Awash on a Southern Shore   Friday, January 27, 2012






More random black and white photos this week, beginning with a picture of me several years ago by Medina Lake (now three-quarters dry because of drought) in San Antonio, then pictures from a drive around East Texas, through the woods then returning through Galveston and along the coast mostly blown away by a hurricane about a month after I passed through, then a picture of my son four or five years ago, then back to San Antonio countryside,then a big jump to New Mexico, ending with another picture of me atop Mesa Verde from a couple of years after the picture at Lake Medina. All this sequential from my image file.

My poems this week, in addition to the usual great poets from my library, include my new poems from last week as I tried to reintroduce myself to poetry after thirty days of prose-writing and older poems about Corpus Christi on the Texas mid-coast where we lived for fifteen years.

Here's the line-up for the week.


Me
flying

Federico Garcia Lorca
Little Girl Drowned in the Well
Waltz in the Branches


Me
Watching the Lexington Brought to Final Berth (Corpus Christi series)

Daisy Zamora
Razed Earth
Beloved Voices
Cat
Another Time


Me
poppity-pop

Alexander Shurbanov
Touch
Lullaby
Cats
Risk


Me
Windsurfers (Corpus Christi series)

Gabriel Gomez
20 Retablos

Me
the woman weeps

Star Black
Lust
The Blank Abandon of Beds
Personals


Me
Baby Stuff (Corpus Christi series)

W. S. Merwin
Song of Man Chipping an Arrowhead
The Day
The Chase


Me
the moon rising (Corpus Christi series)

Gregory Orr
In the House of Orphans
Elegy
Who’d Want to be a Man


Me
lying with my lover on the beach at midnight (Corpus Christi series)

Lorna Dee Cervantes
Cannery Town in August
The Anthill


Me
guardian of my better angels

Miguel Hernandez
The Train of the Wounded

Me
The Apartment on Santa Fe (Corpus Christi series)

Michael Ryan
This is a Poem for the Dead

Me
winter waits

W. S. Merwin
Cargo
Going
The Curlew


Me
Harbor Bridge (Corpus Christi series)

John Ashbery
Ignorance of the Law is no Excuse
O Fortuna


Me
When Winter Finally Came (Corpus Christi series)









My first reaction to writing poetry was a sense of freedom, poetry, at least the way I write it, being much less constrained than the mini-stories I had been writing.



flying

flying
like birds flying
where they please
on a warm summer breeze

like a stray dog
roaming wild
in green Missouri hills

like a fiddler
kicking high
at the Saturday dance

that’s how free
I am
today…








My first two library poems this week are by Federico Garcia Lorca .

Born in 1898 in the south of Spain and shot in 1936 by anti-communists forces during the Spanish Civil War, the poet, dramatist and theatre director, one of too many artists murdered by the forces of oppression around the world.

The poems are from his book Poet in New York, published in its 8th edition by Noonday Press in 1995. It is a bilingual book, Lorca's original Spanish and translation by Greg Simon on facing pages.

There's a wonderful poetic tribute to Walt Whitman in the book, as much as I'd like to use it, it is much too long for here. But I recommend it to anyone who has access to the book if they have any doubt about the influence Whitman,America's greatest poet, has had on the poetry of the western world.

Actually, as great as they all are, it's hard to find many poems in the book that aren't too long to use here.



Little Girl Drowned in the Well
(Granada and Newburgh)


Statues suffer the darkness of coffins with their eyes,
but they suffer even more from water that never reaches
   the sea...
that never reaches the sea.

The townspeople ran along the battlements breaking
   the fishermen's poles.
Quickly! To the edge! Hurry! And the tender stars
   sounded like bullfrogs.
...that never reaches the sea.

At peace in my memory, heavenly body, circumference,
   boundary,
you cry on the shores of a horse's eye
...that never reaches the sea.

But no one in the darkness will be able to give you
   distances
only sharpened limits: diamond's future.
...that never reaches the sea.

While the people look for pillowed silences,
you pulsate forever, defined by your ring.
...that never reaches the sea.

You will always be ahead of some waves that accept
the combat of roots and anticipated solitude.
...that never reaches the sea.

They're coming up the ramps! Arise from the water!
Every point of light will toss you a chain!
...that never reaches the sea.

No, that never reaches the sea. Water fixed in one place,
breathing with all its unstrung violins
on the musicale scale of wounds and deserted buildings.
Water that never reaches the sea!


Waltz in the Branches

One leaf fell,
a second
and a third.
A fish swam on the moon.
The water sleeps for only an hour,
but the white sea sleeps for a hundred.
There is a dead lady
in the branch of the tree.
The nun in her habit
sand inside the pomegranate.
This girl of mine
reached the pinecone from the pine.
And the pine went along
to look for the tiny feather's song.
But the wounded nightingale cried
throughout the countryside.
And I did too,
because the first leaf fell,
a second
and a third.
And a head of crystal
and a paper fiddle.
And the snow could make its way in the world,
if the snow slept for a month,
and the branches wrestled with the world,
one by one,
two by two
and three by three.
Oh, the hard ivory of invisible flesh!
Oh, the dawn's abyss with no ants!
With the swish of trees,
with the sighs of the ladies,
with the croaking frogs
and the honey's yellow glug.
A shadow's torso will arrive,
wearing a laurel crown.
For the wind, the sky will
be hard as a wall
and all the downed branches
will leave as they dance.
One by one
around the moon,
two by two
around the sun,
and three by three
let the pieces of ivory sleep.








I was born and raised in South Texas, about as far south as you can get in the United States. The Rio Grande River, the border with Mexico, was about a 20 minute drive south of the house I grew up in and the beaches of the Gulf of Mexico about 45 minutes to the southeast.

Later, with my wife and son, I lived for fifteen years on the mid-gulf coast, about half way between Galveston and South Padre Island. We lived most of that time in Corpus Christi, our house about 10 blocks from Corpus Christi Bay and about 15 minutes from North Padre Island and Gulf beaches.

It is a fishing and tourist city, as well as an industrial city, with the greatest concentration of petroleum refineries on the gulf coast, using the Port of Corpus Christi to ship in crude oil from all over the world and ship out the various refined products mostly to off-shore customers.

The years we lived there were the best of my life, both professionally and personally.

I was near the cresting of a very busy career while there, and there wasn't any time for writing. It wasn't until nearly ten years later that I started to write again. But there was a lot of material for a writer in those years, material I began to use when I returned to writing.

I'm using some of those poems this week, beginning with this one, an account of the arrival of the aircraft Lexington being brought to dock along the city's shoreline as a tourist attraction. The poem was written early in 2000 and was published in The Green Tricycle later that year.



Watching the Lexington Brought to Final Berth

Though small for her class,
she dwarfed the tugs that surrounded her,
three to each side to keep her on course
and two astern to push her to her final berth
between the art museum and the state aquarium.
Stormy weather and the limited maneuverability
of her dependent condition made the narrow passage
at Port Aransas risky, so she had been held in the gulf
for several days, her last days in the open sea.
On this day, under a sky blown cloudless
by the strong winds that sweep the Texas coast,
thousands of people waited to greet her,
cheering her at first sight on the horizon,
wondering at her size as she drew closer.
She was massive, bigger than they had imagined,
like a city block of buildings painted navy gray,
afloat in the choppy bay, pushed through the waves
by tug boats that reached barely midway up her hull.
Delicately, she was turned by the tugs, then pushed
stern first into the sandy cradle made to hold her safe,
not breached, yet not at sea, alive and whole, she was resting,
resting, at last, off a quiet beach in Texas.








My next poems from my poetry library are by Daisy Zamora.

Zamora, born in 1950 in Managua, Nicaragua, was raised in a wealthy liberal and politically active family. She attended convent schools and studied at the Universidad Centroamericana in Nicaragua where she earned a degree in psychology. She earned a post graduate diploma from INCAE, a branch of Harvard University in Central America]. She also studied at the Academia Dante Alighieri and the Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes.

She was involved in the fight against the Somoza dictatorship in the 1970s, and joined the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) in 1973. She was exiled to Honduras, Panama and Costa Rica. During Nicaragua’s Sandinista Revolution, she was a combatant for the FSLN (Sandinista National Liberation Front), and became the voice and program director for clandestine Radio Sandino during the final 1979 Sandinista offensive. After the revolution was won, she was appointed vice minister of culture for the new government.

She is the author of several books widely read in Spanish and in English. She is also a translator of poetry and editor of anthologies. The poems I'm using this week are from her book Riverbed of Memory. It is a dual language book, the poet's original Spanish and translation to English by Barbara Paschke on facing pages. This Spanish/English edition was published by City Lights in 1992.



Razed Earth

The suitcase full of baby clothes I kept with such
                care,
a little girl crossing the street in her
                mother's arms,
or a passing glance at a pregnant woman
                waiting for a bus.

Any encounter / Spark / Unleashes
                a bonfire
in this unprepared heart: dry fodder,
                tinder
reduced to smokey ash, to
                razed earth.


Beloved Voices

The afternoon when you called Maria Mercedes
I discovered in your voice the voice of your father
whom I never knew.

There was a moment
when you spoke with a voice that wasn't yours.

A voice
        echo of another voice
that your older sister, Gladys,
        would remember
or your mother (if she were living)
would have recognized immediately


Cat

No one knows where he came from.
in the morning he stretches in the sun,
or we watch his silhouette undulate
behind the opaque glass in the window.

Lonely like us:
"a couple stuck by the arrow..."
this charcoal cat
        who survives
        catching cockroaches
            and an occasional rat.


Another Time

We return to the place we were happy
accompanied by new friends:
seated face to face
you hand no longer seeks mine under the table.

In the shade
the tables where we once sat are empty.
Midday whitens the cocoplums in the highest branches
guayabas grow green among green leaves.

There's warmth between us,
we look like two old friends.
Tenderly, pregnant with sadness,
I look at the tables and chairs, so dead and alone.








It wasn't as easy to return to poems as I had thought it might be, requiring a different mind-set from the narrative discipline of prose.



poppity-pop

getting back into
the daily poetry poppity-pop
frame of mind
requires a step back
from the maturity grind

so,
time to put on
our play boots and
dance
till the cows
come
flippity-flopping
home

your turn to do the milking
my turn to lick the
cream








The next poems are by Alexander Shurbanov, from collection of his Frost-Flowers, selected and translated by Ludmilla G.Popova-Wightman and published by Ivy Press in 1992. It is a dual language book, Bulgarian and English translation on facing pages. (I learned something I didn't know - I've worked with Bulgarian speakers but never knew their language used the cyrillic alphabet, which I learned, and subsequently forgot, while studying Russian.)

I couldn't find current information about the poet that I wouldn't have to pay for. It's also complicated because there is apparently a person by the same name prominent in the film community who gets most of the Wikipedia entries.

I do have this, though, from the bio on the back cover of the book.

Shubanov, born in 1941,is a Bulgarian poet, literary critic, translator, and teacher. At the time of publication of his book, he was Chairman of the English Department at Sofia University. At that time, he had published five volumes of poetry and three books of essays and critical studies. He had also translated The Canterbury Tales, Paradise Lost, and a number of other contemporary poetry into Bulgarian.



