Garden Party   Thursday, April 26, 2012

I am  posting this very early, trying  to bury the last "Wet" mess as quick as I can. Though the "Wet" post was a mess, it was full of very good work, so I'll be redoing the whole thing from scratch in a couple of weeks.

This week, instead of what has become my normal anthology, I have poems by the the Japanes masters of haiku and short form poetry, Matsuo Basho, Yosaa Buson, and Kobayashi Issa. It is considered in Japanese literary criticism that the three poets represent three types - Basho, the ascetic and seeker, Buson, the artist, and Issa, the humanist.

Editor and translator Robert  Hass offers three examples of the differences between the poets.

For Basho, the seeker:

     Deep autumn -
my neighbor,
     how does he live, I wonder?

For Buson, his painterly precision:

     Tethered horse;
     in both stirrups.

For Issa, his pathos and humor:

     Don't worry, spiders
I keep house

The poems, and Hass' comments, are from The Essential Haiku, published by the Ecco Press in 1994.

Here's the full line-up.

the finicky man, the saucer-eyed woman, Fatboy Phil & me

Basho, Buson, Issa
nine poems

earning my nap today

Alberto Rios
The Impossible Still Life
Under a Mesquite Tree in the Sun
A September Death

grandiloquent presumption

Basho, Buson, Issa
nine poems

night lays in

Rodney Jones
Pastoral for Derrida



Basho, Buson, Issa
nine poems

the good old days of mid-life crisis management

Ani Defranco
coming up

the sleepwalker awakened

Busho, Buson, Issa -
nine poems


Alice Walker
Compulsory Chapel

in my humble opinion

Busho, Buson, Issa
nine poems

ironing three shirts on Sunday morning

Jane Hirshfield
The Song
See How the Roads Are Strewn
The Other Earth

barku, post-it notes, and colors

Here's my first for the week.

the finicky man, saucer-eyed woman, Fatboy Phil & me

the finicky man
with the bow tie
sits in the corner eating
his bowl of grits

and behind him
the saucer-eyed woman
with a sailor-boy
on the pink curve
of her butt

and beside her
Fatboy Phil with the falsetto voice
singing Bee Gees
like a Transylvanian Gypsy
(and he's the one who knows,
he says, and I don't doubt it
cause he looks like the kind of
double-chinned Romeo to whom
saucer-eyed girls with sailor boy tattoos
might willing present their butts for


but you know, of course,
these are not real-life people,
who live only from artists' minds
to printing presses
in newspaper basements
to the bottom of your birdcage
or wrapped in the stink of dead fish
and not longer,
because this is a real-life world,
cartoonicity not allowed
except in politics
and there ain't no politikiens
here and the only creature here
displaying cartoonish
is the fellow in this corner,
sticking his cowboy-booted feet
out into the aisle, typing,
hoping, hoping
for the best -

front page
 in the Sunday funnies
full-bleeding-color, right next to
Dagwood and

First, from the Chinese short-form masters, I have these, three from each poet.

I'm going to scatter the masters through out this post.

First, here are three by Matsuo Basho.

Bashō was born in 1644, near Ueno, in Iga Province. His father may have been a low-ranking samurai, which would have promised Bashō a career in the military, but not much chance of a notable life. It was traditionally claimed by biographers that he worked in the kitchens. However, as a child, he was fortunate to become a servant to Tōdō Yoshitada, who shared with him a love for haikai no renga, a form of collaborative poetry composition. The sequences were opened with a verse in 5-7-5 mora format; this verse was named a hokku, and would centuries later be renamed haiku when presented as a stand-alone work. After his master died, he spent years in a state of internal confusion, not knowing what he wanted to do with his life, unsure of poetry, even as his was consistently published.

In the fashionable literary circles of Nihonbashi, Bashō's poetry was quickly recognized for its simple and natural style. In 1674 he was inducted into the inner circle of the haikai profession.

By 1680 he had a full-time job teaching twenty disciples and that winter, he took the surprising step of moving across the river to Fukagawa, out of the public eye and towards a more reclusive life. His disciples built him a rustic hut and planted a banana tree in the yard, giving Bashō a new haigō and his first permanent home.

