Odds & Ends in Black & White   Monday, February 13, 2012

I'm giving special attention to William Carlos Williams this week, presenting a number of his poems, both late and early.

Photos this week are as described in the title, odds and ends in black and white.

Here are my poets

William Carlos Williams
The Sunbathers
This is Just to Say

yea for spandex

Alberto Rios
Teodoro Luna’s Two Kisses
Marvella, for Borrowing

mama kitty

William Carlos Williams
At the Faucet of June

more about skin

From Voices of Light
Sisupacala Speaks with Mara
Holy sixth day
Anonymous Sanskrit songs
When he comes back
My husband
He who stole my virginity

Light and Earth

the world turned upside-down

William Carlos Williams
The Arrival

a sullen sun

raulsalinas (Autumn Sun)
Cedar Woman Poem
Song of a Sad Lover

I’m gonna make it to the big time

William Carlos Williams
Dedication for a Plot of Ground


Walt Whitman
From Song of the Broad-Ax

green pastures

William Carlos Williams

alive, alive-o

Michael Earl Craig
Notes to Self
Advice for the Poet

license to carry

Debbie Kirk
Don’t Read This Poem

Iris Berry
Ode to Sammy Glick

Cynthia Ruth Lewis
The Makings of a Serial Killer

Misty Rainwater-Lites

before her fifteen minutes

William Carlos Williams
The Bare Tree
The Manoeuvre
Hard Times
The Horse
Sonnet in Search of an Author

worn and worn out

I start this week with William Carlos Williams, and will return to him several times through the post. The poems I will use are from the collection, Selected Poems, published 1985 by New Directions.

Williams, with Whitman, are the two foundational pillars of modern American poetry, with influence beyond their own shores.

Whitman, is the poet of the long view, of forever times, past, present, and future; Williams, the poet of the moment, the immediate right now and the immediate right here.

The Sun Bathers

A tramp thawing out
on a doorstep
against an east wall
Nov. 1, 1933:

a young man begrimed
and in an old
army coat
wiggling and scratching

while a fat negress
in a yellow-house window
leans out and yawns

into the fine weather


As the cat
climbed over
the top of

the jamcloset
first the right

then the hind
stepped down

into the pit of
the empty


flowers through the window
lavender and yellow

changed by white curtains -
Smell of cleanliness -

Sunshine of late afternoon -
On the glass tray

a glass pitcher, the tumbler
turned down, by which

a key is lying - And the
Immaculate white bed

And this, probably his second most well-known poem

This Just to Say

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

Written last week, a shout out for modern chemistry.

yea for spandex

I’m sorry
but being a lover
of beauty
I say
hear it for spandex
when properly applied to nether parts
a dream
that takes me away
with the artful pleasure of
a human body
in its unencumbered beauty
well-bundled buttocks
with knee-high
a sign of natural beauty living
and of winter’s onset
in these parts
and those parts properly
in a cloth like skin
(and I really do like skin -
all skin, even my own skin,
because it seems such a natural
all-weather covering
and, youthfully smooth
or aged like fine whiskey
in a oaken barrel,
beautiful as well)
be offended
cause I’d surely like
your skin
and by gosh
if you want to wear boots
and stretch pants
I’ll pull out
one of my old muscle shirts
and say yea
and yea me
and neither of us need
inquire as to
for the live, moving body
of any creature,
feathered, furred, or thin-skinned
like you and me
is the beauty from which
all art is born,
by the way,
also for the fact
that male underwear models
are now allowed
to have something in their briefs
that Ken
can only wish for
(poor Barbie)

Next, I have two poems by Alberto Rios from his book, Teodoro Luna's Two Kisses, published in 1990 by W.W. Norton.

Ríos, born 1952 in Nogales, Arizona, is author of nine books and chapbooks of poetry, three collections of short stories, and a memoir. He is a Regents' professor of English at Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona. His work is regularly taught and translated, and has been adapted to dance to both classical and popular music.

I start with the title poem to his book.

Teodoro Luna's Two Kisses

Mr. Teodoro Luna in his later years had taken to kissing
Hi wife
Not so much with his lips as with his brows.
This is not to say he put his forehead
Against her mouth -
Rather, he would lift his eyebrows, once, quickly:
Not so vigorously he might be confused with the villain
Famous in the theaters, but not so little as to be thought
A slight movement, one of accident. This way
He kissed her
Often and quietly, across tables and through doorways,
Sometimes in photographs, and so through the years themselves.
This was his passion, that only she might see. The chance
He might feel some movement on her lips
Toward laughter.

Marvella, for Borrowing


Lately in her full arms
I had felt the things
That would not go, the hands:
She had gathered to herself
Some part of all the fingers
Of all of the men who had
Touched here there, Florencio,
His road fingers like past winter gloves,
Caetano who was matches,
Cesar, who could only see
By his fingers, and how hard
He had looked,all the many hours
For a finger to be an eye,
And then the sadness.


Lately in her arms
The fullness was everything,
All those fingers
All over me, at first
Feeling like desire.
But it was with those vast arms
As well that she flew,
the way the fingers of a man
Cannot stop, and so they suspended her
Better than the new engines.
I have seen her hovering
with those monstrous arms
at the window, I have seen her
Though I have tried
To shield my eyes:
Too quickly I made the gesture
In the old way
As if I myself still had hands.


