold bones of winter I name the shades of gray. Think of coming to see you. Recall the long legged scene, the one with the magazine body double. We were accidental. She was an actress; nipped waist, a mute silhouette. God, I wish your hands were mine, laying the keys on the nightstand. I nick myself shaving, taste blood on the corner of my lip. Dial the wrong number on purpose to hear your voice. Blame you for this room in back, curtains too thick to sway in the breeze. A room built to overhear traffic conversation. I play with the buttons of your coat. Count how many memories I no longer have to forget.


Theory of the crows

You wear the last of the summer sun on your skin. Tell me stories about your first crush. Girls with ponytails. Too tight jeans. Late nights that ended too early. You say it’s best to forget everything we thought we learned, start over. Let’s have it be Sunday. We never had a Sunday. Go back to that feeling of being stripped bare. Live wires. Listen to the days get shorter. Wander into the low chill of fall. You tell me you can’t stay warm. Tell me you are ready to leave. I know light and thin shadows. I am familiar with sharp points of frozen earth, the crunch of frost under my boots. When I die, burn my bones, scatter the ash while it snows. In spring, build a scarecrow. Plant him in a yellow field, button his cuffs and pin his hat on tight. When it turns warm, the crows will welcome me home.


What happens to longing left out in the rain

I have nothing. My hands are empty. Skin is cold. Limbs are numb. The sun is a forgotten memory, the moon an untrustworthy confidant. I wish for sleep so I don’t have to pretend you are thinking of me. Spell your name in dust. Wake, alone, to a pastel sky and remember last spring. We were unafraid. We were rolling thunder. Chosen ones; baptized in the white dew of morning.


Now we have been shorn of beauty

You wear your mother’s crucifix. Say you have become whittled and worn. That under the straight lines and sharp creases there lives a ten year old girl. We walk without purpose, have nowhere to go, nowhere to be. Trees shudder in the cold. A lone sparrow huddles on a branch. Now that the sun has left for the other side of the world we look for a backup plan. An escape hatch. You touch the cross, pick up a pebble, start to tell me the story of your life; a raindrop falls on the back of my hand.


Body lost, mouth empty

I am misplaced. With nothing. Nothing in my hands. Nothing on my tongue. I am blind, wordless. Left to wander, tethered to gray space with no sun, no earth; no solid ground to absorb this chill. How long has it been since there has been fire, embers hot enough to melt indecision. There is no memory of yesterday. No recollection of words, how they crawled to a stop. Today is a paper cut. I know the cool breeze of your skin. I know the pale light that was left on for me to find my way home.


Empty fields wait for rain, we wait for night to fall as dark as the soil

I’ve become a cliché. An inside joke without irony. I want to stay up all night:
get lost, write stories, burn them. Watch the ashes float away. Our beginning,
middle and end. Passages of time reduced to gray and black; transparent, fragile. I want to lie in a field, thirsty and brown. Feel the rise and fall of your chest as you lay next to me. Too trapped to drive anywhere. Born too late to ever give up this ghost of a chance. Our world becomes a single line, dotted and smudged.


Go back to sleep baby. Go back to sleep, I will watch you well.








This is a poem from 2007, based on knowledge earned (the hard way) in 1967. And you know how it is, when you know something, there is this urge to pass it on.



best damn chili in Texas

Frontier
Something or Other
was the name of the place

best damn chili
in Texas,
the devil’s own
hangover preventative

pork and beef
and three kinds of
pepper
hot enough to defoliate
your nose hairs
and grease enough
to coat your guts
from inflow to the
gotta go

a bowl
before you hit the bars
and a bowl after
and you’re be so damn
stone
cold
sober
at reveille your eyebrows
stand and salute
when old General Pushcart
comes by on the back of his jeep

I used to know a lot
about this sort of
thing








Next, I have four poets from Reversible Monuments, a very large anthology of contemporary Mexican poetry. The book was published in 2002 by Copper Canyon Press.

It is a bilingual book, with poems in the poets' native Spanish and in English.



The first poet is Alberto Blanco. Blanco was born in Mexico City in 1951. He is a poet, visual artist, translator, and art critic. He is the author of more than 20 books. He has taught in the MFA bilingual creative writing program at the University of Texas at El Paso. He is also a jazz and rock musician who performs with the bands, La Comuna and Las Plumas Atomicas.

This is a poem I would like so much to have written. It was translated by Joan Lundgren, Gustavo F. Segade, and Michael Wiegers.


