Stuff in Passing and Other Stuff Like That Kind of Stuff   Wednesday, July 11, 2012





My anthology this week is Unsettling America - An Anthology of Contemporary Multicultural Poetry.

The book was published by Penguin Books in 1994.

In addition, I have my regular library poets and stuff from me, new, as well as from Seven  Beats a Second, my first book from 2005.

Here's the full count:



Me -
we interrupt these poems for the following public service announcement




Milton Kessler
Secret Love



Vittoria repetto
6th Grade - Our Lady of Pompeii



Me
105 degrees in my back yard



Jean-Paul Pecqueur
Tucson’s Classic Rock
Death Shall Not Define Us



Me
summer morning



Mary Tallmountain
The Last Wolf



Lucille Cifton
Sam



Me
this could be your final warning



Alice Walker
In These Dissenting Times



Me
fleshware



Diana Chang
Foreign Ways



Maxine Kumin
Living Alone with Jesus -



Me
we know these things



Gilbert Sorrentino
Research, Again
Pail



Me
the tortoise and the hare



Jesse F. Garcia
Barrio Beateo



David Hernandez
Welcome



Reuben Jackson
Big Chill Variations



Me
when you tell people you’re a poet



Frederick Seidel
After the Party
Pressed Duck


Me
finding religion at 3 a.m.
buggin’ out



Wendy Rose
Taayawva Taawi

Me
rained last night



Charles Bukowski
Dear Mr. Chinaski
Silverfish
Death and White Glue



Me
caress
journey’s end



Lawrence Ferlinghetti
The Old Italians Dying



Shalin Hai-Jew
Three Gypsies


Me
old people turn into lizards, I was told









From last week.


we interrupt these poems for the following public service announcement

it was two evenings ago
when I responded
to the annual Consumer Reports Survey
regarding our cars, both
my wife’s 2001 get-to-work-
and-back Toyota Solara with 170,000
miles and my Toyota Rav 4, four years old,
our travel and everything else car,
with 111,000 miles

the Solar has been a good car, beyond
what you expect for that many miles,
but it was the Rav 4 I bragged on,
all those miles around town and across
twenty-something states and never
costing me a dime beyond
normal
maintenance

it was yesterday, about 15 hours later,
when my alternator went out,
at a cost of $654 in parts and repairs…

it’s true,
this is not much of a poem,
I could, after all, gone in an entirely
different direction, could have written
about the couple
on the other side of the room,
the tiny woman with a little girl voice
who’s probably in her twenties, but looks
about twelve, and her boyfriend,
the muscleman, bulging muscles and dainty little
girly wrists, they seem very much into each other,
and there’s probably touching story there
of love between the opposites and
I could probably write a great
poem about it…

but instead of that shot
at eternal
poetic fame, that potential
enshrinement into
the Amazingly Perceptive
Amateur Poets Hall of Amazing Super-Poet
Heroes,
I think it’s more
important this morning
to issue this Public Service
Announcement regarding Consumer
Report Surveys,
a Public Service Pronouncement
provided by me, not with any personal
advancement expected, but solely as my
citizen’s duty to his fellow
busybodies
who think, as does he,
that everyone
ought to want to know what he thinks
about everything, including
high-mileage
Toyotas…

it’s simple, much simpler surely
than a poem about mismatched lovers
and it’s this -

be very circumspect, that's
the essence of my message, be very
circumspect when
engaging in excessive empraisement
of your automobile
in your annual Consumer
Reports Survey
response

for it seems to be true
the gremlins are
watching

and ready to
pounce








I begin this week with two poets from the section of the anthology, Unsettling America,  titled "Naming."

The first of the two is Milton Kessler.

Kessler  was born in Brooklyn in 1930 and grew up in New York City in a Jewish family. He was a volunteer spear carrier and prop boy at the New York Metropolitan Opera as a teenager, and he had classical training as a singer. He worked selling cloth at the Sample Shop as a young adult, working a range of modest jobs, becoming, after completing his studies, an English professor at Binghamton University. He was one of the founders of the university's Creative Writing Program.

After his death in 2000, the university established the Milton Kessler Memorial Prize for Poetry in his honor.



Secret Love

My father's  back
heaves toward the sea,

and the  stripes of his shirt
pull toward his right wrist,

which clerked mail into the boxes
and  carried coffee for the bosses.

Now  he needs a firm pillow to rest
the ache against as he reads

in his loveseat, summer and winter,
the lamp by his good shoulder.

Yet watch him bend at night to lock
the stick of Judah in the terrace door

or hear his  tenor soar  against the president
and injustice to the poor.

He is secure on his pension. He does not
use a cane at 84 or face the floor.

This is the back I lay beside in secret peace
during the dark daytimes after my

humiliation at school and before his invisible
war of work. He sleeps well still in flannel.

Thanks, Pop, and I touch his silky back. Then he
dresses to go to out. We worry a bit more.

Today, my mother thought to reassure
and said, You'll live to be a hundred.

I will if you will, he said,
They shook on it.


My second poet from the "Naming" section is Vittoria repetto.

Repetto lives and works in downtown Manhattan  where she was born  in 1951.

I  could find  no comprehensive biography on the web, but I did find this that she is frequently published and is the Vice-President/ Co-Founder of the Italian American Writers Association, Inc. She received Honorable Mention in the 1994/97/98 Allen Ginsberg Poetry Awards in 1995, she was selected for the In Our Own Write Emerging Poets Reading series. She also hosts the Women's & Trans' Poetry Jam at the Bluestockings bookstore in New York City.



