A Chilly Day in Conqueso Canyon   Thursday, December 01, 2011





More regular stuff this week. I've been sickly most of the week, so the post this week is a little shorter than usual.

But it's all still good.


David Lehman
January 1
January 2
January 3
January 5
January 6


Me
a cold, fishhook moon

From The Best American Poetry - 1994
Tony Esolen
Northwestern Mathematics
Allison Funk
After Dark

Me
celebrate the process

From The Flag of Childhood, Poems from the Middle East
Nazime Hikmet
Optimistic Man
Saddi Youssef
Attention
Hanan Mikha'il 'Ashraw
From the Diary of an Almost-Four-Year-Old
Suheir Hammad
rice haikus

Me
conscience-wash, cheap, on a street corner near you

Kenneth W. Brewer
Death of an Owl
River Blind


Me
poor me

Hafiz
The Day Sky
Among Strong Men


Me
just to prove I can

Demetria Martinez
Rally
Meantimes


Me
Russian winter

William D. Barney
Lori Swinging
Cowtails and Crabgrass


Me
summer vacation

Luci Tapahonso
They Are Silent and Quick

Me - “I’ll be there”

J.R. Thelin
Brothers in Blood: Dorrance and Elvis

Me
I should feel good about this

Simon Armitage
The Catch
You May Turn Over and Begin...


Me
a chilly day in Conqueso Canyon









My first poems this week are by David Lehman, from his book, . The book was published in 2000 by Scribner Poetry.

In addition to his own work as a poet, Lehman, born in New York City in 1948, is editor of "Best American Poetry" series. He also teaches at The New School in New York City.

As a poem-a-day-poet myself, I appreciate the effort that schedule takes. Of course, in his book, Lehman is able to pass over those days when his efforts didn't turn out so well. This is a practice I follow in my own book. My last two books include only 85 of the 365 poems I wrote each year in 2009 and 2010. The rest are best left buried in my personal time capsule.

For this week's post, I have selected the first five of Lehman's year.



January 1

Some people confuse inspiration with lightning
not me I know it comes from the lungs and air
you breathe it in you breathe it out it circulates
it's breath of my being the wind across the face
of the waters yes but it's also something that comes
at my command like a turkey club sandwich
with a cup of split pea soup or like tones
from Benny Goodman's clarinet my clarinet
the language that never fails to respond
some people think you need to be pure of heart
not true it comes to the pure and the impure alike
the patient and the impatient the lovers the onanists
and the virgins you just need to be able to listen
and talk at the same time and you'll hear it like
the long-delayed revelation at the end of the novel
which turns out to be something simple a traumatic
moment that fascinated us more when it was only
a fragment of an old song a strange noise a mistake
of hearing a phone that wouldn't stop ringing


January 2

The old war is over the new one has begun
between drivers and pedestrians on a Friday
in New York light is the variable and structure
the content according to Rodrigo Monnihan's
self-portraits at the Robert Miller Gallery where
the painter is serially pictured holding a canvas,
painting his mirror image, shirtless in summer,
with a nude, etc., it's two o'clock and I'm walking
at top speed from the huddled tourists yearning to be
a mass to Les Halleson Park and 28th for a Salade
Nicoise I've just watched The Singing Detective all
six hours of it and can't get it out of my mind,
the scarecrow that turns into Hitler, the sad-eyed
father wearing a black arm-band,the yellow umbrellas
as Bing Crosby's voice comes out of Michael Gambon's
mouth, "you've got to ac-cent-tchu-ate the positive,
e-lim-inate the negative" advice as sound today
as in 1945 though it also remains true that
the only thing to do with good advice is to pass it on


January 3

The shrink says, "Everything depends
on how many stuffed animals you had
as a boy," and my mother tells me my
father was left-handed and so is my son
and they're both named Joe whose favorite
stuffed animal was a bear called Sweetheart
while I,the sole constant in this dream,
am carrying a little girl who has a gun
in her hand as I climb a brick wall
on the other side of unknown territory
but it has to be better than the chase
down hilly streets so he arrives late
at the library where his son is held hostage
he breaks in lifts the boy in his arms and tells
the one kind man he had met that he and
his brother would be saved but the others
who had mocked him would surely die


January 5

Every time I hear
a new word I see
a new color, Joe
said in the cab. For
example, I said.
For example, he
said, the word
example is yellow,
brown,olive & a
little white mashed
together. And each
letter of the alphabet
has an age, a sex, &
a personality. H, for
example,is a lavender
girl, fourteen, a friend
of the number 4, who
is also a girl and also
lavender. And I? I
asked. I,he said,
is a genius, white.


