From a Place Far From Home
Saturday, February 18, 2012
I was fooling around on Facebook with this series of pictures a week or so ago and decided, since I know where they are (not always the case with my photo files), I ought to use them in a blog. The original versions of the photos were taken in and around Uvalde, Texas, on Highway 90 about 70 miles from San Antonio, a place not actually so far from home as it might look.
Giving special attention this week to poems from The Outlaw Bible of American Poetry, details follow.
Here's the whole package for the week.
I didn’t want to do this…
the pan dulce factor
Jessica Helen Lopez
I will take pictures today
this being the 68th anniversary of my birth
A Brief Description of What Goes On in Streater's Pub on Galveston Island
This Poem I’ll Sell for $100
Frank T. Rios
spoke to God last night - thought I should pass it on
As for Us
is poetry necessary?
Sunday breakfast at IHOP
It’s About the End of the World Stupid
Thursday Night in the Park
tussling with "Tannhauser"
Susana H. Case
The Cost of Heat
on reading "Cow" by Federico Garcia Lorca
Poets to Come
This is the kind of poem I really don't like to write, but, once it gets in my head, I have to write through it to get to the other side.
I didn’t want to do this…
about this last night
and was hoping that
by this morning
to write about
but here it is
and this is all I have
it’s a poem about
which is very different from
a religious poem,
I don’t write
being a practicing non-religionist
and I hate to write poems
because many people
into a religious
state of mind
had such a revelation
to the higher
of the universe,
they believe they have direct
you might even
but I am a tolerant man
and try to polite and non-dismissive
of others’ beliefs,
a man is nothing more than a
of his beliefs and the better nature
from a strong and secure
the problem I have
is not with belief,
buy mostly has to do
the limitations of
my own virtue and intellect,
when it is based
on blind faith,
in my own opinion,
of mental and spiritual
and it seems no matter
how hard I try
whatever I say,
especially when I might
when caught up in
the flow of thought,
to all and sundry
that all blind faith
and that blind faith is blind faith
is blind faith
and if one argues in discussion
that belief in a god
as an article
of such blind faith
then I feel I,
as a liberal
and tolerant person
must accept that opinion
of belief through faith
as valid even though I don’t feel
the validity of blind faith
as the basis
for belief in a god
being acceptable to me,
I would hope
standard of proof
they have established
must also be the standard of proof
for all believers
of all things and that
the only proof required,
their belief in God
must stand on equal footing
with someone else’s belief
in Peter Pan
it would be
at about that point
that I lose those
who don’t appreciate it
when their evidence
for the existence
of their God,
by their own argument
can equally be applied
all you have to do
this has nothing to do
except I read in the paper yesterday
very large percentage of Americans
believe in the Devil,
which surprised me at first
since almost none of the people I know
believe in the Devil
and neither do I, though
I do believe in evil
(though I am certain evil is a product of man
and not some faith-based-being)
but on reflection,
if God and Peter Pan
can exist, then surely
there must also be a Devil
for nature abhors
and will insist on a good
for every bad
and a bad for every good
if you set aside belief
and examine the question
on an evidentiary basis
that there’s a lot more evil in the world
meaning there is a lot more
evidence in the record
the existence of the Devil
than there is for God
or Peter Pan and
and that, certainly,
is the tragedy
of this whole thing -
if there is a god, as some say,
it is hard to believe he is
This week, I'm paying special attention to poets from The Outlaw Bible of American Poetry. It is huge anthology of over six hundred pages (in addition, the contributor list runs to 21 pages) published in 1999 by Thunder Mouth Press.
The first of my poets from the antholody is d. a. levy, a champion of free-speech who endured much police harassment in Cleveland where he grew up and lived, was much better known abroad and to a hard core avant garde fan base than to the general poetry public at large when he committed suicide or was murdered (still undetermined) in 1968 at the age of 26.
Reality Jew (1964)
(or what it's really like to be the angel of death in Cleveland
When i was a little kid
my parents never told me
i didn't find out until
i for our of high school
then when they asked me,
I ASKED THEM,
"Nationality or Religion?"
When i was a little kid
my parents brought me up as a christian
that when i discovered,
i was different
i wasn't THAT sick!
so at sixteen
still being a virgin forest
i must be a buddhist monk,
Then when people asked me
I TOLD THEM, i told them
"Not me, man, I don't belong to No-thing
In the navy
a swabby once asked me,
if i wanted to go to the
temple with him
i told him
"Not me, man, i'm the last
of the full-blooded american indians."
it became confusing
so after a while
when people inquired
"with a name like levy,
what the hell do you thing i am?"
A Ritz Cracker? A flying bathtub?
An arab etc.
But now it's getting pretty hip
to be a jew
and some of my best friends are
becoming converted to halavah,
even the crones who suddenly
became World War 2 catholics are
now praising bagels and lox
i still don't feel on ethnic things like
"Ok, so we all niggers so lets hold hands."