Touch

How bravely we touch
dead things
from childhood on.
We stretch fearless fingers
toward stones,
toward dry shells
of clams and snails.
And this touch
fills our spirit
with calm.
But how under the hard armor;
life - soft and wet -
surprises us.
We shudder instantly.
Our instinct casts us apart.
Flesh folds into itself.
And we observe ourselves
with fear and astonishment.
Within the safe world
of dead objects,
life suddenly
life.


Lullaby

In the evening the sea pales
and falls silent,
frightened by something unknown
about to happen.
But soon the dark universe
bends a smiling face over the sea,
its hair gently shrouds it.
Calmed, the sea grows tranquil,
begins to darken and to murmur
something indistinct,
placid,
endless
like eternity,
which is nothing to fear.


Postmen

Cats
exchange letters
by posting them
on our overcoats.
A brush,
a sniff -
and the message is delivered.
Their raised tails
announce it all.
They never ask
permission.
We think
we re their masters
but they use us as their postmen.
Everything else cats
can manager alone.
They wink behind our backs,
and don't think much of us.


Risk

On
this
shore
of savage jaws
and heads judiciously disappearing
into hunched shoulders
to sport a swan's neck -
what a magnificent risk!








This is another Corpus Christi poem.

My office was downtown, within sight of the bay, and I often drove to work along the palm-divided street that bordered the bay. The poem is about a not unusual sight to see as I made my way to work.

This poem was also written and published in The Green Tricycle in 2000.



Windsurfers

This windsurfers start early in the morning, just
as the rising sun comes boiling up from the bay.
You can see them off the bluff at Cole Park.
Their red and yellow and green sails
bob and bounce like fishing corks in the waves.
Behind the, the downtown skyline
rises up from Water Street and, in its shadow,
the marina, with masts jumping
in the same choppy tide that buffets the surfers.
You can see them in the orange light of the sun,
their bodies leaning horizontal to the water,
their backs and shoulders smashing
into the foam and froth of the tossing surf
as they pull on their sails,
hang onto their boards,
straining to harness the wind and tide
for a ninety second ride, seconds stretched
to last a day in the dry and wind-free world.








The next piece is by Gabriel Gomez, taken from his book The Outer Bands, published by the University of Notre Dame Press.

Gomez is a poet, playwright, and music journalist born and raised in El Paso, Texas. He received a B.A. in Creative Writing from the College of Santa Fe and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from St. Mary's College of California. He has taught English at the University of New Orleans, Tulane University, the College of Santa Fe, and the Institute of American Indian Arts.

This piece, though taken in small bites is fairly long. I've used it here before, but I like it very much so I'm using it again.

A Retablo, or lamina, is a Latin American devotional painting, especially a small popular or folk art one using iconography derived from traditional Catholic church.



20 Retablos

The red scene begins with a swift sketch
A still life motivated from the instant flashing



Her hands warming in her pockets, re-balling tissue in a hard
rhythm. Circling a name for her sun disturbed shadow of conch
simplicity to an animated form spilling a ribbon of paths to the
spearing sorghum. A final dust lifting under and after the weight
of dew whispering the act of skin. Her name, I once recalled,
meant unraveling in Spanish.




As with all parables there are four base colors



I learned that there is always food at th;e reckoning of a tragedy.
Paint eagerly represents a woman as still life, diffused through
hundreds of movements, by her painter. Put trees through a
window behind her; offer a texture circling of blue shadow stir-
ring in pools of tea colored sand. Her name will come in a lipped
octave slope saving the impulse to point at what you mean
you'll want to say.




the hands were once attached to the arms
the face and legs have dropped to the imagination
the legs became deeper with marble
when rising toward the pinched waist



I learned to smoke behind the San Fernando church. We smoked
faros that looked like joints, so we imagined that too. The church
was named after a saint that had suffered patiently through a com-
plicated and unreasonable death.




crops of lavender, shin height,plump with aroma
smeared the tillage with a tidy summary
the soil re-occurred for miles under the fashioned horizon
losing its light to the opposite page





there is distance in the drowning color
similitude to the shifty ochre light marching heavily upon us
the ocean kept re-occurring on the beach in the form of a wave



There were several interesting horizons.




because, as children,we have thought of the sun as an onion
we now remember its cells lifting from the rosy sepulcher
spilling in a wave, a repetitive signal
enouncing it coming to pummel the ground



The ground re-occurred through everything.




people suffer towards the page
creatures pilot through a highway
their language is untranslatable
the road they carry is shaped
with a foreign math





the sunrise is a small child
the metaphor became easy to denounce
once it was known that there are no small
children depicted in heaven
the sun became an anterior math
and inconceivable exegesis





two objects clamor towards the specter



a woman squinting through the double sided mirror
a woman walking separately




diffused with so much water> then hardened into form





the series returned deep swallow of of sound and saliva




brown cardigan holding balls of tissue in their pockets
lifting and dropping





a pattern of gauzy shadows spilled from the giant red trees





the fragrant moment of thirst





a curious and particular hunger
you mean for me to say here
enter willingly





dew huddled on the stems of lilacs



like rock candy




a murder of crows dance like behemoth electrons




Humidity advanced thrillingly to her skin. The sharp gray sheets
of rain dissipating slowly over the walkways and the cloistered
verandas. Then an eventual puddle found your skin and lifted
small dimples on your arms and neck. Over the mass of earth is
the river, which all this traffic is under with an insoluble thirst


your back was neatly paragraphed by your blouse
I came around you like the movements of a flood





Doldrums jerked with fog
memory kept re-occurring
even from that place, where I had never been,
seemed natural to transplant every place
I'll call it media luna


my father kept semi precious rocks from Mexico in a lit cabinet




resurrected artifacts of other peoples lives

there was another American who had married a Mestiza woman

he raised and indefinite number of pigs with his wife


his-truck was dolphin blue









I attended a funeral last week, a sad affair for a man much too young.



the woman weeps

the woman weeps

the coffin lowered slowly into the open grave

women all around weep as well, women
who have set where the weeping woman sits
and women who someday will

the men watch, knowing
there is a box waiting for them
someday
and a hole being dug
a little deeper
each day
to contain it








Next, I have poems by Star Black. The poems are from the anthology, The KGB Bar Book of Poems, a collection of poems performed during the first three years of regular Monday night readings at New York's KGB Bar.

Black is codirector (with David Lehman) of the series. She was born in Colorado and raised in Hawaii and Washington D.C. She is a professional photographer and author of three books of poetry.

She read these poems, among others, at KGB, April 27th, 1998. The poems are from her book, Balefire, published by Painted Leaf Press in 1999.



Lust

The Sphinx blinks above the blond commotion
of dust, but her eyes disinterested stone , afloat, starkly.
She, too, will reach the jibbed rock's velocity,
in rising throb. She was created for her death -

defeat by mammal, the mammal's swollen feet.
She was created for her trick, its cleaving question.
Man and beast meet in the riddle, daunted, doomed.
She is monstrous on her thriving perch.

Her ears hurt: "Solve me or die, warrior of Thebes.
I am Nietzschean. I am destiny." In a matter of minutes,
she was gone, a simple Simon hurled toward stone,
a lioness exposed in emperor's clothes, easy,

until Nietzsche reversed the roles, and cleaving
armies attained the claw's perch: no more on-to-one.


The Blank Abandon of Birds

Esperance! The twinge of moonlight in outer space,
its circulating tea cups of planets, the floury face
no long inscrutable in a half-frown but full and
voluble, agape. We are about to land upon a nostril.

There are no hulas here, simply dissolving patter
on silver silt in gravity's void, our heads abubble
with the merest molecules aswirl within. Our Velcro
fingers web and clench, we hover upon the lonely

homestead, its unembarrassed crud silhouette,
its entombing gradients. See the silt's dissolution
of nationalities, how ever booted imprint fits,
how clean this map is, without Clio's grievances.


Personals

Approximate and unfulfilled, a devilish nymph
in the underworld seeks huge black swam for fiery
twills in cranium's caverns, gray-matter indifference
preferred, although will take sensitivity, as well,

if inexperience in hell is available, for long-term
committed one-flight stand with ensuing consequences
such as bestial transformations and showering soot.
Nymph will attempt to run, as required, from

dark thwunking destiny. Nymph will not be easy
to acquire, though promised to succumb to aerial fury.
Various disguises necessary, drop chute appreciated.

Do not send photograph, please; visuals confusing,
elements of surprise essential, fact of advertisement
accidental. Pretend you don't read and never will.








This next poem, written in 1999, was published, also in The Green Tricycle, in 2000.

The poem recounts a life-changing event only days after the second time we moved to the city.



Baby Stuff

I remember the day,
late March, early spring,
sunshine and a sky scrubbed blue
by a brisk bay breeze.
Our families came from all directions,
arriving in a rush at the last minute,
everything unplanned and unexpected.
We had been called only the day before,
barely a week after that told us
to expect a wait of six months to a year.
then the phone call at mid-afternoon,
he'll be ready at noon tomorrow, they said,
and he'll come with only the diaper he wears.
Unprepared, we panicked, rushing to K-Mart,
pushing a squeaky cart from aisle to aisle.
"What does a baby need," we asked each other.
Bottles, a bottle-warmer, diapers, oh Lord...
What else? Clothes, bassinet, a stroller...
No, that's later. A car seat...
Oh Lord, oh Lord, what else?
We fell together in the middle
of the baby-stuff section,.
holding onto each other,
laughing.








Here are three poems by W. S. Merwin from the May, 1972 issue of Poetry.



Song of a Man Chipping an Arrowhead

Little children you will all go
but the one you are hiding
will fly


The Day

If you could take the day by the hand
even now and say Come Father
calling it by your own name
it might rise in its blindness with all
its knuckles and curtain
and open the eyes it was born with


The Chase

On the first day of Ruin
a crack appears running

then what do they know to do
they shout Thief Thief
and run after

like cracks converging across a wall

they strike at it
they pick it up by tails
they throw pieces into the air
where the pieces join hands
join feet run on

through the first day

while the wren sings and sings








I wrote this next Corpus Christi poem in 2002, then used it in 2005 in my first book, Seven Beats a Second



the moon rising

ripples of wind
ruffle bay waters
like a lover's hand
soothing soft tangles
in her beloved's hair

gentle winds

quiet waters

bright stars warm
in the cool
autumn dark

the moon,
rising,
empress
of the night








Next, here are three poems by Gregory Orr, from his book, City of Salt. The book was published by the University of Pittsbugh Press in 1995.

Orr, the author of numerous volumes of poetry as well as a memoir, was born in Albany, New York in 1947 and grew up in the rural Hudson Valley, and for a year, in a hospital in the hinterlands of Haiti. He received a BA degree from Antioch College, and an MFA from Columbia University.

He teaches at the University of Virginia, where he founded the MFA Program in Writing in 1975, and served from 1978 to 2003 as Poetry Editor of the Virginia Quarterly Review.



n the House of Orphans

Their father gone since dawn,
the four of them sit at breakfast.
The older smokes. They eat
their toast and jam. Soon
the school bus will take them
from this dark house; then,
in the afternoon
it will bring them back again.