January 6

Lunch at SAvoy (the
restaurant ot the song,
"home of sweet romance,"
as don by Ella
and Louis) with Elliot
Figman who says they've got
a regular astrology column
in the redesigned Poets
& Writers
I think they
should run a different writer's
horoscope each issue starting
with Richard Howard
a Libra and why
not have an evening with
James Merrill via the Ouija board
at the Algonquin we can ask
him whether he sees Elizabeth
and how Wystan is and did
he get the heavenly details
right in his book what do
you think Elliot








Another moon poem for my first of the week.



a cold, fishhook moon

a cold, fishhook moon
floating in a black, star-specked sky...

the universal pool of all
overhead
as I walk the path
downhill In the goose-bump
cold of this post-midnight,
pre-dawn morning…

I wander
in the star-lit dark
searching, as I sometimes do
in the night while others sleep,
for the answers
that even in these late years
elude me, searching
through the mysteries of night,
whether in full-moon light or
dim, no-moon dark,
for the why’s and what’s
of a day in the life
of the one among billions
that is me -

carbon-cluster me,
assuming,
with the arrogance
of my kind,
that there are answers that
are mine to know








Here are a couple of poets from The Best American Poetry, 1994.



The first poet is Tony Esolen.

Born in Pennsylvania in 1959, Esolen received B.A. from Princeton and a Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina in 1987. At the time of publication, he taught Renaissance literature at Parovidence College in Rhode Island.


Northwestern Mathematics

Hard to say what the natural numbers are.
A lot of ones: the snowy falcon, floating
Like god over the vast northwest, alone
Until the only ptarmigan pokes her head
From her rock cover; one mink in a trap,
His innocent tracks forever. Twos and threes
Crop up, now and again. Teenagers veering
Over to Fort Smith on their snowmobiles,
To hang like wolves around the Wine and Dine,
Jukeboxes, soaked boots, beer, big waitresses.
Two bucks for orange juice. The scuttlebutt:
Sheila and Gray Sky and her slapstick husband.
That's life. Another round. And you can reach
Up to thirteen, in the jock-sweat fishing shack
Of Lester Manatu & Sons. You rent
An outboard, fine. Manatu nods and doesn't
Bother to mark you down: his oldest grandson
Tallies up the accounts, keeps him in booze;
The old man, stubborn, stalls at seventy.
He's on the books as Presbyterian, but
He never bothered much with books, or words,
And she's long dead who once could make him sing.
He hauls his tackle box like a limb grown
Evergreen out of him these many years
He likes me well enough, but he won't speak
Other than ordinal words: here, hold this, wait.
He walks off to the limit of the world
To test, I don't know what, the ice, the weather,
An elk-trail molten into nothing. Life
Is what he moves in, my old hand at winter,
Life like the sweep of sky and plain his figure
Vanishes into. with the scattered bloom
Of a few numbers, and continuum.


The second poet from the collection is Allison Funk. Born in New Jersey in 1951, Funk received an M.F.A. from Columbia and, at the time of publication, taught writing and literature at Southern Illinois University.


After Dark

She is thinking of the delta
shimmering with tidal and fresh water urgings

as his hand opens on the flat
of her breast bone. So much sediment

there, the Mississippi argues its way
through the bayous, pausing for the ibis,

the tall-legged cypress, the heron
that cannot decide, walking backwards,

it seems while moving ahead.
A million years of water

in which sturgeon, carp and crustacean
sink and rise with the leaves

of the ancient willow,
half-dissolved root,pungent bone.

In this ambiguous world, both fluid
and firm, she drifts between the blurry borders

of the current, and beyond,
through cottonwood nebulas, pollen, and siftings

of alluvial plain admitting
love can exceed our intentions,

those levees built against flooding.
But mainly she is struck

by its patient, persistent nature.
The constant nibbling of the river

like a fiddler crap
whose tiny legs (tickling under his beard)

weaken a soft bank until,thunder from afar,
it collapses into water.








I wrote the next poem in an attempt to justify to myself my abandonment of a poem written just before because I thought it might be hurtful to some people I care about.

So much for integrity.



celebrate the process

I wrote a poem
last night, a fierce and fiery
evisceration
of people who enable
bums-on-street-corners
with their little
cardboard signs to continue
in their leeching ways
by, dollar at a time,
making street-corner begging
more profitable to the scammers
of the world than actually working,
maybe even paying a few dues to justify
their artfully desperate existence

it was going to be my poem
for today

but
I read it just now, one more time
before putting it out for the world to see,
and realized that all my pleasure
in the poem was the writing
of it
and that it’s likely to offend
some people and that there’s no pleasure
in offending people, except, maybe momentarily,
if they really deserve it…

so, I’m keeping the poem
private,
hidden away in my guilty-pleasures cave, settling
for just the pleasure of writing it…

this is not unusual, this greater joy
in the writing…

many times,
I know,
my pleasure in writing
a particular poem
will never be equaled by the people
who might read it;
in fact,
it is the pleasure of the writing,
not of someone else’s reading,
that keeps me writing…