Despite his success, Bashō grew dissatisfied and lonely. He began to practice Zen meditation, but it seems not to have calmed his mind. In the winter of 1682 his hut burned down, and shortly afterwards, in early 1683, his mother died. He then traveled to Yamura, to stay with a friend. In the winter of 1683 his disciples gave him a second hut in Edo, but his spirits did not improve. Late in 1684 he began the first of four major wanderings. Traveling in medieval Japan was immensely dangerous, and at first Bashō expected to simply die in the middle of nowhere or be killed by bandits. As the trip progressed, his mood improved and he became comfortable on the road. He met many friends and grew to enjoy the changing scenery and the seasons.

After a lifetime of traveling, writing, and teaching, he died peacefully in 1694, surrounded by his disciples.

attached to nothing
     the skylark singing.


     Clear water -
a tiny crab
     crawling up my leg.


     The winter sun -
on the horse's back
     my frozen shadow.

The next of the masters is Yosa Buson, born in 1716, a poet and painter from the Edo period. He was born in the village of Kema in Settsu Province (now Kema-chō, Miyakojima Ward in the city Osaka).

Around the age of 20, Buson moved to Edo (now Tokyo) and learned poetry under the tutelage of the haikai master Hayano Hajin. After Hajin died, Buson moved to Shimōsa Province (modern day Ibaraki Prefecture). Following in the footsteps of his idol, Matsuo Bashō, Buson traveled through the wilds of northern Honshū that had been the inspiration for Bashō's famous travel diaries. He published his notes from the trip in 1744, marking the first time he published under the name Buson.

After traveling through various parts of Japan, Buson settled down in the city of Kyoto at the age of 42.

He married three years later and had one daughter, Kuno. From this point on, Buson remained in Kyoto, writing, painter and teaching, until his death in 1783.

At the time of this death, he was better known as a painter than as a poet.

     White blossoms of the pear
and a woman in moonlight
     reading a letter.


     Coming back -
so many pathways
     through the spring grass.


     Tilling the field;
the man who asked the way
     has disappeared.

Next, three poems by the third master, Kobayashi Issa.

Issa, born in 1763, was a poet and lay Buddhist priest of the Jōdo Shinshū sect. He is better known as simply Issa, a pen name meaning one cup-of-tea. His birthname, Kobayashi Nobuyuki, he was the first son of a farmer family of Kashiwabara, now part of Shinano-machi, Shinano Province. With the death of his mother when he was three, he was cared for by his grandmother. When she died, he came under the thumb of a very strict step-mother, and, with the birth of a step-brother, he became a lonely, moody child who felt estranged in his own house. He was sent by his father to Edo to eke out a living and nothing of the next ten years of his life is known for certain. During the following years, he wandered through Japan and fought over his inheritance with his stepmother (his father died in 1801). After years of legal wrangles, Issa managed to secure rights to half of the property his father left. He returned to his native village at the age of 49 and soon took a wife. After a brief period of bliss, tragedy returned. The couple's first-born child died shortly after his birth. A daughter died less than two-and-a-half years later.

A third child died in 1820 and then his wife fell ill and died in 1823, when he was 61 years old

Issa married twice more late in his life, and through it all he produced a huge body of work. He died in 1827, in his native village.

     The man pulling radishes
pointed my way
     with a radish.


     Moon, plum blossoms,
this, that,
     and the day goes.


     Asked how old he was,
the boy in the new kimono
     stretched out all five fingers.

I am continuing to work on my book for next year, still looking, after my first cut, for another twenty or twenty five to drop. As I  do that, I've been using some of  the ones I'm considering as possibles,  one way or another.

Here's one of those, indirectly a kind of political thing that I like, but, who's going to care about any kind of political poem, indirect or otherwise, next year when we'll all be happy to be taking at least a short breath from the political wars that, for the past twenty years, have seemed unending.

So I'm undecided if I should use it or toss it.

earning my nap today

there's a fellow
over there
that looks like Benjamin Netanyahu

maybe I should do my part for world peace,
go over and tell him
to get  over himself, quit being such an asshole
about those settlements
and stuff,
or else...

if I did that,
I  could  probably go home
and take a nap, my good work done,
my time on the world stage
complete for the day

of course,
it might be the fellow
isn't Benjamin  Netanyahu
in which case he wouldn't know
what the hell
I was talking about
and my peacemaking would have been
for nothing,
actually would have done nothing
for  the many and varied peoples of  the world,
and wouldn't have earned me a nap
at all...