Elegy

Here are consoling pieties
like a tightly packed
warehouse
of mortuary statues
through which you
must elbow a path.

Here are sparrows
on a porch
sorting sand from seed
with their beaks.

Here's the hour
that has forgotten
the minute
though the minnow
remembers teh stream.

Here are the roots
in one world
and the blossom
in the other.


Who'd Want to be a Man

With his heart
a black sack
in which a small
animal's trapped.

With his grief
like a knot
tied at birth,
balled up and hard.

With his rage
that smashes the ten
thousand things
without blinking.

With his mind
like a tree on a cliff -
its roots, fists
clutching stone.

With his longing
that's a dry well
and where is the rain?








Although I spent a good part of my life within a stone's throw of a beach, the typical summer beach scene has not, since I was about ten years old, appealed to me. My time for the beach is in the winter when you have it all to yourself, and, as in this poem, at night.

This is another poem published by The Green Tricycle, this one in 2001. The journal was very good to me when I first returned to writing in 1999.



lying with my lover on the beach at midnight

the beach was best at midnight,
when the daytrippers were at home
nursing sunburns, or in a bar
honky-tonk dancing in gritty flip-flops

the beach was best at midnight
when its beauty was ours alone,
when its sand gleamed in white moonlight
and stars spread across the gulf sky,
a blanket of light across the bed
of soft tropic night; when the surf,
braking against the shore in ordered rows,
was the only sound in the airy silence

the beach was best at midnight,
when we lay together on a sandy towel,
enveloped in the starlit whisper
of the rising, falling waves








Next, two poems by Lorna Dee Cervantes, from her book Emplumada, published by the University of Pittsburgh Press in 1981.

Cervantes, born in San Francisco in 1954, is an award-winning Native American (Chumash), feminist, activist poet who is considered one of the major Chicana poets of the past 40 years. She grew up in San Jose, speaking English exclusively. This was strictly enforced by her parents, who allowed only English to be spoken at home by her and her brother, hoping to avoid the racism that was occurring in her community at that time.

She was an associate professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder until 2007.



Cannery Town in August

All night it humps the air.
Speechless, the steam rises
from the cannery columns. I hear
the night bird rave about work
or lunch, or sing the swing shift
home. I listen, while bodyless
uniforms and spinach specked shoes
drift in monochrome down the dark
moon-possessed streets. Women
who smell of whiskey and tomatoes,
peach fuzz reddening their lips and eyes -
I imagine them not speaking , dumbed
buy the can's clamor and drop
to the trucks that wait, grunting
in their headlights below.
They spotlight those who walk
like a dream, with no one
waiting in the shadows
to palm them back to living.


The Anthill

My palm cupped her mouth
As I kissed her, the flesh
Of my hand between us.
After school, we'd cross
The fields of wild mustard
To the anthills, to the Queen
HIding in the dank recesses.
After school, my friend's throat
Ringed with daisies,so pale
And like me;I couldn't stand it -
All those bodies,moving
And army of soldiers who had it
In for me. I could taste
Our salt. They could smell it,
Thousands of them, defending
Their missals as we kicked in
The nests to find her, and recover
The soft white packets
Of her young.








I wrote this next, very sentimental, piece after reading a story in the newspaper.



guardian of my better angel

I read yesterday
that a famous soap opera actor
who I had never heard of - hardly unusual
because I seldom watch tv and never watch soap
operas - anyway, this famous soap opera actor
I never heard of killed himself
in a fit of grief
after having to put his dog down

now,
people who have never bonded with a dog
will never understand this, people who have never experienced
the deep emotional and intellectual and spiritual ties
between man and such a faithful companion will think, what a stupid
man, this famous soap actor I never heard of
must have been

and I suppose if I were one of those emotional, spiritually, and intellectual
stunted through lack of the best friend every dog wants to be, then, i
suppose I might find it stupid as well

in fact, I admit it, even blessed as I am with my dear Reba, I think it’s stupid too

but I understand it

it reminds me of a poem the actor Jimmy Stewart once wrote and performed
on the Johnny Carson show many years ago

it was about his dog, recently deceased, a long time companion to both him and his wife,
and the loss of this dog, as he wrote it, was as deep and wrenching as would be the lose
of any of his human friends

it was beautiful, as beautiful and deep as any love poem ever written, misting my eyes as he read it,
a most rare event

I later bought a book of Jimmy Stewart’s poetry that included this poem, which, as it turned out,
was the only good poem in the book

(though I admit the poem was not harmed in any way by Mr. Stewart’s reading)

it all reminds me of the faithful presence and bond I share with Reba, my dog, the gentlest
and most loving of all the creatures that roam our earth - very old, deaf,
arthritic and mostly blind, yet eager to please,
to be close, to comfort and sustain my low moments and
celebrate with me the times when they are good

if I were writing this at home, she would be lying beside me now,
asleep,
yet intent on ever key stroke,
her ears twitching
with every swish of my hand
as I move my mouse,
rising to gently lay her gray bewhiskered muzzle on my leg, brown eyes,
cloudy now, but still deep as she engages my own eyes
if she senses i am troubled

(and she senses everything that passes through my mind, reads my mind and, if her
joints allow, be were ever I think of going before I get there)

she is the angel of my better nature
and I know someday, even someday soon,
she will not be beside me
and it may be I who, like the famous soap opera actor I never heard of,
has to deliver her to her inevitable end

and, though I will not kill myself or even write a poem as touching
as Jimmy Stewarts, I know a part of me will be hollowed with loss as I am left,
wandering in the shadow of a secret despair,
some part of me lost without her, my better nature's gentle guardian








The next poem is by Miguel Hernandez and it's taken from the anthology, Introduction to Spanish Poetry, one of a dual-language series published by Dover Publications in 1965.

Hernandez was born in 1910 and died in 1942 from consumption and lack of proper care in a prison where he had been confined since the end of the Spanish Civil War. Born poor, then self-educated, he became a leading poet of the revolution.

The original Spanish is included in the book, with English translation of the facing page. No translators are credited.



The Train of the Wounded

   Silence shipwrecked in the silence
of the mouths closed at night.
It does not cease to be silent or to traverse it.
It speaks the drowned language of the dead.
   Silence.

   It opens roads of deep cotton,
gags the wheels of the watchers,
stops the voice of the ocean, of the dove:
it stirs with emotion the night of dreams.
   Silence.

   The rainy train of flowing blood,
the fragile train of the bleeding,
the silent, painful, pallid train,
the hushed train of suffering.
   Silence.

   The Train of the mounting mortal pallor:
the pallor coating the heads,
the cry of pain, the voice, the heart, the ground,
the hearts of the badly wounded.
   Silence.

   They are spilling out legs, arms, eyes -
they are spilling out fragments all over the train.
They pass, leaving a wake of bitterness,
a second Milky Way of starry limbs.
   Silence.

   A hoarse, faltering, reddened train:
a coal is dying, the smoke sight,
and the engine sighs like a mother
and pushes forward like a long dejection.
   Silence.

   This long mother would like to stop
in a tunnel and lie down to sob.
There are no stations to stop at,
except in the hospital or the heart.

   To live, a fragment is enough:
a man can squeeze into a corner of flesh.
A single finger, a single piece of wing
can support the total flight of the entire body.
   Silence.

   Stop the dying train
that never ceases to cross the night.

   and even teh horse remains unshod,
and sand gets into its hoofs and breath.








We first moved to Corpus Christi about a month before we were married (35 years ago next month, finding an older apartment within walking distance of the bay.

This poem, written in 2001, was published in The Horsethief's Journal, another publication good to me early on, in the summer of that year.



The Apartment on Santa Fe

The apartment on Santa Fe Street was our first home,
a second floor loft where we learned to live together,
entwined in the rhythms of bay tides and lunar cycles.
We could see the bay from out bedroom window,
beyond the white oleanders that lined the street and
across a grassy swale that ran full with rainwater
during the squalls that cross the coast on summer evenings,
when the stored heat of the coastal plain rises up
to meet the dripping clouds of cool gulf air.
We could watch the storms as the pushed across the bay,
rows of whitecaps racing toward the shore, splashing
against the seawall, throwing salt water foam to the wind.
Drops of water as big as marbles would pelt the window
and pound the ground below us and the roof over our head,
while lightning split the clouds and thunder shook the floor.
Then, as quickly as they came, the storms would pass
and all would be quiet and still. Birds would preen,
shake their feathers and sing again.
and a rainbow would form, stretching across the crescent bay
like a colored ribbon around the end of the day.








The next poem by Michael Ryan. It was taken from his collection New and Selected Poems published by Houghton Mifflin in 2004.

Ryan, born in St. Louis in 1946, has been teaching creative writing and literature at University of California, Irvine since 1990.

He taught previously at the University of Iowa, Princeton University, the University of Virginia, and in the Warren Wilson College MFA Program for Writers. He is also a contributing editor at The Alaska Quarterly Review.

He has written four books of poems, an autobiography, a memoir, and a collection of essays about poetry and writing.



This is a Poem for the Dead

fathers: naked, you stand for their big faces,
mouths stuffed flat, eyes weighted, your miserable dick
sticking out like a nose. Dressed, you're more of
a mother making dinner: those old dirt bags.
the lungs , sway inside your chest like tits
in a housedress. Perhaps you're frying liver
that shrinks like your father getting older.
You still smell him breathing all over
your skin. He drank himself to death.

Now each woman you meet is a giant.
You'd crawl up their legs and never come down.
Even when you think you're big enough
to touch them, his voice flies from inside
your throat and "I love you" comes out
a drunk whimper. All you can do
is breathe louder. You're speaking
out of his mouth. Finally you admit
you know nothing about sex
and drown the urge slowly
like a fat bird in oil.

Still,those wings inside you.
At the hot stove all day you find yourself
rising, the kids wrapping themselves
around your legs oh it's sexual
this nourishing food for the family
you father stumbling through the door
calling you Honey I'm home.








Winter enters its last phase and we haven't seen much of it yet.



winter waits

February
just a trip and a fall
away
and no winter yet

oh, we’ve had some chilly nights all right
and one or two almost-cold days.
but of the sharp cut of winter
we’ve seen no sign

well, sure,
the leaves let loose their hold
on the branches of drought-burnt trees,
but it was habit only, their sap fooled by the genetic history
of their kind into believing that, the required number of moon-cycles being complete,
it was time to head for the warm moist of their below-ground roots

saps to history

unnoticed by them, the refusal of mountain frost to leave its crested home
for the lower regions where trees wait, naked, bare branches like lovers’ arms
extended - sap sleeping soft and warm at the root, all above unrequited

frost lying in snowy crags, lying in wait for an early spring budding
when well -slept sap begins to rise,
bringing early buds
to bloom

then, at last, the canny, coldest, winter winds will pounce - nature
making the fool of nature
and us as well








Here are three more poems by W. S. Merwin, these from his own book, The Shadow of Sirius. The book was published in 2008 by Copper Canyon Press.



