Other Ways to Skin a Cat   Thursday, May 31, 2012





Photos this week are from files I  hardly ever look at, meaning there's a good chance I haven't  used them lately.


My anthology this  week is A Day for a Lay - A Century of Gay Poetry. I had the book first  up to use on my bookcase for several weeks, made more timely now  by recent political events. As is often the case, my good timing is entirely a case of  serendipity. It  was published in 1999 by Barricade Books.

Here's who's here:



Me
the natural order  of things

Bill Shields
riding slack
hearts, whole handfuls of hearts
see Blondie - a poem not about death
white trash
after a whole lifetime of whining about Vietnam - a 4-word poem

Me
on a scale of sliced bread, Cuban cigars, and horseshoes

Tennessee Williams
The Interior of the Pocket

Me
fast times in birdland

James Hoggard
part 8 from Tornado’s Eye

Me
the problem with being  Professor  Moriarty

Ian Young
For Constantine Cavafy

Me
passports

Stanley Kunitz
Indian Summer at Land’s End
The Layers
Halley’s Comet

Me
Gwendolyn

Constantine Cavafy
Picture of a Youth of Twenty-three Painted by His Friend of the Same Age, an Amateur
The Tobacco-Shop Window
At the Next Table
Their Beginning

Me
why I decided not to be  a superhero

Charles Baudelaire
Hair

Me
I like foreplay

Lord Alfred Douglas
In Praise of Shame

Me
not enough to be one or the other

Jeannette Lozano
The House
In Times of Water
The Truth
Linden 197

Me
I swear

Felice Picano
Straight Man

Me
thuffering thuccotash

Ruth Stone
A Woodchuck Lesson

Me
and it’s another fine day when nothing happens

Wilfred Owen
To Eros
Storm
Maundy Thursday

Me
get on your bicycle and ride







Here's my first poem for the week, written last  week.



the natural order of things
I was
out back last night,
‘bout midnight,
doing my naked best
to be relevant to the universal order
of things,
finding
the universal order of things
not greatly interested
in my best,
naked or dressed, encased
in John Glenn’s spacesuit,
bound in the chains of
Torquemada, the Grand
Inquisitor, wrapped in Superman’s cape,
or, even
if I could reconstitute it
from my memory,
that white sports coat
and pink
carnation I wore
to the annual sophomore
sock hop in 1957,
even that, it seems, would be
not enough to grab the attention
of the universal order of things…

because,
let’s face it,
the natural order of things
knows
my naked embrace is more about me
than it is about the natural order
of things
since I’m convinced
the natural order of things is all,
at least 98 percent, about me,
and if it isn’t, well, then, I don’t care
any more about the natural order
of things than the natural order of
things cares about me
and
I’m out here, naked,
breathing the black air of midnight
and watching the moon and the stars
play catch with thin crossing clouds
because, by god, it feels good
and I like it
and
the natural order of things
can just go to hell!











My first library poet this week is Bill Shields from his book Life Taker, third  in his series of unpurgable Vietnam  memories. All three books in the series were published by 2.13.61. This last in the series was published in 1975.

These are the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder nightmare poems, selected at random from the book.



riding slack

my eyes never leave the body
I slid a round in the chamber like grease

watching the man
& his habits

sweated with him
brushed hair out of his eyes
my legs shook in fear too

I took a big gulp as he was looking to my right
& waxed his ass

wait...it's1992
I spent the day running forms on a printing press
8 hours of ink and noise

clutching a bullet
to my chest like a blanket
made in Saigon

yeah...these are
the stupid years


hearts, whole handfuls of hearts

it was so much easier when I was younger
those freshly-wrapped red scars thrilled

shrapnel is impressive on a twenty year old body
but on a middle-aged horse it  feels like arthritis

dead nerves
& just plan pain

not even a wife got pity
for a man who outlives
his scars


see Blondie - a poem not about  death

she gets very drunk before lying down with me
her hand reaches for my body vaguely

I laugh to myself
thinking - if this is what it takes

I'll take  it

white trash

I followed my father's footsteps & left my kids
when they were sitting on the toilet

he did W.W.II
I did the Nam

he got remarried
me too

at 73 he found God
at 41 I find nothing

Dad shuffles his feet
& his wife harps at his alcohol

I've never asked him
if he sees dead German soldiers on his front porch;
maybe time has been good to him
& they faded like last  winter's snow banks

He's never asked me if I'm seeing dead Viet Cong
I must be that obvious

hoping he sees the grave
before me


after a lifetime whining about Vietnam: a 4-word poem

my mistake: one coffin













Another of my poems  from last week.




on a scale of sliced bread, Cuban cigars, and horseshoes
it’s not that we,
our kind, that is,
not us, you and me
specifically,
but the general
us
in our common
manifestation, it’s
not, as I was saying,
that the kind
that is us is the
greatest
thing
since sliced bread
and Cuban
cigars,
but we are,
and we are what
we are and that’s
worth something
in both the greater
and lesser scheme
of things
cause
authenticity
counts
in the high-stakes
hold’em game
of life

now you and
me
are more than just
what we are
since
we are,
of course,
pretty darn
special
and if the
special kind
you and
i
are
was more representative
of the kind
we all are, then,
for
darn
sure we’d be right up
there
with sliced bread

no
damn doubt
in my mind about
that
at all

you and
me,
we’re fine;
it’s everyone else
of the human
kind
that needs to
kindly
step up
and do
better

for
it is
as Grandpa said,
good
enough
but no cigar
only counts in
horseshoes








My first  poet from the anthology, A Day for a Lay, is Tennessee Williams.

Born in 1911,Williams died in 1985. Considered during his lifetime as America's greatest playwright, he began as a poet and continued to write poetry all his life, publishing two complete poetry collections. His Memoirs, published in 1975, scandalized many with its open homosexuality and erotic reminiscences.



