El Jardin de los Muertos   Tuesday, October 25, 2011





Halloween's, or, if you really want to get serious about it, "el dia de los muertos," has come and gone and, in addition to a little nod to the day in photos, I have my usual library poets this week and the usual stuff from me, and, as a bonus, poems from two of my poet friends, Dan Cuddy and Francina Hartstra.


Gregory Corso
Three
Dear Girl
Writ When I Found Out His Was an Unmarked Grave
The Saving Quality
The Differences of Zoos


Me
how glad I am

Jeannette Lozano
My Sister
Linden 197
Piece of a Dream with Gesualdo
Cold Flame


Me
all my dithers done

Sapphire
Dark Sores
Leave the Lights On


Me
paying the price

Tallapaka Annamayya
From God on the Hill - Temple Poems from Tirupati

Me
nothing more you are; nothing better could you be

Dan Cuddy
Manifesto of a Sort

Me
lament of the poem-a-day-poet

Francina Hartstra
On Midsummer’s Night
Without Regrets
The Glass Pavilion
Night Travelers
A Day Like Today
A Long Summer’s Night


Me
the line between dark and light

Charles Bukowski
nothing here
my last winter
first poem back


Me
about these cold winds that blow

Grace Paley
Having Arrived by Bike at Battery Park
My Father at 89
On the Subway Station


Me
the escaping-heat-through-the-top-of-your-head theory

Robert Levy
Biology

Me
unfinished business

Annamaria Ferramosca
After Rilke’s Eighth Elegy
Jrmaa el Fna Square


Me
pagan holidays

Brigit Pegeen Kelly
Wild Turkeys: The Dignity of the Damned

Me
yellow flowers

David St. John
Guitar
Hush


Me
occupy time: a protest from the chronologically confused crowd

From Berkeley Poetry Review, Winter,1977
Vickie Hearne
A Technical Question for a Daughter
James Story
The Morning Climb
Karen Swenson
Spring

Me
the elusive poetry/fine poetry writing experience









I start this week with several poems by Gregory Corso, from his book, Mindfield,published by Thunder's Mouth Press in 1989.

Corso, born in New York City in 1930, moved to the West Coast in 1956 where he became a central figure in the new Beat Generation literary movement. Since 1961, he has alternated travel and residence in Europe and New York with teaching residencies. He had published six previous books of poetry, beginning in 1955, before this book.

Corso died in 2001, with this the last book I can find credited to him.



Three

1

The streetsinger is sick
crouched in the doorway, holding his heart.

One less song in the noisy night.

2

Outside the wall
the aged gardner plants his shears
A new young man
has come to snip the hedge


3

Death weeps because Death is human
speding his day in a movie when a child dies.



Dear Girl

With people conformed
Away from pre-raphaelite furniture
With no promise but that of Japanese sparsity
I take up house

But when the conquered spirit breaks free
and indicates a new light
Who'll take care of the cats?


Writ When I Found Out His Was an Unmarked Grave

Children children don't you know
Mozart has no place to go
This is so
Though graves be many
He hasn't any


The Saving Quality

Bad nights of drunk
make bad days of sorry

Last night was stained with fear
I or the world was all wrong

Today in hard wind and rain
I stand on Putney's bridge
flinging ritz crackers to the swans
ducks and gulls below
assuring myself:
     day or night
     you're all right


A Differences of Zoos

I went to the Hotel Broog;
and it was there I imagined myself singing Ave Maria
     to a bunch of hoary ligneous Brownies.
I believe in gnomes, in midges;
I believe to convert the bogeyman,
take Medusa to Kenneth's;
beg Zeus Polyphemus a new eye;
and I thanked all the men who ever lived,
thanked life the world
     for th chimera, the gargoyle,
     the spinx, the griffin,
     Rumpelsilskin -
I sang Ave Maria
     for the Heap, the Groot,
     for the mugwump, for the Throth,
     the centaur, Pan;
I summoned them all to my room in the Broog,
the werewolf, the vampire, Frankenstein
every monster imaginable
and sang and sang Ave Maria -
The room got to be unbearable!
I went to the zoo
and oh thank God the simple elephant.








I wrote the next poem the day after we returned from out trip to New Mexico and Colorado.

Though not a part of the trip, it is definitely a product of it.



how glad I am

just
returned from our travels
and I think of how much my mother
enjoyed traveling with us
when our son was young, the pleasure
she took in seeing all the things
she had never seen, the mountains, especially,
the mountains, and the forests, and the
foliage along the roadside
and how, even on the narrowest
mountain road
she would want to stop and cut some
of that roadside growth
for the flower arrangements she made
for the hospital to sell

and how we should have done
more traveling with her
and how lonely she must have been
when my father died and she lived alone
with her three sons gone, visiting
when the could, but in the end,
gone...

and,
thinking all that,
and of my own future
as I approach my mother’s age,
not so distant now as it seemed
at the time -
thinking how glad I am
that I am not the woman
who will outlive me, thinking
how grateful I am
that I will not die alone,
that I will not have to endure
alone
the loneliness of age, of obsolence and fitful
nights, the loneliness of being last among
all I knew, how, always
so self-contained, I
will not finally one day
open the windows I’ve always
kept tight, throw wide the open
door only to find there is no one
still waiting…

that I will not be left behind by those
who never even
knew
I was there;

that
there will be a companion there
to hold my hand
as the shade of forever night
is drawn








Next I have several poems from one of the most beautiful books I own, The Movements of Water/Los momentos del agua, with poems by Jeannette Lozano and art by Victor Ramirez. I'm sorry that I cant show you the artist's paintings.

It's a bilingual book, with English and Spanish on facing pages, with translations by Ron Hudson. The book was published in 2006 by Ediciones PoliGrafa of Barcelona.

The poet, Lozano, a poet and translator, has spent many years teaching and writing about the ancient philosophy and religion of Pre-Hispanic culture, focusing in particular on myth and its function in forming the individual. Winner of numerous literary awards, her work has been translated into English, French, Italian and Romanian.



My Sister

She was passing the hours reclined on the sofa,she
was rain and cascade from the eaves.
The volume was rising so the weary steps went
unheard in the corridor.

She knew running and filling her lungs with air,
immersing herself four meters beneath the water's surface
until obtaining lofty bronze trophies

Sometimes I thought how dangerous to hold one's breath so many minutes,
I came to believe she would disappear forever.
I lived the illusion of no return: sinking beneath the level,
a few centimeters more beneath the level. No one feels safe out of one's elements
To endure the descent is necessary.


Linden 197

The sea is alone, like us, the newly born, in water.
In it,the night sinks beneath the waxing moon
(its powder on our faces).

Spring is the season of death.

We inscribe the epitaph, on high our names,
to make believe to the denuded skies that at least a wise word
slipped from our narrow mouths, near a few flowers.

We come to pluck the petals,, not to take a count of heartbeats.

Our heads entangled
our bodies mistreated
return to voracious melancholy.


Piece of a Dream with Gesualdo

The depth of night was shining,
the initial horizon
in an attempt to scatter the chants.

I was searching for the hill,
the house, the traces of fog
in the sharp leaves of the cypress.

I saw a bridge sink, the whiteness,
the voice
of the tree I heard.


Cold Flame

As if it would beat out a silence
the gold of the fireflies between spruces
was impassioned.

The light was falling on the water and you were moving away
like one who exits a scene
without one's body.

Fire amidst the water,
was tracing a wake without knowing
that the sun was looking at you

for the first time.








I wrote this several days before we went on our trip and I don't think I used it before.



all my dithers done

I’ve done
all my other dithers
and I’m ready to write my poem
for the day, but Dee is due
here any minute and I know if I find
something good
and she comes I’ll either lose it
and be angry at her or I’ll just continue
writing while she sits there having her waffle
without me, being angry at me

so I decided
I’m going to write something
not so good so that when she comes
and I stop and fall off the word-train I will not have lost
anything of significance and will not be angry
at myself or, probably at anybody at all
since I find myself very lovable and difficult
to get or stay mad at

and there are two kinds of angry people
in the world;
those
always angry at someone else
or those
always angry at themselves
and since I’m neither of those kinds
I’m not one of the two kinds of people
in the world who are always
angry

rather
I am one of the two kinds of people
in the world
who always have a silly smile on their face,
the kind who didn’t get the memo
and don’t know better
and the kind, like me, who
got the memo and decided if things
really were that bad, nobody would be writing
memos, but more likely running around in circles
with their heads up their asses, and, as I recall,
many of the memos inflicted on me during my extended
career in public service did seem to originate
with people with their heads in their asses
running around in circle, otherwise called
politicians and high government officials
of all persuasions

and
I could say a lot more about that
but Dee’s just now walking in the door
and, fortunately, I have nothing being interrupted
whose lose would be a great concern to me
or to anyone else, including almost
certainly
you

so I quit right
here








I have a couple of poems by Sapphire, from her book, Black Wings & Blind Angels. The book was published in 2000 by Knopf.

Fifty years old when this book was published, these poems show a Sapphire a little different than what I've come to expect from reading other of her poems, her anger, not moderated, but more quiet.



Dark Sores

Dark sores black wings of expectation
what is sidereal light twice?
I meet hope at the train station

Whistle blows, tracks rattle, I run
down someplace forty years, a wedding, rice.
Dark sores black wings of expectations.

You are connected like a generation
in white blouses trying to be nice.
Hope is at the train station.

Fat palm trees, tan briefcase, vacation
a million miles from every night
dark sores. Black wings of expectation.

We're girls, just wanna have fun!
The wedding rice turns to beans every night
you slip out seek hope at the station.

tell him you're alone, on vacation
that there is a sidereal light.
Dark sores black wings of expectation
open and meet hope at the train station.


Leave the Lights On

It is act of courage to say, Leave the lights on.
There is actually every thing to hide
Flaccid, distended, fort-seven, so much is gone.

If I had gone to the gym, the tumors operated on
perhaps I could have displayed my body with more pride.
As it is,it is an act of courage to leave the lights on.

And,truthfully, I'm curious to see,now that beauty is gone,
what will be reflected in a man's eyes.
Flaccid, belly distended with tumors, so much is gone.

But still the ugly body is love's sweet swan.
Love doesn't ask one to be blind or hide.
It is an act of courage to leave the lights on.

Oh! He doesn't even have a condom!
It is in my hard muscular courage I take pride.
Breasts flaccid, gut distended, at forty-even so much is gone.

But inside the fat egg is the black swan.
My throat opens like wings between your thighs.
It is an act of courage to say, Leave the light on.
Nothing essential , but stillso much is gone.








This is a little early-morning piece. Actually, not so early, or I wouldn't have been late.

And, of course, it's important to remember that I wasn't really late to anything anyone else would consider worth hurrying to.



paying the price

high pedestrian
walkway
over the downtown
expressway

young
boy,
backpack bouncing,
runs to school, like a large bird
flying against the sun,
another shadow,
running
across the sky,
late
again…

I,
also running late,
struggle against traffic,
commuters usually still
in their beds
when I pass, up today
to their usual
work-a-day
tricks…

me
and the boy,
paying the price
of an extra hour’s
sleep








Trying to calculate the distance between Sapphire and Tallapaka Annamayya , who lived at the great hilltop shrine of Tarupati in south India in the fifteenth century is a measure of the distance "Here and Now" travels every week across the world and time. It's the kind of thing I wanted to do when I started the blog and I'm happy to think I succeeded.

Annamayya is said to have composed a song a day for the god this his temple. Late in his life, or, possibly, not long after his death, some thirteen thousand of his daily poems were gathered, inscribed on copper plates, and stored in a special vault inside the temple.

I also write a poem a day but expect none of them ever to be saved on copper plates. Mine exist only on the web, a media that, to tell the truth, still doesn't seem like something all that natural and real to me.

Here in one of Annamayya's poems, taken from the book, God on the Hill - Temple Poems from Tirupati, published by Oxford University Press in 2005.

None of the songs in the book, translated from the classical Telugu by Velcheru Narayana Rao and David Shulman, are titled.

As a non-believer who enjoys theological discussion, I really enjoyed this poem, the way it goes from the erotic to the metaphysical, exploring the dichotomy of human concern and experience.



---

These marks of black musk
on her lips, red as buds,
what are they but letters of love
sent by our friend to her lover?

Her eyes the eyes of a cakora bird,
why are they red in the corners?

Think it over, my friends:
what is it but the blood
still staining the long glances
that pierced her beloved
after she drew them from his body
back to her eyes.

     What are they but letters of love?

How is it that this woman's breasts
show so bright through her sari?

Can't you guess my friends?
It's the rays from the crescents
left by the nails of her lover,
rays luminous as moonlight on a summer night?

     What are they but letters of love?

What are these graces,
these pearls,
raining down her cheeks?

Can't you imagine my friends?
What could they be but beads of weat
left on her gentle face
by the god on the hill
when he pressed hard,
frantic in love?

     What are they but letters of love?

You're just about as much as one imagines you to be.
As they say the more dough, the more bread.

People who follow Vishnu love you as Vishnu.
Philosophers speak of you as the ultimate.
Those who go with Siva think of you as Siva.
Those who carry skulls see a skull in your hand.

     You are as one imagines.