I know poets who are always desperate for approval
of their efforts, and are never satisfied,
because no matter how good their poem might be,
they can always imagine someone
who won’t like this
or won’t like that, and in end, because of that
imagine themselves
and every poem they write
a failure…

not me…

I celebrate each poem i write
equally,
the good ones, the not-so-good ones
and even the ones so bad
they should be burned,
ashes thrown into a deep and far ocean -
all of my efforts alike a pleasure to me ,
for each one represents to me
victory over process,
each one has taken me
down the shining path of creation I share with every
poet to ever write, every creator to ever create

along this path all who create pass,
a parade of gods, every one of us equal
in our creating,
and though some are better gods than others,
it doesn’t matter,
for when you get a chance to march with the gods
who cares where the parade ends
on any particular day








Next I have another collection, an anthology of poems from the Middle East, selected, and in some cases, translated by San Antonio poet Naomi Shihab Nye. The book is The Flag of Childhood, Poems from the Middle East, published by Aladdin Paperbacks in 1998.

The first poem is by Nazime Hikmet, considered by many as the poet laureate of Turkey. Born in 1902, he died in 1963. He was a political prisoner for nineteen years in his home country and spent last thirteen years of his life in exile.

His poem was translated by Randy Blasing and Mutlu Konuk.


Optimistic Man

as a child he never plucked the wings off flies
he didn't tie tin cans to cats' tails
or lock beetles in matchboxes
or stomp anthills
he grew up
and all those things were done to him
I was at his bedside when he died
he said read me a poem
about the sun and the sea
about nuclear reactors and satellites
about the greatness of humanity


The next poem is by Saddi Youssef, a leading Iraqi poet whose work is well known all over the Arab world. At the time of publication, he lived in Paris.

His poem was translated by Khaled Mattawa.


Attention

Those who come by me passing
I will remember them
and those who come heavy an overbearing
I will forget

That's why
when the air erupts between mountains
we always describe the wind
and forget the rocks


Next, I have, from the anthology, a poem by Hanan Mikha'il 'Ashrawi. Born in Palestine in 1948, the poet was know worldwide for her efforts iin Palestinian-Israeli peace negotiations. She received a doctorate in Medieval English Literature and headed the English Department at Bir Seit University. At the time of publication, she lived in Ramallah.


From the Diary of an Almost-Four-Year-Old

Tomorrow, the bandages
will come off. I wonder
will see half and orange,
half an apple, half my
mother's face
with my one remaining eye?

I did not see the bullet
but felt the pain
exploding in my head.
His image did not
vanish, the soldier
with a big gun, unsteady
hands, and a look in
his eyes
I could not understand.

If I can see him so clearly
with my eyes closed,
it could be that inside our heads
we each have one spare set
of eyes
to make up for the ones we lose.

Next month on my birthday,
I'll have a brand new glass eye,
maybe things will look round
and fat in the middle -
I've gazed through all my marbles,
they made the world look strange.

I hear a nine-month-old
has also lost an eye,
I wonder if my soldier
shot her too - a soldier
looking for little girls who
look him in the eye -
I'm old enough, almost four,
I've seen enough of life,
but she's just a baby
who didn't know any better.


The last poem from the anthology for this week is by Suheir Hammad. Born in Jordan in 1971, Hammad is the daughter of Palestinian refugees. Her family lived in Beirut during part of the Civil War, then immigrated to Brooklyn.


rice haikus

we are women simple
sugar our morning tea
eat rice at all meals

we of simple land
kept the sugar in one sack
rice in another

lived off the brown earth
gave figs to fidayeen
olives and almonds

when they raided our homes
they poured sugar into rice
to ruin them both

with eyelashes and
teeth we tried to sort it our
small grain from small grain

now we eat sweet rice
with our morning tea eat
meals of resistance








This is the poem I abandoned earlier. To hell with it. People shouldn't be so thin-skinned.

I'm un-abandoning it.



conscience-wash, cheap on a street-corner near you

there are those
(I seem them all the time)
who take great satisfaction
in giving an occasional dollar bill
to one of the bums who stand
with there little cardboard signs
on the street corners, I can see them
in my rearview mirror, so pleased
with their charity, their compassion,
such good people they must be,
they’re thinking

clear conscience on the cheap,
available now,
at a street corner near you

on the other hand,
I know people
who live a life of sacrifice,
feeding the hungry,
housing the homeless,
cleansing
the unclean
counseling the dim and distraught
of mind…

these people
never demonstrate any hint
of prideful self-satisfaction, conscience
never clear, being
always concerned, not
with glory of what they have done
but with a constant accounting
of what they have left yet
undone








Here are two poems by Kenneth W. Brewer, from his book Sum of Accidents. The book was published in 2003 by City Art of Salt Lake City.