Quantum Theory

I

Radiated heat - in a campfire
as well as in the atomic explosions at the center of the sun -
is not a continuous flow:
it's more like the beating of a heart
than the slow running of a river,
because radiation proceeds by quantum leaps.

Perhaps our knowledge
proceeds the same way.

The fact that in physics
whole numbers have been assigned
to each one of these leaps,
and that in different traditions
there exist initiation rituals for each passage,
in no way alters the basic phenomenon.

The circles in clear water
move outward from the stone that falls into it
but the depth of the pond remains unaltered.

The heart pulses in leaps
but the circulation of the blood
is on continuous reality.

II

At one time it was thought that electrons
were like planets gyrating around a nucleus
- a central sun - and that along with their movement and velocity
there was a corresponding orbit, naturally.

Nevertheless - to our great surprise -
quantum theory proposed that electrons
- in spite of their movement, velocity, etc. -
do not orbit! How is this possible?

If we observe a hydrogen atom (the simplest of all)
through the electron microscope
we will see that the light of the instrument itself
stimulates its only electron to absorb energy,
become excited, and leave its orbit...
and we will never know that other orbit.

Quantum theory proposes
- as opposed to classical mechanics -
that movement can exist
without a trajectory, without a journey, without an orbit.

At least without a known path,
and - what is more important -
without a path that can be known.

Is this not poetry?


The next poet is Antonio Deltoro. Born in Mexico City in 1947, Deltoro studied economics and is the author of many books of poetry and has received many honors, including the Aguascalientes National Poetry Prize in 1999. His work has appeared in and he has served on the boards of many of the most prestigious literary magazines of Mexico.

His poem was translated to English by Christinan Viveros-Faune.


Eggs Laid by a Tiger

...Marvelously original things
like eggs laid by tigers.

Dylan Thomas

Fascination for what is seen and heard from the heights, in the streets
   from the sidewalk.
Hypnosis triggered by a lone footprint in the cement, by the lack of
   footprints on the beach,
by an anthill of shoes at the entrance of the subway.
Sadness for shoes orphaned of feet, tracks of the unlucky,
more human still, now that they mean abandonment.
Horror of the shoes left by flight like false leads
for death to enjoy: foreshadowing of casket, bad omens.
Pathos of shoes abandoned amidst the massacre,
of those who fell before their footsteps, more painful even than
   screams.
Blindness of eyes to brilliant feet, of memory to that shoe
fallen among so many others on the wet street.
Seduction of the feet of dreams, magic of feet laughter.
Bedazzlement of jumping feet, magic of feet in the treetops.
Enchantment of feet in the sky when they ascend horizontally, from
   the bed.
Attraction for feet when contemplating you from their soles;
love of the tongue that walks their path.
Freedom of naked toes when they leave their prison,
squirming like bird cubs in search of sustenance,
their nails fossils emerged from the Precambrian era.
Joy of feet liberated from their leather boxes,
they emerge like doves from a magician's top hat.
Clarity of feet on the beach, echoes of flesh, shadows erased by the sea.
Hallowed be thy feet, eggs laid by a tiger.


The third poet is Gerardo Deniz. Born in Madrid in 1934, Deniz is the nom de plume of Juan Almela, an eccentric member of the Spanish exile community in Mexico, arriving in Mexico in 1942. He has published eleven books of poetry. He studied chemistry and is a connoiseur of languages, including some as remote as Tibetan, ancient Mongol and those pertaining to the Ural-Altaic family.

His poem was translated by Monica de la Torre.


Ignorance

When you get rid of an adjective on your lips by spitting it at your
   lover's face,
you feel you've done your part, until another one comes out, e.g.,
   of tobacco,
and the process repeats itself ad nauseam.
The problem is that jungle populated by crickets and leopons, that
   injection of bubbles into the marrow
...in a word, anything that swarms is upsetting for a while and then
   makes one wake on Mondays
wondering
how come my uncles and aunts the poets
undergo what they write about
and live to tell the story.


My fourth poet from the anthology is Francisco Segovia. Born in Mexico City in 1958, Segovia is a poet, translator, and essayist. He has taught literature at several universities, including El Colegio de Mexico, where he is currently a researcher. He has also worked as a lexicographer for reference books.

His poem was translated by Michael Wiegers.


There Where You Sleep...

There where you sleep
is always a sacred place,
forbidden eve to whoever in his dreams
dreams alone with you...