6th Grade - Our Lady of Pompeii

6th grade - our lady of pompeii
the nun said
you're living in america
                         now
write your name with a C
                  the american way
when i argued
had to write it
           100 times
            with a C
my americanized classmates snickered

after school
seeing my face
hearing my story
mama  told the nun off
mia noma i Vittoria
                    2 T's    no  C









Heat wave in San Antonio, goddamn, it's hot.



105 degrees in my backyard
105 degrees
in my backyard yesterday
afternoon

I was out there in my Tarzan pants
doing something, which, upon
more rational consideration, entirely
did not need getting done

I was out there about
an hour…
maybe closer to half hour…
fifteen minutes, at least, until
upon the rational consideration
mentioned above, I found
a more secluded section
of the yard and stripped down
and turned the water hose
directly over my head,
lovely water
from the Edwards Aquifer,
clear ice-cold water
collected over eons in limestone canyons
deep underground, collected
and delivered by the San Antonio Water
System to splash over my head
and eyes and arms and legs
and nether parts, all in a row,
making me dance and jump up and
down and wave my arms like a
whooping crane on speed,
flapping its wings, ready to head off
to its summer home in Canada when the first
warm winds blow, and me and the bird
saying, whoopee, whoopee, damn
that feels good…

my wife worries when I do this sort of thing,
concerned about what our nosey neighbour might
say if say caught me doing my whooping
bird imitation, sans feathers..

as to that, I’ll
be the first to admit,
my body is not a temple, more
like a cracked-stone wreck
of a rocky hill,
the body of a young and foolish
man inherited now by me, an old and cautious
survivor, rode hard
and put up wet,
as the cowboy poets say,
an old piece of work, in other words,
wrinkled and worn,
not bad enough to scare the squirrels
out the trees, but nothing to be peeking
over fences for either…

but it’s what I’ve got,
bumps and bulges and seams
and scars, a generally unappealing
collection of body parts
arranged in a not much pleasing way…

and I reckon if I can take it
the nosey neighbour next door
can as well









Next, not from the anthology, I have two poems by Jean-Paul Pecqueur, from his book, The Case Against Happiness, published in 2006 by Alice James Books.

Pecqueur, a graduate of the University of Washington's creative writing program where he was  the winner of the Academy of American Poets Harold Taylor Prize, currently lives in Brooklyn, where he teaches Literary and Critical  Studies at the Platt Institute and English at the City University of New York. He has been published widely in major journals.



Tuscon's Classic Rock

which scary dude, quoth Maggie
which judgment legislating for feeling
on which watched and worn out corner

in the slowly draining light of June
             the palmetto frond
                          is a roach scaling the wall

in Tuscon

in June the wind  smells of creosote
it smells of ozone and of trouble
but you get used to it, quoth Maggie

as in - it  becomes you
like an old habit of  blackish-blue  skirts
it becomes the music you move to

Tuscon's classic rock
fuck you, screamed from a passing car
please, oh please,  whispered in reply.


Death Shall Not Define Us

Lately it seems that everybody
wants to talk about the duende,
the fluttering like a torn leaf
or grubby old  childhood  sheet
frayed by incident and surrender.

For instance, last week  at the mall
a salesclerk  in Bachman's Shoes
tells me,  as he's lacing a pair
of coffee-with-cream oxfords,
that the song playing on the radio,

a muzaked version of The Way
We Were, has always reminded him
of how  everyone must die.
So  then, why, I wanted to ask,
don't we just pack our bags and go,

but I didn't dare, seeing
that he too knew what it felt like
to  want  nothing more
than to swallow the future whole
like a little  black pill.

Instead, I  tried to lighten the  air
by assuming my favorite pose,
that of the ridiculous man thinking
in his  pinkish-white sport shirt
and new, unreasonable shoes.

There are those who say that death
is the definitive insult,
but I say death shall not define us.
two bony, raw-eyed security

warily circled the open sales floor
as though measuring a cage.
Their tags read Angie and John.
the young salesclerk, his name is Don,
as in the coming light of, as in tomorrow's.








The best things about getting up  early in the morning is you get to watch the world wake up.



summer morning
a bird
calls
at midnight

no answer
but leaves rustle
nearby



clear night
sky
the moon returns
after three weeks
missing

three quarters full

outshines
the neighbour’s porch light



arms spread wide
welcoming
the morning
in moonlit dark

my shadow on the fence
celebrates
with me



dawn cracks
crumbles
peach and orange
along the tops
of clouds
dark
on their bottom edges
still
captive to the passing
night




first light
bright
orange over brown
water-starved
grass,
small patches here and there
protect
memories of green



little dog wants
in
big dog wants
out
each get a treat
to eat
in sunshine beds
and tree-shade shadow
forget
the other thing they
wanted









Two poets now, from the section of  the anthology Unsettling America titled  "Uprooting."


The first poet is Mary Tallmountain.

Born Mary Demoski in Nulato, Alaska in 1918 of mixed heritage (Russian, Irish, and Athapascan) she was adopted at the age of six by non-Native American parents after her birth mother died of tuberculosis. TallMountain became a poet when she was in her fifties after working for many years as a legal secretary in San Francisco. The impetus to write came after striking up a friendship with Native American scholar and poet Paula Gunn Allen; for 18 months TallMountain wrote for sixteen hours a day and met with Allen weekly for tutoring. The result was a body of lyrical work that draws heavily upon her early years in an Alaskan village during the 1920s. Her first book, There Is No Word for Goodbye, was published in 1981.

In 1989, TallMountain was interviewed by Bill Moyers and read for his PBS poetry series called The Power of the Word. She also established the nonprofit TallMountain Circle, an organization that benefits promising authors, especially writers from inner-city San Francisco and those of Native American heritage.

Tallmountain died in 1997.