Born in 1941 in Indianapolis, he lived for many years in Utah, where he served as Poet Laureate, teaching at the University of Utah from 1973 until his death in 2006. He attended Butler University and Western New Mexico University in the 1960s, then earned a master's degree in English literature from New Mexico State University, followed by a Ph.D. from the University of Utah.



Death of an Owl

All year she watched
the great horned owl
of her back yard.

Wild and secluded,
the yard hid mice.

Some nights, she would hear
the great wings unfold,
fly like a lover's breath
in the small death of sex.

She would find bones
under the red maple.

One morning, early October,
she lifted the great owl's
dead body into her truck.
The vet said poison -
the sort people use
to kill mice.

Now the yard seems empty.

Nights she cannot sleep
she opens the back door, listens.

"What is the use of love,"
she says, "if it has no wings
beyond the next breath."


The River Blind

Before sunrise,
he gathers thin
dead branches,
pokes them upright
in the mud
among the reeds.

He strings brown
camouflage netting
along the stick points,
then drapes his pack,
guncase, thermos.

He kneels at the edge
of the river and waits.
He calls across the water,
listens for the heavy wings
of the dark angel he would kill.

And the angel flies
from the eye of the sun
to where the hunter kneels,
and pellets, like prayer beads,
fill the sky, strung
from eye to eye.








This is a nothing little poem, but i had a good excuse, postaliscious alibiosmos.



poor me

I’m sick

overcome by ennui,
postaliscious alibiosmos,
and a throat so sore
it hurts
when I quack, which,
us having a very nice rain this morning,
I have a great urge to do

I would do a real
quackerjack
job
of it
I’m sure,
if only my throat
wasn’t so
quacked-up
and sorely absent
of regular fine and
ducktail happy
feeling

it’s a mess…

I’ll
try again
tomorrow -
in the mean time
imagine
moaning and
sniffling
and
crybaby ouch
ouch ouch
and alas and aquack
poormeing








Next, I ahve two poems from The Subject Tonight is Love, a collection of poetry by Persian poet Hafiz. The book was published in 1996 by Penguin Compass. Daniel Ladinsky edited the book and selected and translated the poems in it.

Khwāja Shamsu d-Dīn Muhammad Hāfez-e Shīrāzī, known by his pen name Hāfez, was born in 1325/1326 and died 1389/1390. Much is not known of his life - mythology is often mixed with fact and it is often not clear which is which. He was a Persian lyric poet. His collected works composed of series of Persian poetry are to be found in the homes of most Iranians, who learn his poems by heart and use them as proverbs and sayings to this day. His life and poems have been the subject of much analysis, commentary and interpretation, influencing post-Fourteenth Century Persian writing more than any other author.



The Day Sky

Let us be like
Two falling stars in the day sky

Let no one know of our sublime beauty
As we hold hands with God
and burn

Into a sacred existence that defies -
That surpasses

Every description of ecstasy
And love.


Among Strong Men

My soul is like a young doe-eyed maid
With lips still bruised from last night's divine passion
But my Master makes me live like a humble servant
When any king would trade his throne
For the splendor my eye
Can see.

Call it many things, give your desires polite names
If you must; mask the primal instinct from your
Reality if you cannot bear the naked edge
That will hone your ken against
The sun and earth.

Among strong men in the Tavern
I can speak a truth no one will laugh at: My heart
Is like a wild alley cat
In heat;

In every possible way we conspire to know
Freedom and love.

Forget about the common reasons, Hafiz, for it only
Enslaves - there is something holy deep inside
Of you that is so ardent and awake

That needs to lie down naked
Next to
God









Another poor, sickly me poem.



just to prove I can

cold rain
on a cold day...

chills
fever, aching bones,
and I’m out in it just to prove
I can,
the same reason
I’m writing this particular piece
of probisquious piffle -
just to prove I can

such a cause
of so many of the stupid
things I’ve done - just to prove
I can - more times than all the fingers and toes
of the “hosanna” shouting hosts
on the lower ranges of heaven, trying
to gather the attention
of the big guy,
wanting to move up to the more scenic realms
of the forever everlasting - hosanna
hosanna shouting almost-angels
trying for their wings
but to no avail
for the big guy’s
occupied,
counting fingers and toes,
just like me,
just to prove he can…

and I’ll leave him to it
cause just because
I proved I can
doesn’t mean I can do it
much longer
so…

cold rain
cold day
and this almost-angel
returns
to his soft and warm
lower-level cloud,
satisfied
to sleep the day away
without a better
view








My next poet is Demetria Martinez, with two poems from her book Breathing Between the Lines. The book was published in 1997 by the University of Arizona Press.