"OK, we're all wops so lets support the
Ok, we're all jews so lets weep on each
so now when people smile and say,
"Hey, you're one of us,"
i smile and say,
"Fuck you, man,
i'm sitll alive."
Here's a poem I wrote early in 2008, after the election, but before Obama took office.
Too bad, it seems I was too optimistic about the future.
the pan dulce factor
my normal breakfast
is a kind of Mexican
called in Texas
and in other places
they are the same thing,
a round sweet bread
with a red, yellow,
white or brown sugary
icing spread irregularly
in a kind of waffle pattern
the various colors
for display only,
having no effect on taste
I prefer the mojette
because like most Mexican
it has less sugar
than the standard gringo
pastries, thus increasing
that when the time comes
I will die with my feet on
with my mojette
I read two newspapers,
the local and the Times,
and drink one medium latte,
except, of course, if I’m at
Starbucks, I don’t have a
I have a grande latte
which is what Starbucks
calls a medium latte
hoping to get you say
I got a grande latte
for the same price as a medium,
I’m going to get all my lattes
from Starbucks from now on
just a trivial example of the
reconstruction of language
that’s part of our daily life
now days, like Bush starting
a preemptive war
that only preempts
the continued living
of many Americans
and many more
the Texas governor’s
to build many new
as an anti-global warming
or the Republican candidates’ plan
to get rid of all the Mexicans
wherever they may hide
we’ve had eight years
to learn all these tricks
and the good news is
in less than a year
we can forget all about their
since they’ll be
the bad news is
now we’re going to have to
all the new democrat
and who knows what that’s
going to be
turns out, they’ll still be
a few Mexican bakeries left
laying out on their shelves
in your favorite
of four colors
The next poem is by Jessica Helen Lopez. It's taken from her book, Always Messing with them Boys, published by West End Press in 2011.
Lopez is a three-time member of the City of Albuquerque Slam Team and 2008 National Champion UNM Lobo Slam Team. I think this is her first book. Whether it is or not, this book is the first of her's I've seen. I like her work very much and will be looking for the next ones.
Beauty,I can't promise
you much but the hard
kind of love made soft
by my own pair of hands -
the splitting of my thighs
like the cleft of nectarine
and the muted blood of motherhood
the early morning of your birth
colored the sky a certain shade of rose
I will never see again
and I labored the whole night away
like a lone train in the dark
the months you spent inside of me
crafted a name - Mia, Mine
you were a river that spilled from within
born praising Spring you split the air with your cries
my body bled announcing your arrival -
a dark ribbon inside me, unfolding
to your soft coiled body,
and my skin was alive with you
your father shed his ego
on the day you were born and I never
saw him so naked and pure
I should have known then
we were a bit to possessive,
calculative, mechanical things
the way good parents can be,
the way we change,
the way the tendrils of our scars wrap
around the ankles of our children
Beauty, this was years before
I became enamored with the
fanfare of divorce, before we
spoke through lawyers and angry-lipped
before we lost
track of you, our mangled
voices seeping into the walls of
your sleeping bedroom
our bent voices
brutal to your ears
red sickle-shaped words
we hurled at one another
how we suffer our little children
with our flint-rock tongues,
how we split hairs over money,
the cold bread of the dead
I blame him
for that knife in the back
he brought to our bed,
my shameless groveling
the secret closet where he
while I was nine months
swollen with you
I blame me
all those wrap-around thoughts
only a manic depressive knows
form my bitter tongue, my acidic love
the dumb pretty
poems I wrote
in the shadow of this sadness
I remember the small pale face of my mother
and red threats my father's mouth made -
their desperate and clumsy attempts towards happiness
Beauty, forgive us
we were rough-hearted, children-turned-parents
young once and in love with the world,
we became old so fast -
ten shades of grey we fell
tumbling and tangled
You were conceived in the bluster of a winter desert
sand in our eyes, we were two bull-headed lovers
who groped for one another in the darkness
we held you
so we wouldn't have to hold
onto our own shapeless loneliness
but this is how we get by, right?
on a morsel of regret and what we
think we know of love -
this is how
A very nice morning unfolding - from last week.
I will take pictures today
as I was sitting
day edged away night,
like an old dog
easing tentatively around shadowed
the wind blows
hard from the north,
as light overcomes dark
like the sunrise was sucking
all the cold
from the mountains,
against the back of my neck
like icy spider
pushing hard for a leap
to the next
of their sky bridge
to morning light
the north wind
in an hour or so
as the new cool air
settles over the city
and it will be a bright
and lovely day,
like the spider’s silk
between past winter and advancing spring
I will take pictures
Next from "the outlaw bible" I have this longer piece by Bob Kaufman.
One of thirteen children, Kaufman was born in New Orleans to a respected, high-achieving Black Catholic family. His mother was a school teacher and his father was a Pullman porter and was involved in the creation of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, the first Black union to successfully organize.