except that I figure
even though I didn't accomplish anything,
I did make a powerful statement
and that's  just as good  as actually doing something
also worth a nap,
cause making a powerful statement and not doing nothing
and taking a nap for it
works in Congress
so why shouldn't  it work for me
since I'm  easily as good
at making powerful statements
and not  doing nothing
as  them...

and,  by the way,
I have to do my own
having no  aides to write them for me,
having no  need to spend a week in France
to study up for my statements,
having the incredible ability, as I do, to come up with a
powerful statement at any time,  right  now,  right off  the  top
of my head, like, "we must do something  about this deficit
thing, or else" and "we must not  raise taxes, or else" and
"we must always be aware
of the economic and social and  cultural
and international value of  Mom and apple  pie  as  we  see
the USA in our Chevrolet, or else"

stuff like that -  done completely on my own,
no speech writers, no aides
to polish my brass, just me, and since I work
for cheap
and cost way less than those
and have never been known  to harrumph
in my sleep,
I  figure I've earned just as many naps
as them,

I have three poems by Alberto Rios, from his book The Smallest  Muscle in the Human Body, published by Copper Canyon Press in 2002.

Rios, author of eight books and chapbooks of poetry,  three collections of short stories, and a memoir, was born in Nogales, Arizona. Recipient of the Arizona Governor's Arts Award, he also won the Latino Literary Hall of Fame Award, fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, the Walt Whitman Award, The Western States  Book Award for Fiction, and six Pushcart Prizes in both poetry and fiction. At the time of publication of this book, he was Regents'
Professor of English at Arizona State  University.

The Impossible Still Life

A horse, as it stands along a ridge,
Looked-at against the sun
Rising above  you, the light
Making a pure, thick, coloring-book  line
Between sky and mountain -

That horse,
Loped back and with peaked ears,
A fine  side rise and lift of neck,
The hillock of a nostril:

A horse, looking-at against the sun
In this way, becomes larger.
You see more of it. The whole thing

May be a trick of perspective,
Seeing in this place

The sudden angle of beginning.

Under Mesquite Trees in the Sun

Late summer water
Falls from the mesquites -
It is not water, but water
Mixed with what it brings
From the leaves,
Water and silver
Raining in a dim-yellow  light
Made thick from old  blossoms
In the last  of the afternoon,  the heat
Being pushed to the ground,
Wrestled onto its animal back
But coming up  from  raindrops  -
Through the raindrops -
Not as splash but as steam.

A September Death

A September death is a quiet one,
Quiet now,
But loud enough in the making.
Outside,  the season is changing -
The breath of fall is in the air,
dust is in the day.
We can feel them, feel
the light they take with them.
The world is complicit in these ends,
Fall, and dusk, and sleep,
Teaching us through the centuries
Not to be surprised, not scared.
Spring will come, we know it.
But what  small consolation against the wind.

A September death is a quiet one,
Even as the life that made it was  fire,
Was summer, was heat, was hard.
We are not  scared.
Spring will come, we know it.
All of this, what was it
But a diamond being forged?
That hard, that much, even now.
Is so, we will wear it,
A  gift from the hard season of  this life.
It is what is left to us:
Know it  to be heart-shaped,
Know  it to be a good  diamond.

A new poem from last week. (I know that "grandiloquent" is not exactly correctly used here, but it is so seldom used at all and I like it, besides, so I decided to use it anyway. Cause I can.)

grandiloquent presumption

slender, silver crescent
of a moon tonight, the first
sighting in a week,  clouds blown away
to show her thin-shining face,
stars, too, bright companions
all around her, the dark overcast
of a week ago surrendering, until, first,
last night's fluff washboard and, finally,
tonight, pristine clarity lit by this frail moon
and this multitude of other homes' suns, pinpoints
that shine both on me and on faraway fields and mountains
and meadows with the full force of their  atomic life,
such is the all of this
I share  with places and beings I suspect
but cannot imagine

it is a grand and glorious thing,
this universe of mine,
laid  out, in my grandiloquent presumption,
on this early morn for me to

it is hard to be humble
when you know
you are a part of such a thing
as all of this

Following the pattern set earlier (which I will continue through the rest of the post), here are three poems by each of the three masters.


     Wintry wind -
passing a man
     with a swollen face.


     Teeth sensitive to the sand
in salad greens -
     I'm getting old.


     Very brief:
gleam of blossoms in the treetops
     on a moonlit night


     They end their flight
one by one -
     crows at dusk.