Born in Albuquerque in 1960, Martinez is an award winning poet and novelist, as well as an activist in immigration issues. At the time of publication, she wrote a monthly column for the Ntiona lCatholic Reporter.



Rally

Handsome as a stringed instrument

but your voice, with its aroma of wood smoke and rain
is pre-Columbian: a gourd full of seeds, a wood fflute

when ou say justice the word
is tough as a leek, true as Tewa

in a world where Wall Street memos
have obliterated the memory of corn
and a Brazilian tribe
that has no word for war

now clouds with their manes and black nostrils
turned to the whip of your voice race south
hauling faxes, press releases

to a land where l virgen de Guadalupe
wears a Zapatista ski mask
and makes her appearance
on laptops in the Lacondon

hearing you, my shoulders ache
remembering when they were wings
I would speak too, but my truths emerge silently
in typos: Chiapaz, the z breaking out peace

a crowd moves like a ship beneath a sail of signs
silverfish microphones leap from the eddies
you lead the chant, "We are all Marcos"
I want to believe it is true: that we can become
the man/the woman whose mouth is an X
whose eyes circle our little world like planets
whose dreams are hot and black as good coffee
but with room for nutmeg and milk
space for even better dreams

you are far away again: I mail you these words
after this, no more poems about love
if a poem is not itself love it is noise
easy as carrying a sign
for the descendants of my ancestors, still landless
the hard work is the wait, the endless breathing
upon the brown egg held in our hands,
warming a world as breakable
as a rib at the end of a rifle butt
passing the egg from hand to hand to hand
until the quetzal's wings open
like cathedral doors

I have no proof
this day will come, all I can give you
is a sign, all I know is what
I have seen in my poems


Meantimes

The questions catch us off guard,
a dust storm we drive through

Although headlights are powerless
against beating grit

You wonder if you want
me in the passenger seat

If the fights about stopping
and asking directions

Say something larger,
meaner about out journey

2.
A fog of newspapers between us,
horizons of headlines

Not even the obligatory remarks
about Rwanda, the weather

One day, who knows when,
our star died

Is the dark light now visible
to our disbelieving eyes?

3.
I offered you rosary beads
for the rearview mirror
tear gas on a key ring

She would give you
an arial view of your life,
a hammock of stars

4.
Can love be reset
like a bone?

Is the will a strong
enough splint?

Can we put in
another well?

When water tables
drop, is it forever?

5.
Do we have the courage
too let the questions hang
on a wire like carne seca

until the sun speaks
to us in the savory dryness?
Do we have the courage

to raise questions like children,
let them grow into
their own answers?

6.
Lightning breaks
the locks on our hearts

Thunder breaks into
the safe of night

Seed spills from bruised fruit,
as we wait for the sun

to reweave itself
across the loom of the sky








Still sick, weather not cooperating, but at this point, well enough to complain about.



Russian winter

we have
a week or so
of Russian winter ahead,
cold,
overcast,
dark nights and dim days,
days
blown chilled as from Ukrainian
steppes,
though without
the snow
and the German soldiers
frozen therein
like in the war movies -

gulag
weather,
Solzhenitsyn
and his refusenik
cohort
just around the
corner,
dipping their brown weevil-bread
into their thin ration of
winter gruel …

and I am fit for the day
and fit for the
company…

a head cold
set upon me Friday afternoon,
after I drove
to Austin
in very bad weather

and since then
that head cold has
organ by organ
taken the rest
of my body,
like Wall Street occupiers
building little barricades
and otherwise
disrupting
the normal flow
of my bodily functions,
like breathing
and sleeping and dancing
bare-toed
in the ice-cube puddles
left by last night’s
late rain

so that I sit here
this morning, blowing,
snorting, dripping, sneezing,
coughing, all in a circle of an informal
containment zone
as people come in and head
immediately to the corners of the room
furthermost from me…

I had plans for the day,
as I had plans for the weekend,
a photo expedition
into Conqueso Canyon for pics
for my blog…

yes,
I had plans,
and if there is a god somewhere
watching, he
laughs and laughs,
going
aha-aha
all pouty-red-lipped
like the sexy long-legged back-up dancer
for that rock band
Horndog
and his Hip Hop Huksters

I’ll
probably
stay home in bed
instead,
give-up
give-in
sleep








Next, I have poems by Texas poet William D. Barney, from his book
A Cowtown Chronicle
,k published by Browder Springs Books in 1999.