The Interior of the Pocket

It will not be necessary for you  to look  very far from the boy.
You will probably find him standing close  to where you last saw him,
his attitude changed only slightly,  his left hand removed
from the relatively austere pocket of the blue jacket
and thrust how into the more companionable pocket of the gray pants
so that the glazed material is drawn tight
over the rather surprisingly tenderly sculptured thigh...

The interior of the pocket is  dark as the dark room he longs to
     sleep  in;
it is dark as obliteration of something deeper  than sense,
but in it the hot white hand of the boy is closed in on itself
with a betrayal of tension his eyes have refused to betray,

for his eyes have not betrayed him.  They are somewhat softer than blue
and they stay with the afternoon that fades about him, they take its
     color,
they even face with its color as pieces of sky or water...
They show what nakedness is when a thing is truly naked,
and by the very completeness of its exposure is covered up,
when nothing being not seen makes nothing seen...

But while you watch him from your  respectful distance,
as though he were an experiment in a glass, held over a flame,
about to change, to darken in color or cloud,
a motion occurs under the pocket's dark cover:
the hot white fingers unclose,  they come  unknotted and they extend

slightly sideways to offer again their gesture of reassurance
to that part of him,  crestfallen, on which he depends
for the dark room he longs to sleep  in,

the way small animals nudge one another at night,
as though to whisper, We're close! There is still  no danger!














Here's a poem from  Pushing Clouds Against the Wind, my first eBook. Because it was my first, I did a lot of things wrong, beginning with trying to do my own cover because I was too cheap to have the publisher do it. There's also a number things that you need to do when preparing an eBook manuscript that I knew nothing about then and am still learning about now.

But, though the presentation is rough in spots, I'm still proud of the poems.



fast times in birdland

i hit a bird this morning

ran right  over him
when he flew  too low
and too slow

dumbass bird

i drove on

stuck in my Cadillac's
checkerboard grill
beak forward
feathers
around his black  BB eyes
ruffling  in the wind,
he dies

thinking,
goddamn, look at me go

I'm the fastest bird
in this whole freaking town








Next I have a longer poem by Texas  poet James Hoggard, from his book Two Gulls, One Hawk.

The book  was published by Prickly Pear Press in 1983.

Hoggard is a former poet laureate of Texas and also a past president of the Texas Institute of Letters. He was the Perkins-Prothro Distinguished Professor of English at Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls, Texas. He is a poet, short story writer, novelist, playwright, essayist and translator, with more than fifteen books and seven produced plays.

I've  used the present tense above, even though there is no dates on the entries on the web about him. I did check the faculty list at Midwestern U. and found him no  longer listed so he may have either retired or died.

The poem I've selected is number 8 of 9 pieces in his series poem, Tornado's Eye, in the book.



8

Home again where I was  born,
I remembered best the second town
I'd ever lived in

     We moved to Henrietta
     when I was almost  three
     We  left before I was five

     That morning I drank
     orange juice and sobbed
     but on the train it rained
     on only one side of the road
     for a time, I even thought then
     I might be inventing

A tree-house in our yard

     Nancy Stine herself had built it for me

Cookies and chickens next door
a hole in the hedge
Movies  at the theater
across the vacant lot across the front yard

     where once on a walk with my father
     I sat down and tried to stand up,
     by pulling on my bootstraps,
     a feat I'd heard
     a worthy man could do

     Straining my guts I learned
     what the old folks said
     was sometimes dumb

And getting pumped to Muddle Lake
where Mountain Boomers were

     puffy-throated lizards,
     they moved as fast as breath
     rising from the hot rocks
     they were sailing over

A circus on a neighbor's front porch
A backyard funeral for a goldfish
and I preached the sermon
while someone else took collection
in a grey Homburg hat
Then one day told Skipper Stevenson
that the dimple in his chin
meant the Devil had kissed him,
he was going to Hell

Going home crying
he thought I knew how to read sign

     Rock of Ages,Satan's cleft,
     let me fun myself  in thee

but all I remembered
until 30 years later
was sitting on the curb with him
after breaking some eggs
we stirred in a hole
before we buried the mess
swiped from the hen house next door

     and I had a cleft chin, too
     He said  he'd noticed,
     assumed I was different,
     my people having power,
     my father a preacher and all

Mrs. Stine's back porch next door,
where the shade gathered breezes,
got painted one day
with dozens of eggs
Chuck, an infant then,
broke on his head
and smeared with this hands
on the red-plank floor

When she found him
he said, "Tookie"
and she gave him one, too

     but probably prayed
     for a dose of restraint

     ordinarily her  lips didn't quiver
     or her temples' veins throb

I was swelling up fat
from breakfast at home
and another  next door
until she discovered
my hunger came from something other
than Mother's neglect

     even her  Pontiac entertained me:
     parallel chrome lines
     bisecting the trunk,
     and an  Indian chief's head on the dash

and her older daughter
named her first son after me
and the other said one cloudy day
that FDR had died

     Nancy Stine knew  everything

They and their mother were magic
and also Judge Stine
who taught me to sing
"The Mademoiselle From  Armentieres"
and plopped his helmet  on my head
while  showing me his photographs
of France in World War I

The  church by t5he parsonage,
I was made a life-member
of the Woman's Society (hallelujah!)
of Christian Service

but quit crashing choir practice
when a sober man whipped me
with a ping-pong  paddle
for singing loud another tune
and playing with the tempting cords
hanging from the ceiling fans

One day I rose from my nap,
took my clothes off
and joined the church-ladies naked,
unaware of the honor they'd give me