There where you sleep
everything sees rising here,
the spring of its subterranean river.

There where you sleep
time learns at what rhythm
it is itself time
and the air returns
to feel the body with arms full.

There where you sleep
everything returns to its element and recognizes
that it is delightful because it warms
and because it dies.

There where you sleep...

And everything - trees, stones, man... -
surrenders itself devoutly to this delirium
of touching even in dreams
- there where you sleep -
not your body, but your embodiment.


My last poet from the anthology this week is Natalia Toledo. The youngest of the five poets I've featured this week, she was born in 1967 in Juchitan, Oaxaca. She writes in both Spanish and Zapotec. She appears frequently at international conferences of indigenous poets ad, for the past eight years, she has honed her skills as a gourmet chef specializing in Oaxacan cuisine.

Her poem, in Spanish, was translated by Alberto Rios.


Temple

Eye in the center of the triangle
of a God who sees nobody.
The hand of Minerva strikes my arm,
long and thin like q water snake.
Convulsed pulse,
clot of life.
The eye has a voice:
in what swamp did you leave your cowardly body.
The sweet basil shakes.
The thorn of my skin falls.


Silly Ghost

Skeleton buried
at the edges of the river.
Men who swing their balls
over the head of fear.








As my next poem suggests, I was really taken with the poem above by Alberto Blanco.



about a poem by Alberto Blanco

I was reading a poem
yesterday
by a Mexican poet, a poem
he titled, “Quantum Theory,”
describing the beauty and intricacy
and easy unbelievability of something
so complicated we can describe it only
in cartoons, like cave drawings
of stick-figure gods that blessed the hunt

and after all his description
and metaphor he ends his poem -

“And is this not poetry?”

and I think, oh my god, yes, this is
poetry of the world, poetry of the real,
poetry of the essences of all and I think
of the light little drivels I write and call
my poetry and wish I could be the poet
I claim to be and write such beautiful
words about the beautiful core
and quintessences of life, in the world,
and in our hearts, where, if anywhere,
quantum theory shapes the contours
of our passage and the base foundations
of the creature we are and could be, the
beautiful and intricate and hardly-believable
truth that is you; truth that is
me








Here are two poems by Sharon Olds. The poems are from her book Satan Says, the 1981 San Francisco Poetry Center Award winner published by University of Pittsburg Press.

Olds was born in 1942 in San Francisco and educated at Stanford University and Columbia University. At the time the book was published she taught poetry workshops at New York University and Goldwater Hospital on Roosevelt Island in New York.

Satan Says was her first book.



Nurse Whitman

You move between the soldiers' cots
the way I move among my dead,
their white bodies laid out in lines.

You bathe the forehead, you bather the lip, the cock,
as I touch my father, as if the language
were a form of life.

You write their letters home, I take the dictation
of his firm dream lips, this boy
I love as you love your boys.

They die and you still feel them. Time
becomes impertinent to love,
to the male bodies in beds.

We bend over them, Walt, taking their breath
soft on our faces, wiping their domed brows,
stroking back the coal-black Union hair.

We lean down, out pointed breasts
heavy as plummets with fresh spermy milk -
we conceive, Walt, with the men we love, thus, now
we bring to fruit.


The Mother

In the dreamy silence after bath,
hot in the milk-white towel, my son
announces that I will not love him when I'm dead
because people can't think when they're dead. I can't
think at first - not love him? The air outside the
window is very black, the old locust
beginning to lose its leaves already...
I hold him tight, he is white as a buoy
and my death like dark water is rising
swiftly in the room. I tell him I loved him
before he was born. I do not tell him
I'm damned if I won't love him after I'm
dead, necessity after all being
the mother of invention.








We live above a creek, several house from a road that is a short cut between two major highways. The ambulance, police, fire engine sirens are a regular feature of the night. It's something we mostly don't pay attention to anymore.



the devil can find you anywhere

it’s part of living in the city
we think
the noise of sirens
the fire trucks
the ambulances
the police cars
their supercharged engines
whoosh of air
and power like a bear’s
long growl
as they cross the creek
just down the road;
all the little murders
the little killings that come
so often it begins to seem
like a stream of blood
passing
a flood of blood
passing on weekends
the nude woman found
in a drainage ditch
shot dead
the baby in her crib
shot dead as a drive by
bullet penetrates the thin wall
she sleeps by
bar fights
that lead to shootings
in parking lots
blood on oily asphalt shinning
in the flashing lights
domestic disturbances
that rise from desperation
separation from hope
unhappiness
and too much to drink ending in rage-deaths
(I had a friend when I was thirteen, killed
by his father, shot as he tried to protect
his mother from her abuser) so many
that we lose count and it’s just another
half inch story on the back pages
and when we think of it at all we
shake our heads at the viciousness of it all
imagine quite places
where the sirens don’t wail
all night, where murder and tragedy and rage
only happens on TV and we daydream
like this until something happens like happened
this week and we realize the devil can
always find you anywhere
and we see that
death
comes to
quiet places too