People who serve the goddess think you are their goddess.
Different schools of though measure you by their thoughts.
Small people think of you to get rich, and for them you become small.
Thoughtful minds contemplate you're depths, and for them you are deep,

     as deep as one imagines

There's nothing missing in you.
The lotus spreads to the limits of the lake.
There's water in the Ganges, also in wells on the shore.
You're the god on the hill,
the one who's taken hold of me.
For me, you are real.

     as real as I imagine

---








This poem I took from my reading of the poem above, Annamayya's "God of the Hill."



nothing more you are; nothing better could you be

I believe we are creators
of gods,
not the other way
around
and I hold to no religion
based on such inventions,
not the standard types
preached from the pulpit
Sunday mornings, not the god
of tents and religious revivals, not
the god of born again, not the god
of those who prostrate themselves
before the moon every third Thursday
of every third month -

but
if I did want to believe
in a god and could choose
he/she/it to whom I would defer,
I would chose the god of the hill
for whom Annamayya wrote a new song
every day…

not a god who reigns, who rules
his believers with a face
of wrath and a voice of thunder -

instead a god who reflects
his believers, who walks with his believers
humbly, not ahead, not behind, but stride
for stride together, a god that morphs
from you to me
to be for you and for me
what we need our god to be


People who serve the goddess think you are their goddess.
Different schools of thought measure you by their thoughts.
Small people think of you to get rich, and for them you become small.
Thoughtful minds contemplate you're depths, and for them you are deep



not a god
who makes and molds us
in his image ( for who would want
the image of a true god to be
their own?)

but a god
created by us
for purposes imagined by us,
to fill the void that death
leaves
in the passages of all lives -
a god who is holy
because we, creatures of both
the light and night,
are holy even in all our human
incompetencies -

a god who only in us
and with us is complete -
a god who seeks us as we seek
it, for only together are either of us
complete



There's nothing missing in you,
says Annamayya, to his god on the hill,
The lotus spreads to the limits of the lake.
There's water in the Ganges, also in wells on the shore.
You're the god on the hill,
the one who's taken hold of me.
For me, you are real.



but
you are real
and powerful
and out-reaching to all the life
in me
because I made you that way,
he adds -
you are real
he says…



as real as I imagine




and nothing more
you are,
I add
in my own voice,
and nothing better could you be

for me








Here's poem from my poet-friend Dan Cuddy from Baltimore.



Manifesto Of A Sort

I write to survive death
but of course it doesn't work
the words disappear after speaking
the letters crumble into electrons
or fade into the paper
I don't have the talent
I don't have the connections
I'm not important
except to myself
and I think that is a sin
of pride
I am just one more bit of organized
bone and muscle and flab
awaiting dissolution
the vapor of life
steaming into the night
only to cool
unconscious on the dark leaves
or on plastic flowers
or on the forbidding stones
lined up in their mock of organization
death like an army
Death Is An Army

the poems I fire back
fall
the professors won't read
the desperate scratchings
of a man trying to climb out of himself
too amateur that average neurotic life
heeing and hawing
taking pees behind the cemetery wall
averting his eyes from mirrors
cringing at the Holy Ghost
who is a Church hell-bent on Inquisition
and all I wanted was the Garden of Earthly Delights
the words for plum and green and purple
to shimmer the way leaves do
on the summer ground
but
but
but
always that critical wedge of reality
an old tattered coat and a stick in hand
a raging piece of verse
that is someone
else

my hope in the letters of the word
are dashed as the power goes out
the city dark
the wind swirling
breaking everything to pieces
only the fear
of dissolution remains
and the remains of all those others
who I loved, admired, ate with
remain

a fool thinks his poetry is good
special
deserves to be burning through all eternity
God is problematical
poetry is desperate vanity
unless it is about love
but all love matures into death
and dream we do
dream we do
that everything has more
than temporal meaning
but belief comes in empty-handed from the desert
carried by those
who cannot question themselves
see the darkness
scratch the eyes out of illusion

perhaps Buddha
but then I must remain silent
before death
and there is still this ego
bursting with fear, desire
abstract words that mean nothing
without the sensation
crawling, caressing the skin

I am a poet of desperation
bloated in body
crazy in mind
howling
outside the skyscrapers
all that steel, glass, plastic
containing nothing

and the college professors teach
and warm each others' egos with praise
and I am that miserable Robinson Jeffers
staring at the cold ocean

but all this is about
wanting to live
and time just falls out
blows away
your hand drops
turns to sand







The danger for a poem-a-day poet, as he searches for a new idea for a new day, is becoming overly influenced by whatever he last read, producing, instead of something new and original, a pale copy of someone else's work.

That would never happen to me, of course.



lament of the poem-a-day- poet

just
read ten poems

great ideas
contained therein

that I could steal
for my own poem today

but will wait a day or two
instead

so my theft will not be
so obvious….

instead
another poem (yes, another)

about my day,
how exciting many might think

a day in the life of a poet -
though aquiver

with anticipation as you might be
I must admit

the life of a poet
not nearly so exciting

as it might seem
as seen from the outside -

mainly
we sit in coffee houses

drinking the dregs of another
day of failure

no epic
today

just another piling on
of uninteresting words

in a string
that stretches far down the page

making excuses
about how we almost

found that poem of the
century

the one
that, all on it’s own,

would have won us
the Nobel

but it slipped away again today
just like

yesterday
and the day before








Here's another of my poet-friends, Francina Hartstra. Fran has lived many places around the world, including the United States, but I think I remember that she is from, and currently lives in,The Netherlands.

She has a very nice website of her own which features both her poetry and her photography. Visit it at http://seasonspoetry.wordpress.com.



On Midsummer's Night

on midsummer’s night
a swim under starlit sky
scent of moonflowers

fragrant rein-orchids
in meadows near delta blues
one way ferry ride

whispering whirlpool
around crib in summer bed
sound of beacon bell

stroll down waterfront
one last glance at Milky Way
before turning in

beauty of Dal Lake
pale hands place a white iris
on blue lapping waves

above mountain peaks
eagles soar in search for prey
in sun drenched valley

dancers form circle
two-stepping silhouettes throw
shadows on the grass

high on the mountain
silver rippling moonlight drifts
over tranquil lake


Without Regrets

Words you used
replaced dead dreams,
those little make believes
could turn impossibility
into all what was possible,
if not both our doubts
had led our love astray,

now my path is lost,
my soul hides in veils
of immense sadness,
only pressed to undress
when others warm my bed,
to escape this loneliness
with its utter silence,
and to forget, without regret.


The Glass Pavilion

Coincidence is like the stone
which shatters the glass pavilion
into a ruin of a thousand pieces.
Crystal clear the realization,
acceptance of the known;
unprotected in translucent light-
the truth lies naked. Revealed
in the mirrored fragments,
still the fragile flower of love.


Night Travelers

We don’t know each other’s name
you, the one with sky blue eyes
and I, travelling together in a dream,

until time was there we board a train
bound on its way to abandoned cities,
where you can’t stay and I’ve to leave,

there is no beginning, there is no end
when you are lost and I’m to be found,
in the darkness before the dawn.


On A Day Like Today

On a day like today
when reeds whisper,
ripples crack mirrors of creeks-
and all trees sigh.

Disturbed, birds take flight
leaving behind their cries
against a leaden sky.

There are no words that belong
to wind’s song, only whispers
on a day like today.


On Long Summer Nights


On long warm summer nights
she sits outside in her garden,
gazing at the moonlit hills,
her eyes are soft with love,

even though there is a hole
where her heart once was,
before she felt blown apart
like a dandelion in the wind.

Every year the wildflowers bloom
in wind-blown grasses on the hills,
every year she sits outside and waits.








This is an old poem, from 2003. Many years before that I did work that occasionally required me to talk down very angry people. Usually they were mad at a system that they thought had cheated or mis-treated them. Some had good reason to be angry, some not, but since I represented the system, I was the target of their anger.

Some of the people were just angry. Those people were usually easy to deal with. Mostly they just wanted someone to listen to their complaint and actually pay attention to what they were saying. I was good at that.

Others were more of a problem, to the point of being scary. With experience, you can begin to see the danger in their eyes, bombs waiting to explode. Those were the hard ones. The bombs would stay, but if you were very careful, you could defuse them, at least for a while. I was good at that too.

But the cold fire behind their eyes - you don't forget that.



the line between dark and light

I've looked into the eyes
of the irretrievably mad,
seen the red veil of rage
straining against the tattered
leash of consequence

there is a thin line
between them
and people like you and me,
like the instant
under the setting sun
when the transition
from day to night is passed
and light becomes dark,
the moment when night animals
know to creep from their dens,
the moment when night birds
shriek and leave their nests
to hunt in the dark

I have walked close to that line
and felt the fire on the other side -
I have seen that flame in another's
eyes
and fought the madness in my own








Next, three poems written by Charles Bukowsk1 as he could see the end of his life approaching. The poems are from The Flash of Lightning Behind the Mountain,published in 2004 by HarperCollins.

A Bukowski very from the rough and tumble "Hank" we usually associate with his name.



nothing here

so much of my early life I was worried about paying
the rent, now something else is trying to move
me out of here,permanently,
and this landlord will accept no
excuses such as
"I'll pay you next week for sure!"
notice has been served on me
and my final eviction looms.
but as in the old days, I continue,
go through the motions,
read the newspaper, stare at the walls
and wonder,wonder
how did it ever come to this,
this senselessness staring me down.
all my books don't help
my poems don't help either.
nothing or nobody helps.
it's just me alone, breathing,
pondering.
there's nothing even to be brave about.
there's nothing here at all.


my last winter

I see this final storm as nothing very serious in the sight of
the world:
there are so many more important things to worry about and to
consider.

I see this final storm as nothing very special in the sight of
the world
and it shouldn't be thought of as special.
other storms have been much greater, more dramatic.
I see this final storm approaching and calmly
my mind awaits.

I see this final storm as nothing very serious in the sight of
the world.
the world and I have seldom agreed on most
matters but
now we can agree
so bring it on, bring on this final storm.
I have patiently waited for too long now.


first poem back

64 days and nights in that
place, chemotherapy,
antibiotics, blood running into
the catheter.
leukemia.
who, me?
at age 72 I had this foolish thought that
I'd just die peacefully in my sleep
but
the gods want it their way.
I sit at this machine, shattered,
half alive,
still seeking the Muse,
but I am back for the moment only;
while nothing seems the same.
I am not reborn, only
chasing
a few more days, a few more nights,
like
this
one.








A little bit of winter blows in from West Texas,and I like it.



about these cold winds that blow

I was sitting
outside last night
in my lawn chair, about
nine thirty, two
hours past sundown,
all blanketed up, planning
to enjoy the on-rush of the cold front
that was on-rushing in, trees
swoosh-dancing, dingle-dangles
hanging from the eaves
dang-dingling, wind damn-cold-blowing
at fifty degrees
and forty miles an hour
right up under my blanket, near
freezing my tallulahs, not to
mention old satchmo and I gave it up
and went inside and satisfied myself with
just listening to the wind, tallulahs and old satchmo
safe and warm…

but it did set me to thinking about women
wearing dresses in the winter and even though
bereft as they are of tallulahs or even old
satchmo, they must be doing some freezing
when that old north wind whips up their dresses
like a teenage boyfriend beer-drunk
on prom night…

and I’m thinking
that surely explains a lot about
how women get when the weather
gets all cold and blowsey and leaves me
with a whole new attitude
of respect for women and the challenges
of their gender…

and I guess that also applies
to the Scots, maybe even more since
their skirts are so short winter
spring summer and fall

their tallulahs and satchmos
must be wonders
to
behold…

just guessing, of
course








Here are three poems by Grace Paley from her book, Leaning Forward. The book was published in 1985 by Granite Press of Penobscot, Maine. You probably don't need to know the publisher is from Penobscot, but I like to write it, thinking how it would feel in my mouth it I were to say it.

Paley, who died in 2007, was born in 1922 and lived most of her life in New York City. She taught at Sarah Lawrence and City College. She called herself a combative pacifist and a cooperative anarchist and was active in anti-war and feminist causes.



having Arrived by Bike at Battery Park

I thought I would
sit down at one of those park department tables
and write a poem honoring
the occasion which is May 25th
Evelyn    my best friend's birthday
and Will Lanbauer's birth

Day! I love you for your delicacy
in appearing after so many years
as an afternoon in Battery Park right
on the curved water
where Manhattan was breached

At once arrows
straight as Broadway were driven
into the great Indian heart

Then we came from the east
seasick and safe the
white tormented people
grew fat in the
blood of that wound


My Father at 89

His brain simplified itself
saddening everyone    but he
asked us    children
don't you remember my dog Mars
who met me on the road
when I came home    lonesome
and singing    walking
from the Czar's prison


On the Subway Station

The child is speaking to the father
he is looking into the father's eyes
father doesn't answer
child is speaking Vietnamese
father doesn't answer
The father is staring at a mosaic in blue and green
and lavender    three small ships in harbor
set again and again in the white tiled
beautiful    old    unrenovated subway
station    Clark Street    Brooklyn








One must always seek means to accommodate the environment.



the escaping-heat-through-the-top-of-your-head theory

forty degrees
this early morning
and I’m wearing my hat
cause I was told once that
about seventy percent of your
body heat escapes through the top
of your head and if you wear a hat in the
winter you’ll stay much warmer…

it was a bald old guy
who told me that, a really bald guy
not a hair on his head,
bald as big old Enchanted Rock
up north of here in the hills, huge granite mountain,
not a bush or a tree or any green thing taller
than lichen on it, that’s how bald this guy was
except he didn’t even have any lichen…

the fellow worked for me
and I always kidded him about his hat
a floppy old thing, and he told me about
the escaping-heat-through-the-top-of-your-head
theory and I didn’t pay much attention to it,
thinking he was just covering up some kind of
sentimental attachment to the hat about which he
was not entirely comfortable, thrice divorced,
I figured it was something given to him by his favorite
ex-wife, or maybe her divorce lawyer, so I quit
kidding him about his hat because I began to see
that it was a delicate subject…

and didn’t think any more about it
until I begin to develop a bald spot of my own
and decided to test the theory
and it really works -
it was forty degrees this early morning
and feels at least forty-five
or forty-six…

probably
could have worn
one of my Hawaiian shirts








Next I have a poem by Robert Levy from the anthology North of Wakulla, a collection that concentrates on but is not limited exclusively to poets from the Tallahassee and northern Florida.