In 1945, at age eighteen, Kaufman joined the Merchant Marine and became active in the organizing of several overlapping maritime unions. He became an orator for the militantly leftist Seaman's International Union, then was purged from the union in the 1950s when the AFL and the CIO merged in the middle of the time's anti-communists crusades.
One of founding architects of the Beat Generation as a literary and historical phenomenon, he was overshadowed for years by white and college-educated contemporaries like Ginsberg and Kerouac.
I am sitting in a cell with a view of evil parallels,
Waiting thunder to splinter me into a thousand me's.
It is not enough to be in one cage with one self;
I want to sit opposite every prisoner in every hole
Doors roll and bang, every slam a finality, bang!
The junkie disappeared into a red noise, stoning out his hell.
The odored wino congratulates himself on not smoking.
Fingerprints left lying on black inky gravestones,
Noises of pain seeping through steel walls crashing
Reach my own hurt. I become part of someone forever.
Wild accents of criminals are sweeter to me than hum of cops,
Bust battening down hatches of human souls; cargo
Destined for ports of accusations, harbors of guilt.
What do policemen eat, Socrates, still prisoner, old one?
Painter, paint me a crazy jail, mad water-color cells
Poet, how old is suffering? Write it in yellow lead.
To lead through this atmosphere of shrieks and private hells,
Entrances and exits, in...out...up...down, the civic
Here - me - now - hear - me - now - always here somehow.
In a universe of cells - who is not in jail? Jailers.
In a world of hospitals - who is not sick? Doctors.
A golden sardine is swimming in my head
Oh we know some things, man, about some things
LIke jazz and jails and God.
Saturday is a good dayt to go to jail.
Now they give a new form, quivering jelly-like,
That proves any boy can be president of Muscatel.
They are mad at him because he's one of Them.
Gray-speckled unplanned nakedness; stinking
Fingers grasping toilet bowl. Mr. America wants to bathe.
Look! On the floor, lying across America's face -
A real movie star featured in a million newsreels.
What am I doing - feeling compassion?
When he comes out of it, he will help kill me.
He probably hates living.
Nuts, skin bolts, clanking in his stomach, scrambled.
His society's gone to pieces in his belly, bloated.
See the great American windmill, tilting at itself.
Good solid stock, the kind that made America drunk
Success written all over his street-streaked ass.
Successful-type success, forty home runs in one inning.
Stop suffering. Jock, you can't fool us. We know.
This is the greatest country in the world, ain't it?
He didn't make it Wino in Cell 3.
There have been too many years in this shot span of time.
My soul demands a cave of its own, like the Jain god;
Yet I must make it go on, hard like jazz, glowing
In this dark plastic jungle, land of long night, chilled.
My navel is a button to push when I want inside out.
Am I not more than a mass of entrails and rough tissue?
Must I break my bones? Drink my wine-diluted blood?
Should I dredge old sadness from my chest?
All those ancient balls of fire, hotly swallowed, let them lie.
Let me spit breath mists of introspection, bits of me,
So that when I am gone, I shall be in the air.
Someone whom I am is no one.
Something I have done is nothing.
Someplace I have been in nowhere.
I am not me.
What of the answers
I must find questions for?
All these strange streets
I must find cities for,
Thank God for beatniks.
All night the stink of rotting people.
Fumes rising from pyres of live men,
Fill my nose with gassy disgust,
Drown my exposed eyes in tears.
Traveling God salesmen, bursting my ear drum
With the fullest part of a good sexy book,
Impatient for MOnday and adding machines.
Yellow-eyed dogs whistling in evening.
The baby came to jail today.
One more day to hell, filled with floating glands.
The jail, a huge hollow metal cube
Hanging from the moon b y a silver chain.
Someday Johnny Appleseed is going to chop it down.
Three long strings of light
Braided into a ray.
I am apprehensive about my future;
My past has turned its back on me.
Shadows I see, forming on the wall,
Pictures of desires protected from my own eyes.
After spending all night constructing a dream,
Morning came and blinded me with light.
Now I seek among mountains of crushed eggshells
For the God damned dream I never wanted.
Sitting here writing things on paper,
Instead of sticking the pencil into the air.
The Battle of Monumental Failures raging,
Both hoping for a good clean loss.
Now I see the night, silently overwhelming day.
Caught in imaginary webs of conscience,
I weep over my acts, yet believe.
Cities should be built on one side of the street.
People who can't cast shadows
Never die of freckles.
The end always comes last.
We sat at a corner table,
Devouring each other word by word.
Until nothing was left, repulsive skeletons.
I sit here writing, not daring to stop,
For fear of seeing what's outside my head.
There, Jesus, didn't hurt a bit, did it?
I am afraid to follow my flesh over those narrow
Wide hard soft female beds, but I do.
Link by link, we forged the chain.