Barney was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 1916. His father, an aspiring semiprofessional baseball player, moved the family to Texas, in 1928 for the opportunity to try out for the team there and to find employment in the Fort Worth's thriving oil business. Barney attended Fort Worth's Central High School where he first expressed an interest in writing poetry which became his life's work. He attended Texas Christian University for a time, but made his living as a postal worker from 1936 until his retirement in 1971.

Barney's interest in poetry resurfaced after high school, and he wrote poetry throughout his postal career and upon his retirement. He became a member of the Texas Institute of Letters, the Poetry Society of America, the Poetry Society of Texas, and was elected as the president of the Poetry Society of Texas in 1952 and 1953. Additionally he received the Robert Frost Award, presented by Frost himself, for narrative poetry in 1961. In 1982 Barney, after receiving the recommendation of five literary societies, became the poet laureate of Texas.

During his lifetime, Barney wrote nine books of poetry, two of which won Texas Institute of Letters awards. He died from a heart attack in Fort Worth in 2001.



Lori Swinging

Under the elm next door
Lori swings as she sings;
holding the ropes with her hands,
her head thrown back so far
her beautiful, long red hair
drags in 5he dust as she swiings


Cowtails and Crabgrass

Back when he worked at the Swift's plant
(in the refrigerator section)
coming out on a hot July evening
he couldn't keep his eyes steady.
He was afraid to go downtown -
the cops would likely pick him up
for another drunk. It made him wonder
whether the job had giddied his mind.

It was famous for squeezing
the last full measure out of everything.
Even the ants leave bones,
but here the bones went into fertilizer.
He knew men in the packing house
who collected cow brushes (ends of tails) -
they used them to fill mattresses.
But then (maybe the heat made him think
of it) he knew other people
who did the same with crabgrass.

He got to studying. You can see
why someone would find a use
for all that hair - nobody likes loose ends -
but it took genius to discover
a function for crabgrass. It must
have been a gardner, like him
who didn't know whether to curse or pray
when the first pale leaves began to slit
brown soil the last of April.
Whoever, he must have had a mission,
a passion for utility in life,
to think of hoeing up the pest
and stuffing it in a mattress.
A kind of vengeance, being able
to sleep on the dry bodies of a weed,
getting to hear it groan a little
ever you turn to a fonder dream?








It's been really cold and dreary weather this week. Time for a little summer break, from this poem I wrote a dozen years ago.



summer vacation

it's July
and it's hot
     like the hottest hot
     in the hottest hole
     in Hades
   steaming
  boiling
and I feel like a cut
     of not-so prime beef
     on a spit
between the flaming sun
and the blistering white sand

it's a vacation in hell
     during the slow season
when all the good help
     is off
gone to enjoy the cool
of mountain pine shade

     somewhere else

there's no damn shade
in this place
at all

I'm trying to read a book
     the eighth louse book
and I'm only half way through
this two-week vacation -
another crusading lawyer story,
gonna save us from something
     tort reform, maybe,
     a really dumb-ass book,
but the only one at the stop-n-go
that didn't have Fabio on the cover

...then she walks by,
    volleyball in hand,
   painted toes
   sunburned nose
peeling a little

anybody want to play?
     she asks

i lay my book on my round red belly
     look at her
     sigh...

back to the book
     the eighth lousy book
half way through
a two week vacation

and it's so damn hot
I can hear my coke
fizzing in the can








Next, I have a poem by Luci Tapahonso. The poem is from her book Saanii Dahataal/The Women Are Singing, published in 1993 by The University of Arizona Press.

Tapahonso, a Navajo born in 1953 was originally from Shiprock, New Mexico, where she grew up in a family of 11 children. Navajo was her first language but she learned English at home before starting school at the Navajo Methodist Mission in Farmington. She majored in English at the University of New Mexico, as an undergraduate and graduate student. She stayed on there as an Assistant Professor of English, Women's Studies and American Indian Studies for a few years. She has been an Associate Professor of English at the University of Kansas and is now Professor of English at the University of Arizona in Tucson where she teaches Poetry Writing and American Indian Literature.



They Are Silent and Quick

We sit outside on the deck
and below, tiny flickers of light appear here and there.
They are silent and quick.
The night is thick and the air alive with buzzing and humming insects.
"They're lightning bugs," Lori says. "Fireflies."

I wonder how I will get through another day.

"I think they are connected with magic," she says,
peering into the darkness. "Maybe people around here tell stories
about small bits of magic that appear on summer nights."
"Yes,{ I say, "it must be."

I walk inside the house and phone my mother.
From far away, she says, "I never heard of such a thing.
There's nothing like that in Navajo stories."
She is speaking from hundreds of miles away
where the night is dark and the sky, a huge, empty blackness.
The long shadows of the mesas stretch across the flat land.
"Someone is having a sing near here," she says. "We can hear
the drums all night long. Your father and I are all alone here."
Her voice is the language of my dreams.
I hang up the phone and walk out into the moist air.