     His Holiness the Abbot
is shitting
     in the withered fields.


     Blow of an ax,
pine scent,
     the winter woods.


on a naked horse
     in pouring rain!


     Don't kill that fly!
Look - it's wringing its hands,
     wringing its feet.


     My cat,
frisking in the scale,
     records its weight.

Here's another possibility for the 2013 book.

night lays in

lays in
with a sigh
like an old woman
pulling bed covers  up to her chin

rustles trees
like featherdusters
brushing the stars, frogs
come alive in  the creek, nighthawk's hunt...

on my patio
I strip down, lay back in my chair
and join the frog-symphony, imagine
the fresh, cool mud
between a catalogue of reeds
on the rain-freshened creek-side,
imagine the blood-tasty mosquito caught
on my long green tongue,
squish into the

My next poem is by Rodney Jones and it is taken from his book, Salvation Blues, published in 2006 by Houghton Mifflin.

Jones, born in Alabama, is a professor of English at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. Among his other honors, he was a finalist for the Pulitzer Parize and has won a National Book Critics Circle Award, a Southeast Booksellers Association Award,and a Harper Lee Award.

This is his eighth book of poetry.

Pastoral for Derrida

When coyotes hunt, they come as a clean silence
comes to a text.  They come from beyond myths
our of the tree line along the creek and pick
a lamb, a tender and easy word. Spoken once,
it won't be changed, and the ewe bawls all day.
All night under flocculent covers, we give her up
to  sleep.  The next morning, clean and warm,
the sun's a word we'd want to mean happiness,
but the ewe holds her place,  perfecting rage,
and lets the burrs knot her wool, and goes down
wobbly on scuffed hocks, muddy with grief.
The cry swells deep i her hot sheep heart
and floats out to us like pieces of her  lamb,
spleen and scruff, follicles pebbly as toads,
so we see, not just the lamb, but our own kids
that perishable, that liable to be  broken on fangs.
Like any parent, I'd  think too much  of  peril.
My worries blur from the herd of likelihood,
far from the soft, hospitable centers of dens,
where the lawnmower  throws a a shrapnel  wire,
where the deaf  missile  strays from  the silo.
Still, I  wonder, who  or  what  she means to call -
not  us, certainly, any more than clouds or trees -
or if the petition, repeating, means  at all,
or is some hunger that  longs beyond capacity
of stomachs, with no object in grain or grass.
It could be any thing or one, sheep or man:
in elms, summer squalls or  winter whines;
the cat howls on the barbed, necessary prick.
The times I'd cry all  day, I finally was the cry
itself and not myself, but sob on lemony sob
like wave on wave breaking against a rock,
autonomous,  purer once there were no tears.
Any cry begins profound, in the ore of words,
in the lungs' pink lode and honeycomb. It
thickens like gravity in the unsuckled udder.
Hear it, and you'd know the theme was  loss,
and how every cry is a compass with no needle
that offers, anyway, some vague direction,
as the disbeliever offers up his prayer
to the crazed heavens, to the absent gods.
And surely even the ewe must know
it does no good to cry, to carry this tune
until it carries her - "to the dogs," we'd say,
to butcher and marl. Neither does it help
to ply the tools of facile affection, sweet
words that would succor, hands  that would
sooth  the  hives of demonstrative afflictions,
though these mean well. Poor culpable
spirit, unreckoning Dostoeviske among the beasts -
I would stand,, too, and send each
bleat like a shovel into the flinty air
under the hermeneutical circle of the vulture.

Here's another new  poem from last week, this one commenting on the one I did the day before.


I used a word
in a poem yesterday
incorrectly - meaning
in the context I gave  it is  slightly off
the meaning described in the dictionary
of proper wordness

and I knew at the time
it  was slightly wrong but I didn't care,
because precision is for technical folk
who write manuals on how to assemble
nuclear bombs,
but I am a poet and words,
real or otherwise,
are my game and my toys
for play in sandboxes of my own creation
and the word I used yesterday, correct in spirit,
is a great word
hardly ever used anymore
and I thought it was time  to return it
to a favored place in the sun,
even  if only for a short and even if
not absolutely correct -
word rescue,
in my mind, trumps absolute

like have you ever,
for example,
read a sentence with the word
in it, probably not,
in fact,
for sure not, because,
is  a ringer,
a word I made up,
but wouldn't it be great
to  find such a word in a sentence

and that's the principle
of  the thing
because there are many words,
real words,
just as wonderful as "gnarlyswatch"
but you never hear
and you never see them and such a loss it is
to us and to our language
that they have faded away, like proud sailing ships
slipping beyond  the horizon  and later
lost at sea,
never to be seen again...

such a loss...