And this is just one thing,
Because the men touched her with everything.
And their eyes, those wee the heaviest
Of all she was made to carry.
The eyes and what those eyes
Desired to see on her.
So that under her clothes
Through the years she grew
Half-wings, the small tail with feathers,
Breasts as big as elephant buttocks.


And the men grew thinner
Because they looked so hard,
and each long whistle they made
Rudely was one inch too much of the rooster soul.
Those noises became indentations under clothes,
Spaces in place of protrusions;
Marvella in her turn
Became with so many appendages
A hundred men.
I watched in the window suspended
and then flying, with her fat and old arms
And her half-wings,
Taking me with her as well, everything
Save the kindness of having left
In memory of a particular morning
These eyes and this mouth.

I like cats, enjoy their independence and arrogance, hard to win over (the process not for the impatient), but once won, true and affectionate friends.

I'm still working on the cat below.

mama kitty

mama kitty
does not believe
in humans touching cats

in fact
does not believe
that perfect felines
like her should be touched
at all without written invitation

she sits on my front porch
every morning, watching the door,
perfect black paws primly placed
together on the floor, lined up like
GI Joe’s shoes along the edge of his bed,
desert combat boots, jungle combat boots,
mountain combat boots, swamp combat boots,
fluffy bunny houseshoe
all aligned for immediate use
as appropriate

(back to the cat now)
waits outside my front door
every morning
to be fed, waiting, a space away,
for me to deposit the food
and withdraw, always, like in a church school
boy-girl dance, the required
eleven inch distance between my hand
and her nose,
the separation of species
in which she firmly believes
as both a natural law and an expression
of appropriate etiquette
between lower and higher orders
of beings, she the queen, me the faithful
serf, bringing the day’s harvest
for her persnicketious inspection and

but I endure
the serfdom, the denigration
of my status
as bread-winner of the relationship,
laboring daily to bring home the kibble
while she lounges in the sun,
so beautifully regal,
sipping mineral water,
stretching a shapely paw occasionally
to reach her box of chocolate-covered-mousie- bonbons…

I’ve loved women
like this
(none of whom shall be named here)

intensely devoted
cat lovers,
each and every one,
and pupil, never too far
from the other

Here's more from the good Doctor Williams.

At the Faucet of June

The sunlight in a
yellow plaque upon the
varnished floor

is full of a song
inflated to
fifty pounds pressure

at the faucet of
June that rings
the triangle of the air

pulling at the
anemones in
Persephone's cow pasture -

When from among
the steel rocks leaps

who enjoyed
extraordinary privileges
among virginity

to solve the core
of whirling fly wheels
by cutting
the Gordian knot
with a Veronese or
perhaps a Rubens -

whose cars are about
the finest on
the market today -

And so it comes
to motor cars
which is the son

leaving off the g
of sunlight and grass -

to say, impossible
to underestimate -
wind, earthquakes in

Manchuria, a
from dry leaves.

The subject came up in an earlier poem.

more about skin

not just the bag
you carry yourself
around in -

it is an essential
the wrap
that holds together
all the requisite parts
in all their proper places,
and processor
of the natural sun-baked nutrients
every body needs -

it is a sociological
and cultural mark of genetic
or light,
a mark of long-dust
ancestral origin, less so now
in the modern world
of connectivity
in all things, a melding of skin
to the universal tone
of coconut butter-swirl;

it is a tactile
and visual affirmation
of the essential elements
of art and pleasure
that affirm us,
the soft slide of skin on skin
in moments of passion,
the round curve
of a woman’s breasts and ass,
the probe of a nipple
aroused in a moment of anticipation,
the impatient skyward thrust
of an erect penis,
the tender pleasure
as your fingers caress a baby’s cheek,
the rough hard calluses
of a cowboy’s hand,
the soft tickle of pasture grass
on bare feet, the pain sometimes of parts
abused or inflicted, such pain
as important to the pleasure of skin
as all the softer sensations -

many things is skin,
soft and smooth or hard and rough,
the most human of all beauty,
much more
than the bag we carry ourselves around

Now I have poets from the anthology Voices of Light, with the very long subtitle, "Spiritual and Visionary Poems by Women Around the World from Ancient Sumeria to Now."

I'm sticking to the ancients this week, beginning with Sappho.


Now in my
heart I see

a beautiful

by love

Translated by Willis Barnstone

Next a poem by Sisupacala. Living some time during the 6th to 3rd centuries BCE, she was one o four children of a brahman. She converted to Buddhism and wrote poems. Like her sister nuns,she wrote, or her songs wsere recorded, in Pali, a northern version of Sanskrit.

Sisupacala Speaks with Mara

Mara interrupts:
Don't forget where you've been before,those other lives
you led in bittersweet realm
- animals, demons,
pretas your friends , companions -
Think about it, long for it
(he whispers in her ear)
Yearn again for the Kamaloka and the
seductive beauty of of the dark
gods who rule in shadow
and the blissed-out gods
who rule the day
They'll take you, caress
your naked body...

Stop, Mara
Don't you know those gods
go from birth to death to birth to
death again again,
become this, become that
You know the Kamaloka
stinks with lust
I tell you the world is blazing, blazing
the whole world's in flames
I tell you it's flared up
the world is shaken
your words are shaken
the whole world's ablaze!