When they finally caught me
they wrapped a dish towel round me
and let me stay - I knew them all
for after church
I'd stand with my father
and greet all the members

     it always felt good
     to feel a woman's soft squeeze
     Ours the first family
     they'd had in years
     with children in it,
     and we got  taken everywhere

     Gladys Dickerson even taught me to drive
     by holding me in her lap
     while I sputtered enginely
     and whipped back and forth
     her blue ford's big steering wheel

     and her husband let me crawl
     all over his gigantic tractors

     and time after time I charged
     house-painting brushes at the lumber yard
     catty-corner from the church
     though I had to take them back
     and get another one,
     lying I'd picked out the wrong size

And during church Shorty,
our laughing Sunday cook
who always dressed in white
and wore a great chef's hat,
tried teaching my brother to jig::
"That boy don't need," he said,
"just to know how to walk
A man's got to  learn how to dance"
  












This one, also new from last week.



the problem with being Professor Moriarty

I was reading this book
a couple of nights
ago
about a fella who had the brains
and a generally amoral character
that could have made him
a master criminal
but the master criminal
business
seemed so complicated
and such hard work
that he worked in a video store
instead…

which makes a certain kind of
sense that appeals to me,
being myself
a person
not so inclined to heavy
lifting…

I mean,
it occurs to me,
what’s the use
of being Professor Moriarty
if you have to work just as hard
as Sherlock Holmes?








My next poet from the anthology is Ian Young. Born in London in 1945, Young was a pioneer  gay activist in Canada, his  adopted country. A bibliographer, publisher and anthologist of gay literature, as well as a poet, he later chronicled the psychohistory of gay life and the AIDS crisis. At the time the anthology was published, he lived in Toronto with his partner  of 15 years.



For Constantine Cavafy

Reading your book
I see you now
again in your Alexandria,
leaning
toward the window of a shop
where the light
catches the dust and touches
the features of a young man within.  Watching,
you catch sight of your reflection
mottled in the glass,
and move away,
last words of a poem
rising in your mind:
     "Later, in a happier  time,
     a man just like me
     will appear, and act freely."
Sometimes,
remembering my silences,
my lost moments,
the line of burnt-out candles,
I despair with you, Cavafy.
And then, sometimes,
I think: this is the happy time;
I am the man.









Was thinking about  books, my longest and most  constant companions.



passports
I am not
a serious reader

there was a time when I was,
reading all the classics
as a teenager or earlier, and for fun,
stories of pirates in the
Caribbean, the murderous days
of the French revolution and
guillotined royals and revolutionaries,
adventures on the sea
with Horatio Hornblower and
Captain Blood,
and lessons in revenge
from the Count of Monte Cristo
and two weeks of afternoons heart -
stopped with ” Les Miserables”
and another two weeks heart-
broken with Philip Carey in his
life “Of Human Bondage” -
details
of all long lost in memory,
like the story by Guy de Maupassant
that I cannot remember
even though I remember it moved
me as a fourteen-year-old
for reasons
completely lost to me now...

now I stick to reading mostly about
detectives and reporters
and crime fighting lawyers
who are large and muscular
and fiercely intent when it comes
to the pursuit of justice, and sweet-
hearted women with a soft spot
for all who fight the dragons
or our criminal time,
win or die,
not all that different
my heroes now
from those of my boyhood,

and
silly poems
I write myself and good poems
by other people,
some I know and some
I don’t

and the comics
in the newspaper, characters
who pull the humor
from truth in four-box panels…

I don’t read philosophers,
concerned with questions
inconsequential
to anyone who isn’t paid to ask them
and answers
self-evident to those who aren’t

and I don’t read political books,
though I used to, back when
politics made sense to me and was about
important things
and I felt some sense of hope
that those very same important things
might someday
become things we could all
agree on,
better days then these, when silly and stupid and
hopeless fools
did not control all political discussion
that does nothing but fill me
with despair for my country and my fellow
man

and I don’t read biographies of the greats
because there are no greats anymore,
just passers-by
and hangers-on and
thrice-cursed fools who believed
in greatness and fell short

and a thousand books I’d like to read again,
but never get around to it
because though I often remember
the warm glow
of a great book I read
I rarely remember the name
of the book that created that warm glow
I still remember years after

so mostly I just enjoy writing
and reading my own
silly poems -
with an occasional break for crime-fighting
with large muscular men,
bringing evil men to
justice












Next from my library, I have several poems by Stanley Kunitz, from his National Book Award winning collection, Passing Through - The Later  Poems New and Selected. The book was published in 1995 by W.W.  Norton.

 Born in Worcester, Massachusetts in 1905, the youngest of three children, to parents of Jewish Russian Lithuanian decent. His father, a dressmaker of Russian Sephardic Jewish heritage, committed suicide in a public park after going bankrupt, six weeks before Stanley was born. He and his two sisters were raised by their mother, who had made her way from Yashwen, Kovno, Lithuania by herself in 1890, and opened a dry goods store.

At fifteen he moved out of the house and became a butcher's assistant. Later he got a job as a cub reporter on the The Worcester Telegram, where he would continue working during his summer vacations from college.

Kunitz graduated summa cum laude in 1926 from Harvard College with an English major and a philosophy minor, and then earned a master's degree in English from Harvard the following year. He wanted to continue his studies for a doctorate degree, but was told by the university that the Anglo-Saxon students would not like to be taught by a Jew.

After Harvard, he continued to work as a reporter for The Worcester Telegram, and as editor for the H.W. Wilson Company in New York City. He then founded and edited Wilson Library Bulletin and started the Author Biographical Studies.

During World War II Kunitz was drafted into the Army in 1943 as a conscientious objector, and served as a noncombatant at Gravely Point, Washington in the Air Transport Command in charge of information and education. He refused a commission and was discharged with the rank of staff sergeant.