The Last Wolf

the last wolf hurried toward me
through the ruined city
and I heard his baying echoes
down the steep smashed warrens
of Montgomery Street and past
the few ruby-crowned high rises
left standing
their lighted elevators useless

passing the flicking red and green
of traffic signals
baying his way eastward
in the mystery of his wild loping gait
closer the sounds in the deadly night
through clutter and rubble of quiet blocks

I heard his voice ascending the hill
and at last  his low whine as he came
floor by empty floor to the room
where I sat
in my narrow bed looking west, waiting
I heard him snuffle at the door and
I watched
he trotted across the floor

he laid his long  gray muzzle
on the spare white spread
and his eyes burned yellow
is small dotted eyebrows quivered

Yes, I said,
I know what they have done.


Another poet from the "Uprooting" section of the anthology is Lucille  Clifton.

Clifton, who  traced her family's roots to the West African Kingdom of Dahomey, now the Republic of Benin, grew up in Buffalo, New York, and graduated from Fosdick-Masten Park High School in 1953. She went on to study on a scholarship at Howard University from 1953 to 1955, and after leaving there, studied at the State University of New York at Fredonia (near Buffalo).

In 1958, she married Fred James Clifton, a professor of Philosophy at the University of Buffalo, and a sculptor whose carvings depicted African faces. She worked as a claims clerk in the New York State Division of Employment in Buffalo from 1958 to 1960, and as literature assistant in the Office of Education in Washington, D.C. from 1960 to 1971. Writer Ishmael Reed took Clifton's poetry to Langston Hughes, who included them in his anthology "The Poetry Of The Negro."

Her first poetry collection, Good Times, was published in 1969, and listed by The New York Times as one of the year's 10 best books. From 1971 to 1974, Clifton was poet-in-residence at Coppin State College in Baltimore. From 1979 to 1985, she was Poet Laureate of the state of Maryland. From 1982 to 1983 she was visiting writer at Columbia University School of the Arts and at George Washington University. She was a professor of literature and creative writing at the University of California, Santa Cruz from 1985 to 1989, and was Distinguished Professor of Humanities at St. Mary's College of Maryland. From 1995 to 1999, she was Visiting Professor at Columbia University. In 2006, she was a fellow at Dartmouth College.


Sam

if he could have kept
the sky in his dark hand
he would have pulled it down
and held it.
it would have called him lord
as did all the skinny women
in Virginia. if he
could have gone to school
he would have learned to write
his story and not live it.
if h could have done better
he would have, oh stars
and stripes forever,
what did you do to my father?



 







I'm going to use a couple of old poems this week, from my first book Seven Beats a Second, a print book, with art by Vincent Martinez on every page, published by my company Homemade  Creatives in 2005.

The book is available, as you can see at the end of this post at Amazon. You can also get it directly from me at the Amazon price, plus a couple of dollars postage. Just contact me via my email, allen.itz@gmail.com.

"At no additional  cost," as they say on those late night TV commercials, I will  also include the CD of musical/electronic  improvisations by The Ray-Guhn Show Choir  that originally accompanied the book. If I can find the master (I haven't burned any copies in quite a while). At one time you could buy the original art featured in the book, but by now I think it's all been sold.

I could be noted, I suppose that, while the book was published  in 2005, the poem was written a couple of years before that and in the time since, nothing has changed and I'm still pissed most of the time.


this could be your final warning

   I've gazed in
corporate clover

a been-there-done-that
   sleepy-eyed soldier
        in the halls
of grander ambition

strolled the power  nexus,
           kept well my
bureaucrat-in-bondage,
  necktie-strangulated
               cover

but don't let it fool you

          down inside
        where the balance
       of my inner spheres
              is truest kept
          I'm still the same
              South Texas
            redneck hippy
           beatnik cowboy
                     I was
          back in the cusp
of the ticky-tacky fifties
   and kick-ass sixties,
            which
 putting it all together
     is about as much
         
            don't
             you
             fuck
             with

              me

as you can fit in one package

and right now it  seems to me
 that this whole damn world
               and all its
       dumb-ass politicians
 and tight-collard, pervert
                pricks
  and gangsters and punks
         pugs, mugs, thugs,
             price-gouging
          captains of business
                 and industry,
          pollsters, tricksters,
   and city-boy-slicksters
     have come together
in some secret back room
      where sanity skips
       its mid-day muster
for one massive  spam attack
     on the gentler ambitions
       of my own good nature

and it's beginning to piss me
                     off  












Next I have a poem series by Alice Walker, from her book Revolutionary Petunias. The book was published most recently in 1973 by Harcourt Brace.



In These Dissenting Times

I shall  write of the old men I knew
And the young men
I loved
And of the gold toothed women
Mighty of arm
Who  dragged us all
To church

I

The Old Men Used to Sing

The old men used to sing
And lifted a brother
Carefully
Out the door
I used to think they
Were born
Knowing how to
Gently swing
A casket
They shuffled slowly
Eyes dry
         More awkward
With the flowers
Than with the widow
After they'd put the
Body in
And stood around waiting
In their 
Brown Suits

II

Winking at  a Funeral

those were the days
Of winking at a
Funeral
Romance blossomed
In the pews
Love signaled
Through the
Hymns
What did we know?

Who  smelled the flowers
Slowly fading
Knew the arsonist
Of the church?

III

Women

They were women then
My mama's generation
Husky of voice - Stout of
Step
With fists as well  as
Hands
How they battered down
Doors
And ironed
Starched white
Shirts
How they led
Armies
Headragged Generals
Across mined
Fields
Booby-trapped
Ditches
To discover books
Desks
A place for us
How they knew what we
Must know
Without knowing a page
Of  it
Themselves.