Next, I have two poems by Thylias Moss, from her book, Small Congregations, published in 1993 by The Ecco Press.

Since I had never read Moss before, I googled here and found among other things, this resume like summary of her career.

"Poet and educator. The May Company, Cleveland, OH, order checker, 1973-74, junior executive auditor, 1975-79, data entry supervisor, 1974-75; Phillips Academy, Andover, MA, instructor, 1984-92; University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, assistant professor, 1993-94, associate professor, 1994-98, professor, 1998—. University of New Hampshire, Durham, visiting professor, 1991-92; Brandeis University, Waltham, MA, Fannie Hurst Poet, 1992."

I like this, preferring poets who come to poetry through their life, not though a continuous course of education, uninterrupted by real life, from age 5 through through three MAs and a PhD in other people's literature.

Moss is know for her dramatic and dynamic readings and writes more to be heard than read.



Water Road

Sing a song of commerce
for the long,long ride

setting out from Dahomey
and smelling well the first day

the sea, sea, sea I love
and tracing with my finger

fine outline of grayish bird
now diving, now rising from the water

a fist of feathers and beak
to shackle a fish doing the shimmy-shimmy.

Crew says: If it wasn't lovely, it'd be cruel.
Cargo says: If it wasn't cruel, it'd be lovely.


Then I smell too much us
and am close as love on two sides of me

but feel none. My finger still traces
but bird flies too far to sea's big

and it look for the water bottom to rest
but there be no end, no bed, no death,

no world like used to be.
We be deep in the ship, buried alive

in the tight, hot , sick world.
We be deep and floating on overflowing sickness.

We be men knowing down best.
We be women on the quarterdeck

knowing crew men know down best
when they ram it down our throats

'stead of 'tween the legs.

Our eyes belike stars
be bright, be looking, be helpless

and hanging in black sickness
deep above.


The Blue Territory of Sissies

The sky's wild secret
is behind blue as fixed and stable
as judgment just to look at

but the sky is not even solid,
is just air made visible in light,
scattering like bugs in light's

sudden intrusion. Hysterical air
is all around. It can't stop.
It knows it is spinning through

it looks still to everything below.
The wilderness that is frenzy that is
not adventure. That goes no further

than gravity. To crave it is
not to want much, and to be a fan of
the nervous breakdown that will not

fall apart alone, so the breaking out
of twisters, breaking up of houses
and towns.

At night the sky is not limited
to kindergarten exile above
a blue line. Exile resumes

when day breaks the dream. Darkness
only seems continuous and too soft
to crack. Then

in the lake's silver underneath,
the sky can see itself
holding trout and walleye.

It can see men walking into it
with cords and lines so kin
to what the lion tamer cracks

and do so curls manes.
Despite this fish grab and suck
the lozenges at line ends as if

the men were fish doctors.
The sky can see this yet not feel
its skin ripping, its blue draining,

its soul ascending into the black
beyond and crashing into stars, a game
of pinball.

A jet stream surely is the purest
flowing yet isn't the bluest. And
for all that turbulent posturing

it would take much more than a sky
has done to shake the planes
out of it; it would take rebellion.

Sometimes it is necessary as it is easy
to forget there is such a thing
as blue alert, issued

when it hasn't happened yet but
likely will,an air attach, some
unseen pushing escorting

the seventh wife of Bluebeard into
the forbidden room, turning Chicken
Little into barnyard Nostradamus

while the kites and flags flutter,
while in Kittyhawk
Orville and Wilbur sing unexceptionally.








Here's anotherr little piece from 2007, not of any import, but recalling the image does make me smile.



the girl in white stockings

the girl
in white stockings
swings her leg,
her unshod foot,
perfectly arched
instep,
like a metronome

fantasies
ensue

on a snowy field
under
bright December sun

in a white room
white walls
thick white carpet

popcorn








Wilfred Owen was killed in World War I, a week before the Armistice ended it in November, 1918.