Translated by Andrew Schelling and Anne Waldman

Now here's this by Govindasvamin. Nothing is know about her except that she lived sometime between 500 BCE and 1000 CE (maybe).

It's hard to judge 2,000 year old humor, but I think this is funny and also think it was meant to be.

Holy sixth day

Holy sixth day
in the woods they worship the
trees then
then my heart beat hard
at how far I was going into
the woods
a snake appeared in front of me
and I fell down
I started writhing and rolling
this way and that way
my dress fell off
my hair burned along
my back
thorns scratched me
suddenly who am I
who was I
how I
love these celebrations

(Translated by W.S. Merwin and Moussaieff Masson

Here are some anonymous sanskrit songs, from about the same period as the preceding poet.

When he comes back

When he comes back
   to my arms

   I'll make him feel
   what nobody ever felt

   vanishing into him

   like water
   into the clay of a new jar

My husband

My husband
before leaving on a journey
is still in the house speaking
to the gods and already
separation is climbing like
bad monkeys to the window

He who stole my virginity

He who stole my virginity
is the same man
I am married to
and these are the same
spring nights and
this is the same moment
the jasmine's opening
with winds just coming of age carrying
the scent of its flowers mingled
with pollen from Kadamba trees
to wake desire
in its nakedness
I am no different yet I
long with my heart
for the delicate
love-making back there under
the dense cane-trees
by the bank of the river
Namanda in
the Vindhya mountains

(Translated by W.S. Merwin and Moussaieff Masson

And, finally, from the anthology, this short piece by Praxilla from Argolid circa 5th century BCE.

The few fragments of her work that survived the ages did so because hostile critics cited them to show "the nonsense" in her poetry, or, as Zenobios fumed, "only a simpleton would put cucumbers and the like on a par with the sun and the moon."

He who laughs last, etc....

Light and Earth

Most beautiful of things I have left is sunlight.
Then come glazing stars and the moon's face.
then ripe cucumbers and apples and pears.

Translated by Willis Barnstone)

A little musing as the rain falls outside my breakfast window.

the world turned upside-down

the world
turned upside-down
on the wet parking lot
payment amid flattened flashes
of passing trucks and buses and
twelve-year-old Buicks
carbon particulates
oh dinosaur friend of mine
oh ancient tree and brush and flower of mine
how good it is to see you again
to this world you left behind
so many millions of years ago, returned
you are
revenge on your mind

in the non-ancient world
of right-this-minute
the mousey guy with grey hair
and grey Thomas Dewey
and shirt and tie and Mr. Rogers sweater
has taken his regular place
which is standing at the hostess station
waiting to be directed to his regular place
by the window - never goes there
without being directed, always waits
every morning to be directed to his booth
like the Great Grand Duke Fitzwillie
being announced at the Royal Ball - so unsure
I suppose that he dare not move without direction -
that’s not me, if I know where I want to go
I go and everyone else can either
let me go on alone, lead me from behind
or just fuck off

begging for permission
or asking for forgiveness
I’d rather have something in my life
worthy of forgiveness
because the world’s upside-down out there
with flat-streaming buses and trucks
and 12-year-old Buicks
belching dinosaur
and if I don’t do something about it
who should I be waiting for
to stand up to the task
the Great Grand Duke Fitzwillie
I don’t think so
follow or
etcetera etcetera
(instead of that impolite word again)

got places to go
things to

Williams, again.


And yet one arrives somehow,
finds himself loosening the hooks of
her dress
in a strange bedroom -
feels the autumn
dropping its silk and linen leaves
about her ankles.
The tawdry veined body emerges
twisted upon itself
like a winter wind...!


I stopped the car
to let the children down
where the streets end
in the sun
at the marsh edge
and the reeds begin
and there are small houses
facing the reeds
and the blue mist
in the distance
with grapevine trellises
with grape clusters
small as strawberries
on the vines
and ditches
running springwater
that continue the gutters
with willows over them.
The reeds begin
like water at a shore
their pointed petals waving
dark green and light.
But blueflags are blossoming
in the reeds
which the children pluck
chattering in the reeds
high over their heads
which they part
with bare arms to appear
with fists of flowers
till in the air
there comes the smell
of calamus
from wet, gummy stalks.

I wrote this one last week, on a really ugly nasty Saturday morning.

a sullen sun

a sullen sun
through urine-yellow mist

slithering through high grasses,
winding around wet-hanging trees
like a snake in the garden

the morning
and darkly

a morning

another one
to add to all the ones

a morning

victory over dark conclusions
one more time

Now, two poems by raulsalinas (Autumn Sun), from his book Indio Trails, published in 2007 by Wings Press, and subtitled "A Xicano Odyssey Through Indian Country."

The poet was born in San Antonio on St. Patrick's Day in 1934 and grew up in an eastside barrio of Austin. In 1952, he dropped out of school and headed west to work in California fruit orchards and see what there was to see.

After a 15-year rollercoaster ride through the American correctional system, he emerged as a well-read, highly-committed activist poet and, as he put it, "a whole lot better hombre than the youth who first entered the joint."

After ten years working closely with the American Indian Movement, he ran a bookstore and a small press in Austin until he died in 2008 at the age of 73.