I  think it's time for us
to  stick our acrocephalic head
into this issue
and rescue some of  these
fine old words
and use them in amphigory exercises
such as this

I feel a mission

The three masters, again.


     A wild sea -
and flowing out toward Sado Island
     the Milky Way.


     Staying at an inn
where prostitutes are also sleeping -
     brush clover and the moon.


     A caterpillar,
this deep in fall -
     still not a butterfly.


     Going home
the horse stumbles
    in the winter wind.


     A field of mustard,
no whale in sight,
     the sea is darkening.


     Autumn evening -
there's joy also
     in loneliness.


     The moth saw brightness
in a woman's chamber -
     burnt to a crisp.


     Even with insects -
some can sing,
     some can't.


     Blossoms at night,
and the faces of people
     moved by music

Here's another for the 2013 book. This one was a lot of fun to write, so I'm guessing it will make the grade.

the good old days of mid-life crisis management

deep thoughts
this morning, about
"Duck Soup" the Marx bros
or was it that Stooges'
"Duck, Soup"
or  was it Soupy Sales'
big hit
collaboration with  Pinky Lee
"Pink Soup"
or was it the John Waters
about  pink  flamingo's
or  is that a cocktail at the
gay bar
at the corner
of Smith and Wesson,

think that might be
the reason
nobody takes me seriously,
I'm always forgetting little  things,
great on concept
but lacking details

like the fellow and  the girl
in the booth
in front of me,  middle-aged
man, mid-life crisis
in cowboy boots, longish hair
bald on top,
and the girl,  pretty,
blond,  15, maybe 20 years,
behind him
in the chronological sphere,
has a pink poodle
named  Fluffer
or  Poots...

I  get the concept,
but the details,  well, I  don't know,
leaving me to wonder,
should I pity the poor fool
or envy him...

or should I just admit
he reminds me of me
when I try to go to sleep  at night,
minus the boots
and the hair
and the  convertible (did I forget
to  mention  the convertible)
and the young blond
and with an extra 20 years
added to the old tick-tocker, victim
of the longest continuously
midlife crisis since
Genghis Khan


Next, I have  two poems by singer, songwriter, and poet Ani DiFranco, from her  book  Verses, published by Seven  Stories Press in 2007.

coming  up

our father who art in a penthouse
sits in his 37th floor suite
and swivels
to gaze down at the city he made me in
he allows me to stand
and solicit graffiti
until he needs the land he stands on

and i in my darkened threshold
am pawing through my pockets
the receipts
the bus schedules
the matchbook phone numbers
urgent napkin poems
all of which laundering has rendered
pulpy and strange
loose change
and a key
ask me
go ahead

ask me if i care -
i got the answer here
i wrote  it down somewhere
i just gotta  find it

and somebody and their spray paint
got too close
somebody came on too heavy
now look at me
made ugly by the drooling letters
i was better off alone
ain't threat the way it is?
they don't know the  first  thing
but you don't know  that
'til  they take  the first swing
my fingers are red and swollen from the cold
i'm getting bold in my old age
so go ahead
try the door

it doesn't matter any more
i know the weak hearted are strong-willed
and we're being kept alive until we're killed

he's up there
the ice is clinking in his glass
he sends us little pieces of paper
i don't ask
i just empty my pockets
and wait
it's not fate
it's just circumstance
i don't fool with romance
i just live phone number to phone number
dusting them against my thighs in the warmth of my pockets
which whisper history incessantly asking me
where were you?

i lower my eyes
wishing i could  cry more
and care less
yes, it's true
i was trying to love someone  again
i was caught caring
bearing weight
but i love this city
this state
this country
is too large
and whoever's in charge up there
had better take the elevator down and put more than
change in our cup
or else we
are coming up


when they said he could walk on water
what it sounds like to me

is he could float like a butterfly
and sting like a bee

literal people are  scary,  man
literal people scare me

out there trying to rid the world of its poetry

while getting it wrong fundamentally
down at the church of "look
is says right here, see!"