The book was published in 1989 by Ashinga Press. At that time Levy had published a chapbook and a full-length collection and had been awarded, in 1988, an NEA Creative Writing Fellowship.



Biology

More "labor" less Oratory," the sign
in bio lab urged,but we ignored it,
and amid pickled fetuses, pithed frogs -
the never-born and half-alive - contrived
a courtship. Dogfish. ox eye, urchin, newt:

a witches litany to make me fall
in love with you. So much carnage, and yet
what I recall most about the dead cat
was not its agonized grin or upstretched
paws - as though it pressed some suffocating

weight at the instant of death - but how
you found it pregnant, a fetal kitten curled
like a nutmeat in its womb. You buried it
outside your dorm - the lone sad mourner -
and left me with the mother cat laid bare,

skin flaps pinned in grotesque crucifixion
against the tale. The colored latex
pumped into its veins before it died limned
the diastole and systole of its life,
a heartbeat forever stilled in rubber.

The only thing we never dissected
was each other. So, unempirical
to the last, we married. Over the years
we sliced up each other, with knives, hoping
to discover love's origin, as though

it were some small vestigial organ
tucked away in the body's recesses.
All we found was flesh and blood, and more flesh,
until our limbs and bones seemed alien
as infants in their jars. Could it have been

different,like that strange girl back in lab
who also found a fetus in her cat
and wore it as an amulet? Could we have
threaded hope around our necks like a charm
to remind us that something lasts beyond

love or hate? dogfish, ox,eye, urchin, newt.
Add to that marriage. Pinned and writhing,
anatomized with our finest tools,
it lay there, no animal we knew,
its gray heart beating long into the night.








I wrote the next poem in 2004 and used it in my 2005 print book, Seven Beats a Second.



unfinished business

I've reached that point
in my life
when I begin to understand
I will not get out of it alive

and with that,
clarity...

you life...
my life...
it's all about
unfinished business

a million years of back-story
before us
and consequences
that linger beyond the last spark
of memory of our time,
leaving no end to things
but that one dark end
we struggle so hard to avoid,
grand temples of pharmaceutical
and metaphysical manipulation
built with blood, but all for naught

and even as we fight to change the rules
of life and death
it's not closure we want
but a chance to hang around,
a chance to read the story
past the limitations
of our own small walk-on part








Here's another interesting poet, Annamaria Ferramosca. She was born in Tricase, but lived in Rome where she worked as a nutritional biologist, when this book (she has four) was published. She has also published a number of critical essays and review.

I've take two poems from her book Other Signs, Other Circles, a selection of poems from 1990 to 2009. The book was published by Chelsea Editions in 2009.

It is a bilingual book, Italian, with English translation by Annamaria Crowe Serrano and Riccardo Duranti.



After Rilke's Eighth Elegy

The house has windows to the ocean
so as to recall the beginning
the ancient vortex, calm, millennial sails
returns that turn to farewells
odysseys bound for other seas

In the garden aleppo pines and olive trees
welcome those who know nothing of death:

insects and birds, sometimes
nocturnal foxes - motionless -
also look out to sea
as if mysteriously dazzled
- animals never look
death in the eye -
we live with it by our side, shortsighted
see the sky light up with flames
and the places where
death blindly rains

The rose soon loses its leaves
in silence its thorns make ready
to pierce our flesh
the sea to submerge disorder
hugs are mixed with gunshots despite
the unease of cicadas
swarming in the trees

From the pines, swallows fly
south, undaunted


Jemaa El Fna Square

I enter Jemaa el Fna
almost stumbling on dry earth
re-enacting the delivery
of an ancient foetus, my African self
My nostrils inhaling earth magic
made of instrootsswornbones
The amnesia of the distant
white tribe,sterilized and mute
is already sorcery

The square has eyes that pierce like arrows
archaic voices sharp enough to carry on the wind
mimed stories like graffiti
I am the one who beats the drum
stomps her feet flows to the rhythm
absorbs the hypnosis of the snake
as it rises, supple, tired of repetition
staring at me, unbelievably friendly

And it's strange, this urge for dates
beyond their taste, a craving
for bronzed gold to penetrate my skin
(maybe this is how genes mutate
under the sun, out of mimetic love
of naturegiftsurvival)

Continental forgiveness of the African faces
offered with little objects inlaid
with pridehopesweat
(the sweat condensing everywhere
kneaded in the mud, built into houses)
That's always been how the earth becomes human

I feel the mother's wrinkles, alive








Let's hear it for the pagans.



pagan holidays

I think the time
has come to admit
that the poem I’ve been struggling over
is boring the crap out of me
and is almost certain
to bore the crap out of anyone
who through some miracle
of persistence manages to get past
the first five lines -

time to admit It’s time
to man the lifeboats
and get as far away from that
sinking vessel of
pretentious crap as my little
oars will row me

start over,
like in marbles,
call “slips” and just start
over…

maybe
think about Halloween,
the pagan holiday that admits
to being pagan, unlike those other
holidays who hide their pagan roots
behind a façade of more recent religions
hidden in turn by the most modern religion of all,
consumption and greed

(and there I go again, threatening signs
of pending pontification - who cares
about a poor poet’s bemoaning
consumption and greed when
we all know that if the poor poet
was a rich poet he’d go out and buy
a 64 inch plasma TV and a Lexus
just like everyone else)

the point is that Halloween
is the one holiday we celebrate
that has resisted complete
infantilization -
sure, we say it’s all about
the kids and dress them up
in cute costumes and send
them out to beg food from
neighbors, but we know better -
we know that it’s really about
office parties and
Laverne in Accounting and her
sexy Batwoman costume,
low-cut on top
and high-cut on the bottom,
and we know that before the week
is out, there’ll be Xerox copies
of Laverne’s butt circulating the office
and why the heck not - there’s
a pagan in all of us, aching for
release, and if we can’t dance
naked under an orange harvest
moon, maybe Laverne’s Xeroxed
butt will give us the break we need
until next year when, maybe,
Laverne will dance naked with us
under an orange harvest moon

that’s the thing about pagan holidays
and why we love them…

they give us hope
that someday grown-ups will be back
in charge of the world
and paganism will be back to re-assert
the presumptions of a free human
spirit








This is a poem by Brigit Pegeen Kelly, from her book, Song, the 1994 Lamont Poetry Selection of The Academy of American Poets published by BOA Editions Ltd.

Kelly, born in Palo Alto,California, in 1951, teaches in the creative writing program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and in the Warren Wilson M.F.A. program for writers. She has received many awards and honors, including a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts.



Wild Turkeys: The Dignity of the Damned

Because they are shame, and cannot flee from it.
And cannot hide it, they go slow,
One great variegated male and his harem of four wild hens

Halting our truck as they labor
To cross the road into the low fields they are indentured to.
They go slow, their hearts hardened to this;

Those laughingstock, shriveled, lipstick red hearts -
Swinging on throat and foreneck
Beneath the narrow heads that are the blue

Not of the sky but of convicts shaved skulls -
Have been long indurated by rains and winds and filth
And the merciless exposures of the sun.

They do not look up, they do not fly -
Except at night when dark descends like shame,
When shame is lost to dark, and then,

Weak-winged, they heave themselves
Into the low tree roosts they drop from in the morning,
Crashing like swag-bellied bombers

Into the bare fields and stingy stands of trees
They peck their stones and seeds from.
Yesterday they were targets, but now they go slow,

As if this lacuna between winter and spring, still gray,
But full of the furred sumacs' pubescent probings,
And the faint oily smell of wild onion vials crushed open,

Gave hope to even them, or as if they knew
All seasons come to one, the going back,
The crossing over, the standing still, all the same,

When the state you defend is a lost state,
When lurching into an ungainly run
Only reminds you that there is nowhere to run to.

And this movement, this jerking
Of these heavy goffered carapaces forward,
This dumb parading that looks at first glance furtive,

Like skulking, the hunkered shoulders, the lowered heads,
Reveals, as we watch, the dignity that lines
Of pilgrim-sick possess as they halt toward some dark grotto -

A faith beyond the last desire to possess faith,
The soldier's resolve to march humpbacked straight into death
Until it breaks like oil over him

And over all that is lost.








Here, a tiny, tiny poem as I try once again to channel the clear-seeing eye of William Carlos Williams, my favorite poet, second only to Walt Whitman.



yellow flowers

the vine
will grow
cover
the broken
swing with yellow
so
very yellow
flowers








Next, two poems by David St. John, from his book Study for the World's Body. The book was published in 1994 by HarperCollins.

St. John has received many awards and honors, including fellowships and grants. He has taught creative writing at Oberline College, The John Hopkins University, and the University of Southern California. For twelve years he was poetry editor of The Antioch Review.



Guitar

I have always loved the word guitar

I have no memories of my father on the patio
At dusk, strumming a Spanish tune,
Or my mother draped in the fawn wicker chair
Polishing her flute;
I have no memories of your song, distant Sister
Heart, of those steel strings sliding
All night through the speaker of the car radio
Between Tucumcari and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
Though I've never believed those stories
Of gypsy cascades, stolen horses, castanets,
And stars, of Airstream trailers and good fortune,
Though I never met Charlie Christian,though
I've danced the floors of cold longshoremen's halls,
Though I've waited with overcoats at the read
Of concerts for lute, mandolin, and two guitars -
More than the music I love scaling its woven
Stairways, more than the swirling chocolate of wood

I've always loved the word guitar.


Hush

        for my son

The way a tired Chippewa woman
Who's lost a child gathers up black feathers,
Black quills and leaves
That she wraps & swaddles in a little bale, a shag
Cocoon she carries with her & speaks to always
As if it were her child,
Until she knows the soul has grown fat & clever,
That the child can find its own way at last;
Well, I go everywhere
Picking the dust out of the dust, scraping the breezes
Up off the floor, & gather them into a doll
Of you, to touch at the nape of the neck, to slip
Under my shirt like a rag - the way
Another man's wallet rides above his heart. As you
Cry out, as if calling to a father you conjure
In the paling light, the voice rises, instead, in me.
Nothing stops it, the crying. Not the clove of the moon,
Not the woman raking my back with her words. Our letters
Close. Sometimes, you ask
About the world; sometimes, I answer back. Nights
Return you to me for a while, as sleep returns sleep
To a landscape ravaged
& familiar. The dark watermark of your absence, a hush.




>




I just don't get it.



occupy time: a protest from the chronologically confused crowd

so
here it is
Halloween, again,
and it seems I just put
the candy up from last year,
and now Thanksgiving is next
week and Christmas the week after
and I just can’t keep track, can’t
keep up,

it’s like days mosey on by like cowboys
on the open range, getting along their little dogies
at a leisurely 4-4 time cowboy singing pace,
while years gallop like Sitting Bull
is half an arrow-length behind, it seems,
one day, I’m forty-five,
prime-time, prime-cut, prime of most
everything, then swish and swoosh and
I’m sixty, then sixty-five, then sixty eight in
a couple of months.
and, common refrain among
the chronologically confuse crowd,
what happened - what happened,
we cry out, for-crying-out-loud what the hell
happened, from golden youth to shuffling senility
coming round the corner here it comes, all
in the course of an afternoon
nap -
my mistake, assuming
time passed in stately procession,
equally, awake or asleep, when every other fool
knows that time passes much faster when we’re asleep,
the quantum snooze-factor kicking in, leaving
us 16 hours time-depleted for every 8 hours slept…

my life whisked away in sleep
like with one of those little whisk brooms
we used to use to whisk out our car seats back
before vacuums were invented, my god, wasn’t that
just last week, how quickly technology
overtakes,
overtakers, all this technology
until the undertakers undertake to take us
under
and I’m not ready
so I’ll just not sleep, add years to my life,
like tenth grade algebra in reverse…

in the meantime,
can anyone tell me when the fall time fallback
thing happens, I remember it happening but am not sure
if I’m remembering this year or last year - if I could just nail
this one thing down, I could probably make my peace
with all the rest,
and be back with you tomorrow
except I’m not always sure about the tomorrow
thing because I remember someone telling me yesterday
was tomorrow and then they told me yesterday that
today was tomorrow so maybe I should plan to be back
yesterday or the day before

or maybe next or last month








For my last library-poems this week, I have several poets from the Winter-1977 issue of the Berkeley Poetry Review. The Review doesn't include bios for any of it's contributors (I hate that), but, since it's late in the afternoon and I'm tired, neither will I. I'll just let you do your own Google search.



The first poet is Vickie Hearne.


A Technical Qeustion for a Daughter

I don't know where you get it,this
Growing you do, did you go out
Of the house alone, down to the
Pasture to learn the way the pouts

And dancing of the young fillies
Set them on their legs? It is clear
You mean something by it, as when
Earlier I thrust my hands near

And then into your folds of flesh
And, infant weak and pure, you thrust
Them away, never even once
Granting that you were what I must

Clean and tend. Where did you get this
Lusting for all this competence,
Skills you from the start had a plan
For? I should have deduced the fence

From the growing piles of rails but
They made a plausible enough
Pile of rails, and I thought about
The sure way they towered, a tough

Problem in itself. You added
Speech and began to know how sleep
May be lost and wooed, then one day
There you were, setting rails in deep

Potholes you had dug by yourself,
The laws of form draw us taller,
Slowly, and set us in our own
Universe, we say, knot smaller

By and inch than we grow to be.