Cedar Woman Poem

Walking on our way
to confront
wicked B.I.A.
cutting slack
to the go-down at Oglala
yellow was the shawl
that somewhat wrapt your
dancing/prancing nipples
creating sensuous ripples
in my soul.
Late summer in Suquamish
Chief Seattle days
clam digging with "the boys'
family again.

Trail of Self-Determination
morning in Nebraska
Black Dog runs the sweat
as we sing b ear songs
changtingbto Chichayo
political prisoners
Dennis & Chacobn.
making love in
vintage command car
communication van,
bedroom on wheels.

Camping out in Pittsburgh
a pretty poet comes to call
placing poems all over me
and you swear she had
her boobs up in my face.

Then came the season
of the "roaring guns"
shattering peaceful retreat
where we rad poems
on the banks of Skookukm Creek.

Years later
I pass old & familiar spots
headed towards another
fishing battle
on Hupa lands.

         Hupa Reservatioh
         Humboldt county, Ca.

Song of a Sad Lover

After you left
folks on the rez
couldn't understand
my pain
as you suffered
with me.

People also
thought it strange
that we could talk
and share our hurts
revealing open wounds
of love no longer there.

Sharing each others energies
and love intense
with one and all in
other moments more serene.

We loved hard
amid jazz sounds
and drums from
tribal mounds.

Holidays in the city
get somewhat rough
down moments/thoughts depressed
clam digging comes to mind
then off to hustle urban dollar bills.

And even now
sunday morning rides
up Beacon Hill
Jazz ballads
somehow remind me

         Seattle, Washington

Got to go back all the way to the middle of 2007 when I wrote this, a piece about a time even further back than that.

i’m gonna make it to the big time

i saw
Bob Dylan
on the old
Steve Allen
sometime in the 50s,
maybe early 60s,
when Dylan was still
a scrawny kid
come to New York
to be a folk singer
eating when he could
on any available sofa
Allen introduced him
as the next big thing
among New York
and he came out
hair all long and
sticking up
and out
and everywhicha way-
and this was the
you have to remember -
and he came out
all looking weird
with an old guitar
and he pounded on
that some
and a harmonica
on a stand around his
and he blew on that
with an occasional sense
of plan
and purpose
and sang with this
squeely voice
some indecipherable
with indecipherable
words -
I though it was a
at first, cause Allen
played a lot of jokes
and had really funny guys
like Don Knotts
and Tom Posten
and a couple others -
but pretty soon I figured out
at is wasn’t a joke
and this hairricane-head
squeely-voice guy
really was supposed to be
the next coming thing in
New York
folk music
and i thought
hell no
this guy ain’t
going nowhere
but back to wherever
he came from

just goes to
what i
but that’s
because i’m
if that guy on the
Steve Allen show
can make it to the
there's still
a chance
for me

As you go back in time to his earlier poems, you find a William Carlos Williams unlike the one you think you know if you read only his later work.

Dedication for a Plot of Ground

This plot of ground
facing the waters of this inlet
is dedicated to the living presence of
Emily Dickinson Wellcome
who was born in England, married,
lost her husband and with
her five year old son
sailed for New York in a two-master,
was driven to the Azores;
ran adrift on Fire Island shoal,
met her second husband
in a Brooklyn boarding house,
went with him to Puerto Rico
bore three more children, lost
her second husband, lived hard
for eight years in St. Thomas,
Puerto Rico, San Domingo, followed
the oldest son to New York,
lost her daughter, lost her "baby",
seized the two boys of
the oldest son by the second marriage
mothered them - they being
motherless - fought for them
against the other grandmother
and the aunts, brought them here
summer after summer, defended
herself against thieves,
storms, sun, fire,
against flies against girls
that came smelling about, against
drought, against weeds, storm-tides,
neighbors, weasels that stole her chickens,
against the weakness of her own hands,
against the growing strength of
the boys, against wind, against
the stones, against trespassers,
against rents, against her own mind.

She grubbed this earth with her own hands,
domineered over this grass plot,
blackguarded her oldest son
into buying it, lived here fifteen years,
attained a final loneliness and -

If you bring nothing to this place
but your carcass, keep out.

This little ditty is from last week. Birthdays approach; the mind wanders into the past. (Actually, mine does that a lot.)


of someone who could have been
fifty years ago

how foolish it is to be thinking
of someone who could have been
fifty years ago

has no time
for could-have-beens;
deals only
with was and is -

only baseball
that allows more than one swing
at life…

there is nothing more to say

William Carlos Williams and Walt Whitman, together again. The poetry gods must be smiling.

Section 5, Whitman defining a great city, maybe should be required reading in the field of urban planning.

From Song of the Broad-Axe


Weapon shapely, naked, wan,
Head form the mother's bowels drawn,
Wooded flesh and metal bone, limb only one and lip only one,
Gray-blue leaf by red-heat grown, helve produced from a little seed
Resting the grass amid and upon,
to be lean'd and to lean on.

Strong shapes and attributes of strong shapes, masculine trades, sights
     and sounds,
Long varied train of an emblem, dabs of music,
Fingers of the organist skipping staccato over the keys of the great


Muscle and pluck forever!
What invigorates life invigorates death,
And the dead advance as much as the living advance,
And the future is no more uncertain than the present,
For the roughness of the earth and of man encloses as much as the
     delicatesse of the earth and of man,
And nothing endures but personal qualities.