Then, discovering the end around our necks,
We bugged out.
I have never seen a wild poetic loaf of bread,
But if I did, I would eat it, crust and all.
From how many years away does a baby come?
Universality, duality, totality....one
The defective on the floor mumbling,
Was once a man who shouted across tables.
Come, help flatten a raindrop.
Written in San Francisco City Prison
Cell 3, 1959
Happy Birthday to me.
this being the 68th anniversary of my birth
of my birth,
I’m taking extra time
to ponder over the perfect,
appropriate, and not unnecessarily gloomy
to mark the occasion
in a way, since taking time
is the one most rapidly diminishing
luxury that accompanies the being of 68 years
or at least not too ill-reputable
that thing which flashes
as it passes
no is it did through years
of my lesser, school- going age)
being the thing
everyone wants more
of, the thing that even bored-
more of, even though it would seem
might want less of it, but it seems
there is no life so boring
that the bored want less of it, it being
the un-bored, lives filled with non-boring
trial and tribulation,
who seek to escape it’s daily, hourly, moment by moment
to the conclusion that
instead of suicide, we should council
those so distressed to seek
a higher grade of boredom to make their life
seem more worth living,
daily consecutive hours
like hour after hour
of "Wheel of Fortune"
or Wolf Blitzer
the latest celebrity
but I digress
on this my 68th birthday
I am not bored
am I distressed, though disappointed
maybe, that I am required to be such an age
before I have completely finished
being 16, which, though I have been working on it now
for 52 years, is not quite done
the way I’d like to see it
there is that cheerleader,
old as wizened
as she now must be,
who occupies the more interesting
of my dream world,
in real life
and not even
in my dreams
I expect a new
of pimples any minute,
now as then
of my unrequited romantic
every really changes,
no matter how many years
you add to the
Here are two poems by Bobby Byrd, from his book On the Transmigration of Souls in El Paso, published by Cinco Puntos Press in 1992.
Byrd, a poet, essayist and publisher, grew up in Memphis,Tennessee during the golden age of that city’s music. In 1963 he went to Tucson where he attended the University of Arizona. Since then he has lived in the American Southwest. In 1978 he and his wife, novelist Lee Merrill Byrd, moved to El Paso. The city and the border region has become their home.
He is the recipient of a poetry fellowship from the NEA, a D.H. Lawrence fellowship, and an international fellowship to study in Mexico. In addition to this book, he is the author of numerous books of poetry including Pomegranates, Get Some Fuses for the House, The Price of Doing Business in Mexico, and his most recent, White Panties, Dead Friends & Other Bits & Pieces of Love.
He and his wife are publishers and owners of Cinco Puntos Press. In 2005 they received the Lannan Fellowship for Cultural Freedom.
A Brief Description of What Goes On in Streater's Pub on Galveston Island
"Now we can live in hope."
- the father of Anne Frank
The Nazis banged on the door.
They came to get Anne Frank,
holding onto her boy friend
and looking up to the sky,
"I think the world is going thru a phase
Beverly the Barkeep
asked Henry, the one with the toothache,
what about the red snapper
that Al caught that afternoon?
"He forgot to put it on ice
until just an hour ago," she said.
"Does it stink yet,
that sort of sweet smelling fishy stink?"
Henry asked and winked at me.
It was some kind of dirty joke.
I sucked at my Lone Star Longneck
and smiled at Henry
like I knew exactly what he was talking about.
Anne Frank had already disappeared.
they didn't show the Nazis
breaking in and muttering -
filthy fucking jews
dirty asshole kikes.
Henry said that the best way to cook snapper
is to lay it in a pan and cut a big X in its side,
then stuff the cuts with hunks of garlic and butter,
pepper it up real good, maybe some
Louisiana Hot Sauce and bake it until it's good and done.
"Oh, it's so good that way," he told Beverly
who had an icepick in her hand.
the the fat woman from Chicago
a real goddess
still fresh and damp
from swimming in the warm ocean,
wanted me to understand
about the synchronicity of Streaters Pub
so she bummed two quarters
and played Janis Joplin on the jukebox.
This fat woman, suddenly
the muse that she had become
wore a blue beach towel for a skirt
and a red halter
in which her enormous breasts
She looked at me and laughed.
"Don't worry, Buddy,
I'm not going to screw you," she said.
rolling her giant hips
while dead Janis burst out -
Freedom is just another word
for nothing else to lose.
This Poem I'll Sell for $100
I went to a party last night.
Carol the old lady
anthropologist told me that
she was heading for Brazil,
the rain forests on the amazon
they're gone forever -
in fact, before
we're all gone forever - she wants
to meet the perfect man, she
wants to get laid,
she wants the darkness
of the jungle. Mosquitos
and sweat she can live with
as long as the natives
don't steal her teeth.
I poured her another glass of red wine.
I poured myself one.