Cargo

The moment at evening
when the pictures set sail from the walls
with their lights out
unmooring without hesitation or stars
they carry no questions
as the unseen sails
the beginning and the end
wing and wing
bear them out beyond
the faces each set in its instant
and beyond the landscape of other times
and the tables piled with fruit
just picked and with motionless
animals all together known
in the light as still lives
they sail on the sound of night
bearing with them the life
they have been trying to show
from dawn until dark


Going

ONly humans believe
there is a word for goodbye
we have on in every language
one of the first words we learn
it is made out of greeting
but they are going away
the raised hand waving
the face the person the place
the animal the day
leaving the word behind
and what it was meant to say


The Curlew

When the moon has gone I fly on alone
into this night where I have never been

the eggshell of dark before and after
in its height I am older and younger

than all that I have come to and beheld
and carry still untouched across the cold








The main part of Corpus Christi is separated from its North Beach area by the Harbor Bridge, sufficiently high to allow passage of the largest tankers and freighters.

This poem also appeared in The Horsethief's Journal in 2001, in the same issue as the previous poem.



Harbor Bridge

As you cross the high, arched crest
of Harbor Bridge before sundown,
the city is stretched before you
in lines of light flickering
through the humid air
of the dark Texas night.
On one side, the soft swells
of Corpus Christi Bay lie in darkness,
broken, in the distance
by the lights of Aransas Pass,
faintly shining, like ghosts
of shipwrecked Spanish sailors
buried with their golden ships
beneath the island's silver sands.
On the other side, chainlink fences
and bright security lights
dot the port like cages
of high intensity glare, reflecting
off the water and the dark hulls
berthed along the channel.
Alongside the port, refinery row hugs
the river's soft turns,
a glittering crown with thousands
of white lights that follow
the tangle of twisting pipes,
lights that climb the fiery stacks
reaching into the sky
with fingers of red and blue flame.

Straight ahead, the city unfolds
in a river of light,a luminous flow
pouring from the tops
of bayfront hotels,
through the downtown street,
along the crowded seawall,
across the marina and the quiet waters
of the protected inner bay,
then south,like gleaming bubbles
in a moving tide,
along the tree-lined curve
of the shoreline's crescent arc.
Streetlights, porch lights
and the moving lights of cars,
drifting home on suburban streets,
are spread across the black horizon
like fallen stars.
The blue lights of Padre Island Drive,
glowing like fine gulf pearls
strewn in a line through the city,
across Oso Bay and into the distance,
and end on the far edge of sight, mixing,
by the whispering gulf surf,
with the yellow shine off a sub-tropic moon
as reflections on pale island sand.








The last poet from my library this week is John Ashbery. I have two poems from his book Where Shall I Wander, published by HarperCollins in 2005.



Ignorance of the Law is no Excuse

We were warned about spiders, and the occasional famine.
We drove downtown to see our neighbors. None of them were home.
We nestled in yards the municipality had created,
reminisced about other, different places -
but were they? Hadn't we known it all before?

In vineyards where the bee's hymn drowns the monotony,
we slept for peace, joining in the great run.
He came to me.
It was all as it had been,
except for the weight of the present,
that scuttled the pact we made with heaven.
In truth there was no cause for rejoicing,
nor need to turn around, either.
We were lost just by standing,
listening to the hum of wires overhead.

We mourned that meritocracy which, wildly vibrant,
had kept food on the table and milk in the glass.
In skid-row, slapdash style
we walked back to the original rock crystal he had become,
all concern all fears for us.
We went down gently
to the bottom-most step. There you can grieve and breathe,
rinse your possessions in the chilly spring.
Only beware the bears and wolves that frequent it
and the shadow that comes when you expect dawn.


O Fortuna

Good luck! Best wishes! The best of Luck!
The very best! Godspeed! God bless you!
Peace be with you!
May your shadow never be less!
We can see through to the other side,
you see. It's your problem, we know,
but I can't help feeling a little envious.
What if darkness became unhinged right not?
Boomingly,swimmingly one remounts the current.
Here is where the shade was, the suggestion of flowers,
and peace, in another place.

Our competition is like tools of a certain order.
No one would have found them useful at first.
It wasn't until a real emergency arose, that someone
had the sense to recognize for what it was.
All hell didn't break loose, it was like a rising psalm
materializing like snow on an unseen mountain.
All that was underfoot was good, but lost.








I close with another Corpus Christi poem,this one about a historic cold spell that left ice chunks bumping into the seawall downtown.

This poem was also published in The Horsethief's Journal in 2001



When Winter Finally Came

When winter finally came,
it came hard,
like a great white bear
from the furtherest northern night.

Cruel and ravenous it came,
sweeping with cold ferocity
across the Leguna Madre, swirling
arctic mists over the fishing camps
and salt flats and shallow inlets
that run along the coast from
Matagorda Island to Mansfield Bay.

It brought snow that day to deep South Texas,
dusting cactus already set to bloom,
coating mesquite and yellow huisache,
covering the coastal prairie grasses.
Cattle left on their own to graze
turned their backs to the wind
and huddled close in the warmth
of their own steaming breath.
Snakes curled tighter in their winter dens
and hawks soared through the frigid air,
circling, circling, watching for pre
slowed by the unaccustomed cold.

In the city, salty foam splashed up
by the tide froze on seawall steps,
left a treacherous glaze of ice glistening
green in the muted light of the overcast day.
The people of the city, thin-blooded summer people
not suited for such an icy day, huddled like the cattle,
drinking coffee or hot chocolate,seeking warmth
in the companionship of an unusual day.







That's it. All work presented here remains the property of its creators. My stuff remains available, as long as you properly credit me and "Here and Now."

I'm allen itz, owner and producer of this blog, still, as always pushing my books. The latest news in that regard is that, according to my publisher, the books are or will be also available on Kobo and Copia, whatever they are.

The rest is as per always.


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


"Always to the Light"




"Goes Around, Comes Around"




"Pushing Clouds Against the Wind"




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


"Seven Beats a Second"


0 Comments:

Post a Comment



Wishing Like Fishing   Friday, January 20, 2012





Another random collection of black and white photos this week, some straight, some with a little process thrown in. Actually, I'm looking for the JPEGS for the photos I have hanging at The Foundry in response to an inquiry about them. It seems I have them in onesies and twosies scatter throughout my image files. I decided to use that search to pick up some pictures for this post.

Also, I complete my "Sonyador series" of 30 very short stories, which began two posts ago, with this post. I began the process because I felt I needed a challenge, in this case writing a story a day for 30 days. I found it to be much more difficult than the poem a day I had been doing.

I had no idea where the series would go when I wrote the first one. In fact, at that point I hadn't made the decision to make it a series rather than just 30 unrelated stories. But I liked the little boy character I created in the first story and decided to do a series centered around him. I named the boy "Sonyador" - Spanish for "dreamer." By about the third story, it came to me that "dreamer" is not just something one is, it also describes something one does. From that it came to me that the narrative would make more sense if its driven by the dreamer's dreams. With that in mind, I wrote the last story while working on the fourth, figuring out along the way each story as a movement to the end.

Anyway, it was an interesting challenge and I am very please, perhaps inordinately, but then I wasn't convinced when I started that I could write a story a day for 30 days. And they even turned out Okay.

In addition to the stories, I also have some poems from my second eBook, Goes Around,Comes Around.

And, of course, my regular posse of fine poets from my library

Here's all I have this week


Deborah Slicer
I Love the Black Cat
Bitterroot Valley Nocturne
Thinking of Kierkegaard


Me
it’s a fine day today

Jose Marti
Errant Love

Me
Spider Bite (Sonyador series)

Richard Sale
Eva Mae’s Daughter
Lyrics for a Woman’s Voice


Me
admiring the dark

Mairym Cruz-Bernal
The Light of the Moon
A Taste of Irony
Black Sun”


Me
The Birds (Sonyador series)

B. H. Fairchild
Early Occult Memory Systems of the Lower Midwest
Hearing Parker for the First Time
The Passing of Jesus Freaks from the College Classroom
A Starlit Night


Me
day 24,387 and counting

Kay Ryan
Flamingo Watching
Vacation


Me
Wishing Like Fishing (Sonyador series)

Margaret Randall
Left Handed

Me
habits of mercy

Rainer Maria Rilke
From The Sonnets to Orpheus
sonnets “XXI” “XXIII” “XIII” and “IX”

Me
Slip-Sliding Away (Sonyador series)

James Richardson
Northwest Passage
Classic Bar Scenes


Me
somewhere out there

Paul Muldoon
Moy Sand and Gravel
The Braggart
The Breather
An Old Pit Pony


Me
Flying (Sonyador series)

Ron Slate
Krushchev’s Foot

Me
the Hawaiian shirt plan

Me
Sasha (Sonyador series)

Me
the liberal godless socialist media will never tell you this…

Me
Even Dreams Must Someday End (Sonyador series)









I start the week with poems by Deborah Slicer. The poems are from her book The White Calf Kicks, published in 2003 by Autumn House Press.

Slicer earned a PhD and an MFA at the University of Virginia, where she was a Henry Hoyns Fellow. She taught at the University of Montana and the Hawthorne School, and currently lives near Missoula where she has been involved with the Missoula Writing Collaborative.



I Loved the Black Cat

Who stayed in the woodshed with me
During sudden summer thunderstorms late at night.

I miss the man who stayed in our house
Afraid, but I think I did not love him

So much as I loved that cat.
Darkness came undone at seams of lightning.
Black cat sat. Still.

You know how wind leaps on top of a bull pine's back, rides it nearly to the ground?

Well, cat just flared his leather nose a little,
Paws Buddha-tucked.
Watched on.

When thunder cracked it's thirty knuckles,helved its three ffree fists, when rain spat
   at us -

Cat snuffed - Pfsss -
So what?

Some storms were so sudden and spectacularly
Terrible,I'd run half-dressed to the woodshed from our house,

Where I'd find my black cat
Staring down my terrible,
When the man inside the house could not.


Bitterroot Valley Nocturne

Late this afternoon Lasko's old white watchdog,neglected
for centuries, walked away from the sheep she'd been keeping.
While their muzzles were deep in hay drifts
she pressed her head against the barbed wire, as I whispered:
puppy, puppy, unmatting the frozen hair over her blue eyes,
so she could finally
close them.

And under my feet I felt the taut skin of the earth
go slack.

^^^^^^^^^^

In early winter these brittle brown foothills of the Sapphire Mountains
remind me off the little sleep scabs
I wanted to brush, gently with my middle finger,
from a friend's eyelashes as he talked about how he'd follow his estranged wife
anywhere to hold his just nursed daughter at bedtime,
the weight of her like a sack of loose pearls.
For him she is the nearest neighbor's light I look for over at Laughing,
three miles east across these blueing late-day fields,
and in white-outs when the west wind throws whole horse pastures of snow
   overhead,
wishing it were young again.

^^^^^^^

At five it's nearly dark in the direction of the Sapphire Mountains.
Someone bends over our hemisphere to see that we're all right,
blocking the light,
who could it be?


Thinking of Kierkegaard

I've never told you that you talk in your sleep,
how I steal poetry from you
as you dream.
I never told you about the woman who calls each evening,
how strained her soft voice is,
that I'm writing a story
imagining your infidelity.

Your shoes are two dark holes
I would never step into,
though I might whisper into that abyss
now and then.
Trust is a very high trestle.