What do you think endures?
Do you think a great city endures?
Or a teeming manufacturing state? or a prepared constitution, or the
     best built steamships?
Or hotels of granite and iron? or any chef-d'oeuvres of engineering,
     forts, armaments?

Away! these are not to be cherish'd for themselves
They fill their hour, the dancers dance, the musicians play for them,
The show passes, all does well enough of course,
All does very well till one flash of defiance.

A great city is that which has the greatest men and women,
It it be a few ragged huts it is still the greatest city of the whole


The place where a great city stands is not the place of stretch'd
     wharves, docks, manufactures, deposits of produce merely,
Nor the place of ceaseless salutes of new-comers or the anchor-lifters
     of the departing,
Nor the place of the tallest and costliest buildings or shops selling
     goods from the rest of the earth,
Nor the place of the best libraries and schools, nor the place where
     money is plentiest,
Nor the place of the most numerous population.

Where the city stands with the brawniest breed of orators and bards,
Where the city stands that is belov'd by these and loves them in
     return and understands them,
Where no monuments exist to heros but in the common words and
Where thrift is in its place, and prudence is in its place,
Where the men and women think lightly of the laws,
Where the slave ceases, and the master of slaves ceases,
Where the populace rise at once against the never-ending audacity of
     elected persons,
Where fierce men and women pour forth as the sea to the whistle of
     death pours its sweeping and unript waves,
Where outside authority enters always after the precedence of inside
Where the citizen is always the head and ideal, and President,
     Mayor, Governor and what not, are agents for pay,
Where children are taught to e laws to themselves, and to depend
     on themselves,
Where equanimity is illustrated in affairs,
Where speculations on the soul are encouraged,
Where women walk in public processions in the streets the same as
     the men,
Where they enter the public assembly and take places the same as the
Where the city of the faithfulest friends stands,
Where the city of the cleanliness of the sexes stands,
Where the city of the healthiest fathers stands,
Where the city of the best-bodied mothers stands,
There the great city stands.

Once again, as always, I start with Whitman and find it very hard to stop.

Here's another little thing from 2007.

green pastures

cat wants

dog wants

rooster wants
the day

isn’t anyone

WCW, not always all play.


Why do I write today?

The beauty of
the terrible faces
of our nonentities
stirs me to it:

colored women
day workers -
old and experienced -
returning home at dusk
in cast off clothing
faces life
old Florentine oak.


the set pieces
of your faces stir me -
leading citizens -
but not
in the same way.


The little sparrows
hop ingenuously
about the pavement
with sharp voices
over those things
that interest them.
But we who are wiser
shut ourselves in
on either hand
and no one knows
whether we think good
or evil.

the old man who goes about
gathering dog-lime
walks in the gutter
without looking up
and his tread
is more majestic than
that of the Episcopal minister
approaching the pulpit
of a Sunday.
            These things
astonish me beyond words.

Another dog story.

alive, alive-o

I was walking
my dog yesterday
(this being another dog
poem so all you cat people
and snake people and gerbil people
and lizard people and bird people
and cricket people and centipiggler
people can just accept
that it is not, except
maybe indirectly, about you
and your choice of furred, finned,
scaled, or feathered creature-pet)

this is a dog poem
about Saint Reba about whom
I have sprake before
and our walk yesterday
down by the creek, still high from
several days of rain, scrubbed
by fast-running water all the way to its
pale, flat limestone bottom, the water
clear as freshly Windexed glass

and I was walking across
a little dam that holds the water
form passing too fast
further down the creek bed,
a tiny little dam about a foot
and a half across and
instead of doggishly following
me, Miss Reba decided to go
around me which ended her up
asplash in the creek

white-eyed panic
at first as she dog-paddled furiously,
then a gradual relaxation of her eyes
as she found sufficient purchase on the bank
to allow a sloshy clamber out of the creek
with the realization that
this splash-splash thing
even at 40 degrees is fun
and she climbs up the bank
jumping and running and leaping
about, let’s-do-it-again, let’s-do-it-again
as clear in her leaps as if she were yelling at me over
her shoulder, let’s-do-it-again

and when I finally got her home
and dried off, she,
this old lady who can hardly
get out of her bed in the morning
because of all her aching bones,
was running in circles in the back yard,
alive, alive, alive-o
like she was six months old again
with vim and vinegar
and life, a-live-o

like a good morning swim
to get the old

Next, poems by Michael Earl Craig from his collection Thin Kimono, published in 2010 by Wave Books.

Craig was born in Ohio in 1970. He earned degrees from the University of Montana and the University of Massachusetts. Author of three collections of poetry, he is a certified journeyman farrier and lives in Montana where he shoes horses for a living.

The book, a very fun read.


A book about a monk who
took care of encephalitic kittens,
a best seller.

I am standing here in the kitchen, alone.
It's 11 a.m. and I have my credit card in
my left hand. I've just bought
160 dollars' worth of steak
from a traveling salesman named Don.

Things have changed for me.
I no longer think it's fair
that retarded people can take the word
and have it all to themselves.

I turn the pages, looking at the pictures.

Obscenities are postulates,, it's
what I've always said. Packets of energy,
discrete and separate,
things that come to me
as a kind of croissant pride.