The next poet is James Story


The Morning Climb

They do not know that I am watching,
suited men and summered ladies,
Plumbing the slow elevator's climb.
I time their smiles to my calibration.

I have seen duller elevators that this,
And deadlier. As if life sucked dry
By the morning could not make it
Past the fifteenth floor.

Today the small chat drops delicate down
To the sandalled floor and makes me dream
Of beaches. Their beaches. Fire Island.
The Hamptons. The Jersey Shore. They
Talk of their weekends as tall cool lime-drinks
To be savored slowly.

The bones in my ear envy
That clink of ice; refuse,
However, to hear.


And, last this week, the poet Karen Swenson.


Spring

In a country graveyard where
like a disorder of books
stones shoulder angles heaved by frost
I sit in the car

among the broken spines of closed stories
having traveled up country
in search of a blessing away from
the city's clank of radiator warmth.

Across the road the fields
seeded by winter
furrowed by snow
lie cold in their sky crop.

As cars whip by the early wasps
the sun leaning through the windshield
curls into my lap like a kitten
content in its own warmth.








It's like everything else - some days it works, and some days you just have to punt.



the elusive poetry/fine-poetry writing experience

I’m stalling…

it’s time to write a poem
and I’m finding
all kinds of reasons
to avoid it.

my favorite breakfast-poem
writing-observation post
filled up early
this morning, cool sunny weather
pulling people out of churches
and sending them off for early break
fast like a magnetizing, flypapering,
duckluring, moosecalling, irresitable, un
deniable force calling people
to skip God’s word to take in some of
his/her/its sunshine instead

(normally, I would consider this
a good thing, but not when they force me
out of my favorite breakfast-poem writing-
observation post restaurant)

but anyway
I couldn’t write my poem there,
being forced out into the cold by all
the Sunday morning God-'s-Word-shirkers…

so I went to my back-up poem writing,
observation post, but the sun, bright and
warm and intrusive, is shining right on my face
and on my laptop screen so that all I can see
through sun-squinty eyes is my own sun-
squinty face on my laptop screen
and beside that, some bozo whack-o
people are two tables behind me
watching some kind of jet plane flying
thing on their laptop, complete with jet
noise as if I was standing mid-runway
and the San Antonio International Airport
and who the hell can be expected to write
a poem in the midst of sun-shining, sun-
squinting, jet-landing-taking-off-engine-
roaring-flying stuff going in sacred poem-
writing territory…

and time’s running out because I have
to meet Dee at Barnes and Noble when
they open up in just a few minute and before
that I have to go to the carwash
and see how much of the wreck I had
last week washes off before I decide
to or not to bring the good hands of
my insurance company into the mix
and I also need to go to the grocery store
to buy some sushi for lunch
and Alpo for my dog and
pick up some money at the ATM…

and damn the sun’s gone behind
a cloud and I can see my unsquinty
face in my laptop screen
and the Jetson previously behind me
have left and I can see the blue sky
outside and the oriental woman chewing
her bagel at the next table (the oriental
woman being at the next table chewing,
not the oriental woman at one table,
chewing at another table which might
be mis-surmised if my original statement
were read literally and which, as a man
of the word, I thought I ought to correct)…

and all is set for some fine
poetry-writing, maybe even set for some
time for writing fine-poetry,
but, hell,
now I’m out of time and will just
have to put off the poetry/fine-poetry
writing until tomorrow
when I’m sure conditions will be more
conducive for a poetry/fine-poetry writing
experience









Here we are at the end of another post and I'm exceedingly proud of myself, having not referred, even once, to my new book "Always to the Light" due out in a week or two, nor have I mentioned,even once, my other two eBooks, "Pushing Clouds Against the Wind" and "Goes Around, Comes Around" both also available at all the standard eBook purveyors. I guess it's too late to do that now, so I'll wait until next week to engage in my shameless promotion.

And you'll recall, of course, even though I haven't mentioned it in a couple of weeks, that all of the material presented here remains the property of those who created it, and, being creator of my particular stuff, I make it available to any who what, with proper credit, of course, to "Here and Now" and me.

I'm allen itz, owner and producer of this blog and the weather is great here and I'm going to go out and sit in it until next week.

Finally, a note on the mechanics of "Here and Now" production.

I do my own typing, which I'm pretty good, but not great at. And I do my own proofing, which I am very bad at. Added to that problem is the insistence of my computer to do automatic corrections, producing and inserting in the process, words that make no sense at all in the text, or, even worse, producing and inserting words that almost make sense but seem weird.

As so as I figure out how, I'm going to fix that. In the meantime, know that all weirdness that sometimes appears in my text was not necessarily put there by me.

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High, Wide, and Handsome   Friday, October 07, 2011




I needed the break to happy to be back again, after a super 10-day visit to the mountains in New Mexico and Colorado. My photos and my poems (most of them) were taken or written on the road.


I also have my usual quota of great poets from my library and a shameless little announcement at the end.


Lawrence Ferlinghetti
Junkman's Obbligato

Me
eager-eyed

Marina Tsvetaeva
From Poem of the End

Me
San Antonio to Carlsbad

Rosemary Catacalos
With the Conchero Dancers, Mission Espada, July
The Lesson in "A Waltz for Debbie" “
One Man’s Family


Me
Carlsbad to Santa Fe

Sundeep Sen
Shattered Pieces of a Quarrel
Sun Streaks on Telephone Lines


Me
a morning in Santa Fe

From Poetry - February 1973
Leroy Seale
Turkey Shooting on Mount Monadnoc
Robert Pinsky
Waiting

Me
Santa Fe to Durango

Aaron Silverberg
Morning Aikido
Prosperity


Me
day trip to Ouray

From Poetry - February, 1973
Michael McGee
The Hand
Lynn Strongin
Countdown

Me
day trip to Telluride

Gary Soto
A Simple Plan

Me
a day off in Durango

e.e. cummings
From Love Poems
X
XI


Me
homebound, Durango to Albuquerque

Monica Youn
Ignatz in August
Ignatz Oasis
Semper Ignatz
The Death of Ignatz
The Subject Ignatz
Invisible Ignatz


Me
homebound, Albuquerque to Fort Stockton

Mary Crow
Montserrate

Me
last leg home, Fort Stockton to San Antonio

Bruce Weigl
Black-and-Tan Dog
Meeting Mr. Death


Me
rainy day confabulations

John Updike
Stretch
TV


Me
path to enlightment









I start this post with a poem by Lawrence Ferlinghetti, from his book A Cony Island of the Mind, A New Directions book, originally published in 1955. As I mentioned before, I had a copy of the book from a seventh printing, which I bought in very early 1960s. During the course of many years since then, I lost the book I was excited to find a copy, aged yellow pages and all, of that 1958 edition in my secondhand book store. The book originally cost less than $2.00, less than I paid for it at the second-hand book store.

With eBooks, we can finally match that price again today, and maybe move reading poetry back outside of the academic circles where it's been stuck for years.

The poem I borrow this week is one of Ferlinghetti's best know pieces, and one of seven in the book conceived, not for the page, but performance reading with jazz accompaniment, subject to change at every reading. If you can find it anywhere, a performance of the poem by the poet in a reading with Kenneth Rexroth and the Cellar Jazz Quintet was recorded by Fantasy as "Poetry Readings in the Cellar."

Not having that recording, this is the paper-bound best I can do.



Junkman's Obbligato

Let's go
Come on
Let's go
Empty out our pockets
and disappear.
Missing all our appointments
and turning up unshaven
years later
old cigarette papers
stuck to our pants
leaves in our hair.
Let us not
worry about the payments
anymore.
Let them come
and take it away
whatever it was
we were paying for.
And us with it.

Let us arise and go now
to where dogs do it
Over the hill
where they keep the earthquakes

behind the city dumps
lost among gas mains and garbage.
Let us see the City Dumps
for what they are.
My country tears of thee.
Let us disappear
in automobile graveyards
and reappear years later
picking rags and newspapers
drying our drawers
on garage fires
patches on our ass.
Do not bother
to say goodbye
to anyone
Your missus will not miss us.

Let's go
smelling of sterno where the benches are filled
with discarded Bowling Green statues
in the interior dark night
of the flowery bowery
our eyes watery
with the contemplation
of empty bottles of muscatel.
Let us recite from broken bibles
on streetcorners
Follow dogs on docks
Speak wild songs
Throw stones
Say anything
Blink at the sun and stretch
and stumble into silence
Diddle in doorways
Know whores thirdhand
after everyone else is finished
Stagger befuddled into East River sunsets
Sleep in phone booths
Puke in pawnshops
wailing for a winter overcoat.

Let us arise and go now
under the city
where ashcans roll
and reappear in putrid clothes
as the uncrowned underground kings
off subway men's rooms.
Let us feed the pigeons
at City Hall
urging them to do their duty
in the Mayor's office.
Hurry up please it's time.
The end is coming.
Flash floods
Disasters in the sun
Dogs unleased
Sister in the street
her brassiere backwards.

Let us arise and go now
into the interior dark night
of the soul's still bowery
and find ourselves anew
where subways stall and wait
under the River.
Cross over
into full puzzlement.
South Ferry will not run forever.
They are cutting out the Bay ferries
but it is still not too late
to get lost in Oakland.
Washington has not yet toppled
from his horse.
There is still time to goose him
and go
leaving our income tax form behind
and our waterproof wristwatch with it
staggering blind after allycats
under Brooklyn's Bridge
blown statues in baggy pants
our tincan cries and garage voices
trailing.
Junk for sale!

Let's cut out let's go
into the real interior of the country
where hockshops reign
mere unblinding anarchy upon us.
The end is here
but golf goes on at Burning Tree.
It's raining it's pouring
The Ole Man is snoring.
Another flood is coming
though not the kind you think.
There is still time to sink
and think.
I wish to descend in society.
I wish to make it free.
Swing low sweet chariot.
Let us not wait for the cadillacs
to carry us triumphant
into the interior
waving at the natives
like roman senators in the provinces
wearing poet's laurels
on lighted brows.
Let us not wait for the write-up
on page one
of The New York times Book Review
images of insane success
smiling from the photo.
By the time they print your picture
in Life Magazine
you will have become a negative anyway
a print with a glossy finish.
They will have come and gotten you
to be famous
and you still will not be free.
Goodbye I'm going.
I'm selling everything
and giving away the rest
to the Good Will Industries.
It will be dark out there
with the Salvation Army Band.
And the mind its own illumination.
Goodbye I'm walking out of the whole scene.
Close down the joint.
The system is all loused up.
Rome was never like this.
I'm tired of waiting for Godot.
I am going where turtles win
I am going
where conmen puke and die
Down the sad esplanades
of the official world.
Junk for sale!
My country tears of thee.

Let us go then you and I
leaving our neckties behind on lampposts
Take up the full beard
of walking anarchy
looking like Walt Whitman
a homemade bomb in the pocket.
I wish to descend in the social scale.
High society is low society.
I am a social climber
climbing downward
and the decent is difficult.
The Upper Middle Class Ideal
is for the birds
and the birds have no use for it
having their own kind of pecking order
based upon birdsong.
Pigeons on the grass alas.

Let us arise and go now
to the Isle of Manisfree.
Let loose the hogs of peace.
Hurry up please it's time.
Let us arise and go now
into the interior
of Foster's Cafeteria.
So long Emily Post.
So long
Lowell Thomas.
Goodbye Broadway
Goodbye Herald Square.
Turn it off.
Confound the system.
Cancel all our leases.
Lose the War
without killing someone.
Let horses scream
and ladies run
to flushless powderrooms.
The end has just begun.
I want to announce it.
Run don't walk
to the nearest exit.
The real earthquake is coming.
I can feel the building shake.
I am the refined type.
I cannot stand it.
I am going
where asses lie down
with customs collectors who call themselves
literary critics.
My tool is dusty.
My body hung up too long
in strange suspenders.

Get me a bright bandana
for a jockstrap.
Turn loose and we'll be off
where sports cars collapse
and the world begins again.
Hurry up please it's time.
It's time and a half
and there's the rub.
the thinkpad makes homeboys of us all.
Let us cut out
into stray eternity.
Somewhere the land is swinging.
My country 'tis of thee
I'm singing.

Let us arise and go now
to the Isle of Manisfree
and live the true blue simple life
of wisdom and wonderment
where all things grow
straight up
aslant and singing
in the yellow sun
poppies out of cowpods
thinking angels out of turds.
I mus arise and go now
to the Isle of Manisfree
way up behind the broken words
and woods o Arcady.








Our journey began the day before.



eager-eyed

breakfast done,
newspaper read, headlines
and comics only, having discerned
some years ago
that everything you really need
to know in the world
can be found in the comic pages -
headline-reading, only habit and patriotic duty
to confirm that everything that’s been
happening is still happening,
sun still burning.
earth still turning,
clouds still fluffing,
fools still fooling, ball
still rolling, no further attention
from me required…

poem struggling to emerge
from the cocoon
of a morning-dry and entangled
mind - will find its way out of the morass,
one way or another,
love child or circus freak, a
chance taken every day, like flipping a coin,
what it will be, what it has no choice
but to be on this near 25,000th day of my
life -

I will wait…

in the meantime,
today,
I take our Queen Reba
to Austin to visit our son
for ten days, while Dee and I
venture,
beginning tomorrow,
to parts not entirely known,
mountains,
but which and where
to be determined by the most
promising horizons that
approach us -

two to fhree thousand miles,
not certain I have the
stamina
for that kind of drive anymore, that and
ten nights in hotel rooms,
but I know it is time to get away
from these low hills for a while,
to find a vista requiring
a greater arching of neck,
a longer view,
to see where the road meets
the sky…

**

my last stationary poem for a while,
beginning tomorrow,
ten days of poems written to the hum
of asphalt,
the cool of thin mountain air,
the evergreen scent of forests -
pictures of the beautiful and the absurd,
seen as we pass, eager-eyed.