IV

Three Dollars Cash

Three dollars cash
For a pair of catalog  shoes
Was what the midwife charged
My mama
For bringing me.
"We wasn't so country then," says Mom,
"You being the last  one -
And  we couldn't, like
We done
When she brought you
Brother,
Send her out to the
Pen
and let  her pick
Out
A pig."

V

You  Had to Go to Funerals

You had to go to  funerals
Even if you didn't know the
People
Your Mama  always did
Usually your Pa.
In new  patent leather shoes
It  wasn't so bad
And if it rained
the graves dropped open
And  if the sun was shining
You could take some of the
Flowers home
In your pocket
book. At  six and seven
The face in the gray box
Is always your Daddy's
Old schoolmate
Mowed down before his
Time.
You don't even ask
After a while
What makes them lie  so
Awfully straight
And still. If  there's a picture of
Jesus underneath
The coffin lid
You might, during a boring sermon,
Without shouting or anything,
Wonder who painted it;

And how he would like
All  eternity to stare
it down.

VI

Uncles

They had broken teeth
And billy club scars
But we didn't  notice
Or mind
they were uncles.
It was their  job
To come home every summer
From  the north
And tell  my father
He wasn't no man
And make my mother
Cry and long
For  Denver, Jersey City,
Philadelphia.
They were uncles.
Who  noticed how
Much
They drank
And acted womanish
With they do-rags
We were nieces
And they were almost
Always good
for a nickel
Sometimes
a dime.

VII

They Take a Little Nip

they take a little nip
Now and then
Do  the old folks

Now they've moved to
Town
You'll sometime
See them sitting
Side by side
On the porch

Straightly
As in church

Or working diligently
Their  small
City stand of
Greens

Serenely pulling
Stalks and branches
Up
Leaving all
The weeds.

VIII

Sunday School, Circa 1950

"Who made you?" was  always
The question
the answer was always
"God."
Well, there we  stood
Three feet high
Heads bowed
Leaning into
Bosoms.

Now
I no longer recall
The Catechism
Or brood  on the Genesis
Of life
No.

I ponder  the exchange
Itself
And salvage mostly
The leaning.










This next piece is also  from my first book, Seven  Beats  a  Second. In addition to my book, the poem also appeared earlier in a Scifi poetry journal, Planet Magazine, which used several of my poems over the course of a couple of years in the early 2000s.



fleshware

blood and gristle
forged  from trash
of exploding stars,
fragile, short-lived,
prone to sag
and corruption,
helpless at birth,
pitiful
in unremitting decay

such poor use
out body seems
of the eternal elements
of creation

but lightening strikes within

tiny electric jabs that jump
from receptor to  receptor
creating art,
imagining love,
finding courage, honor,
theories of our own origin,
joy and laughter
to  mock the truth
of our condition

so much more
than we appear to be

star dust

offspring of unimaginable light
seeking an antidote to dark









I also have two poets from the "Negotiating" section of the Unsettling America anthology.


The first of the two is Diana Chang, born in New York in 1934 to a Chinese father and Eurasian mother. Chang spent her youngest years in China, including Beijing, Nanking, and Shanghai. She attended high school in New York, and graduated from Barnard College. After graduation, she worked as a book editor. She has also worked as the editor for the PEN-sponsored journal American Pen and as a creative writing teacher at Barnard.

Chang is considered to be the first Chinese American (born in the States) to publish a novel in the States.


Foreign Ways

If I were in China this minute
and running after a friend
spied across the hotel
I was staying at

waving to him, say
calling his name in Mandarin

Still they'd know me -
the body giving the person away
betrays a mind
of its own -

my voice from Duluth
my lope with its prairie air


My second poet from the "Negotiating" section is Maxine  Kumin.

Born in Philadelphia in 1925, Kumin, the daughter of Jewish parents, attended Catholic kindergarten and lower schools. She received her B.A. in 1946 and her M.A. in 1948 from Radcliffe College. In 1957, she studied poetry with John Holmes at the Boston Center for Adult Education. There she met Anne Sexton with whom she started a friendship that continued until Sexton's suicide in 1974. Kumin taught English from 1958 to 1961 and 1965 to 1968 at Tufts University; from 1961 to 1963 she was a scholar at the Radcliffe Institute for Independent Study. She has also held appointments as a visiting lecturer and poet in residence at many American colleges and universities. Since 1976, she and her husband have lived on a farm in New Hampshire, where they breed Arabian and quarter horses.

She was United States Poet  Laureate from 1981 to 1982.


Living Alone with Jesus -

Can it be
I am the only Jew residing in Danville, Kentucky,
looking for matzoh in the Safeway and the A & P ?
The Sears,Roebuck  salesman wrapping my potato masher
advises me to accept Christ as my personal savior
or  else when I die I'll drop straight down to hell,
but the ladies who come knocking with their pamphlets
say as long as I believe in God that makes us
sisters in Christ. I thank them kindly.

In the county there are thirty-seven churches
and no butcher shop. This could be taken
as  a matter of all form and no  content.
On the other hand, form can be seen as
an extension of content, I have read that,
up here in the sealed-off wing where my three rooms
are threaded by outdoor steps to the downstairs world.
In the open risers walnut trees are growing.
Sparrows dipped in raspberry sauce
come to my one window sill. Cardinals
are blood  spots before my eyes.
My bed is a narrow canoe with a fringy throw.
Whenever I type it takes to the open sea
and comes back wrong end to.
Every morning the pillows produce tapioca.
I  gather it up for a future banquet.