The kittens, it seems weren't making it.
I turn the pages.

The monk stood and -
fatuous! you would hiss -
let the Baltic Sea
lap gently at his feet.

Notes to Self

In the red-hot coals of the campfire I see the gently shifting face of
a benevolent gorilla.


When you reach Enlightenment you just laugh. Right?


The somber way that motorcyclists wave to one another on the free-


Carol is on the porch. She lights a small cigar. It is dead calm out.


As I approached the spatula, everything Mom ever told me about
them came rushing back.


Went to the park at 3 a.m. to look at the tennis courts. They were


The old dog softly whines on his cushion.


When shirtless, men with long hair walk a certain way. They
have to.


The last thing I remember was getting down on my hands and
knees to watch the gumball go spiraling round and round on its way
down the machine's clear plastic column.


Little puffs of air let loose from a campaign balloon.


flyspecks on my eyeglasses keep me constantly paranoid.


Ataxia amid the daffodils.


Something mysterious and powerful about a tennis court at night.


The dead fly comes back to life on the quilt (begins wiggling legs).


Wet Ones, bear spray, Bible, rain hat.
Beer, saw, Milk Duds, matches.


The withdrawn sound of the Wiffle gat as it moves through the air.


Officers nap. The afternoon is bronze.


Use a conventional tone when talking to the mailman.


Never listen to Wagner while undressing.


Eat lunch like you mean it.


A man has had surgery,
has splurged on some calf implants.
It is spring. The bluebirds are back.
Doctors put a white paper beak on the man's nose.
It will help him heal properly, they say.
People will stare at this beak instead of his calves, they say.
This will let him golf in peace, they say.
And peace is what he needs, they say.

Advice for the Poet

Never aim your bicycle at a chicken.
Never set your glasses on an anvil.

One more, this week from 2007.

With the Republican dilly-dong primaries dominating the news, it was inevitable that we would get back to this.

I mean, listen to these guys - do you really trust them to be running around with guns in their pockets? How 'bout tanks and nuclear weapons?

license to carry

to carry
that’s what we have
where I live

that means your
can carry a gun
as long as they keep it
and as long as they can pass
a test developed by the NRA
to insure that every
who wants to carry
his own
six shooter
by god!
buy one at the weapons
and murder store
of their choice

and I think that’s
plain stupid
since it seems clear to me
that if you’re going to let your
carry a gun
you don’t want that sucker
you oughta wanta be
fuckin’ sure they’re required
to carry it
right out in plain sight
maybe with a big red arrow
pointing right at it
with flashing neon lights saying
“whack’o whack’o whack’o”
so us regular people can
get out of the way
when we see them
moseying murderously
in our

My next poems are from the anthology Sirens, subtitled "Five Femme Fatale Poets." The book was published by Sisyphus Press in 2008.

The first of the poets who would give you mother a stroke the minute they met at the front door is Debbie Kirk, who has four of her own chapbooks published and who founded her own PinkAnarckittyPress which has published three collections of poetry since she started it in 2000.

Don't Read This Poem

If you are reading this
You are expecting to be entertained
I ain't no entertainer
Though I've been known to dance
On slimy laps for some dead presidents
To be slid in my panties

I have this feeling that if I were in a wheelchair
Or had Dwarfism
Or was a boy
Nobody would ever read
A goddamn thing that I write
I use that
I use and use

I'm using you right now
Cause you want to stop reading
This anti-poem
But based on my rep
YOu are expecting me to drop a grenade
Any time now.

Having recently realized how much I detest poetry
I pulled the pin on the grenade and threw it in the toilet.
I watched the whole thing form the bathroom window
That's a place where I feel comfortable

So, I'd like to inform you
That you have wasted a few minutes
Of your life that you can never have back
I stole 'em.

You just rad the ramblings of a nobody
It makes me smile
It brings me great pleasure
To imagine that maybe
In some small way
I have helped contribute
to your ultimate demise.

The next poem is by lifetime Los Angeles resident, Iris Berry, known as one of the progenitors of the L.A. punk scene (called by one reviewer "A punk rock James Ellroy in fishnets"). Cofounder of the Los angeles rock-n-roll spoken word troupe, The Ringling Sisters, she and her group are well known for their benefit shows for which Berry was honored as a writer and for her charity work and large scale good-cause fund-raising events.

In addition to her writing and performing, she has appeared in showgirl feathers in a Mexican wrestling ring, authored her own sex column, and starred in independent films, including "Mexican Radio" and "Killhouse."

Ode to Sammy Glick

I see you sitting
sitting in the glow of your computer
burnt spoon and needle
at one side
and a loaded guy
at the other side
there's only one bullet in the chamber
and it's reserved for you
you're attempting to write
the next great American novel
and I believe you will
providing you don't kill yourself
before its finished
It's a race
Isn't it?
your conscience and your ego
are at a dead heat
while your phone is ringing off the hook
with calls from your agent
in London and New York
all wanting to buy the movie rights
you were the first guy
to ever buy me diamonds
I'm just wondering
where the hell you got the money
was it an insurance scam?
phony credit cards?
or your usual
selling phony stocks
to old people for their life savings
well all I can say is
it's only a matter of time
for you sweetheart
but if it's true that nice guys and gals
finish last
then you can bet I'll be sitting
in the last seat
in the last row of the house
that I more than likely bought
at 100% mark-up
trapped between my noisy bathroom
and a rank alleyway
but at least while I'm sitting on the lap of time
checking my watch
I know you'll be mixing another shot
of liquid comfort
while running from that
god awful mirror
called your conscience
there aren't enough opiates
In the city of LA
to make that reflection go away
but I know you
you're not a quitter
you'll die trying.