My daughter sits there in the darkness, marveling at the little beings
filled with light, and I sit beside her.
I am hoping for a deep restful sleep.
In the woods below, teenagers are laughing
and the whine of the cicadas rises loudly,

"What is it?" she asks. "What's wrong?"
There are no English words to describe this feeling.
"T'aa 'iighisii biniiinaa shil hoyee," I say
     Because of it, I am overshadowed by aching.
     It is a heaviness that surrounds me completely.
"Ako ayoo shil hoyee." We are silent.

Early the next morning, I awaken from a heavy, dreamless sleep
and outside the window, a small flash of light flickers off and on.
Then I recalled being taught to go outside in the gray dawn
before sunrise to receive the blessings of the gently spirits
who gathered around our home. Go out, we were told,
get your blessings for the day.

And now, as I watch these tiny bodies of light,
the aching inside lessens as I see how
the magic of these lights precedes the gray dawn.








We persist and endure, and sometimes forget why.



I’ll be there

the coldest day
of the year so far,
and predicted colder
tomorrow

not so cold
as the sixth planet
of the 437 thousandth sun
of the Alapadadie Senseatory Galaxy,
or even New Hampshire
or New York or
New Padonia in East Texas,
but pretty damn cold
for here

people
all bundled up,
layered, me, too, two
shirts, coat, and my hat
to keep my head warm,
actually would feel a little silly
if any of my friends
from northernmore territories
were to see me
but
damnit
I’m cold and my nose
is running
and I have a cough
like the sky splitting
and I’m out in the cold
because
damnit
I am a human of the being
variety
and such as we do not bow our heads
in defeat just because it’s cold
and our nose is running
and we’re coughing
like an earthquake in southern California
(look! there goes
San Diego and San Francisco
and Cambria and Carmel
and San Juan Capistrano [poor birds]
and Catchatorie and all the rest)

no
we do not fold

we gather our guts around us
and persevere, like Chief Dan George
in the Clint Eastwood movie, we endeavor
to persevere, persist, keep on keeping on,
until the clouds part, the sun shines it brilliant
happy face, the birds tweedle-dee in the trees
and the marmosets creep out of their snuggly den
to eat the birds and bask in the happy, smiling sun

(and what the hell is a marmoset, a name
which sounds like a musical instrument
from Brazil or possible Peru, and do they really
eat birds or is that just an internet
hoax)

etcetera

as I said,
I am a human of the being
kind
and I’ll be here till the sun
comes shining around the mountain
and the old gray mare is back
to what she used to be
and Ol’ McDonald gets his farm
back when the pigs and sheep
and cows and chickens declare a
truce and all is back to normal
with a oink oink here and there
discreetly
declaring the revolution
has left without
you

and despite it all
I’ll be there
trying to remember what I’m waiting
for








Here's a poem by J.R. Thelin, from his chapbook, Dorrance, Narrative, History: A Chapbook, published in 2004 by Pudding House Publications.

The book is a collection of small stories about the character "Dorrance." It probably takes more than one poem to give you a good reading on the inventiveness of this character. If you find the book, I'd say buy it.

I can google references to the poet Thelin, but haven't found any kind of straight bio.



Brothers in Blood: Dorrance and Elvis

As Dorrance was being born, Elvis was being hustled
from a downtown Memphis movie theater
into a smoking cab, then propped in front of a mike

big as a pompadour at WHBQ, the Sound
of Memphis, about to become the Sound of the South, and soon
the whole of U.S.of A. Mrs. Dorrance, or course,

up north, was not listening to Dewey Phillips coax
the shy nineteen-year-old truck driver
into snarling and yipping live on the air. She was calling

for more painkillers since Dorrance couldn't wait
to free his ears from the birth canal, was already
humming That's All Right, Mama, a mantra

to his mother, to all mothers, really, that everything
would be changed after today, something in the world
shifted, a grace note, a slur, a vibrato twang

so exciting you can hear Elvis as explorer, the new terrain,
"I didn't know I could sound like that," he's saying,
an apology almost, a revelation for certain.

At five, his parents sent Dorrance to Miss Ada for piano
and culture. Starched little shirts took turns in class:
etudes and lullabies, the hush of primer pages where the notes

looked like unreachable planets to Dorrance.
Kids in kindergarten hadn't begun to dress up
like astronauts yet, but they were whirling around

the playground, even at Chestnut Hill Academy,
shouting out Love Me Tender, no longer a yearning
ballad, now a raucous ode to laughing bodies falling

to earth in a delicious heap, their teacher giving up
and giving in as Dorrance in the dirt nibbles Amy Lippincott's
neck, hiccups a hunka hunka sweet nothin's in her ear.