Next,I have several exerpts from a long narrative poem by Marina Tsvetaeva. The poems are from Poem of the End, Selected Narrative and Lyrical Poems, published in 2004 by Ardis Publishers.

It is a bilingual book, Russian and English, with translation by Nina Kossman

Tsvetaeva, born in Moscow in 1892, published her first volume of poetry in 1910, attracting notice from some of the most important critics an poets in Russia at the time. Following the revolution, she went into exile in Paris in 1922, becoming one of the leading writers of the emigre community. After she returned to Russia in 1939, her husband was arrested and subsequently executed. She committed suicide in 1941 in Elabuga, a small town to which she had been dispatched at the onset of World War II.



From Poem of the End

1

In the sky, rustier than tin,
Is a lamppost like a finger
He rose at the appointed place,
Like fate.


"Quarter to. Have I kept you...?"
"Death can't wait."
exaggeratedly smooth,
The doffing of his hat.

In every eyelash, a challenge.
The mouth, contorted.
Exaggeratedly low,
His bow.

"Quarter to." "On the dot?"
His voice lied.
My heart - fell.(What's with him?)
My brain: a signal.

______

Sky of bad omens.
Rust and tin.
He waited at the usual spot.
Six o'clock.

This soundless kiss:
the stupor of the lips.
Thus - empresses' hands are kissed,
Thus - dead men's hands...

A hurrying laborer
Elbows my side.
Exaggeratedly dull,
The train-whistled howled.

Howled - yelped like a dog.
On and on, angrily.
(The exaggeration of life,
In the final hour.)

What yesterday was waist-high,
Suddenly reaches the stars.
(Exaggerated, that is:
To its full height.)

Thinking: darling, darling.
"The time?" "Seven."
"To the movies,or?"
(Exclaiming) "Home!"

2

Gypsy brotherhood -
This is where it led!
Like thunder on the head,
Or a naked blade,

All the terror
Of anticipated words,
Of a house collapsing,
That word: home.

______

A lost spoiled child
Wailing: Home!
A one-year-old:
"Give me! Mine!"

My brother in sin,
My fever and fervor.
They dram of running away
The way you dream of home.

______


Like a horse jerking at its tether -
Up! - and the ropes in shreds.
"But we have no home!"
"Ah,but we do. Ten paces away.

The house on the mountain. "Not higher up?"
"The house on the top of the mountain,
The window under the roof."
"Burning not only with the light

Of dawn?
" "So we start over again?"
"The simplicity of poems!"
Home means: out o the house
And into the night.
        (Oh, whom shall I tell

My sorrow, my grief,
Horror,greener than ice?...)
"You've been thinking to much."
Pensively: "Yes."

3

The embankment.I keep to the water -
A dense thickness
The hanging gardens of Semiramis,
There they are!

The water - a steely strip of it,
Deathly pale.
I stay with it like a singer
Sticks to the score; like a blind-man

Sticks to the edge of a wall...You won't turn me back?I stay with it, the quencher of all thirsts,
Like a sleepwalker sticks to the edge

Of a roof...
    Oh, but it's not the water
That makes me shiver - I was born a naiad.
to hold onto the river, like holding hands
When your lover's here

And faithful.
    The dead are faithful.
Yes, but not all in the same casket...
On my left side, death; on my right -
You. My right side seems dead.

A vivid sheaf of light.
Laughter, like a toy tambourine.
"We need to have a..."
        (shivering).
"Will we be brave?"








Our first travel day took us from San Antonio to Carlsbad, New Mexico.



San Antonio to Carlsbad

Holiday Inn Express,
not where I wanted to stay
but I couldn’t find the hotel
I wanted on the web,
but…

a bed that doesn’t feel like
something liberated from a medieval
Abdizhwanni torture chamber, fluffy towels
and plenty of them, a shower with hot water
and a generous spray that doesn’t require
running around in the shower to get wet

so the day ends
well…

the day began,
as usual,
not as early as I would have liked -

the male person, being me,
in the morning scenario,
wants to leave, vamoose,
hit-the-road- jack, pedal-to-the-medal,
put the get in the get-on-going,
while she who must not be named
in any but the most serious and loving manner
wants
to sweep the kitchen
and do a load of laundry first…

so, as anyone familiar with the history
of domestic contention surely
suspects, we
finally got on the road at ten, after sweeping
and doing a load laundry

^^^

the first leg -
San Antonio to Carlsbad, New Mexico,
a short day, only 398 miles, northwest from home,
neon-green mesquite, yellow huisache,
purple sage,
black creosote brush
spread over rolling limestone hills,
the hills split
for the highway, millions
of years of geologic history on either side as we
pass through the cuts
at 85 miles an hour, time displayed,
from now to that distant past
when all around was covered by a salty sea,
layer upon layer demonstrating
the truth of constant change, the earth
we walk upon with such confidence
is always shifting,
never what it was; never what it will be,
I can only look
and be humbled by my transience…

to the flat pastures and cotton fields
of southern New Mexico,
to the city of the great cavern…

a night’s sleep
before Santa Fe
and the first mountains








I used a poem by Rosemary Catacalos in my last post. I'm going back to her again with several poems from a different book than the one I borrowed from last time.

This time the book is the anthology After Aztlan, Latino Poets of the Nineties, published in 1992 by David R. Godine, Publisher.

Catacalos, winner of the Texas Institute of Letters Prize in Poetry, former recipient of the Dobie Paisano Fellowship, and former director of the Literature Program of the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center in San Antonio.

The Mission Espada referred to in the first poem is one of five 18th century Spanish missions that line the San Antonio River from Mission San Antonio de Valero (most commonly known as the Alamo) in the center of downtown San Antonio to Mission Espada, last in the string of missions, on the far south side of the city. All the missions provide regular weekly Mass for congregants, many descendants of the original worshipers, as well as weddings and funerals and other religious and cultural activities.



With the Conchero Dancers, Mission Espada, July

There is something in all this. The heat
heavy on us till it might as well be the mesquite
beam the young goat drags to each day's thin
grazing in the courtyard. It might as well be
the babies, fitful in their baskets, in our arms.
Their cries go out alongside the thick smell of copal
burning, as we do, in frail clay vases, Xelina,
who is seven and doesn't know the goat will soon
be meat, wants to touch the beginnings
of its horns, buries her trusting fingers
in the tufts on either side of the mouth.
And there is an old woman in black whose days
are a dark slow vine retreating into memory,
even in full sunlight: the middle son lost in Korea,
the comet-eyed cousin in San Luis Portosi
who loaned her gold earrings and died
in childbirth. Buenos dias, el sol como siempe,
no?. Si,senor,
the sun as always.

Celebrating the mass, strangers embrace as though
history were more than it is, resuming their fanning
with the Sunday bulletin. There will bge a jamaica
at Cabrini, a parish council meeting Tuesday.
Something in all of this. In the lightning strings
of the mandolins tuned tense as lovers arching
their backs, the unerring summons of a tree
becoming drum, bare feet hugging limestone, the earth's
bones, plumed crowns flying in light of everything.
This ancient prayer from the high valleys of Mexico,
spinning and spinning for dear life,
this world to be learned by heart.


The Lesson in "A Waltz or Debby"

in memory of Bill Evans

Amazing how this world manages to be all of a piece.
In Beirut an old woman haring guns that are nothing
like drums pulls her apron up over her head
and wrings the air in entreaty. In La Resurrection,
Guatemala, Mayan Indians in bright handmade cloth
are hung in trees with their wrists slit and left
to die slowly, turning like obscene ornaments

or jungle birds. And on a strait named Juan de Fuca
off the coast off Washington state, a stranger
is within peaceful shouting distance of six whales
rising and falling on the water: the usual
and regular breathing of God. All this has everything
to do with how you wrote "Waltz for Debby" when she
she was three and still had a right to believe life
would always come in gentle measures, the swoop and
sweep of a good dream doing what comes naturally.
You knew better but went ahead

anyway. Just as today I balance in sunlight
with my own three-year-old nieces, chambering around
one of Fuller's dreams become a toy, the joyful
geometry of a dome turned into triple-sided air.
Even if Demetra refused to step where her favorite tree
cast shadows and twice wouldn't pronounce
the name of her missing uncle,

suspecting the pain it would bring out in the open.
Later she was sullen with the weight of it. Her swing
would not fly, though she leaned with all her might
and crazily against gravity. I thought how all the waltzes
in the world wouldn't save her from learning this.

The man watching the whales, meanwhile, may
fear that in a few years there won't be whales
on the coast. Men either, for that matter.
But more he remembers your fingers as wingtips.
Your remains, clear notes phased with possibility.
And since jazz musicians mostly work nights, how
you were always finding you way in the dark.


One Man's Family

in memory of Bill Gilmore

There was the Dog Man again today,
bent under his tow sack,
making his daily pilgrimage
along St.Mary's Street
with his rag tied to his forehead,
with his saintly leanness
and his bunch of seven dogs
and his clothes covered with
short smelly hair.
Pauline,the waitress up at
the White House Cafe, says
he used to be a college professor.
In a college. Imagine.
And now he's all the time
with them dogs.
Lets them sleep in the same room
with him. Lets them eat
the same thing he eats.
Pauline don't like it.
All them eyes that light up in the dark
like wolves'.

I imagine he carries his mother's
wedding dress around in that filthy sack.
I imagine he takes the dress out on Sundays
and talks to it about the dogs
the way he might talk to Pauline
if she ever gave him the chance.
About how to him those seven dogs
are seven faithful wives,
seven loaves,seven brothers.
About how those seven snouts bulldozing
through neighborhood garbage and memories
give off a warmth that's just as good
as all the breasts and apple pies and Christmas trees
and books and pipes and slippers
that a man could use on this earth.
But mostly about how they're dogs.
Friends that don't have to be anything else.
About how nothing could be more right
than for a man to live
with what he is willing and able to trust.








Our second day took us to Santa Fe.



Carlsbad to Santa Fe

leaving behind
Carlsbad
and the rough scrub flatlands
of southern New Mexico, we enter
a topography of rolling hills, slowly climbing
toward the Rockies to the north,
the hills, covered by short yellow grass,
become broader and higher as we drive on
toward Santa Fe - mountains shadow
the horizon to the north and to the west…


cattle walk single-file on the crest of a higher
hill, black forms against the blue, cloudless
sky, an orderly line, like a military platoon, led
to feed by the boss-cow, one in every herd,
who knows where to go and when to go there

below that disciplined line,
an unruly rush by calves and big mama bossies,
running to catch up with a truck
crossing the pasture, loaded with hay,
the God-Truck, bringing
afternoon vittles
for its bovine charges,
manna from
the bed of a Ford pick-up…

then Vaughn,
small town among the wide, rolling
hills, a diner,
like an old-fashioned city diner
built around a retired railroad dining car -
great music from the fifties,
and a really lousy hamburger…

past Vaughn,
past Encino, the hills roll on,
ground beneath the low grass, now pumpkin
powder orange, shining in the sun, slipping,
as we pass on to a light rose color while the mountains
become near companions
on either side…

until we are there - the near edge of Santa Fe
according to my GPS, but
it doesn’t look like “there” - high, rough, tree-covered
hills, steep, deep canyons, even as the GPS tells us
we are close, and even as I am a disbeliever,
we follow directions,
left turn, right turn, left turn, the road
getting smaller and rougher, asphalt to washboard gravel,
narrower and narrower as we climb steeper and steeper
slopes - until directly ahead of us, a gate
to a private drive,
and on the gate, a yellow sign with a simple
and direct message - “you are not where you
think you are,” the sign says, suggesting
we are not the first misled by our GPS…

a strategic retreat…

back to where we figure we ought to be,
and, our instincts proving better
than our GPS, finally, eight miles from the sign
on the gate, our hotel in the immediate
downtown crush of narrow Spanish-laid streets,
three blocks from the central plaza,
within walking distance of all the places
we want to see in the two days we expect
to stay here -

here, among the tourists crowding
sidewalks in every direction -
(what I always wonder when myself a tourist
in a place of many tourists,
are we really as funny looking, I think,
as these people crowding all around us)

dinner at six, seven our time,
$80 for two,
great grub,
but,
I’ll never get fat
at $80 a pop, contrary
to the usual description of travel
as broadening…)








Next, I have two poems from the collection Postmarked India, by Sundeep Sen. The book was published by HarperCollins India in 1997.

I've included Sen's work many times on "Here and Now," complete with biography. Since I'm a little pressed for time this week, I'll let readers do their own Google search.