My buddy Richard, meanwhile,
was selling art
to the highest bidder,
some black and white
monoprints of the dry desert world
of pure rock, the stems
and roots of mesquite trees,
an apocalyptic wind blowing
into our collective faces.
God hides out in such places.
I wanted to cry out, but
Richard had a smile on his face.
He put his arm around my shoulders.
He gave me a big Jewish kiss.
He told me not to worry. He said,
Money is okay if you know what to do with it.
Work is okay if you know what to do with it.
I went home at eleven o'clock, I wanted
to get up early and write
some poems, but Carol and Richard
stayed drinking the red wine.
The told me that after I left
they were going to break out the expensive stuff.
This is another poem from 2008, this one from February.
The drought we hope we have just broken was on the horizon, but we didn't know it yet.
we started the day
with a promise
blown in off
as tropic currents
but west texas winds
and rain that
should have been ours
hugged the coast,
Corpus Christi Bay,
and all the little
all the boats
secured against the weather
in little harbor coves,
then swinging along
the coastal arc
past Port Lavaca
where the pirate Lafitte
took his winter rest,
a few miles inland
to clean rinse
of Houston smog
all the way
to dampen some
fallow cotton field
after a wet
summer and fall
our brown hills
green, letting us
forget for a while
the truth of where
we live, there has been
no rain beyond the
that soften some
with no real rain,
the ground hardens
like the caliche
only inches below
the surface, then
into a fine dust,
where you can see
the inverted cones
the little insects
made in their
I have never known
for sure but suspect
it has something to do
with finding relief from
heat in the arms
of cool dark earth
below the surface
instead of rain,
the sun was out
and like the doodlebugs
I've burrowed into
my little air conditioned
nest to wait it out
Next, I have several shorter poems from the outlaw anthology.
The first of the poems is by poet, songwriter, singer Patti Smith
I keep trying to figure out what it means
to be american. When I look in myself
I see arabia, venus, nineteenth-century
french but I can't recognize what
makes me american. I think about
Robert Frank's photographs - broke down
jukeboxes in gallup, new mexico...
swaying hips and spurs...ponytails and
syphilitic cowpokes. I thinking about a
red, white and blue rag I wrap around
my pillow. Maybe it's nothing material
maybe it's just being free.
Freedom is a waterfall, is pacing
linoleum till dawn, is the right to
write the wrong words. and I done
plenty of that...
This poem is by Frank T. Rios, author of seven books of poetry and recipient of the Joya C. Penobscot Award and the Tombstone Award for poetry in 1988. From the Bronx, he became a part of the beat scene in the 1950s.
My muse burns
a holy candle
to the nite
as she lies
in the other room
what I know
in my closed hand
& my muse
The next poet is George Tsongas. All the book has to say about Tsongas is that he lives in San Francisco.
no one enjoys
And also from the anthology, Paul Landry, a North Beach poet who composed his poems by hand set letterpress.
I go to the country
and while there
I can't write
Sunlight seems like
a steel car
falling off a hill.
What names should
I give to these girls
in green dresses
who will never know
I exist at the edge
of their gowns?
I go nowhere
going out of my mind.
And the city arrives.
And the city sits down
and the city wants
to serve tea
and pork chops
simple as that
green light already
shining on top
of the hill.
A report on a happy occasion last week.
last night, with family,
eleven of us gathered around
bar-b-que brisket - chicken - sausage,
creamed corn, potato salad,
Dee's special arroz y boracho beans,
tortillas (flour and corn), wine
for those that do that,
ice tea for me
and the youngest, my niece,
18, on the glide path from high school
to the next step, trying
to choose from among the several colleges
that want to give her money
to join them in educational
adventure - the ocassion
of the event, multiple, my birthday,
my son's birthday (29) and our anniversary (35),
all occuring within the space of a week, celebrating
done all at once - a good time had by all,
the dinner, boisterous family
discussion over cake and
three rounds of Scattagories, the game,
with my son and my two nephews at the table, all
about the same age and fierce competitors,
gladiators for the cause of supremacy,
a Roman Circus around the just cleared table...
the oldest at the table,
i try, in the midst of the circus
to pass on some of my age-earned wisdom
about life and it's meaning,
especially to the new generation
of my son and his cousins
and find that everyone at the table
is more interested
in the gathering up their own earned-wisdom
than in listening to mine and I'm not telling it too well
any way, so I let it pass, simplify it as best i can
by telling to look around the table
and see in the gathering a successful life
assembled through patience and living not alone
and apart, but in the folds of family, so that whatever
the unwrapping of their life might bring, whatever thorny
or sylvan path they follow, there will be always
someone walking with them, always someone to pull the thorns,
to share the sunrises and meadow flowers, whichever
comes as all will come in its time
live not alone,
is the simple message, face life
as your constant and never under-valued
Here are two poems by Dennis Cooper. The poems are from his book Idols, published by Amethyst Press in 1989.