After the war, he began a teaching career at Bennington College, then went on to teach at New York State Teachers College in Potsdam, New York, New School for Social Research, University of Washington, Queens College, Vassar, Brandeis, Yale, Rutgers, and a 22-year stint at Columbia University.

He was the New York State Poet Laureate from 1987 to 1989 and continued to write and publish as late as 2005, at the age of 100.

He died in 2006 at his home in Manhattan.



Indian Summer at Land's End

The season stalls, unseasonably fair,
blue-fair, serene, a stack of golden discs,
each disc a day, and the addition slow.
I wish you were here with me to walk the flats,
toward dusk especially when the tide is out
and the bay turns opal,  filled with rolling fire
that washes on the mouldering wreck offshore,
our mussel-vineyard,  strung with bearded grapes.
Last night I reached for you and shaped you there
lying beside me as we drifted past
the farthest seamarks and the watchdog  bells,
and round  Long Point  throbbing in its  frosty light,
until we streamed into the open sea.
What did I know of voyaging till now?
Meanwhile I tend my flock,  small golden  puffs
impertinent as  wrens, with snipped-off tails,
who bounce down from the trees. High overhead
on  the trackless roads, skywriting  V and yet
another V, the southbound Canada express
hoots  of horizons and distances....


The Layers

I have walked through many lives,
some of them my own,
and I am not  who I was,
though some  principle of being
abides, from which I struggle
not to stray.
When I look behind,
as I am compelled to look
before I can gather strength
to proceed on my journey,
I see the milestones dwindling
toward the horizon
and the slow  firs trailing
from the abandoned camp-sites,
over which scavenger angels
wheel  on heavy wings.
Oh,  I have made  myself a tribe
out of my true affections,
and my tribe has scattered!
How shall the hart be reconciled
to its feast to losses?
In a rising wind
the manic dust of my friends,
those who fell along the way,
bitterly stings my face.
Yet I turn, I turn,
exulting somewhat,
with my will intact to go
wherever I need to go,
and every stone on the road
precious to me.
In my darkest night,
when the moon was covered
and I roamed through the wreckage,
a nimbus-clouded voice
directed me:
"Live in  the layers,
not on the litter."
Though I lack the art
to decipher it,
no doubt the next chapter
in my book of transformations
is already written.
I am not done with my changes.


Halley's Comet

Miss Murphy in first  grade
wrote its name in chalk
across the board and told  us
it was roaring down the storm tracks
of the Milky Way at frightening speed
and if it wandered off  course
and smashed into earth
there'd be no school tomorrow.
A red-bearded preacher from the hills
with a wild look in his eyes
stood in the public square
at the playground's edge
proclaiming he  was sent by God
to  save every one of us,
even the little children.
"Repent, you sinners!" he shouted,
waving his hand-lettered sign.
At supper I felt sad to think
that it was probably
the  last  meal I'd  share
with my mother  and sisters:
but I felt excited too
and scarcely touched my plate.
So mother scolded me
and sent me early to my room.
The whole family's  asleep
except for me. They never heard me steal
into the stairwell hall and climb
the ladder to the fresh night air.

Look for me, Father, on the roof
of the red brick building
at the foot of Green Street -
that's where we live, you know, on the top floor.
I'm  the boy in the white  flannel gown
sprawled on the coarse gravel bed
searching the starry sky,
waiting for the world to end.









Here's another poem from Pushing Clouds Against the Wind.



Gwendolyn

Gwendolyn
i named her
and i love
to watch
her talk -
American Sign  Language,
with flashing eyes
and Gwendolyn
body
English
that seems to involve
every
movable
part  of  her physical being

as i watch
i have no idea
what she's talking about
but, by God,
it looks exciting








My next poet from the anthology, A Day for a Lay, is Greek poet, Constantine Cavafy, to whom the earlier poem by Ian Young was addressed. Young, in fact, translated the first of the four poems I'm using. The other three were translated by Gavin Dillard.

Cavafy was born in 1863 and died in 1933. He spent most of his life in Alexandria, Egypt, where he worked as a civil servant.



Picture of a Youth of Twenty-three Painted by His Friend of the Same Age, an Amateur

He studies it carefully now,
the painting he completed
yesterday noon.
He has painted him
in a coat of deep  gray, unbuttoned,
no vest or tie,
a rose-coloured shirt open at the collar
to show the beauty of his chest and neck.
His hair falls over his right temple,
his beautiful hair
parted in the fashionable manner.
The sensuous feeling is there
that he wanted to portray
when he painted the eyes,
the lips...
That mouth,  those lips
so made for consumption,
for choice love-making.


The Tobacco-Shop Window

They stood among many others
near the lighted window of a tobacco shop.
By chance their glances met
and timidly, halting,
expressed the illicit  craving of their flesh.
then a few tentative  steps  along the street,
until they smiled and discreetly nodded.

And after that the enclosed carriage,
the physical closeness of their bodies
the joining of hands, the meeting of lips...


At the Next Table

He must be barely twenty-two, and yet
I am certain that just so many years ago
I enjoyed the selfsame body.

No, it isn't  merely inlovement,
I only entered the tavern a moment ago and I've
hardly had a thing to drink -
but I have enjoyed that very body.

And if I can't recall where - one lapse of memory proves nothing.

There, see, now  that he has sat at the next table,
I'm familiar with every move that he makes -
and beneath his clothes,  I can envision those
naked limbs that I have loved.


Their Beginning

The consummation of their  deviant, sexual
delight complete, they arose from the mattress
and quickly dressed without speaking.

The left the house one at  a time, furtively,
and as each walked uneasily up the street, it seemed  as if
something about himself  perhaps did betray
into what sort of bed he had fallen mere moments ago.