Here's another, new  from last week.

a sleepwalker awakened

this is Friday, closing a week
in which everything that could go wrong
did, nothing serious, mind you,
no deaths., no lose of limb or worldly bounty,
just niggardly little interruptions
in the normal passages of my life
the smooth sailing of this hour to that
disturbed by choppy seas, my safe routines
set a-fluster, like a wing-crippled bird
struggling for lift-off...

as a man whose relevance diminishes daily,
I have settled for routine
instead, the soft
and  gentle
of sweet-drifting zephyrs
to replace the salt-pounding  winds
of storms at sea,
slow-walking through
un-challenging days,  routine,  the  pleasure
and certitude
of knowing always what comes

instead a week when "next" was constantly
subject to revision, bumps in roads
that lead to unfamiliar places...

a sleepwalker awakened I have been
this week

and I prefer the sleep

Basho, Buson, and Issa again.


     Winter garden,
the moon thinned to a thread,
     insects singing.


     They don't live long
but you'd never know it -
     the cicada's cry.


     The dragonfly
can't quite land
     on that blade of grass.


     A shortcut
up to my knees
     in summer rain.


     The behavior of the pigeon
is beyond reproach,
     but the mountain cuckoo?


     The old man
cutting barley -
     bent like a sickle.


     I'm going out,
flies, so relax,
     make love.


     Nursing her child
the mother
     counts fleabites.


     Under the evening moon
the snail
     is stripped to the waist.

Here's another prospect for the 2013 book. I'll probably use it,  just,  if for no other reason, for the adolescent pleasure of putting the various names  of  the male  member in a single poem in a book.


are creatures of the word

and are often stymied
by social convention that  sets

certain words
off-limits, you know,  the words

that made us snicker
in fifth grade,

usually having  to do
with bodily functions and/or body parts

best  not shown in public -
for  example

there is what Whitman called
the "man-root" -
the polite word  to use in mixed

assuming, of course,

you have a need to refer to the body part
in  mixed company at all,

is penis,
but I tell you,that is such a

limp, dangly
little word, no man really wants

to claim  it
for his, you know, his whachamacallit,

(see the problem, right there
it is, trying to talk around the whole  thing
when some simple little word
could make it clear we're not talking about

a man's ear, or his nose
or his left  elbow)


some might call it
prick -

though I, personally,
don't like that, sounds too  aggressive

for a passive kind of guy like me,
and besides, it's developed all sorts of negative

connotations, like, for example,
no one  wants to hang around with a prick

and neither does anyone want to get pricked
no matter  how tiny the prick is that does the pricking


if we were Irish,
I suppose we could all have our individual names

for it,
like Lady Chatterley's gardener - John Thomas,

I believe,
was  his  preference - but it does seem to me

it  wouldn't  solve the problem
since we couldn't  be sure what  anyone was talking about,

assuming, perhaps,
the  conversation  was about another person

of whom
we had  not had the  pleasure of acquaintance,

and,  possibly,  more destructive of social  tranquility,
there could be endless argument

between man and spouse (or other  interested party)
as to whether it would more appropriately be named

Big Willy
or Wee Willy Wilkins -

a discussion
which would do no good for anyone


many nowadays
seem to prefer cock, that, at least,

is what I see and hear  most often,
and I have to say

I kinda like cock myself,
such a proud, manly word,

cock-of-the-walk, cock-sure, cock-a-doodle-do
wake up  and smell the roses, or something

and, of course, no man ever wants
to go off half-cocked...


so,  setting aside such obviously
unacceptable  proposals

as trouser-lizard
and one-eye  snake that ate Milwaukee,

and, while always, certainly, being available
to other suggestions, for the time  being

perhaps we can  just put a cork
in the discussion and leave it at cock...
in the meantime,  possibly tomorrow,
someone else  will  address the similar conundrum

regarding those attributes
most usually attributed to the ladies

From  her first published volume of poetry, Once, I have two poems by Alice Walker. The book was published in Great Britain in 1986, by The Woman's Press.

The poems in the book relate the poet's experience for the first time in Africa.



A dark stranger
My heart searches
Him out,


An old man in white
Calls me  "mama"
It does not take much
To know
He wants me for
His wife -
He has no teeth
But is kind.


The American from
Speaks  Harvardly
of Revolution -
Men of the Mau Mau
Their fists holding
Bits of
Kenya earth.


A tall Ethiopian
Grins at me
The grass burns
my bare feet.