Owen was one of a number of World War I combatants who wrote the truths of war that no one in their time wanted to hear, about death in the trenches,death in the mud, not the glorious death of heros, so beloved in patriotic fiction. No one before or since Owen has written tougher,truer war poems, only four of which were published in his lifetime. Here is one of the many unpublished.



The Last Laugh

"O Jesus Christ! I'm hit," he said; and died
Whether he vainly cursed, or prayed indeed,
The Bullets chirped - In vain! vain! vail!
Machine-guns chuckled - Tut-tut! Tut-tut!
And the Big Gun guffawed.

Another sighed - "O Mother, mother! Dad!"
Then smiled, at nothing, childlike, being dead.
    And the lofty Shrapnel-cloud
    Leisurely gestures - Fool!
    And the falling splinters tittered.

"My Love," one moaned. Love-languid seemed his mood,
Till, slowly lowered, his whole face kissed the mud.
    And the Bayonets' long teeth grinned;
    Rabbles of Shells hooted and groaned;
    And the Gas hissed.








A few thoughts on happiness and upon whom lies the responsibility for finding it.



today is the only day of my life

7:34 in the a.m.
and the sun’s up, a little bit,
a dreary
sunrise this morning,
of the kind that comes with
overcast skies and
unlikely promised rain,
and, I don’t care,
because, bright or dim,
wet or dry,
I’m looking forward to the
day as I have, upon thinking
about it, looked forward
to every new day
for most of my life,
which, I guess makes me
a kind of simple-minded,
and I don’t care - I’ll take
my state of being, whatever
it is, just for the pleasure
of living through it…

but, I’m also realistic
and I know it will not
always be so, viewing
my cohort of fellow patients
as I sat at my doctor’s office
yesterday, waiting for my
quarterly update on the physical
prospects of me,
a room full of people,
almost all not quite as old
or a little bit to a whole lot
older and what a sorry-looking group
they are (we are - not yet, I think -
but I see my fate all round me)
knowing my end will be no better
and probably worse than theirs…

and I think of end options, my exemplars,
my mother, thanksgiving dinner with family,
then to her room for a nap and dead in her sleep
at 81

or my father, disabled by lung disease
in his mid-fifties, slowly falling in on himself,
like a great tree, hollowed by internal rot,
until in a final and forever sleep
in a hospital when the pumping, whooshing,
machines that kept him breathing
were stilled…

odds for me are on that second end,
a slow dismantling of myself until myself
is like a piece of discontinued carpet
at a remnant store, a patch with nothing
to be patched on to, eventually folded up
and discarded, it is the way things are,
true even in all our bright years, when
there is no end to fear or to dread, no end
at all on the horizon, and that’s the way
it should be, ignorance makes the bright years
bright, ignorance a blessing to hold on to

and that’s what I do, dim-witted me, who
sees the future and with great determination
and purpose refuses to acknowledge
what he sees, understanding that happiness
is not some warm and compassionate animal
that jumps out of the bushes to wrap itself
around your life, but a blind-to-the-future fiction
that must be maintained, the dumb fiction
that allows me to look forward
to every new day, the only day that
counts

and I say it again,
not such a bright and promising day
it appears,
but I’m looking forward to it








Next, I have a couple of poets from the collection, Five Imprint Poets, published by Mutabilis Press of Houston in 2003.

The poets are two of five in the book, all participants in the Imprint poetry workshop led by Michael Lieberman.

All five poets are characterized by their enjoying a full and active life outside of poetry, all enjoying poetry as a break (though a committed one) from their "real" life.



The first the two poets I selected for this week is Varsha Shah. Born and brought up in the western state of Gujarat, India, Shah immigrated to the United States in 1974 and currently lives in Houston. She is a finance accounting professional who began her formal exposure to the craft off Western poetry at an Inprint workshop in 1998.


In Other Words

One of the first english textbooks
I remember
stating
a cock means a rooster.

In those old days
only the rich owned dickies -
the trunk that moves in a body with wheels
deriding bikers and hawkers alike.

Four letter words existed
only in the realm of a dictionary -
unspeakable meant anything but ordinary.

Fucking is what people in the ghettos did.
Dirty word.
Making love meant babies.
A woman meant not much
on her own
or when left alone.


My last poet from the anthology is Stan Crawford, a civil trial law attorney who practices in Houston. He began writing poetry again in 1998, after a twenty year interruption. (A familiar story to me, except my interruption was 30 years between poems.) He has a BA from Brown University, where he studied poetry, and a J.D. from the University of Texas.