But the the life of the artist, look what's been gained -
tomorrow,  the next day, or years hence, the powerful
verses will be composed that here had their beginning.









This poem from last week, the 30th poem of my 71st daily series of 30 poems, 2,130 poems in 2,130 days. Damn, maybe I am a superhero after all.



why I decided not to be a superhero
I thought for a while
I might want to grow up
to be a superhero,
defending humanity
from vicious aliens
and bankers
and tea-sipping
politicians, but the more
I thought the more
it seemed not the best
career choice…

as with any business,
you have to consider over-
head costs when considering
a start-up in the superhero
business, insurance costs,
for one thing, even Allstate
sticks it’s hands in its pockets
when it comes to insuring
superheroes, all that jumping
over tall buildings and such,
I mean, they’ll do it,
but expect to pay dearly for it…

and then there’s the matter
of superhero costumes, every
superhero has to have one, actually,
three, one for the wash, one to wear
when fighting evil aliens, bankers,
and tea-sipping politicians, and,
a back-up, just in case you split
your super-britches when leaping
over tall buildings and such
and have an “accident” first time you see
the giant evil alien banker tea-sipping politician
monster descending in it monstrous ship
from outer space just north of
Arizona -

some pretty scary shit, even
for a superhero…

and who designs
these costumes, anyway,
and how much does it cost, a pretty
penny, I’m guessing, if you want some-
thing that’ll make the proper mission
statement, a Janus-like message, like,
first face saying, “relax, humanity, super-
dude is here,” and the second, to the evil-
doers, like, “flee! flee for your life, evil-
doers, superdude,
the scourge of evil aliens, bankers,
and tea-sipping politicians is here to
squelch your evil-doing plans” and it
would be hard to do, maybe the message
to all-humanity on the front of the costume,
reassurance large and boldly writ, and on
the back, the message to evil-doers (in
very small print since messages to evil-doers
is always longer and more complicated than
messages to all-humanity -
in fact, considering the tiny
print required to fit on the back
of the uniform, you might have to go to
paid advertising on the back of People
Magazine or National Review, or other
publications frequented by evil aliens,
bankers, and tea-sipping politicians -
a whole other big business expense in
addition to the costumes, associated
with the superhero business,
and I haven’t even mentioned the cost
of a proper cape…

and consider the threat to your
psyche that comes with the whole
secret identity requirement, self-
demeaning, this requirement to appear
in your daily life as a candy-ass nerd
in thick black glasses who never gets
the girl while, in your superhero costume
you’d get lots of girls but could never
get down to any serious dating with any
of them since, let’s face it, once out
of your superhero costume, your body
ain’t so super, a fact that girls attracted
to superhero costumed gents
would surely and
quickly notice…

and so I thought about such practical
issues as this, even the simplest stuff
like where would you get good maid service
for your fortress of solitude, and decided
I should set aside the superhero dream
and consider other options, captain-of-
industry, perhaps, or philosopher-king,
or evangelical-preacher (maybe even
pope), general-of-all-the-armies

or maybe I should just write poem
instead, become captain
of versifying,
pope of poetics,
something
like that








Next I have a poem by French poet  Charles Baudelaire from the book, Baudelaire - Selected Poems,  published in 1999 by Barnes and Nobles Books.

Baudelaire, who was born in 1821 and who died in 1867, was a leading poet of nineteenth-century France. Considered by many the greatest  of all French poets, even  though his creative output was relatively small, virtually all written when he was in this twenties. Published in 1857, his book Les Fleurs du mal (Flowers of  Evil), was the subject of a trail for blasphemy and immorality.



Hair

The bedroom  fills  with memories as you shake
Your head and curls come rippling down your neck:
O golden mane,O perfumed nonchalance,
What passions waken  as I stroke that  fleece!

Another world lives in those  depths:  wild,  far,
Fiery and languid:  Asia or Africa.
Imprisoned in that aromatic tent,
I swim upon the music of  your scent.

Somewhere, far  off, sap  flows  abundantly
In men and trees:  O sea of ebony.
Carry me there, dazzle me with your dreams
Of oars and masts and sails,  of suns and flames.

I gulp the scents,  the colours and the sound
Of a great  port:  the sea a golden ground,
The ships with open  arms, the trembling air,
Eternal sunlight pouring everywhere.

An ocean  lurks within the ocean of
Your tresses, and I dive, drunken with love,
In search of sloth and its fecundity.
Darkness encloses and caresses me,

A dark blue tent of hair that nonetheless
Reveals the sky, and twisting, tress by tress,
Intoxicates with odours - musk  and tar
and coco oil,  the perfumes of your hair.

I shall sow rubies,  sapphires, diamonds,pearls
- How long? Forever! - in your heavy curls.
Never be deaf to my desires, but be
My dreams' oasis, a distillery
From which I  drink long sips of memory.









Another one from Pushing Clouds Against  the Wind.



i like foreplay

some say
my lines
are too
short
and
s
k
i
n
n
y
and my poems
too  long
and
it takes too
forever
to get past
the  foreplay
and into the
good  stuff
and i say
hey
foreplay's
not so bad
and how can
you have a third
act
if you don't have
a first
and a second
i mean after all
consider if
Shakespeare
(and i don't mean to com-
pare
myself
to him though we do face
similar
problems at  our own
levels)
but
what if he wrote like they
said i ought to write with
long lines
that got to the point just
right away without that
messy stuff up
front and those silly rhymes
that slow  things down and
that
really weird English and so
many characters with all
those
strange names and like who
cares about Benvolio,
anyway,
i don't....

well,
maybe like this

Romeo and Juliet...
no...
too long

just
Roy and Julie

boy thinks girl is dead kills
self girl finds boy dead kills
self  too

curtain

applause
applause
applause

that wouldn't be
any good
at all













Here, from the anthology, is a poem by Lord Alfred Douglas. Born in 1870, Douglas died in 1945. The lover who outed Oscar Wilde, Douglas vacillated after Wilde's death, between championing him and vilifying him.