Drums outside
My window
Morning whirls
I have danced  all


The bearded Briton
Wears a shirt  of
Kenya flags
I am at home
He says.


Down the hill
A grove of trees
And on this spot
The magic tree.


The Kenya air!
Miles  of hills
and holding both
My hands
A Mau Mau leader.


And in the hut
The only picture -
Of Jesus


Explain to the
In the village
That you are
And belong -
To no one.

Compulsory Chapel


A quiet afternoon
the speaker
the New Testament
washed out
Through the  window
a lonely
makes noisy song.


The speaker crashes
through his speech
All eyes are
upon him
Over his left
the thick hair
is beginning
to slip.


I  would not mind
       if I were

                     a sinner,

but as it is
- let me assure you -
I sleep  alone.

Here's another poem from the past, in this case, from my eBook, Goes Around,  Comes Around, published about the middle of last year and currently available at all the usual eBook retailers.

in my humble opinion

I could write
a poem
about politics

but whenever  I do that
gets mad at me

or I could  write
a poem
about religion
but that would  leave
all my relatives
staying up nights praying

for my

or I could write
about my amazing sports
career, except

I never had one,
or otherwise

I could write
about all the beautiful women
who  lined up

to take me
in their arms
with seriously perverse

but lying like that
would send me to hell

almost as fast
as my poems  about

I could write
a poem about what  I did
last summer

though it is almost exactly
the same
as what I did this  summer

and I write about all that
kind of boring stuff
all the time anyway

I  could  write
a poem about the weather
but everyone writes

about the weather
and not a one of them

a damn thing about it
so what's the point of being

just another
mealy-mouthed ineffectual poet
who never  does a damn thing  about

the weather
or anything else
for that matter...I'm thinking

I could write a poem
about all the reasons not

to  write a poem
but then I do that a  lot,  too

so maybe I should just
not write a poem

and tell everyone, instead,
that I had to go to the hospital
for  finger transplants

after using up
my initial set of digits
pounding out an epic poem

on my keyboard
which flared up from the intensity
of my effort and burned

like a nova
in a far  galaxy
destroying in the conflagration

both my laptop
and the epic poem in it
which is now, unfortunately

lost forever
but what do you expect
from a nova in a far galaxy -

it's a pretty big deal
after all
with universal impact

of which
loss of my epic poem
is not the worst or grandest

though it is
pretty close to the top
in my humble opinion

The three masters, for the last time this week.


     A snowy morning -
by myself,
     chewing on dried salmon.


     On the way to the outhouse
the white of the moonflower
     by torchlight.


     The crane's legs
have gotten shorter
     in the spring rain


     Coolness -
the sound of the bell
     as it leaves the bell.


     Field of bright mustard,
the moon in the east
     the sun in the west.


a short-legged horse
     in the hazy spring.


     In a dream
my daughter lifts a melon
     to her  soft creek


     the fat priest
edging out
     while he reads the last  prayer.


     Writing shit about new snow
for the rich
     is not art.

Here's another poem from my last book, Always to the Light, published late last year. It's an eBook, available in all the regular eBook places.

ironing 3 shirts on Sunday morning

it's Sunday morning
and I'm
the beginning of a new week
in which I am
by shaving
and ironing 3 shirts

means 3  days without pressure
to conform
to social norms of ironed shirts
and shaved faces

I'm good until  Wednesday
when I will have to decide again
whether to conform
or go wild
and proceed on my own un-

what would Jesus do?
I think

(it is important  to consider historical
precedents like these
when making decisions about choosing
among alternate life paths)

and what about Abraham Lincoln
or Truman Capote?

and Cabeza
DeVaca - what would he do

Jesus didn't shave
and hardly ever ironed his robes

Lincoln hardly ever shaved
and wore starched and crisply ironed
white shirts
except when splitting

shaved and had someone else
iron his shirts

Cabeza DeVaca
spent a large part of his life being chased
by cannibal Indians in South Texas
and had limited time
for shaving or shirt ironing

such things just weren't high on his daily
do lists -

so it  seems the best conclusion I can come up with
it's too hot for robes
and I have ugly feet which could be
considered a pubic nuisance if bared in
flip-flops or  sandals,
and, rail-splitting
sounds like too much work
for a dedicated idler like me, and,
being not a rich and renown author,
I cannot afford
to hire someone to iron my
only old Mr. Cow's Head

setting aside the issue of the
cannibal Indians which can best
be seen
as a symptom
of a condition not a
base condition
in and of its  own self, said base con-
dition being the living of a full
and interesting life
with better things to do than
face-shaving and shirt-ironing

having a similar life of challenge  and
adventure (despite the obvious lack of
in my life), I  will  observe the example
of my homeboy Mr. Cow's Head and
not shave
or iron a shirt Wednesday

I will wait until

Now, the final  poem from my library this week, three by Jane Hirshfield. They are from her  book, Of Gravity & Angels, published in 1988 by the Wesleyan University Press.