Blind Spot

There was a time you drove
through summer's furnace, hermetically sealed,
listening to your own tune,
some golden oldie, and when you checked
the rear view mirror
no impediment

so you crossed the line
and someone's heart skipped, fusing
his hand to his horn a fraction
before the crash, but you never saw him,
never signaled
a change

and the time your son or daughter
said with a face clenched like a fist,
I will never forgive you for that, never,
but you didn't understand the reference,
your mind an empty plate
for this course

as well as the evening your love
gazed distractedly out the window and toward the sky
again and again, but when you looked out
there was nothing, just her reflection
in the windowpane, pale
and darkness behind.

See how the mirror holds the world:
street lights glide in reverse,
cables swoop backward,heavy with words,
cars race toward places you've left
as trees spar silently in the wind.

You see everything you've come thorough
except your part.
You can drown in water so clear
it reflects no light.


I hadn't intended to do a second poem by this poet, but this one followed the one above and I liked it. So, here it is.


How I See It

This morning's light
holds it shoes and tip-toes
past the window.

Soon recycling
trucks will come for everything
we go through twice.

Three lemons on
the kitchen counter keep
a quiet vigil.

Someone spilled
gin and a little tonic on
the only map.

We lit midnight
cigarettes. Acrid
lacy smoke.

That raccoon who fled
up our pecan tree never
came back down.

By five A.M. your eyes
went out like fireflies.
I love you,off and on.








I still enjoy my drives in county. Only it seems every month it takes longer and longer to get there.



there was a pasture here

there was a pasture
right here,
rocky and not good for much
but in the spring
it was a field of bluebonnets,
blue from fence to fence
like a summer
sky
brought softly
to earth

not so many years ago
there were many
pastures
just like this one,
a special one I remember,
on a hill, where,
on an April afternoon
you could sit amid the flowers
and look down on the city
in the broad river valley below,
on the edge of the first beginning
of the descent to the coastal plains

there are still
great fields of wildflowers,
but none so close
as those in years before,
all those drowned
in the advancing asphalt tide,
the stink and heat of the city
pushing those fields
where wildflowers bloomed
in spring
further and further away

it is this time of year
and little things
like all these missing
wildflower
pastures
that make me feel
I should apologize to my son
for the world I’ll be leaving behind








For my last presentation this week from my library, I have a poem by Dana Gioia, former New York business executive, former Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, translator and anthologist of Italian poetry and a frequently published poet of his own work.

Born in Los Angeles in 1950, Gioia received his B.A. and M.B.A. degrees from Stanford University, as well as an M.A. in Comparative Literature from Harvard.

The poem I'm using is the title poem from his book, The Gods of Winter, published by Graywolf Press in 1991.



The Gods of Winter

Storm on Storm, snow on drifting snowfall,
shifting its shape, flurrying in moonlight,
bright and ubiquitous,
profligate March squanders its wealth.
The world is annihilated and remade
with only us as witnesses.

Briefest of joys,our life together,
this brittle flower twisting toward the light
even as it dies, no more permanent
for being perfect. Time will melt away
triumphant winter, and even your touch
prove the unpossessable jewel of ice.

And vanish like this unseasonable storm
drifting there beyond the windows where even
the cluttered rooftops now lie soft and luminous
like a storybook view of paradise.
Why not believe these suave messengers
of starlight? Morning will make

their brightness blinding, and the noon insist
that only legend saves the beautiful. But if
the light confides how one still winter must
arrive without us, then our eternity
is only this white storm, the whisper
of your breath, the deities of this quiet night.








I guess I might have called the next poem, my last for the week, something like "fair warning."



all good stories

all good stories
are only as good as the lies
you tell to inflate them

and we all do that, our own stories
and the stories of those who came before -

make them better; make them bigger

and call them history
until they are old enough
to become mythology,
and fairy stories,
and religion, different names
for the welcoming realm
of belief, no longer subject
to the laws of nature
and the liabilities of reason

those are the good stories,
almost as good
as the ones
we tell only ourselves

those stories,
the ones I won’t tell even you,
those are the best stories
of all







That's the week. All material presented here remains the property of those who created it. My stuff is available to whoever wants it, just properly credit me and "Here and Now."

And me would be allen itz, owner and producer of this blog, currently staring out the window at the 50% chance of rain that never rained.

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