Cynthia Ruth Lewis wrote the next poem.

Born in Chicago, Lewis is 42 years old. According to her bio in the book, "She finds great comfort in her bitterness and rage and doesn't hesitate to let it out." Apparently that bitterness and rage extends to clothing, since she has none on in her author's photo for the book.

The Makings of a Serial Killer

I read somewhere that the majority
of cold-blooded killers tend to come
from dysfunctional families;
the ignored or beaten ones, the quiet,
friendless kids who end up being the
joke of the neighborhood, awkward
children who never fit in - they grow
up with all that rage buried inside of
them, just waiting to be released,
looking for an outlet

I am not trying to fall back on any
excuses here, but a psychiatrist once
ventured a guess where all my sudden
violent fits of anger might possibly
stem from -
I can't remember much from my childhood,
I obviously blocked a lot of stuff out,
but it must have been pretty bad to
warrant fury like mine...

all I know is this switch inside my head
that gets flipped, where all of a sudden
white-hot rage engulfs me, uncontrollable
fury surges, rising up from nowhere like
a hot flash, consuming me to the point
where the only think I can mentally grasp
is destruction and blood-red murder

but what scares me most is not the fear
that I might actually take a life;
the joy, the anonymity of slicing flesh,
stopping a heart, erasing a body from
the face of the earth, but the fear of
eventually being caught and discovered,
my reign of mayhem finally being corralled
into a cubicle of maximum security, where
the echoes of other madmen would ricochet
off my brain, sparking the hot wires in my
head to a dangerous flame, and all I would
have to absorb the brunt of my red-hot
anger would be a pillow to shred, a
notepad of insufficient pages, and a pencil
too dull to embody the clarity of my dark
and intricate thoughts

on the other hand,
if I was never caught...

The last poem from the anthology for this week is by Misti Rainwater-Lites, whose poems have been published extensively online and in print. For a year she published and edited a print poetry zine called "Instant Pussy" and now has a blog called "Instant Pussy & Various." She is also poetry editor for "decomP," an online poetry zine.


the magic has exited stage left
the moon is on the wane
there is no more radio
only static
between us
a yawning canyon
I can hear the echoes
the aching lament
of my wolfish heart

I wanted to devour him
the wild spirit
in my gut
wanted to leap out
and spark fires
in his turtle eyes
I wanted to weave silk
around him
drag him down
into the depths
of my sea
I wanted to drown him
I wanted to save hm
I wanted to baptize him
with my kisses
cast him into hell
with my menstrual blood
be the flood
he couldn't escape
the light he had to reach
from the depths of a tangled forest
my throat aches
my uterus aches
my head aches
from the effort
trying to engrave my initials
in a tree that doesn't want
to be messed with
the tree is really a monster
the branches are his arms
he is slapping me away

I'm too dramatic
too neurotic
too psychotic
too erotic
I want to pour honey
all over my body
and invite him
to tea
I want to be lazy and stay in bed
with him until someone breaks down
the door
I want to be with him on a small, unnamed island
for twelve tasteless hours
I want to be his cheerleader in a
short skirt with no bloomers underneath
his illiterate groupie
gifted in the language
of unconditional lust
I want to be the mystery
he is determined
to solve

tonight I have smoked cigarettes by candle light
with George Michael crooning vanilla angst
on a bland station
tonight I have touched myself
despite the killer cramps
thinking of him
despite our ambivalent phone conversation
tonight I am a woman
looking over shoulder
and biting
her lip...

A little bit of reministical almost-fiction I wrote last week.

before her fifteen minutes

some many years
me and a couple of friends,
all of us, stopped for a beer
at honky-tonk place
in this little town in a mostly rural
county in a particular state
also mostly rural

it was the late sixties,
very early seventies,
don’t remember
and we, out of uniform
each of us for six months or so,
having welcomed the chance
to grow some hair, head and facial,
were subject to some less then hospitable
looks from some of our fellow drinkers,
but, like I said, though well out of uniform,
we each had on our military fatigue coats
there being a bit of a chill

(the coats, olive drab with a hood
against the rain, being the one thing
almost every troop
left with at the end of their time
of service, you could see them
at almost every peace march, some even
dutifully earned)

the coats, each showing darker patches
on the sleeves where our rank insignias
had been previously sewn, raised
some questions and when it was determined
that our fatigue coats were of the earned variety
the atmosphere in the bar warmed up
and by the time we made it
out the door not too drunk we had been invited
to a stag party at the county barn the next night,
a fund raising event for the local county sheriff’s
re-election campaign - free passes given to us
in recognition of our veterans’ status

so we hung around another day
and drove out to the county barn the next night
and presented our passes at the door
and went on into

a huge room, a barn-sized room, sub-divided
according to your choice of vice, booze, gambling,
sixteen millimeter porn clips on the wall, and some
actual real women available, for an extra service
fee not covered by our free passes, in some rooms
in the back, basically every kind of illegal activity
available in the county except drugs -