This is an old poem from 2003. The good news is, I can't die yet because I owe the government money.



I should feel good about this

I'm a liberal for crissake

not one of those
drop-a-buck-on-a-squeegie-man-
for-social-justice-BMW-driving
yuppies
or one of those
graffiti-is-the-art-of-the-dispossessed
or a
fuck-the-workers-save-the-snail-darter
greenfreak

but a real
old-fashioned
   NewDeal
   HarryTruman-LBJ
   thank-god-for NormanThomas
   and-why-can't-they mak'em-like-GeorgeMeany-anymore
   socialist-in-my-heart
   ACLU-dues-paying
   workers-of-the-world-unite-and-throw-off-the-chains-oppression
   progressive
   liberal
   sonofabitch

and I should feel good about this...

but, goddamnit, I hate tax day








I have two poems by Simon Armitage, from his very small book, Kid, published by faber and faber in 1992.

Armitage was born in 1963 in the village of Marsden, in West Yorkshire, England. He received an undergraduate degree from Portsmouth University in geography, followed by a master's degree in social work from Manchester University where he researched the impact of television violence on young offenders. Before he began to write full-time, Armitage worked as probation officer in Greater Manchester for six years.



The Catch

Forget
the long, smoldering
afternoon. It is

this moment
when the ball scoots
off the edge

of the bat; upwards,
backwards, falling
seemingly

beyond him
yet he reaches
and picks it

out of its loop
like

an apple
from a branch,
the first of the season.


You May Turn Over and Begin...

"Which of these films was Dirk Bogarde
not in? One hundredweight of bauxite

makes how much aluminum?
How many tales in The Decameron?"

General Studies, the upper sixth, a doddle, a cinch
for anyone with an ounce of common sense

or a calculator
with a memory feature.

Having galloped through but not caring enough
to check or double-check, I was dreaming of

milk-white breasts and nakedness, or more specifically
virginity.

That term - everybody felt the heat
but the girls were having none of it:

long and cool like cocktails,
out of reach, their buns and pigtails

only let out for older guys with studded jackets
and motor-bikes and spare helmets.

One jot of consolation
was the tall spindly girl riding pillion

on her man's new HOnda
who, with the lights at amber,

put down both feet and stood to stretch her limbs,
to lift the visor and push back her fringe

and to smooth her tight jeans.
As he pulled off down the street

she stood there like a wishbone,
high and dry, her legs wide open,

and rumor has it he didn't notice
till he came round in the ambulance

having underbalanced on a tight left-hander.
A Taste of Honey. Now I remember.








Despite being a little under the weather myself, the weather all around me is wonderful I can't not take advantage of it.



a chilly day in Conqueso Canyon

I walk the canyon
on a very cold day
under bright December

sun, the brush on either side
of me so thick I can hardly push
through it to leave the trail

a group of deer
follow above me
atop the ridge

six or seven doe
and a large buck
slip in and out

between the trees,
their coats
merging with the many

grays and tans and browns
of woodsy early winter, mesquite
and huisache, verbana, cypress,

bur oak, honey locust, buttonbush
and cactus, the tiny, ground hugging
pin cushion, the devil’s head, the

Chisos Mountain hedgehog, and
large assemblies of prickly pear,
(nopales - when dethorned, cut into strips

and fried, good on their own or
scrambled with eggs for a South Texas
country breakfast)

I see a few small birds,
constantly twitching from tree
to tree, subdued chatter

as they flit through
the brush, no other wildlife
but the birds and the deer

and two hikers
heading the other way,
back to the trailhead

I don’t go far either,
still hung over from four
different kinds of flu remedies

and feeling no better
than when I started, just tired,
bone-achy tired…

twenty-six pictures was what I needed;
twenty-six pictures I took,
then home

done
for the day








That's another week gone and counted, not a good week for me, sick with the flu most of the week, but pleased to be almost breathing again at the end.

As per normal, all of the material presented in this blog remains the property of those who created it. My own stuff is available to whoever might want it. Just properly credit me and "Here and Now"

I'm allen itz, owner and producer of this blog, and, as usual, continuing in my never ending quest to sell books.

I note that the books have been well-reviewed in one place of another, except for the second eBook, Goes Around, Comes Around, which has not been reviewed anywhere. If you should happen to come into ownership, temporary or permanent, of that book and like what you read, I'd appreciate your posting a review wherever you got it.

If you think it's crap, just forget we ever had this conversation.



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


"Always to the Light"




"Goes Around, Comes Around"




"Pushing Clouds Against the Wind"




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


"Seven Beats a Second"


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