In Praise of Shame

    Unto my bed last  night, methought there came
Our  lady of strange dreams, and from an urn
She poured live fire, so that mine eyes did burn
     At sight of it. Anon the floating flame
     Took many shapes, and one cried, "I am Shame
That walks with Love, I am most wise to turn
Cold lips and limbs to fire; therefore discern
     And see my loveliness, and praise my name"

     And afterward, in radiant garments dressed,
With sound of flutes and laughing and glad lips,
     A pomp of all  the passions passed along,
All the night through;till the white phantom ships
     Of dawn sailed in. Whereat  I  said this song,
        "Of all sweet passions Shame is the loveliest."







Here's another poem  from last week. It is probably fair to say that reading some of my poems  is like trying to unscramble an  egg.  I kind of like that and hope  it doesn't bother others too much.



not enough  to be one or the other
I cut
all my hair off
some months ago,
as short as I could get it
without a razor,
and for some months now,
I’ve kept it that way…

a couple of weeks ago
I decided I would let my hair
grow long again, arriving
now at that in between stage,
too long to be short,
too short to be long, the indeterminate
intermediate where lies
the nexus of our civilization today,
too something for this, too something else
for that…

too many people too smart
to be dumb; too many too dumb
to be smart,
stuck at the crossroads stage of
smart-ass and dunce donkey
dancing with demoralized
debutantes on the delta
of
despair

(see what I mean
a dumb person couldn’t
have come up with that little
collection of “d” diddling,
while a smart person,
could have, but would have known
better - how convenient
that I can so
easily
and unconsciously
illustrate
the point of my poem - some
might call it irony, a word which I have
never understood the meaning of
in modern context)

I have for most of my life
been to smart for my own good
and too dumb to take proper advantage
of it…

growing up on dirt roads
in South Texas
where getting stuck in the mud
is something you do often until you learn
the basic wisdom of experienced
mudders - drive through the puddle
where others have earlier driven and passed
safely, not around the puddle where others
were smart enough not to go…

I have this feeling that the lessons
of mud and knowing the secret
of successful passage
through it might have some relevance
to this poem

but I’m not smart enough
to figure out what it is








From The Movements of Water/Los Momentos del  agua, a beautiful, coffee table size, book of poetry and art, I have several short poems  by Jeannette Lozano. Published in 2006 by Ediciones Poligrafa of Barcelona, it is one of the most beautiful poetry books I own. It includes both Lozano's poetry and full-color  paintings by Victor Ramirez.

In addition to being a poet and translator, Lozano has spent many years teaching and writing about the ancient philosophy and religion of pre-Hispanic cultures.

Her work has been translated to English, French, Italian and Romanian. At the time this book was published, she was working on an anthology of contemporary American poets.

This book is a dual-language with poems both in their original  Spanish, as well, on facing pages English translation by Ron Hudson.

While the book includes some very fine longer poems, I'm going to stick this week to some of the poet's shorter works.



The House

the house, that uncertain place. The girl-child
without a lamp, white
the beginning, the revelation
burns in silence.
All beginning is white,
the composition
of the form,  silent
the fog, the tree. The girl-child
silent, the height, the
air. All  beginning
is writ, the unforeseen disaster.  The  silent
fog,  whose
music is silence, dispersed
syllables.


In Times of Water

You submerge your body in the brilliance
foreseeing that which the sand has written for you.

In pain the breeze encodes destiny.

Better not to resist, the water never errs.
You will hear a strange  flare, the fire and the falling of branches.

Brilliance chiseled in the droplet, this is eternity,
reflection of a sphere
where thoughts cannot dwell.

A strand is the entire universe.

Against the window of your car, the same droplet you seek to erase with the windshield
while you drive to the assigned site.
But the crystal marks an unbreakable barrier, that you cannot reach.

Three hours and the chill can not deprive it from what it  is.
It shivers,  remains. time of water that velocity cannot change.

In the suspended sea, it stays.

Like a diamond, the glance of the water seals the brilliance in the stone. Water,
wrested by water, water, water with no end.

                                                                                                                       Airport Rumania
                                                                                                                            July 15 / 2006


The Truth

Your eyes, that is the truth. The rest,
burns and does not know. A sun
hugs me in your caresses,
illuminates
the glow of petroleum
in the corridors.

I have the pleasant  thought of  ceding
to the transparency of a carnal joy:

I obey the lights of the wind,
but my voice does not listen,
only yearns.

My ground loves your eyes,
each kiss on my body,
the blandor of your snowy steps.

Beneath the bed sheets
evaporating the fleeting permanency of days.


Linden 197

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

Spring is the season of death.

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

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

Our heads entangled,
our bodies mistreated
return to the voracious melancholy.








I'm a people watcher; get a lot of  poems that  way. But sometimes, you see what you see and even though you know you saw it, you can't believe it.

This also is a poem from my first eBook,  Pushing Clouds Against the Wind.



i swear

business  suit
   charcoal gray,
   pin
   striped,
   red necktie
   on pristine white  shirt
whispers to himself
as he picks
at his Blackberry
with his plastic stylus

i read his lips -
   "beam me up, Scottie"

i swear










The next poet from anthology, A Day for  a Lay, is Felice Picano.

Best known for his novels and fictionalized memoirs, Picano published in 1980, A True Likeness, the first ever collection of lesbian and gay writing. He was  part of the "Violet Quill Club" of New York gay writers and was involved in two important gay publishing ventures, The Sea Horse Press, which he founded, and the Gay Presses of New York.