The Song

The tree cut down this morning,
is already chainsawed and quartered, stripped
of its branches, transported and stacked.
Not an instant to early, its girl slipped away.
She is singing now, a small figure
glimpsed in the surface of the pond.
As the wood, if taken  too  quickly, will sing
a little in the stove, still remembering her.

See How the Roads Are  Strewn

See how the roads are strewn
as if your hand, traveling my body,
came to be that flock of blossoms,
scent of February in the dark.
See how my hips eclipse your hips,
how the moon, huge as a grain barge, passes by.
And promises do not hold,
but my body, confusion of crossings,  I give  you
broadcast,  to move with your hand,
where nothing is saved but breaks out in a thousand directions,
armful of wild plum, weeds.

The Other Earth

At first we embrace trees.
Lie with the swan, the bull, become stars.
Blackbirds  form bridges across the sky
we  pass, lightly placing our feet.
The god  enters our rooms in a shower of gold.
Into the intricate maze a white thread,
a woman, a fish come to guide  our way out.
Docile as horses, we go.

When the plain world comes,
with its explanations
smooth and cool as a marble statue's skin,
we go, rising out of the dark.
Being careless and proud, we look back
towards the other earth:
how it wavers and goes out,
like a girl with an errand to do in another room.

I'm finishing up this week with some short  poems from my first eBook, Pushing Clouds Against the Wind, published early last year.

This was my first shot at eBook publishing and it shows a lot of first-timer fumbling in format and display. But the poems, product of several years of writing daily and  publishing nothing, hold their own.

The form of these particular poems is something I invented one afternoon, sitting at a coffee bar with nothing to  write on but a bar napkin. So was born the "barqu," ten words on six lines (sized to fit the bar napkin). Being not inclined to be hard  on  myself, that's as far  as it goes, rules-wise.


in twos
and threes -
i listen
i write


whale song
the deep
navy sonar
the tide


lonely whistle
in the dark
little bird

And with the same space-limiting constraints, here are some little things I called "post-it notes." Pretty self evident, I think.

Post-It Note

i love
in  little
flashes of
sticky note


small dogs
at heels
with tiny
and sharp  little teeth


crowd murmurs
in  a large room
of stories
into random
word pieces

And there was one afternoon when I got stuck  on colors.


blue eyes
under clear
on cut


a pewter
roll across the floor


black man
your silver flute
sings us
a song
to sleep


sun lies  low
behind scrub branches

yellow jigsaw

at end of day


on  white paper
bright red
like an  apple
on a bed of


white horse
on a white field
enclosed by a white fence

i am blinded
by the

And that's it again for this week.

As it turns out the new protocols are easier to work with then the old, with a few exceptions. For example, it  seems I can't cut and paste, which will require a lot more work when putting the post together.

However, all the same rules still apply; everything here belongs to those who created it. My stuff, too, though anyone can use it if they want, with the courtesy of proper credit for me and for "Here and Now."

I'm still peddling the same books, as shown below. I was hoping to present my new book, Spaces and Places, now, but not possible with the early post. The publisher has the book and should be uploading it to retailers very soon. The time from uploading to appearance on the retailers virtual shelves varies by retailer, from a day or two at Amazon and Barnes and Noble to a month or more at the Sony bookstore.

Bookbaby (the publisher) has developed agreements with additional distributors since my last book. They are listed below. At this point, I know next to nothing about any of them.

Available at the major eBook retailers, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Sony eBookstore and Appple ibookstore, as well as others I mostly never heard of before, including  Kobo, Copia, Gardners, Baker & Taylor, and eBookPie

"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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Loch Raven Review
Mindfire Renewed
Holy Groove Records
Poems Niederngasse
Michaela Gabriel's In.Visible.Ink
The Blogging Poet
Wild Poetry Forum
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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