Cooper, born in 1953 in Pasadena, California, is a novelist, poet, critic, editor and performance artist. He is direct and explicit about his homosexuality in his poetry, to the point that I was very selective in which of his poems to use. It's not the homosexuality that concerns me, but his near pornographic, artful to be sure, use of sex as a motif.
Concerned that I might offend many "Here and Now" readers, I have chosen to stay on the more bland side of his work. If you want more, check out the book.
This isn't it.
I thought it would be
like having a boned pillow.
I saw myself turning
over and over in lust
like sheets in a dryer.
My style was reckless,
wood dry. Other than mine
there were little or no arms.
I would whisper anything
into an implied ear
and praise would rise
like a colorless, scentless gas.
Then I would breathe to sleep.
But my lover moves.
And my lips grow numb as rubber
before I capture half the ass
that roselike Atlantis
from my dreams.
I try to get his shoulder blade between my teeth.
He complains, pillow in his mouth.
Doesn't mean it.
He rolls onto his back,
race raw and wet as fat,
like it has been shaken from nightmares.
I don't know how to please this face.
Tomorrow when he has made breakfast
and gone, I will sweep
the mound of porno from my closet,
put a match to its lies.
I will wait in my bed
as I did before, a thought ajar,
and sex will slip into my room
like a white tiger.
When they snapped his picture
he was on LSD
and flunking everything.
You would have said:
good for a rape and an O.D."
You would have jerked-off once
and been done with him. His friends did.
But you should have seen him
when a Christian smile
licked these lips.
Four months after this photo
his fists softened like swallowed pills.
His harangue calmed to lectures,
the Word, the Book
tucked in an underarm.
Hair fell to his shoulders
and filled with hands,
girls', friends', parents', God's.
We let him blather about love,
a world one thought beyond us,
the day we would float.
We didn't argue or contradict.
His chin rose like the hour hand.
We listened. We let
him have whatever made him
this way and this good.
Really need to be careful who I talk to. Lots of strange characters out there.
spoke to God last night - thought I should pass it on
spoke to God
and this is what he had to say:
none who claim
to speak to me, he said,
for it is only my evil twin
with whom they converse
and he is devious
a mighty tempter
not truth, but merely
and false pride…
ayatollahs of every stripe,
popes, politicians -
I speak to none of them
for they would exploit my word
for they are not worthy
of either power
or my word…
to the meadow,
said he who is empowered
to create poetic
listen to the rising
to the full moon
to the clouds
and the wind that moves them,
to the exploited,
murdered to extinction
animals that I created
and that those who claim my power
claim the right to
(they will feel the heat
of true destruction
death and fire and
they know not the least of
but will someday be taught
by my angels
of retribution - those who
in this world
usurp my word and spirit
will know someday
the fact of my indignation
and all it contains
for I am the meanest
toughest, most unforgiving
sonuvabitch in the hood
to those who mock me
and demean me
through false claims
with my intentions
and they will be so properly
don’t be standing
to such poseurs
and imposters, is all I’m saying,
their time is coming
instead to the truth
that is all around you
in the world
(and, by the way,
I made it for my own enjoyment,
not for you,
so don’t get too full of yourself,
for I am
after all, God,
better even than the elephants
that I also made at not
that what he told me,
I was a little surprised
to get the call,
I thought I should pass it on
The next poem from the outlaw anthology is by David Gollub, editor of Bullhorn,described as "the official poetry broadside of the Barbarians."
As for Us
As night falls like a blade we are
seated on benches again
goggling at each other;
lenses bend our eyes crutches of light
Hair streams out of our heads like smoke
from brains on fire; our faces get
stretched to caricature
each in the other's mirror, finding each other
on the spot, forced to dot
even before we speak. Rage stretches the
rein we keep on our voices taut
near to breaking,
as if our very words were
horses lacerated toward a stampede
into chaos, desperate to shed
their meanings, pulling the thunder of those
over badlands with even more
Whose symptom is it,
that unrelenting spur? Look at the world,
people starve, and receive
from those with food in houses
and hands in pockets
warm smiles. Cruelty
not even for pleasure,
pleasure is punished.
Look at us: drunk, furious, with a strong back suddenly
broken, with a twisted leg,
with muscles rotting on green bones,
drug-sick, rule-sick, work-sick, 86'd,
homeless, hungry,horny,choked in bed
by the intolerable burden
of another body's muscular love,
choked in the dust
of the blossoming acacia,
longing for love and frightened of it,
wheezing, sad, pissed off,
ourself the last wound
with knife, spike,prick,sharp
just to be on the side of the sharp sorrow that seems
always to win. Look at us,
each with the identification badge
of a conspicuous personally tailored
held closed by enchantment.
A little bit of musing from the latter part of 2008.