You walk it on a dare
in front of an audience,
and it's the idiot who does not tremble, even though
the sky is the most innocent blue,
and there is just wind, your hair, a brid calling into the gorge.





Photo by Dora Ramirez-Itz




I decided this week I would use some of the poems from my second eBook, Goes Around, Comes Around, published last year.

This is my first selection.



it's a fine day today

it's a fine day
today

the sun shines
on all of us, children
of the bright...

it's a fine day,
today

three pages
of dead people in the paper -
only five younger than me
and one of those
i think
was lying...

a fine day
today,
three pages of dead people
in the paper

and none of them was
me...





(My father and mother, a couple of years before I was born, photographer unknown)




My next poem is from a new (to me) book I bought at the half-priced bookstore this week. The book is Ismaelillo by 19th century revolutionary JOse Marti. My copy of the book, written by Marti for his three year son, was published in 2007 by Wings Press of San Antonio. The original edition of the book was published in Spanish in 1882 in New York. My book is a bilingual edition, with Spanish and English text on facing pages, translated by Tyler Fisher.

Marti was born in 1853 and was killed in battle in 1895. He continues to be a Cuban national hero and an important figure in Latin American literature. In his short life he was a poet, an essayist, a journalist, a revolutionary philosopher, a translator, a professor, a publisher, and a political theorist. He was also a part of the Cuban Freemasons. Through his writings and political activity, he became a symbol for Cuba's bid for independence against Spain in the 19th century, and is referred to as the "Apostle of Cuban Independence." He also fought against the threat of United States expansionism into Cuba. From adolescence, he dedicated his life to the promotion of liberty, political independence for Cuba and intellectual independence for all Spanish Americans; his death was used as a cry for Cuban independence from Spain by both the Cuban revolutionaries and those Cubans previously reluctant to start a revolt.



Errant Love

In search of you
I cross the seas:
My son, the good waves
Take me to you.
Cooling breezes
Cleanse my flesh
Of maggots
From the cities;
But I am sad,
for I can shed
My blood for none
Upon the seas.
Then what to me
Are waves unvaried,
Windswept clouds
Like flying jewels,
The gentle antics
Of the air,
The wrathful voice
Of Hurricane?
The mind was made
To master these!
to tame the wanton,
Fleeting kiss
Of pleasant, little breezes -
My bloodless cheeks
Forever crave
An endless kiss!
And who is sought
With eager panting
By the angel
Pale and white,
That spreads his wings
Upon my chest
And feeds and shelters
Weary ones?
And who is wrapped
Within his wings,
My errant love's soft,
Cloud-like wings?
The skies and seas
Are free of slaves,
And I can shed
My blood for none.

Thus weeps the angel
Pale and white:
He weeps for envy
Of the sky
That covers all
With mottled clouds!
He gathers up
His snowy wings
To shield his anguished
Face within: -
And in the fragrant,
Confused world
That opens in
The deepest shade,
In solemn silence
Bloom colossal
Flowers everlasting,
And on the backs
Of giant birds
Awaken kisses
Never-ending -
There another
Angel rises,
Smiling and alive.








Here's the first Sonyador story for the week, number 24 in the series.



Spider Bite

Dad died when Sonny was 15 years old.

Out chopping cedar for fence posts, a spider bite, a big, black, spot of dead flesh on his leg in three hours, and dead himself in two days.

Dad had a lot of friends, packing the funeral parlor then the church’s gathering room for food after the burying.

Mom and Conch and Sonny were by themselves. Tug had quit his job and left his wife and baby six months ago, went off to Nashville to try to be a country singer. Said he'd be back, but so far, the family hadn’t heard from him, nothing at all to his wife, to Sonny or Conch or even Mom. No one knew where he was; had no way to contact him and tell him about Dad.

So it was up to Sonny.

And he did his best, helping Mom through the service and after. Greeting all Dads’ friends, accepting their condolences; those friends a great help to him. Dad was friends with a lot of people and was admired most who knew him. They all came to pay their respects, tell stories about the times they had with Dad, about the times Dad helped them when were down and need of a couple of dollars or a favor or a sympathetic ear. They wanted to make sure Mom knew they were there to help if help was needed.

“Just a call,” they all said, each in their own way. “Just call us for anything and we’ll be here before you can put down the phone.”

Dad had life insurance with the company where he worked, so even though money would be tight for the family, it wouldn’t be desperate. And Sonny and Conch could both help out. Conch had Sonny’s old job at the Pretts’ grocery store and Sonny had two grocery store jobs, a job every afternoon as a cashier at a bigger grocery store on Main Street and a Saturday job as a bag boy at a supermarket in the town next over. And he also had his own business doing yard work for folks around town.

The family never had really good times, and the times from then on weren't going to be that much worse than they had been before.

It was hard for everyone, special hard for Sonny, not just because he missed his Dad, but also because, even with the three jobs, he was determined to stay in school.

And he did, worked his jobs and worked his school, good enough, at least to make it to the end. And he figured at fifteen that if he could do that at his little high school, he could do it in college as well.

And no one bet against him, cause everyone knew, Sonny had a knack for work and a knack for finishing what he started.








I have two poems now by Richard Sale from another book I picked up at the half-price book store. The book, The Tortilla of Heaven, was published by the University of North Texas Press in 1990. A dedication to the initial purchaser of the book by the poet suggests the two might have been close, which would account for the almost "fresh off the press" condition of the book more than 20 years after publication.

I can find no current information on the poet, but, at the time of publication of this book (his third), he was Professor of English at the University of North Texas, where he had taught since since 1965. After receiving his Ph.D. at the University of Texas at Austin, he was a Fulbright Lecturer in American Civilization and Literature in Morocco in 1963-64. He was the first Director of UNT's Creative Writing Program (1989-1990 edited the journal Texas Books in Review. He was the founding editor-publisher of the Trilobite Press and wrote text for musical compositions in addition to his poetry.



Eva Mae's Daughter

After she had braved the cold hardwood floors,
had perked the coffee and done her exercises,
while I lay in guilty half-sleep, so slowly unswelling,
wanting the cigarette a short arm's length away,
lying in bed again,
Eva Mae's daughter said,
Who do all children hate hot cereal?

Well, I tell you, my heart leaped up at that.
She said, I ask those kids at the art school
if they like hot cereal and they always say no.
My heart leaped up some more.
She said, But they never take it from there,
they don't want to know why.

Now more than awake and hugging the hot coffee mug
like a bowl os steaming porridge,
I said, I am well pleased.
And you should be well pleased, too,
just for digging up that universal.
And then I said, to hide my heart leaping up,
Please, ma'am, can I have some more coffee?

She knew that it was good again and said,
Say: Earth Mother, may I?


Lyrics for a Woman's Voice

    1. Wishes Pour Across the Water

Wishes pour across the water
As sequins of the sun.
the green bay flashes jumping fish.
The clear sky stretches past tomorrow.
You might think it beautiful:
It is the loneliest sight in the world.

    2. Flesh Trap

My body aches with body,
This heaviness pulls me down,
Pulls me down past the lower angels,
Down past the heart and spirit,
Pulls me down to the bottom circle,
Down to body, down to heavy flesh.

    3. The Other Side of Absurdity

In the rain and this barren country,
It is all right today.
Everything is exactly right.
I've already finished my dinner of truth,
and everything is exactly right
On this false, this perfect, happy day.

    4. Circe's Song

Easy, take it easy, manny,
Got the wine, got the sun.
What's the work that's calling, manny?
Got the wine, got the sun.
Early morning's shining fancy
(Morning's not the only one).
Easy, take it easy, manny,
Got the wine, got the sun.

    5. Ballad

My father was a pretty man,
My mother kind and brave.
My father's in another land,
My mother's in the grave.

My lover's like a turtle-dove;
My lover's brave and kind.
My lover's found another love,
And I read my mother's mind.








Here's a second poem from my book, Goes Around, Comes Around.



admiring the dark

the dark is
staying dark
longer every night

as July
heads for the back door
and August

impatiently
taps its fiery little feet
our front, waiting...

I enjoy
the dark in the morning,
eating breakfast

by the big window,
looking out to the dark
of night waning,

watching
the new day gathering
in the east

just a hint
a bare little shadow of light
remembered

almost lost in the ambient glow
of clouds softly-lit
from below

by the city's night
illuminations,
clouds always glowing

from below
in a city of a million and a half people
fearful of the dark -

porch lights
lit all night, motion lights
flashing bright

with every rustle of leaves
by the wind,
every twitter of a bird -

street lights,
security lights, night lights
that let us sleep

in semi-dark, certain
that whatever evil lurks
outside the luminance we wrap

around our sleeping body
will be as frightened
by the light as we are by the dark

since
fire-tenders
maintained the flames

that kept us safe at night
from the earliest history
of our kind...

meanwhile,
sitting in my well-lit cafe,
typing in the glow of computer electrons,

I admire the beauty of the night
while looking past the dark
to each pool of light around me

calculating the distance between pools, clocking
how quickly I could race in the dark from
one bright pool to the next

if I had
to








Here's a poem by Mairym Cruz-Bernal, from her book,Oh He Face the Light of La Luna, published by Provincetown Arts Press in 1997.

A Puerto Rican poet, translator, and essayist, Cruz-Bernal was born in 1963. She has a BA in Psychology from Loyola University and an MFA from the writing program at Vermont college. Since this book she has published other books, all them translated in numerous languages.

Though she normally writes in both Spanish and English, this was her first book where all the poems (except two) were written originally in English. The other two were written in Spanish and translated to English by the poet.

I begin with the book's title poem.



The Light of the Moon

The little girl crawls to the glass.
She sees and image and laughs and says titi.
That primitive language communicates her wholly.
She looks at the portrait of the baby
hanging on the wall across from the mirror
and laughs and says titti.
She doesn't know that both are her,
that she is someone.
What is reflected in the mirror
is enough for her to laugh and play,
but she knows that the one in the mirror
is the same as the one in the portrait.
She feels I am important to her.
Whenever a stranger comes she hugs my legs,
hiding, until she gets used to the image
of a new human or animal. Everything that moves is the same.
The other night I showed her la luna,
unmoving, round, among all the little lights.
She learned what la luna is.
She goes outside, when it's night,
and with her finger pointing up
she looks at me and smiles and stays still.
On her face the light of la luna.
Now when I want to calm here,even in daytime,
I say la luna and she looks at me. I tell her,
yes, it's there, but the very light of the sun
keeps it from us, but yes it's there,
look, somewhere in the sky.


A Taste of Irony

Since this morning I have a feeling you could taste,
a bitterness on the sides of your mouth.
I woke up from a dream I can't remember.

I have had my hair cut short and a perm to curl it.
I had a striped short dress with no bra on. I hated bras.
I still do. That sensation of feeling the clothes
pressed to my fourteen-year-old nude breasts felt good
and satisfying. Standing in the kitchen, preparing lunch,
he came in and saw me with my new look,
you are so ugly I doubt very much you will ever marry.
I don't think anyone will fall in love with you

Suffering alone, I felt stripped by invisible hands,
defense after defense, garment after garment,
until I was stark naked.
I had to put my lunch inside the refrigerator.