Scattered Pieces of a Quarrel


we listen while a dustpan eats
the scattered pieces of a quarrel.
    Vern Rutsala


Every night, for many years now I hear voices next door
through the thing of the wall, every core

of the crackling scream, like an old
stylus needle on a scratched gramophone record,

stuck. Every night it happens, shriller and fiercer
every night. At midnight, the ritual starts over:

the first conversations barely audible,
then the decibel levels, a plateau of maimed muffles

before taking off sharply, into the crystal
air of coded cries, on a steep delirious climb until

breaking glass-ware scatter smithereens
as the soprano of anguish startles a bluebird in

nest outside, on the terracotta ledge
of my alcove. Every morning when the sun's edge

clears the neighbour's roof, I sweep the apartment floor
trying o extricate rolls off dust from under the doors.

They somehow seem to huddle in fluffy balls
insulating the crevices between adjacent flats, the same wall

that simultaneously separates and shares, just like the array
of dust coils clinging together, in fear of being swept away.


Sun Streaks on Telephone Lines

In Japanese she said it was amae,
though the translation provided only a weak

dependency. The telephone rang all night, the next day,
and on and on for a whole year, in

metaphoric exchanges as the pulse
matched the tones. Tones of a new language

defied the stasis of the existing ones.
Even the sun's power couldn't scorch the linkage,

its rays streaking into a Brooklyn apartment, to cast
the bleach, roasting the innards, and a human being.

The same sun in the evening spread over the vast
view: over blackened roof-tops and the rippled bay,

its light tinting the metallic verdure of the Statue
of Liberty, the geometric axes of lower Manhattan towers,

and the silver criss-cross of telephone lines. On cue
the calls came through, regardless, from another

island, the lines humming, "ame, amae, amae."
Amae
it had to be, after all, telephones work only on the

dependency of their senders and receivers, or else
why would such lines exist. The

sun had set long over the East River peninsula.
but had left enough energy stored, in excess,

for the unfinished conversation to carry on, with her,
undeterred, in glinting solar pulses.








Although we had passed through Santa Fe a number of times, but had never spent any significant time there. So, for the third day, we decided to stay in Santa Fe.



a morning in Santa Fe

walking around the plaza
at six a.m.
in the downtown
were nothing opens before eight,

cool,
quiet, no one out but me
and an old lady,
looking , like me, for first light,
pictures to be taken
as the sun turns the night
sky glowing pale
light…

Starbucks!
the mythical Starbucks,
a known entity,
but lost on an inadequate
map, like black planet
in a black galaxy
on the other side of the moon,
there,
in front of me, a half a block
from where my walk ended yesterday…

latte
and a Times,
sharing a long table
with the Indian vendors who spread their jewelry
on blankets around the plaza…

seven a.m. -
the vendors leave to lay out their
wares
and the first dim morning light
softens the night-shadows
creeping back into
the corners

and a crow, flies,
like the closing night's own dark devil,
lands among the towers of the Lorretto Chapel,
cries, it's guttural hacking call
echoing, bouncing from adobe wall
to adobe wall in the high thin air…

at eight,
the bells from the three missions
near the square
begin to toll, bring in the morning,
open the day
for
hiking from gallery to gallery,
up hills, down hills,
reminding
by noon that, as to the condition
of my knees and hips,

things just ain’t what they used
to be








Here are two poets from the February, 1973 issue of Poetry.



The first poet is Leroy Searle, in 1973, an assistant professor of English at the University of Rochester.

I think I may have use this poem, maybe a couple of years ago, but it's funny and I like it so I'm using it again. Also, the journal is falling apart as I page through it so this might be my last chance to use it again.


Turkey Shooting on Mount Monadnoc

I saw all the signs:
"Turkey Shoot on Sunday."
Well now.
Come in your pick-up;
drive right to the village green
and load your shotgun

Blusterer of feathers,
gobbling in a wire cage,
neck-tics gesturing
the shape off space.

I took my turkey,
a Swift's Premium butterball
weighing eighteen pounds.
Hung it in the tree
where it swayed there, peaceful
as a moon of fat,
glistening like a great carbuncle.
And I sat down calmly
and shot it several times.

It seemed like the thing to do.


My second poet from the journal is Robert Pinksy, who, in 1973, was teaching at Wellesley College in Massachusetts.


Waiting

When the trains go by
The frozen ground shivers
Inwardly like an anvil.

The sky reaches down
Stiffly into the spaces
Among houses and trees.

A wisp of harsh air snakes
Upward between the glove
And cuff, quickening

the sense of the life
Elsewhere of things, the things
You touched, maybe, numb

Handle of a rake; stone
Of a peach; soiled
Band-Aid; book, pants

O shirt that you touched
Once in a store...less
the significant fond junk

Of someone's garage, and less
The cinder out o your eye -
Still extant and floating

In Sweden or a bird's crop -
than the things that you noticed
Or not, watching from a traIn:

The cold wide river of things,
Going by like the cold
Children who stood by the tracks

Holding for no reason sticks
Or other things, waiting
For no reason for the trains.








Day four - on to Durango.



Santa Fe to Durango

a good breakfast…

- food, especially breakfast,
an integral part of the pleasure
of travel for me -

and an early start
with another GPS glitch,
but we are saved from a lengthy
detour by my innate sense of direction
and my intimate knowledge of
such as on which side of the tree
does the moss grow,
and as regards the sanitary habits
of coyotes who are known to pee on either north
or south sides of the pinon bush
depending on the phase of the moon

- my advice to all GPS
users…turn your machine off
upon crossing the borders
of the not always so great
state of New Mexico, they seem
most often lost and quite pleased to have you
join them -

but on,
north by northwest,
past the mountain road
outside Santa Fe
that would take us up the mountain
and through the high forests.
past Los Alamos,
where secrets still hide
in the thin, cold air,
and around, a wide arc
spinning, us back to Albuquerque,
a five-hour drive
over mountain and forest roads,
among
the most beautiful
drives in the state, if you have time
to spend five hours going
where you could go in forty-five minutes
on the interstate…

but
we have no time this trip
and push on…

past Espanola, following
the Rio Grande River, the same river
I grew up alongside more than 67 years
and a thousand miles ago…

green pastures between the mountain
foothills, small valleys where cattle and horses feed,
and running through the pastures, the river,
and along the river, tall trees, yellow
in their seasonal change,
yellow
like sunshine gathered
in a bouquet
shifting like flowing gold
in the wind,
yellow so bright
it makes you blink -
like when you turn a light on
in the dark at midnight - yellow leaves
blown across the road by the wind
like golden snow
flurries…

and the road, after dropping
from 7,000 feet in Santa Fe, begins
to rise again, until, as we pass Tierra Amarilla
the small town in its valley of yellow earth, we see
the first snow-tipped mountain, at over
10,000 feet, the southern tail of the Rockies,
and just a few miles further, as we pass through
Chama, a stone’s throw from the Colorado border,
the mountains and their snowbound peaks
surround us on three sides, all sides but south…

the anti-climax,
Pagosa Springs, and a turn to the west,
an hour from Durango,
to our hotel, to our fourth floor balcony
overlooking the clear, frigid Animas River
flowing fast over rocks ground round by the flow,
a second home in my mind, a city that reminds
me of Austin in glory years in the 70s, before all
the rush and crowds that are too much a part of it
now, a small liberal-arts college atop a hill overlooking
downtown, sidewalks through town, quietly
and un-hurriedly busy with young people and
a few of us, the more grizzled, passing through, and
Magpies Coffee and Espresso, on the corner,
my place to watch and write and drink in the air
breathed by only a very few before me - my place
in Durango, still there after all these years
and all my visits…








Here are two poems by Aaron Silverberg, from his book Thoreau's Chair, published by Off the Press Enterprises in 2001.



Morning Aikido

deep breath
in unison
resounding clack!

the one body of many
hissing
into the rafters - arises!

cool wood on bare feet
muffled thumps
silent spinning bodies
tumble and tumble and tumble
across the floor

stiff gis yield
to warm, round bellies.

the long hall is cut
into circles
snapped out
into delicate origami.

just outside
the breath still steams...

On-nee-gosh-e-mas!
let's play.


Prosperity

several hours outdoors daily,
moving freely,
juicy conversations,
tears of happiness,
a good mess,
animal sounds,
a nap,
a hand-written letter,
chance encounter,
candlelight at night,
subtle aromatics,
singing in the shower,
watching children play,
gazing at an entire sunset,
inventing constellations,
helping someone in person,
listening,
a sacred place alone,
wind on bare skin,
giving what others can receive,
receiving what others give,
remembered dreams,
staying in bed,
certainly home.








Using Durango as our home base, we took a day trip to Ouray on the fifth day.



day trip to Ouray

no train
for us today, for it goes
only to Silverton, while our
destination, Ouray is further
up the road -

but if you’re so inclined
for a train ride
through canyons and forests
and up the side of a mountain,
riding in the open observation car at the train’s
tail, smelling the pine-scented forest,
the fresh cold wind blowing in your hair,
I surely recommend it…

but our trip was by automobile
beginning by following the train tracks
past green fields, and, on the east side,
aspen groves lining the Animas River,
that same fast river I watch from my balcony
at the hotel…

the train follows the river back to its high
mountain source, sometimes alongside the river, the
river in view of the passengers and sometimes not,
sometimes the train on a cliff-ledge barely more than
the width of the train,
with the river hundreds of feet below …

in the car
we see the river only intermittently
as we climb our highway path up the mountain,
at lower altitudes, driving through groves of aspen on either side,
like driving through a cloud of golden creamery butter, then higher,
where the leaves have already fallen, the bare white trunks
like patches on the pine-greened mountain side, then, above us
mountain crests covered by clouds flowing over the top
like melted marshmallow, snow blown over the top
and down to us, frozen
to ice pin heads, hitting our windshield
like river pebbles thrown against us by some wild
mountain child resenting our intrusion…

then higher,
over Molas Pass, more than ten thousand feet now above the low lands
where I grew up, four thousand feet above our hotel in Durango -
all around mountains white in clouds of blown snow, and the road
wet with ice and snow melt, the temperature dropping,…

then down from Molas, skirting Silverton, and up
again to Red MountaIn pass, even higher, eleven thousand feet,
the temperature has fallen to thirty four degrees, half what
it was when we started…

then down and into Ouray, determined to cut our visit short,
certain we didn’t want to tackle the two passes again, after dark
when the wet might have started freezing…

Ouray, a silver-rush survivor like Silverton, though
slightly larger, almost all the buildings on main street
(the only paved street we saw) dating from mid-to-late nineteenth
century, mostly brick and native stone, the thought of getting
the bricks up the mountain to here suggesting of the determination
of the people who made a life here, even after the silver was gone,
the determination that kept the city alive for the hunters and skiers
who are it’s lifeblood
now

the stubborn strength of mountain people never to be denied…

a very fine lunch of beef stew and a visit to a bookstore, the proprietor
pleased to sell me a book of poetry by a poet I never heard of, not
much interested in buying a book from me, a poet he’d never heard of -

truly the life of the poet in a nutshell, a buyer often, a seller rarely to ever be…

and the way back -

a reverse of the way we came
under sunshine all the way, ups and downs
and twists and turns and switchbacks
and views of our road high above or far below
that it takes ten minutes of maneuver to get to,
uneventful

but for the tumbleweed the size of VW bus
blown by the wind in front of us
as we approached Durango…

the biggest tumbleweed I’ve ever seen,
and I’ve seen
a few








Now I'm back to the February, 1973 issue of Poetry for two more poets.



The first of the poets, Michael MaGee who studied creative writing at the University of Washington and was making his first appearance in Poetry with this 1973 issue.



The Hand

I

I watch the sun rise in my hand,
the rays break light between my fingertips,
until sunshine fills my palm.
It stretches itself and yawns,
uncurling as the sun mounts higher,
extends those fingers spreading outward,
trembling before the heat of day.

And as the noon descends to dusk,
it marks the change and shivers.
Inside the thumb, a crescent moon emerges
as darkness creases a closing palm.
And as the night secures its hold,
knuckles whiten, fingers clench,
and veins grow blue with cold.

II

And when the dawn came, it opened again,
but I was closed and it had changed.
Veins stiffened like a mountain range,
rocky knuckles spiked the back country,
the fingers tightened to a fist.

The flesh raged on all day, all night:
I looked at it as though a world away.


My last poet from Poetry this week is Lynn Strongin, a teacher, in 1973, of creative writing at the University of New Mexico and recipient of a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.


Countdown

Going out into clear moon-flooded night in my oilskin.
So full of joy today I wanted to rape the paperboy
then grocer's boy still wet behind the ears & with cowlick.
But it's a dark act for a girl to commit.

"Rope the eye in on me, scoot those sweetrolls 'cross table."
 : (Southern accents have suddenly become sweet, yellow
 :  : Texas rose.)
Guests arrive with white wine (can they never be on time?)

Paperboy, who came in morning, and grocer's boy by
 :  : afternoon,
your news is flat; your loaves are stale by evening.
Got a roomful of guests on my hands
who stack like priests out at ten.

The real news, the nourishing loaves
are that my dear in schoolgirl coat and nervous hands
is waiting round the corner, lightning matches, counting
 :  : down.