Straight Man

Cologne - like innocence that lasts too long
- wafts about his shoulders
This vanity of odor is surely someone  wifely's purchase.
And inch of flesh beyond the athlete seemly
garlands at his buckle:
Insouciance of his figure is the man's estate
he's earned; he's learning to flaunt it.
Your are certain now the tautness
in his trousers is available - and worth it.

A sense of suited comfort in his universe
where male is male and always first
Supports him through the annual round of crises.
Heir to ritual and position
He has given up ideals for calm and compromise
Let paychecks and martinis
tame the rebel-child adored by all, admired
In each mirror - transform him
into diaper-folder, bill-disburser, plumber.

Surprised by your  attentions, shy, defenses
up, yet feeling proud he still attracts
(if only guys) he broadcasts by his stance
he may be open to indiscretion
If the come-on is original, the consequences nil.
He yawns, then straightens out his creases
Forgets  about he roast at home
Those checkbook calculations two weeks late
Eccentric railroad schedules.

As still as prey in gunsight, he rises
to your challenge with inside debate you can almost see:
Rage, disdain, dismissal  re the obvious moves -
yet all too  final. He wonders if an odd  touch
Of adventure wouldn't add
a private glamour. It's years since he has dared
A dark  and selfish deed. And  so he smiles
at you - eighteen and horny once  again...
And after sex, he always shows you
photos of the wife and kids.








I wrote this earlier this week, trying to remember what I know and what I remember.



thuffering thuccotash
I was going to write a poem
about the phrase,
“suffering succotash”
because it came to me to
wonder
if people ever actually
said it,
or if it was the brilliant
creation of some unheralded
writer at Loony Tunes, specifically
conceived to emit from the lispish
bill of the one, the only,
Daffy Duck

I was hoping it was special
made for Daffy because Daffy
personifies (duckafies)
the essence of modern angst…
eternally over his head, ignorant of the
consequences of his own actions,
and, mad as hell about it, ready to blame
whoever is close to the fan
when the duck feathers
hit…

then,
looking up the phrase
in Wikipedia, I was beset
by contrary knowledge, learning
that, not only is it something
people actually said in the South
in the old-fashioned yorely days
(including the pious substitution of
“succotash”
for “savior” - the original phrase,
“suffering savior” seeming unseemly
to those folk who do not take
their blasphemy or taking the Lord’s
name in vain
lightly)
and
worse
that the not-so-brilliant writer
who added the phrase to the Loony Tunes
lexicon did it not for Daffy, though
he did on occasion
employ the phrase, but
for Sylvester…

and so,
knowledge
demonstrating once again
that it is not my friend, I am left
with no poem, unless I can quickly
some up with an alternative,
like
maybe
the weather,
but the weather this morning is dreary
and I don’t want a dreary poem
(although dreary poems are easy,
the word “dreary” being, all by itself,
a very dreary poem, one word and
done)…

or I could write about the monkey
in the boomerang tree
but there is no monkey
and no boomerang tree though
now I have an image of a
boomerang tree
stuck
in my mind and no matter how hard
I try I can’t throw it out,
cause, see, there
it is again…

it is one of the problems
with some fictive creations,
so vivid that they take on a mind
of their own and become, in some shadow
of our cerebellum, an actual real thing or fact,
a thing that is or that occurred,
so that, after a life of making shit up
to tickle my fancy, my fancy cannot sometimes
tell what was a tickle and what was real -

so don’t be offended
if someday we meet and I fail
to greet or even acknowledge you
since
it’s possible that I’m thinking
I must have made you up
and, my, what a good job
I did,
I’ll be thinking

…you look so real








Next, a poem by Ruth Stone, from her book  In the Next Galaxy,  published by Copper Canyon Press in 2002.

Stone was born in Roanoke, Virginia in 1915.. In 1959, after her husband committed suicide, she raised three daughters alone.  For twenty years she traveled the US, teaching creative writing at many universities, including the University of Illinois, University of Wisconsin, Indiana University, University of California, Davis, Brandeis University, and finally settling at State University of New York Binghamton. She died at her home in Ripton, Vermont, late last year.



A Woodchuck Lesson

To  reach the University
you park your car on Rapist Hill
and walk slipping over fallen sweet-gum  leaves
to a shared cubicle.
You're hired for the year.
In the evening, ten miles back to Earlysville.
Since renting this tin-roofed farmhouse
from a cattle broker who lives in town,
these long weekends on the dry acreage
you study the worn out fields,
chicory-starred stubble.
The buzzards in their ecological niche
always there, circling.
The house, two hundred years old,
has no veranda.
A small graveyard from that earlier time,
boundaries marked with rough quartz,
fallen headstones, faded names and dates.
What lies here were young women and infants:
a year by year ledge of replacements.
In contrast, the new back steps,
almost flush to the door;
like the ready-made entrance to a trailer.
You sit here. Doves  throttle;
dragonflies, blue against blue.
A bird, in quick parabolas,
swoops in and out of the walnut tree.
the great drought-struck walnut, its maternal shade,
green compound tiny heart-shaped leaves,
the leaves cutting their losses,
fluttering loose,
stripping the branches naked.
While the cattle
gather at the gate;
strings of glistening spittle,
ruminating empty cuds, uneasy shuffling.
A woodchuck lives under the shed.
On the dirt road, only rednecks;
guns across the back window of their pickup trucks.
Still, things being as they are,
the woodchuck has a back door
and sometimes you see her sitting on her stoop,
warming herself  in the sun;
her fat belly, her paws resting on her front
like a grandmother.
Then her quick over and under
when nearby penned-up  hounds
yammer and bay.
She seems old and devious.
Not  like these ear-clipped,  blue-stamped,
condemned cattle who are starving on thin grass,
who huddle  near the fence , near the loading ramp.