This scene was lived again a month after I met the man
who was to be my husband. I was still in that trance
of hypnotic stare, in love, where things turn blurry.
He came into the house, That man, such an important person,
what would he want from you, you have nothing to offer him,
not a woman enough to be with a man like that.


But I knew the taste of that instant.


Black Sun

I am left alone
to clean the dishes,
to fix the bed
and take the dirt out of this place.

Left on this rainy morning of September,
to think out loud of my whereabouts
and drink some coffee with my soul.

I am alone with this black sun
in a solo piece of music with the rain.
Entirely for myself, to play with my old dolls.
I empty my face of all human reminders
to learn to be a part of the larger farce.








More Sonyador, number 25 of 30.



The Birds

Sonyador, seven last month, sits in the grass in front of his house as the sun begins to fall, in front of the old barrack his dad rebuilt, drinking chocolate milk, his before bed treat for the night, and watches the grackles gather in the tree by the street. Hundreds of the birds, flying in, finding a place on a branch, cackling and shrilling and crawing in disharmony. Then, all at once, as one, flying up from the tree, a black cloud of birds, cackling, rising up, then all together, swarming left, swarming right, then alighting again, all as one, the tree covered in a black feather blanket of birds.

And Sonyador looks at this and wonders, how is it possible for all of them to do all this at once, rise up, turn like a black wave left, then right, then down again.

There must be a boss bird, he thinks, a leader bird that tells all the other birds what to do, when to do it, so they’re always all as one, the one of all the hundreds, the leader who takes them where, somewhere he knows in his brain like he knows when to rise, knowing when, some second clicking clock in black head knowing when to rise, when to turn, and passes it on to all the other birds who do as he says, do as he thinks.

Sonyador thinks it might be good to be the boss bird.








Next, I have three poems by B.H.Fairchild, from his book Early Occult Memory Systems of the Lower Midwest, published in 2003 by W.W. Norton.

Fairchild was born in Houston and grew up in small towns in the oil fields of Oklahoma, Texas, and Kansas, later working through high school and college for his father, a lathe machinist. He taught English and Creative Writing at California State University, San Bernardino and Claremont Graduate University.

As of 2011, it has been announced that Fairchild will teach at The University of North Texas.

I start with the book's title poem.



Early Occult Memory Systems of the Lower Midwest

In his fifth year the son, deep in the backseat
of his father's Ford and the mysterium
of time, holds time in memory with words,
night, this night, on the way to a stalled rig south
of Kiowa Creek where the plains wind stacks
the skeletons of weeds on barbed-wire fences
and rattles the battered DeKalb sign to make
the child think of time in its passing, of death.

Cattle stare at flat-bed haulers gunning clumps
of black smoke and lugging damaged drill pipe
up the gullied, mud-hollowed road. Road,
this road
. Roustabouts shouting form the crow's nest
float like Ascension angels on a ring of lights.
Chokecherries gouge the purpled sky,cloud-
swags running the moon under, and starlight
rains across the Ford's blue hood. Blue, this blue.

Later, where black flies haunt the mud tank,
the boy walks along the pipe rack dragging
a stick across the hollow ends to make a kind
of music, and the creek throbs with frog songs,
locusts, the rasp of tree limbs blown and scattered.
The great horse people, his father, these sounds,
these shapes saved from time's dark creek as the car
moves across the moving earth: world, this world.


Hearing Parker the First Time

The blue notes spiraling up from the transistor radio
tuned to WNOE, New Orleans, lifted me out of bed
in Seward County, Kansas, where the plains wind riffed
telephone wires in tones less strange than the bird songs

of Charlie Parker. I played high school tenor sax the way,
I thought, Coleman Hawkins and Lester Young might have
if they were like me, untalented and white, but Ornithology
came winding up from the dark delta of blues and dixieland

into my room on the treeless and hymn-ridden high plains
like a dust devil spinning me into the Eleusinian mysteries
of the jazz gods though later I would learn that his long
apprenticeship in Kansas City and an eremite's devotion

to the hard rule of craft gave him the hands that held
the reins of the white horse that carried him to New York
and 52nd street, farther form wheat fields and dry creek beds
than I would ever travel, and then carried him away.


On the Passing of Jesus Freaks from the College Classroom

They seemed to come in armies, whole platoons
uniformed in headbands, cut-off jeans,
butt-long hair that fell down in festoons,
and their grins were the ends that justified the means.

But one was different. And alone. His wrist tattoo
cried FATHER on a severed heart that bled.
His arms hung limp as vines, his nails were blue,
his silence was the chorus of the dead.

"Are you saved?" they asked. "Saved from what," I said.
"The flames of hell, your rotten sinful past,
your thing for Desdemona," for we had read
the tragedies, and Othello was the last.

"What's Iago's motive? Was he just sinful?
They thought they knew but waited for a hint.
He raised his hands and wept, "Evil, fucking Evil."
And he meant it. And he knew what he meant.


This fella's voice makes me feel like home. I'm going to do another poem, even though I had only planned to do three.


A Starlit Night

All over America at this hour men are standing
by and open closet door, slacks slung over one arm,
staring at wire hangers, thinking of taxes
or a broken faucet or their first sex: the smell
of back-seat Naugahyde, the hush of a maize field
like breathing, the stars rushing, rushing away.

And a woman lies in an unmade bed watching
the man she has known twenty-one, no,
could it be? twenty-two years, and she is listening
to the polonaise climbing up through radio static
from the kitchen were dishes are piled
and the linoleum floor is a great, gray sea.

It's an A-flat polonaise she practiced endlessly,
never quite getting it right, though her father,
calling from the darkened TV room, always said,
"Beautiful, kiddo!" and the moon would slid across
the lacquered piano top as if it were something
that lived underwater, something from far below.

they both came from houses with photographs,
the smell of camphor in closets, board games
with missing pieces, sunburst clocks in the kitchen
that made them, each morning, a little sad.
they didn't know what they wanted, every night,
every starlit night of their lives, and now they have it.





(My father before his death in 1980, photographer unknown)




One must always look to the sunnyside. This, another poem from my eBook published last year, Goes Around, Comes Around.



day 24,387 and counting

another
day
another
dollar,
a million
days,
a million
dollars...

that's what the fella
down at the Happy Valley Home
told me...

and, depending
on your capacity for
long term planning,
that view can be very
encouraging,
even coming from the
Happy Valley Home cohort
who, if you choose,
can be seen as
not out of touch with reality
but living instead
in a greater reality
closed to the more prosaic
of us -

or not

as for me
I'm a believer in reality,
but only in romantic affairs -

when it comes to money,
I settle
for no less than the
wildest
fantasies

which is why
I am sure
I'm on the road to riches
every day

and while I may not get
the days I need
to get there all the way,
being on the road
to something good
is better
than being stuck
in the weeds
like a back-roads vagabond
with a flat tire
and no spare in the trunk

I'm a human being
of the American
persuasion
after all -

and, like my kind,
want to get
everything there is to et...

and expect, by god,
to get it! -

day 24,387
and counting







Made another trip to the used bookstore this afternoon, found six good poetry books for under $4 a piece.

The next couple of poems are from one of them, Flamingo Watching,published in 1994 by Copper Beech Press.

The poet is Kay Ryan and American poet and educator.

Ryan was born in San Jose, California, and was raised in several areas of the San Joaquin Valley and the Mojave Desert. After attending Antelope Valley College, she received bachelor's and master's degrees in English from University of California, Los Angeles. Since 1971, she has lived in Marin County, California, and has taught English part-time at the College of Marin in Kentfield.

She has published seven volumes of poetry and was the sixteenth United States Poet Laureate, from 2008 to 2010. In 2011, she was named a MacArthur Fellow.

Again, I start with the book's title poem.



Flamingo Watching

Wherever the flamingo goes,
she brings a city's worth
of furbelows. She seems
unnatural by nature -
too vivid and peculiar
a structure to be pretty,
and flexible to the point
of oddity. Perched on
those legs,anything she does
seems like an act. Descending
on her egg or draping her head
along her back,she's
too exact and sinuous
to convince an audience
she's serious. The natural elect,
they think,would be less pink,
less able to relax their necks,
less flamboyant in general.
they privately expect that it's some
poorly jointed bland grey animal
with mitts for hands
whom God protects.


Vacation

It would be pleasant to walk
in Stonehenge or other places
that have rocks arranged on the
basis of a plan, or plans,
inscrutable to modern man;
to wander among grinders
sunk deep in sheep pastures
or simply set on top Peruvian grit;
to gaze up at incisors
no conceivable jaw could fit;
to stretch to be ignorant enough,
scoured to a clean vessel
as pure as the puzzle,vestal
to a mystery involving people,
but without the heat of people.





(My son,after his first over-the-fence home run, photographer unknown)




Sonyador series, poem 26.



Wishing Like Fishing

A year after his dad died, it seemed to Sonny that he was on a hard road with nothing he could see in the future to make it smoother and easier.

His mother was still working at the school cafeteria, full time now, where it had only been a couple of hours a day before Dad died. Tug’s whereabouts still a mystery, nothing heard from him now in nearly two years. His wife and daughter, Sonny’s sister-in-law and his niece gone, moved to California, to San Diego. The word had it that she found another man as was just waiting for her divorce to come through so she could marry him. And Conch, though only twelve, was beginning to show the same kind of wildness defiance that always got Tug in trouble.

And Sonny’s best friend, pretty much his only friend, Bangie had moved back East with his mother after his parents got divorced.

Sonny was sad sometimes, thinking of fishing with Dad, going on trips with Uncle Otto (Oh, how he still missed Uncle Otto and, oh, how he wished he was here to talk to.

But Sony remembered what Uncle Otto told him once, wishing was like fishing without bait, just a waste of time for people who didn’t want to do what needed to be done.





(My younger brother, my older brother, and me, a long time ago, photographer unknown)




It's a conincidence, but after my last library poet, Kay Ryan, with a poem about the mysterious heads on Easter Island, I have poems from a book of photographs and poems devoted entirely to Easter Island and those great rock sculptures.

The book is Their Backs to the Sea, published by Wings Press of San Antonio in 2009, by poet and photographer Margaret Randall.

Randall is a feminist poet, writer, photographer and social activist. Born in New York City in 1936, she has lived for extended periods in Albuquerque, New York, Seville, Mexico City, Havana, and Managua. Her travels included shorter stays in Peru and North Vietnam. In the 1960s she co-founded and co-edited El Corno Emplumaado/The Plumed Horn, a bilingual literary journal for eight years'. From 1984 through 1994 she taught at a number of U.S. universities.

She lived among New York’s abstract expressionists in the 1950s and early ’60s, participate in the Mexican student movement of 1968, observed first had the Cuban revolution and Cuban culture from 1969-1980, the first four years of Nicaragua’s Sandinista project 1980-1984, and visit North Vietnam during the last months of the war in that country, publishing more than 80 books in the meantime.

In 1984, Randall came home to the United States, only to be ordered deported when the government invoked the 1952 McCarran-Walter Immigration and Nationality Act, judging opinions expressed in some of her books to be "against the good order and happiness of the United States." The Center for Constitutional Rights defended her and many writers and others joined in an almost five-year battle for reinstatement of citizenship. She won her case in 1989.