I am leading a meatless  life. I keep
my garbage in the refrigerator.Eggshells
potato  peels and the rinds of cheeses  nest
in the empty sockets of my daily grapefruit.
Every afternoon at five I am comforted
by the carillons of the Baptist church next door.
I let the rock of ages cleave for me on Monday.
Tuesday I am washed in the blood of the lamb.
Bringing in the sheaves on Wednesday keeps me busy.
Thursday's the day on Christ the solid rock I stand.
The Lord lifts me up to higher ground on Friday so that
Saturday I can put my hands on the nail-scarred hands.
Nevertheless, I stay put on the Sabbath. I let
the whiskey bottle say something scurrilous.

Jesus, if you are in all the thirty-seven churches,
and you are not also here with me
making it alone in my back rooms like a flagpole sitter
slipping my peanut shells and prune pits into the Kelvinator?
Are  you here at nightfall
ticking in the box of the electric blanket?
Lamb, lamb,let me give you honey on your grapefruit
and toast for the birds to ear
out of your damaged hands.














Might get some rain this weekend. Nobody's counting on it to actually happen, but it's pleasant to think about.



we  know these things
another yellow
morning
sun
filtered through
dark clouds
that promise rain
they will not
deliver

we do not
hold our breath;
we do not
break out our
umbrellas;
we do not
forget
to water the roses

for we know
these
clouds
and all their
dark -bravado
treachery…

we are people of the
dry reaches

and we know these
things









Next, I have two  poems  by Gilbert  Sorrentino, from his  book, Selected  Poems  1958-1980. The book was published by Black Sparrow  Press in 1981.

Sorrentino, a  novelist, short story writer, poet, literary critic, teacher, and editor, was born in 1929 in Brooklyn. He had twenty-five published works of fiction and poetry when he died in 2006.

In 1956, he founded the literary magazine Neon with friends from Brooklyn College,. He edited Neon from 1956 to 1960, then served as editor for Kulchur from 1961 to 1963. He was an editor at Grove Press from 1965 to 1970, where one of his editorial projects was The Autobiography of Malcolm X.

He eventually took up positions at Sarah Lawrence College, Columbia University, the University of Scranton and the New School for Social Research in New York before being hired as a professor of English at Stanford University, where he served from 1982 to 1999.


Research,  Again

In the center of a peach
there was a world that he wanted.
(A poetic fancy fancy. The peach
was brilliantly real.

    (Aside, friends, he stood
     at the table, his wet sponge, the
     crumbs, stains from the wineglass.

And felt the love disappear into
the air for a time.

     I feel that this is right.
     I feel that this is right.
     I'm tired of lovers and the newly
     married.

Sighing (against the smudged wall
Some baroque sanity bright there
The love comes back in as it comes
back in. No use in pushing anything.

     Love, is pronounced, as
     its changes are rung and discovered,
     he did not say.


Pail

Puncture: this is when
those images one thought dead or
sprawled narcotized awake, awake
and with terrible precision move
into the heart. At once.

Abrasion: occurs  drunk, you fall
against something sober you never would
have got even near. All  the skin of
the heart, raked off, all the heart
burns.

Incision: comes out of a soft wind
and lays you bare at the moment you
are telling a really good story, with
gestures. The wind goes off down
the street with you.

Laceration: the whole organism you
thought intact turns and tries to get
out of itself while you smile and
hold it together,
the head collapsing.







It's the big race. Can't miss it.


the tortoise and the hare
the old tortoise
is dead,
a hundred years old,
they say,
a celebrity wherever it is
he was, I didn’t bother
to notice, don’t plan to go there,
especially not now since its sole
attraction is dead...

contemplating
the passing away
of this old turtle leads me
to several thoughts...

first,
of course, there is the historic
race
between the tortoise and the hare,
which, you’ll remember, the tortoise
won by being steady and true to the consistency
of the straight and narrow,
while the faster, adventure-loving hare, took time off
for trips to Vegas and Jamaica, and stops
in the cool and verdant forest
for naps under leafy shade and visits
for loving with all the honey bunnies along the way,
and other generally wasteful and unseemly activities
while the turtle plodded his way
to the glory
of the finish line...

thinking now
past the traditional interpretation
of this story, I have to ask
who really won?

was it the tortoise with his dull, plodding
barely mobile trek
from point A, called in the story, “the start,”
to point B,
which some with the arbitrary authority
of those-who-make-the-rules
have designated “the finish line”...

no doubt
in the scheme of things that someone
says counts
the turtle, in his no-distractions way,
won the race -
while the
hare
in that always distracted way of his
might say,
what’s the prize for this great
victory?...

a plaque, no doubt,
and a place on the long list of winners
of races
nobody cares about in the end
except a few sports-statistic obsessives
who keep tally of winners and losers
of inconsequential competition
to alleviate the boredom of their own
inconsequential lives,
while pitying, in their superior way,
that poor loser rabbit
who won nothing
but a life
lived as if it were worth living, the poor rabbit
who leaves behind no place
on any accounting of winners
but instead,
an honoured place
on a list of moments
in the memories
of those with whom
he shared the light
of his joy, the memories
of all the honey bunnies
he loved
along the way and all the little
bunny honeys who long to grow
and live that same kind of life
as their passing papa...

we respect the aged,
and salute the passage of this
hundred-year-old tortoise, hoping
for him that, out
of all those long days
he lived in his steady turtle way,
he got to live for at least
a month or two,
the fast-lane life of the
hare









Next, I have three poets from the "Performing" section of this week's anthology, Unsettling America.



The first  poet is Jesse F.  Garcia.

I didn't find  any current biographical information on Garcia, but I did find a sample student presentation from a  minority literature class at the University of Houston, dated 2002.