We do seek to justify ourselves, don't we.
is poetry necessary?
i wrote two
which makes this poem
under my poem a day
is any poem
and i think
at first well
you cannot eat
you cannot drink
you cannot hold a poem
over your head
from a poem
make a club to beat
back those who would
do you harm
and i think again
for what purpose
so what is necessary
for us to survive
that goes beyond
of lizards and cockroaches
and i think
of our first poets
the witch doctor
the monk the priest
the rabbi the imam
or whatever you choose
to call those poets
of the soul
those poets of memory
who made us more
than the lizard
or the cockroach
or any of the lesser beasts
who while they have
their own spark
the fire of
that while this poem
Next, I have three poems by Dilruba Ahmed, from her book, Dhaka Dust, published in 2011 by Graywolf Press.
Ahmed, with roots in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Bangladesh, holds degrees in Creative Writing and Instruction and Learning from the University of Pittsburgh and is a graduate of Warren Wilson's MFA Program for Writers.
She is winner of a Katherine Bakeless Nason Prize for Poetry awarded by Middlebury College and the Bread Loaf Writers Conference.
I begin with her book's title poem.
Can't occupy the same space at the same time
unless, of course, you land in Dhaka, rickshaws
five or six abreast. They are all here:
studded metal backboards ablaze with red flowers,
Heineken boxes, a Bangladeshi star with blue eyes,
peacocks, pink fans of filigree. The drivers sweat
and strain in their plaid lungis, and each face
seems to say Allah takes and Allah
gives. A woman breathes into her green shawl
against the dust on the road's median. A man
with a plaid scarf (surplus from The Gap)
slaps the rump of a passing gray car
as thought it's a horse or a dog. You are there, too,
you maroon sleeves begin to stick
despite your deodorant. Under your orna,
a laminated map and digital camera
cradled in your lap. One strand of silver
wiry by your ear. Bits of children's songs
snag in your windpipe. Other words surface:
sweatshop and abject poverty, and you let them.
They mix with the low rumbling that began
on the plane, ms and bs tumbling, amplified
in the streets: the rickshaw bells' light metal,
the nasal peal of horns. On this continent,
the ocean's giant tongue has swept away
miles of coastline, and bodies flood the water.
Dust sifts into your longs and sinks - feline,
black, to remain long after your leave.
In stuffy gyms that passed
for mosques, my sisters and I
parroted words without grace
Allah hu akbar. Salaam
alaikum. then the prayer-song broke
and we mimicked instead
lyrics thrumming from
somebody's Walkman: I want
your sex. The station wagon crawled
from house to house where
with brown kids, where a friend
flashed herr thabees as though
casting a hex.
In another country
we'd have fasted and fasted in a
month of sunset meals,wearing
gifts of new dresses. Instead,
I took salt in my mouth
with our neighbors, brothers
from Egypt who passed the ball
and dribbled and spit all month
on the court, avoiding
their own saliva.
Soon, I will arrive at a house aglow
with lights and an endless meal, plate
after steaming plate to feed all
who enter. And if my feet are muddy,
my hands cold; if I have stumbled,
as I will tell you,now, I have stumbled -
with my faith returned to me like a pouch
of broken bones - I hound my face
among the villagers. I haven't walked
here alone. And now the night holds my name
in the thicket, the sky the ribbed scales
of a fish, phosphorescent, backlit.
Behind the house, I'm told, there's a river
full of minnows, now drawn together, now
drawn apart. Beyond that is a woods
dark enough for disappearing,
and at each root, a dirt
soft enough to knead.
Here's another of my pieces from 2008.
Sunday breakfast at IHOP
from the booth
with youthful lilt
and a full and jolly
that turns heads,
an old man
with trembling fingers,
and liver spots
on his bald
wearing a porky pig tie
that matches his laugh,
the pale, still hand
a dead-faced woman
in a wheel chair
Next, I have two more short poems from the anthology.
The first poem is by Jack Wiler.
The book provides no information on Wiler beyond his poem.
It's About the End of the World Stupid
I always seen the hills of Persia as brown and fading.
the processions winding through the streets of Moscow
The crack of gunfire in Sarajevo
The sound of Allen Ginsberg's voice
in the cobbled rooks of Prague.
I'm putting on the veil.
I'm remembering my place.
I'm thinking of jobs long neglected.
I watching for signs.
Fractals dancing in the hills.
Singing all the praises to the lord
We've lit the last big Roman Candle
It's late on the Fourth of July
We're turning out the lights
Come inside while you still can.
The next poem is by Klipchutz, a San Francisco poet and songwriter.
I want all the women
all the money
and all the fun
I want every rainbow
all the marbles
and a personalized introduction to God
I want a death list
and a cat with no fur
I want everything
I have nothing
I will negotiate
Next, a little piece of fun by Joe Brainard, an artist born in 1942 in Arkansas and raised in Oklahoma. In 1961, after a few months of study at the Dayton Art Institute, he moved to New York and had his first solo exhibition of his work in 1965. From there he went on to many other successful shows, as well as designing sets and costumes for theater and covers for a number of poetry books and magazines. Also a writer, he published a number of books. He died in 1994.