Left-Handed

I

As I watch you, stone-carver ghosts,chipping away
at your mammoth blocks of basalt or tuff,
coaxing prominent noses, pursed lips,
etching decorated ears
and smoothing hollows
where eyes will store and shoot their mana
to a hungry populace,

as I watch you chisel the line of an arm, dropped
to the side, bent slightly forward
to faint shadow of loincloth
fingers reaching for mirrored fingers,
when I observe you,
hammers and polishing-stones in hand,
kneeling in the narrow troughs

whose rock still clings to rock and the giant figure
has yet to free itself,
begin its journey out of the quarry
down rocky slope to the platform
waiting by a vulnerable shore,
the ahu that will be its home
its back to the ferocious sea,

when I dream your rhythms, the focus of your eyes,
weeks or months to a single statue's birth
- long sheets of rain,
heightening the echo of your song,
hundreds working together
or ten or twelve -
I always wonder

if you left hand, like another's left foot
in a distant land
and years into future, or the words
that spill too soon from a troubled mouth
knew what had to be done
and how. Were you left-handed
is my question, one of many.

II

Right hemisphere walks out
across a field of volcanic rock
spewed and settled
before the rising of time.

Bare feet resist daggers
of hardened obsidian,
blood tangles with dry earth
as rhythm dulls pain.

Which side of the brain
designs your palm frond hat,
places a flower
behind your listening ear?





(My niece, recent recipient, the proud uncle must say, of a major league scholarship to a major league university)





This is another poem from my eBook Goes Around, Comes Around.



Habits of Mercy

I was thinking this
morning
about what I want to do
with the rest of my
life

and decided
it's the same thing
I want to do
with the rest of my
day -

kiss
my wife at least once or twice

eat
some good food

write
some good poems

sleep
a nice nap

communicate
with my better nature

& forgive myself
for all recent sins, known, as well as
secret, even to me

easier for some
than for
others, those

with no true love
to kiss -

no food to
eat -

no bed to sleep
in -

no poetry
in their soul -

those
with no key
to unlock the door to self, their
true self as unknown to them as
a stranger passing dark
on the street -

and most difficult of all for
those who can't find within
themselves
forgiveness of themselves

poor
miserable
ego-obsessed creatures that we are,
sinners almost from out first thoughts,
if we cannot forgive ourselves
how will we ever learn to forgive
others

and if we cannot forgive others,
how can we ever live
in this world
that needs cleansed hearts
as much as it needs clean air and water

habits of mercy
are what will save this world;
human sins
forgiven
by human sinners








Next, I have three pieces selected from The Sonnets to Orpheus, the full cycle of 55 poems written by Ranier Maria Rilke "as a grave-monument for Vera Ouckama Knoop," a young woman whose premature death greatly affected Rilke.

This collection was published in 1985 by Simon and Schuster, in the original German with English translation by Stephen Mitchell on the facing page.



XXI

Spring has returned. The earth resembles
a little girl who has memorized
many poems... For all the trouble
of her long learning, she wins the prize.

Her teacher was strict. We loved the white
in the old man's beard and shaggy eyebrows.
Now, whatever we ask about
the blue and the green, she knows, she knows!

Earth, overjoyed to be out on vacation,
play with children. We long to catch up,
jubilant Earth. The happiest will win.

What her teacher taught her, the numberless Things,
and what lies hidden in stem and in deep
difficult root, she sings, she sings!


XXIII

Not till the when flight
no longer for its own sake ascends
into the silent heavens
propelled by its self conceit,

so that, in luminous outlines,
as the tool that has come to power,
it can float, caressed by the wings,
streamlined, agile, and sure -

not till a pure destination
outweighs the boyish boast
of how much machines caan do

will, overwhelmed with gain,
one to whom distance is close
be what alone he flew.


XIII

Be ahead of all parting, as though it already were
behind you, like the winter has just gone by.
For among these winters there is one so endlessly winter
that only by wintering through it will your heart survive.

Be forever dead n Eurydice - more gladly arise
into the seamless life proclaimed in your song.
Here, in the realm of decline, among momentary days,
be the crystal cup that shattered even as it rang.

Be - and yet know the great void where all things begin,
the infinite source of yur own most intense vibration,
so that, this once, you may give it your perfect assent.

To all that is used-up, and all the muffled and dumb
creatures in the world's full reserve, the unsayable sums,
joyfully add yourself and cancel the count.


Once again, in wonderment, I do one more poem than I had intended.


IX

Only he whos bright lyre
has sounded in shadows
may, looking onward, restore
his infinite praise.

Only he who has eaten
poppies with the dead
will not lose ever again
the gentlest chord.

Though the image upon the pool
often grows dim;
Know and be still.

Inside the Double World
all voices become
eternally mild.








Story 27 in the Sonyador series of stories.



Slip-Siding Away

Sonny watches a young mother cuddle her baby, kiss its forehead, whisper, “love you, love you, love you,” blow softly on its belly.

He thinks of how warm and whole the baby must feel in its world of love and care and attention, and was jealous, wishes he could remember a time when he could remember such feelings. He knows his mother loved him, and his father had too, in his way, and thought they must have cuddled and kissed him the way the young mother enfolds her baby in unconditional love. He knows there must have been such times for him, thinking there might not have been was too terrible to think of. But he wishes he could remember.

But there was no cuddling, no loving now, a hot summer, a fourth job, working as a busboy and dishwasher at a hotel in the next town, three nights a week, 11 to 7. Then a couple of hours sleep, then summer school, then work until 7 at the grocery store downtown, except for Saturday when he worked all day at the supermarket down the street from the hotel where he worked on week nights, plus whatever time he could find to take care of his customers’ yardwork.

His algebra teacher told him he needed to learn how to work with a slide rule and though he doubted that was true (sliding sticks back and forth - what a stupid way to do math problems, he thought, like some kind of African tribe, the middle of the twentieth century, for crying out loud, Sputnik circling over head where you could see it on a clear night, talk of going to the moon - somebody was sure to come up with some better way to do calculations that sliding sticks back and forth).

So there it is two hours a day four days a week, sliding sticks back and forth in summer school, even though he’s sure it’s a waste of time learning how to do something that was probably going to be obsolete before he finished high school, or , at least before he finished college, doing it, wearing his slide rule on his belt like all the math nerds did whenever he was in Mrs. Fastenbinder ‘s class because she told him he ought to and he thought it was his responsibility to do what he ought to, even when he thinks it’s a waste of time.

Spending a lot of time in slide rule class wishing he had a girlfriend he could be with instead.








Next I have poems by James Richardson, from his book, a National Book Award Finalist, By the Numbers. The book was published by Copper Canyon Press in 2010.

Richardson has published a number of books and received many poetry honors. He has taught at the University of Virginia, Harvard, Princton and Columbia. For the past 30 years he has lived in New Jersey.



Northwest Passage

That faint line in the dark
might be the shore
of some heretofore unknown
small hour.

The fir-scent on the wind
must be the forests
of the unheard of month
between July and August.


Classic Bar Scenes

1. Apollo at Happy Hour

Shoulders and faint sheen
of lotion, torsion,

loose dress sliding
over flanks of glass,

silks so utterly watery
splashing, as you click along the shine,
on left shin right shin, but alas

the chase is a tired
and tiring metaphor:

let's sit. It is
your Beauty that is omnipotent,

and I the god its constant
victim, automatic

as the keyboard you reach over
accidently typing with a breast
aaaaiiiyyyessssss,

as the copies you press
with a page and another page
that lights again and again your face.

Hear my song:
I will walk out of the 14th floor
and into your ear like a wireless call.

II. Ovidian Deposition

The bull or swan,
face rippling as it changes,
speaks,and for a long, long moment,
you can't tell luck from disaster.

He recited his exploits and cutting-edge features,
all the arts and countries he was lord of.

He was wasted, I think. He walked on the table.
He said his voltage was so out off control.

He said, Relax,what you're feeling is
the great experiences are genetic:
when they happen to you they do not happen to you.


To take the god was to lose the man.
To take the man was to die of the god.
Either might turn me into stone.

I got up For a refill
from the Heliconian well,
and texted from the parking structure
Hadda go...

Pygmalion among the Young

He could tell from their piston shots of laughter,
their bucking and surging
like someone leaning to drive stick,
their pretense and collapse,
their talking on two cells at once,

how they down strange solvents,
their voices sax-raw or helium-high,
how they take each other harshly,
grinding together like stones,
grinding alone like stones, that the young
have statues in them, tall white statues
they must dance out, drink to sleep, outspeed.

Like a finger under a line of type -
O god, slower than that -
their future comes, the party they're late for
where people are saying incredible shit about them
that they have to go to, and say, and say
like how it really is, so they pile in and floor it
till their backs stiffen and their faces change in the wind.

IV. Twilight of a God

That girl who drank from her hands
huge waters of wine,

and his awe,
was it? So that he surfaced,
his head in a little clear spot above the music

and a good bet was
that whatever happened next
wasn't going to happen to him.

Suddenly he wasn't the minor deity,
coat still on, in the corner booth,
smiling benevolently upon his children,

but a guy walking out, head down,
into the cold of an outer borough,
the signs unreadable, the age of Changes over.

Though aren't those still his angels
at the gold bar of Heaven
who lift glass trumpets to their lips?

V. Orpheus at Last Call

One of those dreams: you struggle and fail
for years
to dial a number, read a page, remember
not to look back...

(her hand confused in mine, soft struggle of a bird)

I've drunk so much
it rises in me: something like soft roots
parts softly
and my head sweeps down the singing river singing...

Apollo in Age

Spring,

        I am no good with pain.

Stop,

        I'll tell you anything.








There are lots of things in the world that could stand some serious rethinking. I ennumrate some of them in this poem from my eBook, Goes Around, Comes Around.



somewhere out there

this is serious business

somewhere
out there
interstellar star systems
are colliding

somewhere
out there
an alien race
of whoozidoozits
is going extinct as their
methane atmosphere
is slowly replaced
by megaterlagon oxygen farts

somewhere
out there
a spaceship full of
Baptist
is approaching
the water-planet
Abosion XII
for full-emersion
baptism

somewhere
out there
Pat Boone is thinking about
a comeback tour

somewhere
out there
a Republican
is suffering from delusions
of competency

somewhere
out there
a bunch of foreigners who don't
even speak English
are bouncing balls off their heads
and calling it
football

I mean
this is no damn time
for jokes
and silly faces








My next poems are by Paul Muldoon, from his book Moy Sand and Gravel. The book was published in 2002 byh Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Muldoon, an Irish poet, was born in 1951 He has published over thirty collections and won a Pulitzer Prize for Poetry and the T. S. Eliot Prize. He held the post of Oxford Professor of Poetry from 1999 - 2004. At Princeton University he is both the Howard G. B. Clark ’21 Professor in the Humanities and chair of the Lewis Center for the Arts. He is also the president of the Poetry Society of the U.K. and Poetry Editor at The New Yorker.

Once again (it seems to be a habit this week) I begin with the book's title poem.