the drug of choice at this time in this place -

and plenty of it, flowing through all the sub-divided
parts of the barn like water in a bar ditch
after a heavy rain

until the sheriff came in, gave
a little speech about how everyone should have
fun that night and vote for him next week cause
he knew about law enforcement and how to keep
the criminals and malcontents and niggers
and such in their place and drinks are on the house,
he said, you just got to remember whose house

so I drifted around the room, no money to gamble,
certainly no money for the ladies
in the back, having spent all I had already
on this little journey of southern exposure,
and a beer drinker by preference, ending up passing
through the porn corner where people were doing things
to each other and others you wouldn’t want you mother
to ever know you had any association with or saw
or even ever knew about the possibility of

and a peculiar thing I saw and remember to this day
was a scene In one of the porn strips with a young
and very skinny woman trying very hard, using every
skill and maneuver known to her at the time, to get a young
man on a big fluffy bed to become interested in a brief
(10 minutes, at most on these little film strips) romantic
encounter (to be as polite about it as I can) but he just
never got up to the task, drugged out I suppose, the
the very skinny young woman getting so frustrated it was
almost as funny as watching Elmer Fudd chasing
Bugs Bunny around and around a tree

but the funniest thing,
I was sure at the time and am sure today
that the oh so skinny, young woman was Squeaky
Fromme, recently famous at the time for trying to spring
her murderous whack-job leader Charlie Manson from prison by shooting President Ford,
a task at which she had no greater luck than she had with
the semi-comatose young man

there is no particular point to this story except that,
in the kind of strange, second hand way that some stuff
happens, the event was one of my first brushes with the celebrity
culture, a fascination with all things famous
no matter what the fame is for,
that brings such pleasure, relief,
I don’t know, a shadow life of watching
bad boys and girls do
self-destructive things for the amusement
of the slavering masses
of the unsubscribed to meaningful life,
and for some reason I thought about it tonight
while I was trying to get to sleep,
thinking what a sensation little old
Squeaky would be today, a permanent corner
of People Magazine enshrined for her

the whole pile of tawdry memory
presenting two questions still don’t know the answer to
after all these years

was it really Squeaky Fromme in the porn strip?

and, did the sheriff get re-elected?

some things I’m resigned
to supposing we
are meant
to never

For the last of Williams this week, several shorter poems.

The Bare Tree

The bare cherry tree
higher than the roof
last year produced
abundant fruit. But how
speak of fruit confronted
by that skeleton?
Though live it may be
there is no fruit on it.
Therefore chop it down
and use the wood
against this biting cold.

The Manoeuvre

I saw the two starlings
coming in toward the wires.
But at the last,
just before alighting, they

turned in the air together
and landed backwards!
that's what got me - to
face into the wind's teeth.

Hard Times

Stone steps, a solid
block too tough
to be pried out, from
which the house,

rather, has been
avulsed leaving
a pedestal, on which
a fat boy in

an old overcoat, a
butt between
his thick lips, the
coat pushed back,

stands kidding,
Parking Space! three
steps up from his
less lucky fellows.


beauty is a shell
from the sea
where she rules triumphant
till love has had its way with her

scallops and
lion's paws
sculptured to the
tune of retreating waves

undying accents
repeated till
the ear and the eye lie
down together in the same bed

The Horse

The horse moves
without reference
to his load

He has eyes
like a woman and
turns them
about, throws

back his ears
and is generally
conscious of
the world. Yet

he pulls when
he must and
pulls well, blowing
fog from

his nostrils
like fumes from
the twin
exhausts of a car.

Sonnet in Search of an Author

Nude bodies like peeled logs
sometimes give off a sweetest
odor, man and woman

under the trees in full excess
matching the cushion of

aromatic pine-drift fallen
threaded with trailing woodbine
a sonnet might be made of it

Might be made of it! odor of excess
odor of pine needles, odor of
peeled logs, odor of no odor
other than trailing woodbine that

has no odor, odor of a nude woman
sometime, odor of a man.

Here's my last piece for this week. It was written last week.

worn and worn out

a difference
between worn and worn out

is a history
not yet complete;
worn out
is the end of history

is the Kikapoo woman
I saw at the tribal center,
a short woman, old and round,
wrinkles upon wrinkles,
hands rough, fingers stubby and twisted,
nails yellowed like talons, eagle
talons, fierce talons, fierce hands,
fiercely old and round and short, teaching
Kikapoo chants to day care toddlers
in the morning, Spanish and English to older kids
in the afternoon

a woman well worn by hardship and sorrow
and loss and long nights and days too hot and bright
picking cotton in West Texas sun; a woman worn also
by determination and joy and a birth for every death
and passion and a love for every disappointment
and the daily drive to
a future she
will never

worn out
is the boy I saw walking
along a narrow reservation road,
sniffing glue
from the red shine of a coca cola can,
one of life’s casual
pending final notice,
walking nowhere
worn out
from a relentless, unforgiving
ending any day

is me, now,
with every risen sun
and every darkening night

worn out is
not me

Once again we reach the end of our weekly poetry trail. Nothing's changed - everything still belongs to those who made it and I'm still allen itz, owner and producer of this blog.

And I'm still selling books, these books to be specific.

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"


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