According to the presentation, Garcia was born in  Devine, Texas in the early 1950s. As the son of  cotton picking migrant workers, he traveled throughout Texas and other states in search of work. His first published poem, I Ain't Going to Hurry No More appeared in the Zine Red Dirt in 1992. After that, he published his first volume of poetry, Rock 'N' Roll  Dreams.  I  could  find no information covering 2002 to  the present.


Barrio Beateo

Woke up to one of those cold
    burnt tamales left  on the
    skillet  mornings
Opening  the plain window of my
    so empty mind to the Mersey beat
Brought to me long distance by
    Murry the K
The barrio was quiet I was not
Murray the K was not British
    he was just
What every Fabian bored teenage  wanted
It was "I Want to Hold Your Hand"
    or "I Saw Her  Standing There"
    excellent sounds good dancing
"El Tomatae" in their Sunny and the
    Sunglows face didn't understand
My mode, my change "El Beateo" they pointed
Why wasn't I typical
    thug, pachuco, gringo ass kicker,
    greaser,onion peeler,  taco vendor
Por que tiene este muchacho,
    esta  loco? (What's wrong with this boy,
    is he crazy?)
The radio so alive would hypnotize me into
    a brit zombie
On a ferry across the Mersey
With the stones,Dave Clark 5, Manfred Mann,
    Honey Combs, Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas,
    the Kinks, the Yardbirds, Gerry and the
    Pacemakers
Brilliant  clothes very Mod, smashing haircuts
    fancy that for a Chicano
The Mersey Beat now forgotten in a  library
Murray the K dead like Beatle wigs,  no  more
    ski pants or funny hats, now somewhere
    in grave
Thanks Murray, Babe
I love you

**El Tomatae was a Chicano gang


The next poem is by David Hernandez.

Hernandez is a poet and novelist. His poems have appeared in many journals. Also an artist, his drawings have appeared in Indiana Review. He teaches poetry at California State University, Long Beach.

Most recently, he was awarded a 2011 National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship for Poetry.


Welcome

                        When I was  little and brown
                      The humming plane  stopped
               Midway field was there
        And I was proud of my blue shorts
         White shirt
         Blue socks
         White shoes
         True Puerto
         Rican proud.
Excited by Colgate smiles
Like the ads nailed
To my town's walls.
So I was confused
And shivered
When the December
Chicago wind
Slapped my face.


And the last of the three poets from  the "Performing" section is Reuben Jackson.

Jackson is a poet, radio commentator, and music critic living in Washington, D.C. He was curator of the Smithsonian Institution’s Duke Ellington Collection from 1989 until December 2009. His poems have been published in 28 anthologies, journals, and magazines such as Gargoyle, Beltway Poetry Quarterly, and Indiana Review, and he is the author of a volume of poetry entitled fingering the keys, which won the 1992 Columbia Book Award. His radio essays have aired on National Public Radio and WAMU FM.


Big Chill Variations


He gives me a handshake
more complicated than logarithms,

tells me my black english
has fallen on hard times,

and how he was serving molotove cocktails
to white america

while i was chasing its daughters in vermont.

a disgrace
he called me,
a disgrace.

but still somehow
worth dinner,

a ride in his  bmw,

which he swears is an acronym for
"black male warrior."

"you are the first poet
ever to dine in this club,  reuben,"

"that fork is for the watercress salad."

his treat -

paid with an american express card.

gold,
but with black trim.




   












Ah, the trials and tribulations of a super, hyper-manly man (I shot an  elephant in my pajamas one time; how he got there I'll never know) like me in the poetry biz.



when you tell people you’re a poet
when you tell people
you’re a poet
some of them,
especially the ones
who throw footballs
and shoot beavers,
want you to put on
your tutu
and go tiptoeing through
the tulips, scattering
fairy dust to and fro

and that really pisses
me off
since I almost never wear
my tutu anymore, not,
at least,
since it got stained
by the dry cleaner,
and can shoot beavers
with the best of them

so I usually
tell people I’m a
lumberjack
instead










Now, here are two poems by Frederick Seidel. They are from his book, Poems 1959-1979, published by Alfred A. Knopf in 1989.


After the Party

A window sighs.
A row of houses stipples and sways
As if seen through a windshield after a downpour.
A brownstone tries to say something.
But the chimney is too small,
Is intimidated by the dark,
Its fireplaces never  used.

Under the streetlight,
I take out a booklet
Of shadowless photographs
Drained soft beiges by reproduction.
Slave-bangles, kohl eyes. The partner,
With cracked patent-leather hair, in his socks and garters,
All aloofness, good posture, chin in the air
Forty years  ago. My glasses bite
the bridge of my nose
As I stare into the dustless room.

Is he her lover? But cheats on her.
And she's had others.
Her veil-gray fingertips brush my eyelids, my lips.
And will have  more.

The cathedral clock has just struck three, or four.
A car parks in the piles of leaves.
I think of the flower-fresh wide-eyed gaze of Greece,
Garlanding what it  sees.

Convinced life is meaningless,
I lack the courage of my conviction.


Pressed Duck

Caneton a  la  presse at  the now extinct Cafe Chauveron.
Chauveron himself cooking, fussed
and approved
Behind Elaine, whose  party it was;
Whose own restaurant would be famous soon.

Poised and hard, but dreaming and innocent -
Like the last Romanovs - spring buds at thirty, at  thirty-two,
we were green  as grapes,
A cluster of February birthdays,
All "Elaine's"  regulars.

Donald,  Elaine's then-partner,
His then-wife, a lovely girl; Johnny
Greco, Richardson, Elaine, my former wife, myself:
With one exception, born within a few days and years
of one another.