Looking through a book of drawings by Holbein I realized several moments of truth. A nose (a line) so nose-like. So line-like. And then I think to myself "so what?" It's not going to solve any of my problems. And then I realized that at that very moment of appreciation I had no problems. Then I decided that this is a pretty profound thought. And that I ought to write it down. This is what I have just done. But it doesn't sound so profound anymore. That's art for you.
And here's another little piece of fun; this one by Hal Sirowitz.
Thursday Night in the Park
From this distance I couldn't tell
whether he was kissing her
or just taking a bite out of her pizza.
Radio brings back fond memories.
tussling with "Tannhauser"
tussling with “Tannhauser”
to my coffee house
some very boring thing on NPR
drove me to the classical music station
in time for
Wagner’s most sublime,
his overture to “Tannhauser,”
listening in the car,
the repeated refrain,
the sweet cry of French horns,
then passing around the orchestra,
through the low brass
and back around to French horns
down the register
to where the low brass arrives
for the final say,
huge and ponderous,
like the earth turning
on its axis,
of the planet’s regal orbit,
as it seems to tear itself apart,
where it splits atwain,
its howling, fiery
with a roar like the universal
slipping then again
to the dark side
of the moon…
and I am transported
to a time
more than fifty years past when
those of us in the bass section
looked forward every year
to the chance to play the piece again
it was one of the few times
we were given official
to “blow our guts out”
and we did
I wish I could have that much fun
Finally, from my library, I have the title poem by Susana H. Case, from her book, The Cost of Heat, published by Pecan Grove Press in 2010.
Case was born in New York City and is a professor at the New York Institute of Technology. She has published widely in many poetry journals.
The Cost of Heat
What I'm surprised to miss: cramps,
the fusty smell. Men
who pull away in prissiness
are not worth loving. Love draws gore.
Despite the blood,
the sweat, the tears - in their thick,
you never pulled away.
Leach of us a fountain.
In the bathroom, you try to quell fierce
bleeding from a cut on your thumb. A sharp
widget on the radiator
fiddled with because the room
I work in is so cold. Not
as chilly as the ground:
we'll lay down together
in the cold cold ground.
Each leaking gap contains surprisingly
good color for lips and nails and ambivalence
at the inevitability of blood's drying.
Here's a last piece from 2008.
on reading “ Cow” by Federico Garcia Lorca
i am reminded
of how often i worry about the meat i eat,
not because i’m a vegetarian
or because i think it is necessarily
immoral to eat other creatures
but because of the way these other creatures
come to become an entree on my plate
if you’ve ever been to a slaughter house,
you know what
for the life being taken
in the end
for the life being eaten
if i continue to eat meat
i almost certainly will continue to do
i will endeavor to remind myself
of the creature whose living essence
no more hamburgers for me
from now on
when i go to McDonald’s
it’ll be ground cow on a bun to go
no more BLT
lettuce and tomato
and crispy slices of
never got enough respect
for us to disrespect them
so we eat up our chicken breast
without thinking much about it
i haven’t decided yet
how to deal with that
breast of feathered fowl
of feathered fowl
with secret spices
will have to think
a bit more
And, finally, this final piece from The Outlaw Bible of American Poetry, the final poem in the book is by the outlaws' preeminent hero, Walt Whitman. It is the editors' end note, a final tribute to outlaws past and an entreaty to outlaws not yet known.
Poets to Come
Poets to come, orators, singers, musicians to come!
Not today is to justify me and answer what I am for.
But you, a new brood, native, athletic,continental,greater than
Arouse! for you must justify me.
I myself but write one or two indicative words for the future,
I but advance a moment only to wheel and hurry back in the
I am a man who saunters along without fully stopping, turns a
casual look to you and then averts his face,
Leaving it to you to prove and define it,
Expecting the main things from you.
Suburban angst - from last week.
at my back yard,
thinking of last summer
bare dirt everywhere
a fair winter of rain,
and weeds are mid-calf high,
some kind of sticky vine
in the flower beds, easy to pull up
but even the smallest sprig
left behind spreads again in a day or two
like sin on a Saturday night
hugely greenly green
and if you squint your eyes
all you see is the verdant expanse
life is often
like that, sometimes
you just have to squint your eyes
and take what you can get
The end, and the usual stuff - everything belongs to who made it; my stuff to, but you can have it if you properly credit "Here and Now" and me.
I'm allen itz, owner of producer of this blog, and merchant of books fine and dandy.
Available for Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Sony eBookstore and Appple ibookstore -
"Always to the Light"
"Goes Around, Comes Around"
"Pushing Clouds Against the Wind"
For those of a print-bent, available on Amazon
"Seven Beats a Second"