Moy Sand and Gravel

To come out of the Olympic Cinema and be taken aback
by how, in the time it took a dolly to travel
along its little track
to the point where two movie stars' heads
had come together smackety-smack
and their kiss filled the whole screen,

those two great towers directly across the road
at Moy Sand and Gravel
had already washed, at least once, what had flowed
or been dredged from the Blackwater's bed
and were washing it again, load by load,
as if washing might make it clean.


The Braggart

He sucked, he'll have you know,
the telltale sixth toe
of a woman who looked like a young Marilyn Monroe,

he hubby getting a little stroppy
when he found them there in the back of that old jalopy.
Other papers please copy.


The Breather

Think of this gravestone
as a long,low chair
strategically placed
at a turn in the stair.


An Old Pit Pony

An old pit pony walks
its chalks
across a blasted heath.

Its coat is a cloud hung on a line.

It sighs
for the pit-propped skies
of that world beneath.

Its coat is a cloud hung on a line.








Closing in on the end of my 30 days - 30 stories challenge. This is number 28.



Flying

Sonyador rides his bike faster and faster on the sandy road, the wind on his face blowing stronger and stronger and he feels like he might fly, might takeoff into the blue summer sky like a giant two-wheeled bird.

He feels like he could fly.








The last poet from my library this week is Ron Slate. His poem is from his book The Great Wave, published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in 2009.

Slate was born in Quincy, Massachusetts in 1950. He received an MA in creative writing from Stanford University in 1973. His earlier collection The Incentive of the Maggot, was chosen by Robert Pinsky for the Bakeless Poetry Prize and was a winner of the Larry Levis Reading Prize from Virginia Commonwealth University.

Slate has worked as a corporate speechwriter and as vice president of global communications for EMC Corporation.



Krushchev's Foot

Looming before us is the pale, tender,
childlike foot of Nikita Krushchev.
Size 7 or 8, "like a boy's" according
to Sergei, his son, on the lecture circuit.

A shoe meant a lot to a Russian foot,
something you'd tug off a frozen corpse.
A shoe meant a lot to a British head of state,
to tap a shoe on the rostrum in Parliament
expressed the highest degree of obstruction.

So when Khruschev slammed his shoe on a desk
in the U.N., it meant megatons to us
but just a parliamentary flourish to him,
designed to make P.M. Macmillan, orating
unmenorably, feel at home.

Such a delicate foot, veined and moist -
it makes me want to reveal a secret,
and expendable one, declassified.

One night when I was seven years old,
my father woke me at three A.M.
to scan the sky for the coming
of the satellite, Kruschev's star.
There was nothing to impede the view,
not a wisp of cloud. So small and sharp,
bristling with speed, and gone -

It was then I knew I wanted to be
something to admire. Maybe to fear.
Of course, the massing of mistrust
between father and son,
our standoff in the Divided City
had something to do with it.

Disclosed: the Premier told his aides
to place a shoe under his desk.
A single American penny loafer.
Agrarian reformer on a hot day in May,
he had walked into the General Assembly
wearing socks and sandals.

If a person's nature is harsh
and resolute, may it also keep us
vigilant and entertained.
Years later, the child may explain
exactly what the father meant to say.







It was a very hot summer last summer, as described in this poem from my book, Goes Around, Comes Around, published if I remember right in the middle of it.



the Hawaiian shirt plan

it's a kind of an
orange/yellow thing
with palm trees
and some kind of
liquor bottle
with sailing ships
o the label -

it's one of seven
Hawaiian shirts I bought
a couple of weeks ago -
the one I have on today

part of my new
strategy for facing
south Texas summer -

embrace it!

no more hiding
in my air conditioned house
for four months, tasting
unprocessed outside air
only for the time it takes
to get from my air conditioned
house to my air conditioned car...

instead
i will sweat, just
as one's supposed to
when it's 100 degrees
in 85 percent humidity

i will wear my salt-stained
Hawaiian shirts daily,
i will work at leas one hour
per day in my backyard
in the cinder-roasting sun
as lightly dressed as allowed
by law, my fish-white belly
will be brown like the pecans
that fall from the tree, my
feet will become summer rough
again, my hands black & bruised
from digging in the dark soil
and sharp caliche rock

I will be like the ancient people
who made their hard lives here,
among the cactus and hills,
rocky meadows, summer heat,
and north winds of winter

I will be seven years old again
when summer was my friend

i will be summer








And now, Sonyador story number 29. One more to go.



Sasha

Sonny sleeps and he dreams of the people he’s known.

But he stirs, comes slowly awake, realizes there’s someone in the room with him, someone standing beside his bed.

It's Sasha!

“Sasha,” he cries out.

“No sir,” she says. “I’m Gloria. I’m your nurse.”








Here's a last poem for this week from my eBook, Goes Around, Comes Around, available at lots of places, cheap, too.

A suitable piece for this political season of bumblers and fools.



the liberal godless socialist media will never tell you this...

the liberal, godless socialist media
will never tell you
this...

Barack Obama was born in a hospital
and has five toes
on each foot

Nancy Pelosi
brushes her teeth with
Pepsodent

Harry Reed
grew up in a Nevada desert
with sand
in his underpants

Hilary Clinton
was a Presbyterian
in her youth and while
in the White House
was very close to a number of
self-confessed
thespians

many Democrats
are white men who can't
dance

many other Democrats
are black people in possession of natural
rhythm
and great recipes for sweet-potato pie

some Democrat women
wear underpants and some
do not - unlike Harry Reed, none
of the Democrat women
who wear underpants have sand
in them

Ted Kennedy was
mortal - unlike Ronald
Reagan who will live forever
in the right-thinking minds of our viewers
who know that we, here at the
Squirrel Network,
report all the news, including
the important secret stuff
the regular
liberal
godless
socialist media
will never let you
know






Here it is, the end of thirty stories in thirty days.



Even Dreams Must Someday End

Sonyador, the dreamer, dreams.

And the dreams seem more real than anything else; more real than the bed he lies in, the machine by his bed going blip, blip, blip, night and day, the infections, the nurses and the doctors, more real, even, than the catheter they inserted in his penis that hurt so much when they did it. That pain a shadow now, barely noticed among all the other shadows behind his dreams.

He is confused, a woman who said she was his wife came today, but he did not know her, did not know her name, did not know he had wife.

He has no wife in his dreams, all those years past, alive again in his sleep. His father long dead, victim of outrageous fortune, his mother, happily mindless in her nursing home until one night, when the truth of all things befell her, Tug, the brother he loved and idolized, gone so long ago, if not dead now, very, very old, Conch, his younger brother, lost in a faraway jungle in 1969, never found, presumed dead, Uncle Otto, another wrong death, Sasha, the mystery, the ever-sustaining myth of his life, and all the other people who walked upon the stage of his life, his teachers, and the boy who tried to push him around and Mr. and Mrs. Pretts, all back again, alive again, but only for as long as he can dream.

He had a knack for work, it was always said, and a knack for money, as it turned out. Though rich he became because he had a knack for work and acquisition, never rich enough to make up for lack of the knack for friends. No knack for friendship like his father had, no knack for friends who would be with him in this sterile, dismal place.

In the end, like everyone, like you and me, he becomes a victim of who he was. And he dreams of all those who might have made him different. His life, a product of all he ever was and all those who were in his time with him, in the end all before him again in sweet dreams of times before he became he who lies dreaming.

He weeps in his sleep because even in his sleep, maybe only in his sleep, he knows the dreams are just dreams, not real, all those people are not real. And he weeps, because he knows he is but a dream as well, a long dream ending soon.

Sonyador has grown so accustomed to the blip,blip,blip of the monitor beside his bed that he doesn’t hear it anymore.

Until it stops.

The dreamer who grew alone now dreams alone, until he dreams no more.

And all the dreams end, fading, as does he.








That's it. Everything belongs to those who created it. My stuff is free, if your properly credit me and "Here and Now."

I'm allen itz, owner and producer of this blog.

And this is what I've been up to:



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


"Always to the Light"




"Goes Around, Comes Around"




"Pushing Clouds Against the Wind"




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


"Seven Beats a Second"


0 Comments:

Post a Comment



return to 7beats
Previous Entries
Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow
All Brothers to All Brothers
Scorched Earth Policy
So Here I Am Again
My Afterlife as a Petunia
Trying to Stay Rational, Afloat in Seas of Insanit...
Remembering Alice Folkart, a Friend
Where I Went When I Went Too Far
Rise and Fall of the Putzian Empire
I'd Just Be Guessing If I Told You So
Archives
May 2006
June 2006
July 2006
August 2006
September 2006
October 2006
November 2006
December 2006
January 2007
February 2007
March 2007
April 2007
May 2007
June 2007
July 2007
August 2007
September 2007
October 2007
November 2007
December 2007
January 2008
February 2008
March 2008
April 2008
May 2008
June 2008
July 2008
August 2008
September 2008
October 2008
November 2008
December 2008
January 2009
February 2009
March 2009
April 2009
May 2009
June 2009
July 2009
August 2009
September 2009
October 2009
November 2009
December 2009
January 2010
February 2010
March 2010
April 2010
May 2010
June 2010
July 2010
August 2010
September 2010
October 2010
November 2010
December 2010
January 2011
February 2011
March 2011
April 2011
May 2011
June 2011
July 2011
August 2011
September 2011
October 2011
November 2011
December 2011
January 2012
February 2012
March 2012
April 2012
May 2012
June 2012
July 2012
August 2012
September 2012
October 2012
November 2012
December 2012
January 2013
February 2013
March 2013
April 2013
May 2013
June 2013
July 2013
August 2013
September 2013
October 2013
November 2013
December 2013
January 2014
February 2014
March 2014
April 2014
May 2014
June 2014
July 2014
August 2014
September 2014
October 2014
November 2014
December 2014
January 2015
February 2015
March 2015
April 2015
May 2015
June 2015
July 2015
August 2015
September 2015
October 2015
November 2015
December 2015
January 2016
February 2016
March 2016
April 2016
May 2016
June 2016
July 2016
August 2016
September 2016
October 2016
November 2016
December 2016
January 2017
February 2017
March 2017
April 2017
May 2017
June 2017
July 2017
Links
Loch Raven Review
Mindfire Renewed
Holy Groove Records
Tryst
Poems Niederngasse
BlazeVOX
Eclectica
Michaela Gabriel's In.Visible.Ink
zafusy
The Blogging Poet
Poetsarus.Com
Wild Poetry Forum
Blueline Poetry Forum
The Writer's Block Poetry Forum
The Word Distillery Poetry Forum
Gary Blankenship
The Hiss Quarterly
Thunder In Winter, Snow In Summer
Lawrence Trujillo Artsite
Arlene Ang
The Comstock Review
Thane Zander
Pitching Pennies
The Rain In My Purse
Dave Ruslander
S. Thomas Summers
Clif Keller's Music
Vienna's Gallery
Shawn Nacona Stroud
Beau Blue
Downside up
Dan Cuddy
Christine Kiefer
David Anthony
Layman Lyric
Scott Acheson
Christopher George
James Lineberger
Joanna M. Weston
Desert Moon Review
Octopus Beak Inc.
Wrong Planet...Right Universe
Poetry and Poets in Rags
Teresa White
Camroc Press Review
The Angry Poet