Not  too  long before thirty had been old,
But we were young - still  slender, with one exception,
Heads and necks delicate
As a sea horse,
Elegant and guileless.

Above our english clothes
And Cartier watches,  which ten years later shopgirls
and Bloomingdale's fairies would wear,
And the people who pronounce chic chick.
Chauveron cut
The wine-red meat off the carcasses.
His duck press was the only one in New York.
He stirred brandy into the blood
While we watched. Elaine said, "Why do we need anybody else?
We're the world."











Here are two more pieces from Seven Beats a Second.



finding religion  at 3 a.m.

hanging my head over a
dirty toilet
I wouldn't even piss in
on a better day
gagging
the smell of my own breath
and the taste in my mouth
setting off
another round of dry heaves

god
please don't make me sober
now


buggin' out

I can hear them
walking in my head

soft little footsteps

shushhh
shushhh

like they're wearing
little velvet slippers
on their little buggy
feet

shushhh
shushhhhhhhhh

I can hear them
sneaking
through my brain

shushhh
shushhh

on little buggy
tipietoes...










Here's another poet from this week's anthology, Unsettling America. The piece I selected to use is from the "Re-Envisioning" section of the book.

Wendy Rose, born in 1948, is a Hopi/Miwok writer, anthropologist, artist, and social scientist.  She was raised in a predominately white community in San Francisco. Growing up in an urban environment far removed from reservation life and Native American relations gave her little to no access to her native roots as a child. Though her father is a full-blood Hopi, Rose was denied membership in her father’s tribe because ancestry is determined matrilineally. Her mother was partly Miwok, but refused to acknowledge her American Indian heritage (instead she acknowledged her European ancestry including English, Scottish, Irish, and German extraction).

Rose began making her own path as a young woman when she dropped out of high school to go to San Francisco and join the American Indian Movement (AIM) and took part in the protest occupation of Alcatraz.

From 1966 to 1980, she began a new scholastic endeavor where she was enrolled in multiple colleges. First she attended Cabrillo and Contra Costa Junior colleges. Then in 1974, she enrolled at the University of California, Berkeley, where she earned her B.A. in anthropology. Two years later she got her M.A. in 1978 and enrolled in the doctoral program. During this period of her life, Rose published five volumes of poetry and completed her Ph.D. in anthropology.

Once entering the world of academia, she did not leave  it, going on to teach Native American and Ethnic studies first at the University of California, Berkeley from 1979 to 1983, then California State University, Fresno from 1983 to 1984 and finally at her current position in Fresno City College in 1984 where she is the Coordinator of the American Indian Studies Program and edited the American Indian Quarterly.

Rose is a member of the American Federation of Teachers and has served as a facilitator for the Association of Non-Federally Recognized California Tribes. In addition, she also serves on the Modern Languages Association Commission on Languages and Literatures of America, Smithsonian Native Writers’ Series, Women’s Literature Project of Oxford University Press, and Coordination Council of Literary Magazines.



Naayawva Taawi

Left in the field
among big-bellied ewes
tightly rusted stuff of borders,
bales of fence wire
sit in the wind
solid
as if on full bellies

and it was not
the garbage you thought
no discarded nor useless
but look     the small birds
with speckled wings and black heads
have made their nests there
with barley chaff and string,
bits of alfalfa,
singing as sweetly in the wire
as in the willow.

                   In the wind
                   of sage, sweet grass,
                   you called us
                                  gut eater and squaw
                                  savage and drunk
                   we who finished in the field
                   the job you began,
                   we who honored your fine  foreign steers
                   as you did not
                   leaving them where they fell
                   dead for nothing, to rot

                    as you laughed in your sherry
                    from porches and doors
                    washed white with your joke
                    that  we seemed so satisfied
                    with what you left

and nothing you can do
will stop us
as we re-make
your weapons into charms,
send flying back to you the bullets.

See
we are strong,
we who are small
we survive unseen;
hear
our beautiful songs
building from the hills
like thunderheads,
watch
the children we weave
from wire bales and string,
from steer guts and borders -
See, Pahana,
how we nest
in your ruins.

Naayawva Taawi: Fight Song (Hopi)
Pahana: Whiteman (Hopi)









For  a few moments in the dark, it seemed life on this planet seemed a possibility.



rained last night
rained last
night

heard the
ploppity-plop
of a few drops on the
window
by my sleeping chair

didn’t
leave any wet behind
this morning

but the grace
of a cool clear day
at sunrise, dry, chill breeze
from the northwest, a little
mountain sniff in it
to start the
day...

great day blooming,
for as long as it lasts
(not long, we know - but
wonderful until the hell-devils
break through the cracked and crumbling
earth beneath our South Texas
feet and
grab again their fiery strangle-hold
on our lives)

can’t have everything
and in July -
you have to settle
for what you
get

like I said,
wonderful for now,
but would have been better
wet










It's been a while since I've done any Bukowski, so here he is, Charles Bukowski, my guilty pleasure.

The poems are from New Poems, Book 2, published by Virgin Press in 2003, the second of many books of poems published after his death.


"Dear Mr. Chinaski"

I have tried your publisher with my
work.
they didn't understand my poems
and they say their schedule is
filled for now,
so I thought maybe you should read
my manuscript
and then talk to them.
I've also enclosed an envelope for your
response.
I've long been an admirer of your
work,
and I don't want to kiss your ass,
but I consider you one of our
greatest living writers,
so if you would just look over the poems
enclosed, I'll be  forever  in
you debt.

one of the greatest living writers
read them,
trashed them, including the stamped
and addressed
return envelope.

what a helpless soft  son of  a bitch!

the way he wrote he
was.