Here's my last poem this week from my eBook, Pushing Clouds Against the Wind.



and it's another fine day when nothing  happens

it's not
an exciting life i lead
but i'm not such an exciting guy
and  that's just fine with me

so no scary movies or conflict for me

no rushing to and fro chasing dreams
or demons or wealth or power
over events

that used to be me but now i prefer
to start slow in the morning and keep
that pace for the rest of the day

nobody  cares much for what i think
of the issues of the day

especially
not those who could make things
different

so i prefer  smaller thoughts
closer to home and closer to  me

i like sitting in little coffee  shops
writing little poems that come and go
like saltine crackers
crunchy
a little salty on your tongue
then gone
and mostly forgotten

i  like keeping my decisions small

that's enough excitement for me








My last poet this week from the anthology is Wilfred Owen.

The best war poet ever in my opinion, Owen took the  slaughter of WWI to readers most  often before him buried under epic poetry extolling the glory and honor of war. He was killed on the battlefield one week before an armistice was declared.

His poems  included in this anthology is a revelation to me since, as far as I can  remember, I'd never before heard any suggestion that he was gay. One of many things, I suppose that many people know that I didn't.



To Eros

In that I loved  you, Love, I  worshipped you.
In that I worshipped well, I sacrificed.
All of most worth I bound and burnt and slew:
Old peaceful lives; frail flowers; firm friends; and Christ.

I slew all false loves;  I slew  all true,
That I might nothing  love but your  truth, Boy.
Fair fame I cast  away as bridegrooms  do
Their wedding garments in their haste of joy.

But when I fell upon your sandalled feet,
You laughed; you looked away from my lips; you rose.
I heard the singing of your wings' retreat;
Far-flown, I watch you flush the Olympian snows,
Beyond my hoping. Starkly I returned
To stare  upon the ash  of all I  burned.


Storm

His face was charged  with beauty as a cloud
   With glimmering lightning.When it  shadowed me
   I shook, and was  uneasy as a tree
That draws the brilliant danger, tremulous,  bowed.

So must I tempt that face to loose its  lightning.
   Great gods,  whose beauty is death,  will laugh above.
   Who made his beauty lovelier than love.
I shall be bright with their unearthly brightening.

And happier were it if my sap consume;
Glorious will shame the opening of my heart;
the land shall freshen that was under gloom;
What matter if I all men cry aloud and start,
And women hide bleak faces in their shawl,
At those hilarious thunders of my fall?

          October, 1916


Maundy Thursday

Between the grown hands of a server-lad
The silver cross was  offered to be kissed.
The men came up,lugubrious, but not sad.
And knelt reluctantly,  half-prejudiced.
(And kissing,  kissed the emblem  of the creed.)
Then mourning women knelt: meek mouths they had,
(And kissed the Body of the Christ indeed.)
Young children came with eager lips and glad.
(These kissed a silver doll,immensely bright.)
Then I, too,knelt before the acolyte.
Above the crucifix I bent my head:
The Christ was thin, and cold,and very dead:
And yet I bowed, yea, kissed - my lips  did  cling
(I kissed the warm live hand that held the thing.)








My last for the week, in old codger giving advice mood.



get on your bicycle and ride
how do I get there
from here, the young fella asks

well hell, the old man replies, you
just get on your bicycle and ride…

there are no road maps,
just a road,
and all you can do is run it,
take it where it goes,
climb the hills,
coast the valleys as much
as you can, take
the twists and turns as they come -
nobody can tell you ahead of time
where the road is going
or if you’ll even get there
in time…

each of us has our own road
to pedal -
I can’t take yours
and you can’t take mine,
you just have to run the one
you’re given -

just get
on your bicycle and
ride













All of the material in this  post belongs to the people who created it. My stuff,  also, but mine available on lend  to anyone who wants to use it. Just give proper credit for it to me and to "Here and Now."

I'm still allen itz, owner and producer of "Here and Now." I continue to plug my books below ranging in price from cheap  to cheaper.

As I continue to try to upgrade my poetry habit from expensive hobby to non-profit enterprise, I hope  you'll  buy one  (of  each). If you do and like it, please rate the book, or if you want, review  it.

Prices for the eBooks range from $3.49, to $5.99, depending on book and seller. The print book, also available on Amazon, is priced at $15 new and $4.99 used. I get nothing out of sales of the print book  on Amazon. If you want to buy directly from me, send me an email (allen.itz@gmail.com) and I'll ship a copy to you, same price as Amazon. (And I  get the money).

I'm still  showing my most recent book, Places and Spaces below. According to the publisher, the incorrect version has been withdraw  from all retail sites and the correct version, as of today, shipped.

But until I have my first copy in hand, I'm continuing to say, DON'T BUY MY BOOK. I  expect to  be able to say by next week that's it's safe to buy.

While you wait, beathlessly, I'm sure, the other books are pretty good, brilliant,  actually, according to thousands of my very best friends...well may not thousands, but hundreds, at  least....well, anyway, Grandma Gladys and Crazy Uncle Jaime said they liked them a lot.  And since I said that last week, Cousin Cletus has come on board as well, declaring them pretty darn okay.

And they're safe to buy.

As the drama continues, here's what I have out, or, in the case of  Places and Spaces, almost out, and where.

Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Sony eBookstore and Apple iBookstore for iPad,iPhone, i-etc, as well as  Kobo, Copia, Gardners, Baker & Taylor, and eBookPie




Places and Spaces




Always to the Light









Goes Around, Comes Around

 
 
 

Pushing Clouds Against the Wind



And

For those of a print-bent, available on Amazon (both new and used)

Seven Beats a Second


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