On the sixth day, another day trip, this one to Telluride.



a day trip to Telluride

a block away,
the train hoots
it’s long, loud moan
and a cloud of steam rises
from behind the trees

“all aboard, all aboard”

but not us…

today
we go west,
past Mesa Verde,
where the Anasazi people,
the ancestral people,
built their stone villages
into the sheltered walls
of deep canyons atop the high mesa,
a green table high above the harsher
prairies, a Eden in the clouds,
with wood for the fires that blackened
the carved out ceilings
of their cliff dwellings, where prey
roamed to be killed and eaten
where they found safety
from their enemies,
from where, one day, they left
seemingly all at once, all together,
moving their culture and
all their people,
seeking what, fleeing what,
no one knows, but leaving behind
stores of grain, assuming, it suggests
that one day they would return,
though they never did, becoming after they left,
what…
who…
no one knows that either…

but we’ve been there,
walked the ruins, heard the ghosts
of the disappeared people
whispering
in the pines and down the canyons -

today we go on to Dolores, little Dolores
on the Dolores River,
Dolores Del Rio, I cannot pass up the chance
to say, on our way to Telluride,
stopping at the Old Post Bed and Breakfast
on the northeast corner of the square, an old hotel
from the mid-nineteenth century when the trains
ran through and stopped and people would stay
for a night’s lodging on their way to the silver mines
higher up,
bought three years ago and run now
by Sheryl and Doug and Dan, the place threadbare now,
like most everything in Dolores…

breakfast in a little kitchen area,
listening to Sheryl and another woman,
discuss the relative merits of men from the oil fields
in Alaska as compared to the local product, finding
and ennumerating each
as to their merits and demerits in the areas
of practicality. reliability, physicality, grace on the dancefloor,
and sexual inventiveness and
stamina…

breakfast - fair

eavesdropping opportunity - outstanding…

the drive before and after Dolores, along
the river most of the way, not so twisty,
except for a few miles before reaching Telluride,
and much easier than the route to Ouray,
a steady climb to the little town in the mountains, famous
in song and cinema, surrounded
on three sides by mountains in the 13,000 to 14,000 range,
snow peaks looking down on the town, it’s sidewalks
full of young people, many more people than I expected,
considering that ski season is still several weeks
away…

our main object for this trip -

aside from the pleasure of seeing someplace
we had never seen
before -

Bridal Veil Falls -
the longest continuous fall waterfall
in Colorado, it’s base,
accessible, it turns out, only in a four-wheel drive
vehicle, the picture I had driven 100 miles
to take, despite the best efforts of my hardy little
SUV, turns out to be a far dribble
on the side of the mountain, like a white thread
draped over a not-very exceptional oil painting by
a student landscape painter

and lunch wasn’t very good either…

the drive back to Durango
unexceptional, mostly downhill,
inured by now to the beauty of the
trees and mountains, we don’t stop for
more pictures, the going down side of the
beautiful trees, etc. pretty much the same
as the coming up side

but for the herd of elk breaking from a stand
of trees and loping across an open pasture,
the only wildlife we’ve seen on this trip, more
than worth the quick glance we got
in passing…

back to Durango by five,
and, finally,
in the early evening,
a very fine dinner at the Italian place we found years ago, which
has, in the years since, changed it’s name
and moved to a different location,
and which may not really be the same place at all,
except that, for the purpose of the narrative
of our lives, we will identify it as the same place
and be pleased with ourselves
that we found it again,
no matter if it is or not,
real life, after all, is just a lengthy narrative
which can often be brightened
by a skillful application of
fiction which I am
good at…
five days of driving, plus a day
climbing up and down streets in Santa Fe
and I’m ready for a day off
tomorrow…








Here's a poem from Gary Soto, featured frequently on "Here and Now" and one of my favorite poets. It is the title poem from his book a simple plan, published in 2007 by Chronicle Books.



A Simple Plan

for V.M.

To get rid of
A dog, you put on
Your brother's shoes,
Slip into a shirt
Hanging on a nail
In the garage,
Smack Dad's hair oil
Into you dirty locks,
The scent of confusion.
You call, Let's go, boy,
And with the
Dog's neck in
A clothesline noose,
You follow your skinny shadow
Down the street
And cut through
A vacant lot,
Same place
Where you stepped
On a board with a nail
and whimpered home,
The board stuck
Like a ski to your shoe.
You walk past
The onion field,
Little shrunken heads
Hiding hot, unshed tears,
And stop at the canal.
the dog laps water,
Nibbles a thorn from his paw,
And barks at a toad
In the oiled weeds.

The sun's razor
Is shining at your throat,
And wind ruffles
Your splayed hair,
Where a hatchet
Would fit nicely -
You feel the sharpened
Edge of guilt.
Come on, boy
You say, and leap
On slippery rocks
Set in the canal.
You stop to
Look inside an abandoned
Car with a pleated grill -
Three bullet holes in the door
On the driver's side.
You think, Someone
Drove this car
Here and killed it.

You brave another mile.
When you arrive,
The dog prances with
Joy. What is it?
A jackrabbit in
The brush? Feral cat
Or stink birds? You pick up
A board, one just a little
Smarter than the one
That nailed you with pain.
With all your strength,
You hurl it end over
end. The dog knows
What to do. He runs
After it. Time for you to spin
On your heels and, arms
Kicked up at your side,
Lungs two bushes
Of burning fire,
Get back home.
That night it's steaks
On a grill, a celebration
Because someone
In the family won
A two-hundred-dollar lottery.
You eat to the bone
And then nearly
Choke on the gristle.
You drag your full
Belly to the front
Yard, and stake
Yourself on the lawn.
The neighbor's porch light
Bursts on, and a shooting
Star cuts across the sky -
You touch your throat
And think, Something just died.
You lay your hands
Laced behind your head.
Somewhere up
The block a dog barks.
My dog is out there,
You think, and behind
Your closed eyes
You see him, a nail
In his bloody paw,
A board in his mouth,
And shooting stars
Passing over the curves
Of his wet pupils.
If you were a better person,
You would stab
Your own foot
and let him pick up a scent
Back home.








Five days on the road and a day walking in Santa Fe, by the seventh day both of us were ready for a rest.



a day off in Durango

Wednesday,
seventh day on the road…

a rest day -

for Dee a day to restock at Walmart,
a nap, and a walk along the river
to the park, later a walk with me
downtown to find that Italian restaurant
that was so good when we first
found it five years ago…

for me
a morning at Magpie’s
to catch up on work undone
since the road intervened -

process
and prepare pictures (159 of them),
upload them from the camera then transfer
to Photobucket so that I can
process them to bring out the color
of the leaves and the green of the pines
and the white snow laid like clouds
across mountain peaks;

post pictures on the draft for my next
blog post next week;

review the proof and suggestions
my friend, Erin, made to my next book,
make corrections as she suggested, submit the
manuscript
to my publisher;

and somewhere and sometime in all that,
write my poem for the day, recounting the adventures
of the day before;

a dip
in the hot tub;

a short walk along the river;

nap;

and, with Dee, walk downtown, look at
and laugh at the properties posted to real estate
offices windows, everything half the size
of what we’ve got at twice the price , possibilities
of moving to Durango, dead and buried
along the roadside;

walk the aisle of a shop
full of very strange things tourists apparently buy,;

visit the bookstore where I sold
a couple of copies of my first book to a couple of years ago
(closed and for rent,
apparently I have that effect on booksellers);

enjoy an end-of-day drink (Tequila Collins,
my choice on those infrequent occasions
when I drink anything stronger than Pepsi One)
in the elegant ambience of the Diamond
Lil Bar and Grill at the historic Strater Hotel (100
(and a whole bunch years old on the corner by the train
station where the trains seems to hoot on an irregular schedule
whether it’s going anywhere or not) followed by superior $5 hamburger,
both drink and burger served by a scantily-clad young woman
with superior legs and breasts (Dee didn’t mind my appreciation
of said legs and breasts, understanding that after a certain age
men viewing superior legs and breasts are doing so out of appreciation
of beauty, unrelated to any carnal desires or intentions,
recognizing impossible dreams
when we dream one...

in the end,
a pleasant day of rest and work…

tomorrow,
a start on the way home,
first stop Albuquerque








Next, I have early work by E.E. Cummings, the final two poems from an eleven part series titled, Love Poems. The series is from the collection, Etcetera - The Unpublished Poems, published in 1983 by Liveright Publishing. The poem were written during Cummings Harvard years, 1911-1916.

It's heretical to say, but I like Cummings early poems at least as much I like his later work, (maybe more, when, it seems to me, despite his most famously sharp exceptions, he lost faith in the force of his narratives and began his final phase as the experimental trickster.

But even in these very early poems, signs of the future Cummings and his innovations can be seen.

To me, this is the poet at his best.



X

You are tired,
(I think)
Of the always puzzle of living and doing;
And so am I.

Come with me, then,
And we'll leave it far and far away -
(Only you and I, understand)

You have played
(I think)
And broke the toys you were fondest of,
And are a little tired now;
Tired of things that break, and -
Just tired.
So am I.

But I come with a dream in my eyes tonight,
And I knock with a rose at the hopeless gate of your heart -
Open to me!
For I will show you the places Nobody knows,
And, if you like,
The perfect places of Sleep.

Ah, come with me!
I'll blow you that wonderful bubble,the moon,
That floats forever and a day;
I'll sing the jacinth song
Of the probable stars;
I will attempt the unstartled steppes of dreams,
Until I find the Only Flower,
Which shall keep (I think) your little heart
While the moon comes out of the sea.


XI

Let us lie here in the disturbing grass,
And slowly grow together under the sky
Sucked frail by Spring, whose meat is thou and I,
This hurrying tree,and yonder pausing mass
Hitched to time scarcely,eager to surpass
Space:for the day decided; O let us lie
Receiving deepness,
Hearing,over

The poised,rushing night ring in the brim
Of Heaven;then, perpendicular odors stealing
Through curtains of new loosened dark;and one -
As the unaccountable bright sun
Becomes the horizon -
Bird,nearly lost,lost;wheeling,wheeling.








Then, on the eighth day, time to head for home.



homebound, Durango to Albuquerque

US-550,
a different road back
from the way we came,
straight to Albuquerque,
south from Durango, then
through the western side of New Mexico,
avoiding Santa Fe…

beginning
on the edge of Durango,
a long climb on the side of a steep,
steep hill, the city and green pastures
far below - a gentle, green landscape,
farms, pastures - from the road,
an idyllic pastoral life,
not seeing this time off the year
the isolation of winter snowbound
homes and cottages, drifts across the road
and up against the side of the houses and barns,
feeding horses and cattle in the cold…

just a few miles and we cross into New Mexico
and the pastoral life is behind us,
the view to road side showing the rougher side of
rural New Mexico, brush, desert sand, tiny towns
far-separated, low rolling
hills, growing steeper and larger until
we pass Aztec and Cuba and into the badlands,
the splendor of stark desolation, deep arroyos cut
by mountain run-off, cliffs of soft stone, sculptured
into fantastical forms and figures through erosion,
angels and gargoyles carved into the cliff’s sides, or
standing tall between sandstone towers and spires high
against the pale blue sky, cold looking skies, like the blue
inside ice in the sun, mounds of black volcanic gravel,
huge, irregular shaped volcanic boulders, black as a
catastrophic night on pale rose sand -

incredible to find such beauty in this end of the world
landscape, minimal and stark, old, so very old,
changed so very slowly over
the course of eons, that it appears new as the day
the volcanoes blew and the earth shook
and human kind still far ahead in the stately passing
of time, sea, to swamp, to desert, to eventually humans,
generations and generations of us, who, in our modern
arrogance will turn it all to swamp again…

the day ends in Albuquerque, a city
of special meaning to me - September, 1964,
20 years old, climbing down from my first airplane ride
to see my first mountains, the Sandias, to the east,
hanging, in my mind, over everything, air sweet and clear
and dry and so thin to my coast-grown lungs, a few months
later my first snow…

September to December, Peace Corps training
at the University of New Mexico, consorting with people
the likes of whom I never imagined in my small town life, the
birth of a new me, no going back, grown different
from where I started…

____

a restless night, my back objecting
to consecutive nights of hotel beds, early coffee at Starbucks
while Dee sleeps, red dawn
through the window, the new day
begins…

today - nearly 400 miles to go,
through Carlsbad again,
then to Fort Stockton,
tomorrow,
home








I bought this new book today (used as are all my new books) that looks like it's going to be a lot of fun. The book, by poet Monica Youn, is ignatz, a collections of poem concerning the additional imagined adventures of "Ignatz" the obsessive mouse character from the comic strip, Krazy Kat, created by George Herriman. The strip ran in daily papers from 1913 to 1944.

Youn is an attorneey at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, where she is the Director of the Money in Politics project. She has been awarded poetry fellowships from the Library of Congress, the Rockefeller Foundation, and Stanford University. She has taught creative writing at Pratt Institute and Columbia University.

This book, published in 2010 by Four Way Books, was a National Book Award finalist. It is her second book.



Ignatz in August

you arch
up off me

sweat flowers
white out

of my every
desert pore


Ignatz Oasis

When you leave me
the sky drains of color

like the skin
of a tightening fist.

The sun commences
its gold prowl

batting at tinsel streamers
on the electric fan.

Crouching I hide
in the coolness I stole

from the brass rods
of your bed.


Semper Ignatz

How could it have been other

than abrupt
when as ever

im medias Ignatz remarked,

Sometimes     I don't     like
fucking.     Whoosh!     a billow

of white cambric sheets the scene,
through which her nipples glow dully.

taillights     in snow.


The Death of Ignatz

The mesas
sink to their knees

and let the snickering dunes
crawl over them.


The Subject Ignatz


     once more an urge; once more a succumb.

Even as a lawn
or tree

is more attractive
when configured

as individual
leaves

than as
a seamless

green integument.

     *

Asbestos
interlude:

the rubber
button

replumps itself.

The pin
pokes through

the black
wax

and scratches
the bottom

of the pan.

     *

All the unseen
valves

of the night
click open,

a blue-violet
pour down

a fretless throat.

     *

There can be no
launch, only

trajectory

in this elastic
room.


Invisible Ignatz

I would forget you were it not that unseen flutes
keep whistling the curving phrases of your body.








The next leg home is Albuquerque to Fort Stockton, in Texas. Not the place I'd prefer to stop for the night, but every other place in every other direction is too far.



homebound, Albuquerque to Fort Stockton

back to Texas
today,
Albuquerque to Fort Stockton…

from our hotel
three blocks from Old Town, Albuquerque,
I-40 through the pass between
the Sandia and Manzana mountains,
an easy drive east through rolling foothills
at expressway speeds, then south
at Cline’s Corners, a city consisting
of a glorified gas station for long-haul truckers
and not a single other thing
that I can see…

south on US-285, the highway we followed north
to Santa Fe eight days ago, nothing ahead
but a long, long drive and small lost towns, until
Roswell, Carlsbad, and then, 60 miles across the state line,
Fort Stockton and a night’s rest before the last leg home…

not a journey
suggesting poetry, epic or beautiful or even poetic,
from north of Roswell to Fort Stockton, flat brown
nothingness, stretching in every direction except west,
where a mountain range tries to hide barely above the horizon…

desolation,
not beautiful like the stark and severe desolation
of the badlands, but desolate like beige paint
on an institutional wall, lost people, it seems to us
traveling through, knowing, but still faintly disbelieving.
that there are people who live here, convinced,
to obvious appearances, that it is a good life -

on the other hand,
there is an inordinate number of UFO sightings
in this Roswell to Fort Stockton region, possibly , I theorize,
because of the very large number of persons living here
who’ll do anything to get away,
including, if necessary,
hitching a ride with little green men
with bubble heads and knobby knees
and a perverse interest in examining
the sexual organs of ranchers
and oil well roughnecks

(it’s like hitchhiking, those who wish to escape
must think,
a ride is a ride is a ride
and as long as it’s going the other way
from here, it’ll work in a pinch
and a little sexual organ examination
might be fun,
and better than they’re getting at home
anyway)

____

but perhaps
I am being overly harsh…

I’ve been away from home
for nine days
after all,
and have seen mountains and streams
and forests and clear blue skies and all manner
of things far and beautiful
and I miss my bed and my easy chair
and my dog and my favorite
comics
in my daily newspaper
and my early-morning breakfast place
and my coffeeshop
and all the other pleasures of home
not always recognized
until taken away -

all of which will be returned to me
tomorrow afternoon,
by which time I am sure I will
be feeling
better








The next poem is by Mary Crow, from her book, , published by BOA Editions in 1989. I bought the book in Durango at a bookstore whose proprietor expressed disinterest in buying a couple of copies (cheap!) of my first book, Seven Beats a Second. This bookstore was several blocks down the street from the bookstore whose proprietor bought several of my books a couple of years ago and which is now closed and boarded up.

I try not to take any lessons from situations such as this.

Crow, the poet, was winner of a Poetry Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1984 for her own work and a Translation Award for her book of translations of Latin American women poets. At the time this book was published, she taught creative writingt at Colorado Staste University in Fort Collins.



Montserrate

They climb the mountain on their knees
Dirty, their patched pants
breaking open
the dark-faced lady sobbing
A child holding his crutch over his head
hauls his body up a foot at a time
and the sky is so beautiful
full of green fingers of pine
below clean clouds
the blue color of church windows
At the top in the church
racks of tiny candles
50 pesos each
burn for the dead
for the living
in that dark church
the moreno Christ looks darker
blood streaming down his arm
down his leg
The people think he is theirs
but the priest has wrapped him
in plastic to protect Christ's knees
from their wet kisses and dirty fingertips
They have crawled up here
their bloody knees burning
and like Christ they wear drops of sweat
on their foreheads and backs
Here they are in this high church
in their temple of trees
the sough of wind a music
the white and blue sky
church and Mary
a cleanness they desire
But Christ
the Chis of Sorrows
collapsed above the pulpit
leans on his arm
and can't raise his head
to look at them
They have left their crutches
their walking sticks
here for him
here for love
and think they will walk again
without their cross
Urchins pass through the pilgrims
as they arrive
looking for worshippers
blinded by tears
or tourists
snapping the worshipers
the urchins' faces hard
their eyes beady as Christ's








Finally, the last leg home, 300 miles to go, out of 2,500 traveled over ten days. As usual, mile by mile, the longest we traversed.



last leg home, Fort Stockton to San Antonio

from Fort Stockton,
first, flat mesa after flat mesa,
each spiked,
in this area of constant wind,
with turbines, so elegant and beautiful
against the sky, sharp, straight lines, vanes
turning slowly, alien, in a way,
like giant steel grasshoppers overlooking
the highway from every side, but still a marvel
of beauty and utility, promise
of a better cleaner future in this desert
where grit blown from giant coal-fired electric plants
in Mexico floats in a haze between
the mesas…

then flat for a while, a high plain between
Sonona and Ozona, a dry plain, little to see
in any direction but black creosote brush
and small mesquite, and an occasional hunting
stand high above the highway…

until a stop in Ozona for breakfast at Pepe’s,
off the expressway, on the road through town,
the only thing open, a small purple and gold stucco building,
inside walls covered with the owner/cook’s art,
everything from a copy of Warhol’s Marilyn
to creations from the artist’s own imagination, including
excellent eggs over easy and sausage, strong, rich,
coffee, the first since the weak brew at the hotel
a hundred and fifty miles back - a drive through town,
small city square with grand stone buildings
in the late nineteenth century Greco-Roman style
of important people and important places…

sic transit Gloria mundi…

past Ozona
and the high planes, entering
the long, steep inclines of the high Hill Country,
high rolling hills, highway cuts showing
the different colors of all the geologic ages
since the sea-covered beginning, limestone surface,
dark to light green, yellow, large chestnut (what the original
Crayolos called “Indian Red”) patches, like red-brown rust
stains across the hills, occasional deep red and white, the foliage
of central Texas in the fall…

then home, grass high, plants in the back, limp and brown
from ten days of inattention, things to do tomorrow -

but not today…







I have now two poems by Bruce Weigl. The poems are from his book, The Unraveling Strangeness, published in 2002 by Grove Press.

Weigl is the author of thirteen books of poetry, a memoir, three collections of criticism, translations (as sole or co-translator) of three books of poetry from the Vietnamese and one from the Romanian. He's received the Pushcart Prize twice, the Academy of American Poets Prize and fellowships from Bread Loaf, the Yaddo Foundation and the National Endowment of the Arts.



Black-and-Tan Dog

I hit a black-and-tan dog
with my car,
at night on a windy road
at 50 mph.
Thump, thump
was all that it said,sitting
strangely in the middle of my lane
like a suicide,
and it saw my eyes
in a moment
that I didn't want to
have with him,
so the next morning I drove back
to find who owned the dog,
and to say my grief
under gray autumn clouds
that hung so low
they seemed to want me. We
shift around from thing to thing
inside our minds. The geese
have come to rest
all over these cornfields.
There are so many,
like a blanket, but
on one home at the farmhouse,
where there's a bloodstain
in the road near the driveway
where the dog must have landed,
or where they had dragged it
earlier in the morning, and
stuck in the weedy ditch nearby
a homemade wrath of wildflowers
bound with a wire.
No one else in the car had seen the dog.
I was driving too fast.
It was sitting in the middle of the road.
There was no chance for me to stop.
I've played it over in my mind more than once, and
there was no chance for me to stop.


Meeting Mr. Death

You could say I
kept my cool
when I met Mr. Death.
I even made him
laugh
by offering my
hand to shake
in the bullet-torn
morning hours,
and then I said,
Are you looking for me
and he got the joke. Death
gets the joke
or else
our whole lies
are a lie and a waste.
He didn't take my hand,
but he laughed at my jokes
and he made me feel
welcome inside the grace
he still wore,
shawl of the ghostly
angel he had been
but could not remember.

Mr. Death,
he was hanging around some
pals of mine, some
boys of the unspeakable
rapture of war. He
could have had me that morning
too, when I looked away
to the monsoon-heavy
river
where the bodies
had come to rest
in the last eddies,
but he changed his mind.








Trip over, but post yet to finish. I'll end with a couple of poems I wrote before we left.



rainy day confabulations

summer’s
bitter days
washed away
in a night of lightning
and thundering
rain

which is both
wonderful
and true
but doesn’t
change the fact that
the old man at the table
across from me
has the shiniest bald head
I’ve ever seen, maybe the shiniest thing
I’ve seen since the spit-shined shoes
of my DI in basic training way back when,
really shiny shoes, that fellow maintained,
and expected us to do the same
but it was damn hard to do
making me wonder how the old guy
at the table keeps his head so shiny,
making me wonder if he requires his wife,
the very prim lady in purple, to spit-shin his head,
that’d be a sight to see,
unlikely, I know,
but the only way I know to get anything that shiny

…but
wait!

I think it must be shiny day
today
since a very tall older fellow
just walked in with the shiniest
hair I’ve ever seen, gunmetal gray
flowing back to his neck, shiny
as the barrel of a Colt 45 Gunsel
Grappler revolver like Sheriff Jimmie Mac
Wayne wore in the movie Gunsel Grappling
at Flat-Rock Creek Crossing Flats, or some such
cowboy
title…

really shiny hair
that fellow - I had fairly shiny hair
until I cut it all off, but not shiny like
this guy, dull shiny more like the hull of the
aircraft carrier USS Wisconsin
which I was on once and found amazing
though the only really shiny thing
on it was the teak deck which was deep brown,
shiny and beautiful…

perhaps I could grow my hair long again
and make it shiny like the tall fellow
or , maybe easier, clear it all away, even
the stubble that remains, shave my head
bald like the first fellow
and spit shine it, except I can’t do that myself
and don’t know anyone who’d do it for me, and
i know better
than to even ask
my dearly beloved to help on such a particular
task

what to do?
conundrum upon conundrum
this fine Sunday morning, refreshingly
though that, while I think about it, conjugate
the perimeters of the issue, collaborate
with my inner know-it-all, I can at least
watch it rain, which it has been doing now,
after a night of lightning and thundering
rain, for about six hours, and I’m wondering
about the man with the shiny bald head, does
the rain bead and run off like it does on a Windex
slippery window…

that’s what I like about Sundays, slow, quiet
mornings , with time to think about all sorts of things
usually unconsidered in the normal course
of a regular day








And, last this week from my library, two short poems by John Updike. The poems are from his book, Endpoint and Other Poems, published Knopf in 2009.



Stretch

What light is tenderer
than this of early February
at 5:05 p.m. or so,
just trying brightness out

The trash cans lie emptied
and cockeyed on the curb,
the trees in the little park
hold old snow in their shade,

but a bird's rude song pierces
the cloud of expectant twigs
while a real cloud turns magenta
in the newly prolonged blue.


TV

As if it were a tap I turn it on,
not hot or cold but tepid infortainment,
and out it gushes, sparkling evidence
of conflict, misery, concupiscence
let loose on little lashes, in remissions
of eager advertising that envisions
on our behalf the the better life contingent
upon some buy, some needful acquisition.

A sleek car takes a curve in purring rain,
a bone-white beach plays host to lotioned skin,
a diaper soothes a graying beauty's frown,
an unguent eases sedentary pain,
false teeth are brightened, beer enhances fun,
and rinsed hair hurls its ting across the screen:
these spurts of light are drunk in by my brain,
which sickens quickly, till it thirsts again.








And here it is, a final travel poem of a sort. Well, maybe uniquely of my sort. And my final poem of this week's post.



path to enlightment

I intend
to put my brain
on a leash this morning
because I’m thinking I want to be taken
seriously
as a poet and
adult human being
of the masculine persuasion
and nobody takes nobody serious
who’s always running off at the brain
like I’m prone to do,
chasing every little bushy-tailed squirrel
that happens to cross my path
to enlightenment,
meaning making it hard to get to the end
of that path,
difficult to find the enlightenment
that one naturally expects
of a human being
of the masculine persuasion
and a poet to boot

never
even close

chasing squirrels
instead…

but, second-guessing myself,
something us chasing-every-squirrel types
rarely do, and
never without good cause,
I’m reconsidering my decision
to adopt the leash-constrained
mode, thinking to abandon
the chase for the mantle of seriousity
expected of poets and adult human beings
of the masculine persuasion
because there are advantages
to the chasing-every-squirrel
state of mind, like flushing out a bird
bath, getting rid of all the leaves and algae
and bird poop that collects in the presence
of birds and shallow water, giving it a good flush,
a good scraping out, leaving behind clear water,
water free of entrenched distraction, water
renown for it’s clear thinking, water that knows
its own mind - and I’m thinking that is a clear advantage
for the chasing-every-squirrel state of mind, because
how is one to find enlightenment when the path
is strewn with leaves and algae and philosophical bird
poop?

just won’t work…

if you want to find enlightenment
you have to clear the path, flush the pump,
like you flush a birdbath and that’s what a chasing-
every-squirrel state of mind, freed from the leash
and on the chase, is good for, stirring up such
a frenzy, a regular twister of misdirection
that blows
all the extraneous crap out of the way, leaving
a clear path, enlightenment
just over the next
rise…

seriously…








The end.

All the normal stuff here, and this


COMING IN NOVEMBER







POEMS

AT AN EBOOK RETAILER NEAR YOU

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Dawning of the Age of Precarious
It's True, Pigs Can Fly (but only on Air Force One...
Winners, Whiners, Weasels, Wafflers
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What You Gonna Do When the Lies Run Dry, Senor Man...
Who Tolls the Bells at Truth's Execution
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Where's Vladimir? (Closer than you think)
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