Silverfish

"SILVERFISH" my father would
holler and my mother would come
running with the  special can
of spray.
my father  was always finding
silverfish.
it seemed to go on for days
and years on
end:
"SILVERFISH"

I saw a silverfish
now and then
but I never said
anything.

mostly they liked to hang
around the bathtub
or in  dark wet
places.

they hardly seemed a
threat
to me.
but my father's hysterical excitement
upon finding a
silverfish
never
abated.

well, it  did  after my
mother's death
because my father had nobody
to holler  at.

then my father died
and in his casket he looked
just like -
you know -
a big one.

but I didn't  holler
anything.


Death and White Glue

the tiny summer creatures are flying
all around her now and
I have nothing to
smoke.

now
all  around here
tiny summer creatures fly.
I usually blow smoke at them
and at the lamp bulb
and watch the smoke curl in the air
and sometimes think of things
like
death and white glue.
the summer creatures bite at night
when I am asleep
and in the morning I have bumps on my
body
which are delightful to
scratch.

my love is upstairs watching a comedy on
tv.
down here I am drinking wine
Liebfraumilch
and my love considers this  a
betrayal  of our love, but
you and I know what a betrayal of love really
is

meanwhile
I crush some of the tiny summer creatures
some find the white glue
but I leave  a few of them
so that I am able to scratch myself in the
morning.

the summer creatures are so strange
I feel that they know me -
one falls into my glass of
Liebfraumilch
I watch him flick and kick about
and then I
drink him down.

I hope that comedy is good
upstairs. I have my own show going on down
here.










Here's a final two more poems from Seven Beats a Second, my first book.



caress

midnight

hot breath
and
whispers

soft
     slow    
                 glide           
                     of skin                   
                         on skin                             

tongue                   
like the bite
of  a velvet adder

secrets
unveiled

surrendered

to the touch

to the smoldering       
touch

of
midnight



journey's end

star splinters fall,
flaming across the sky
while hermit crabs  dance
before the ebbing midnight tide

we sit on packed beach sand,
watching, counting the fiery streaks
as they cross the horizon,
burning into cinder and dispersing gas
at the end of eons of airless flight

          ohhh, you whisper
          as I hold your close
          against the cold

they come from cataclysm,
from a time unimaginably past,
past suns and moons,
and the loose scattered dust of creation,
past all the innumerable
realms of possibility and chance,
past all that is familiar to us
and all that we can never know,
past all this, they came
to die on our doorstep,
bringing glory to our night

             ohhh, you whisper
             as I pull you tight against
             the loneliness of the sky















These are my last poems from the anthology for this week. It's from the "Performing" section of the book.



The first poem is by Lawrence Ferlinghetti.

The Old Italians Dying

For years  the old Italians have been dying
all over America
For years the old Italians in faded felt hats
have been sunning themselves and dying
You have seen them on the benches
in the park in Washington Square
the old Italians in the black high  button shoes
the old men in their old felt fedoras
                                      with stained hatbands
have been dying an dying
                                       day  by day
You have seen them
every day in Washington Square San Francisco
the slow bell
tolls in the morning
in the church of Peter & Paul
in the marzipan church on the plaza
toward ten in the morning the slow bell tolls
in the towers of Peter & Paul
and the old men who are still  alive
sit sunning themselves in a row
on the wood benches in the park
and watch the processions in and out
funerals in the morning
weddings in the afternoon
slow bell in the morning Fast bell at noon
In one door out the other
the old men sit there in their hats
and watch the coming & going
You have seen them
the ones who feed the pigeons
                      cutting the stale bread
                           with their thumbs and penknives
the ones with old pocketwatches
the old ones with gnarled hands
                                         and wild eyebrows
the ones  with the baggy pants
                                  with  both belt and suspenders
the grappa drinkers with teeth like  corn
the Piemonteesi the Genovesi the Siciliania
                           smelling of garlic & pepperonis
the one who loved  Mussolini
the old facists
the ones who loved Garibaldi
the old anarchists reading L'Umanita Nova
the ones who loved Sacco & Vanzetti
They are almost all gone now
They are sitting and waiting their turn
and sunning themselves in front of the church
over the doors of which is inscribed
a phrase which would seem to be unfinished
from Dante's Paradiso
about the glory of the One
                                   who moves everything...
The old men are waiting
for it to be finished
for their glorious sentence on earth
                                           to be finished
the slow bell tolls & tolls
the pigeons strut about
not even thinking of  flying
the air too heavy with heavy tolling
The black hired hearses draw up
the black limousines with black window shades
shielding the widows
the widows  with the long black veils
who will outlive them all
You have seen them
madre di terra, madre di  mare
the widows climb out of the limousines
The family mourners step out in stiff suits
The widows walk  so slowly
up the steps of the cathedral
fishnet veils drawn down
leaning hard on dark cloth arms
Their  faces do not fall  apart
They are merely drawn apart
They are still the matriarchies
outliving everyone
the old dagos dying out
in Little Italys all over America
the old dead dagos
hauled out in  the morning sun
that does not mourn for anyone
One by one Year by year
they are carried out
The bell
never stops tolling


And my last poet from the Unsettling America is Shalin Hai-Jew, a Chinese-American born to immigrant parents in Huntsville, Alabama.

When the anthology was published in 1994, her bio in the back of the book described  her as a former reporter, interviewer, and columnist whose poetry had appeared in more than a hundred publications.

Her current professional biography makes no note of her poetry - instead, this.

Shalin Hai-Jew works as an instructional designer for Kansas State University and teaches for WashingtonOnline. She has Bachelors degrees in English and psychology, an M.A. in English (from the University of Washington, which she entered at 15) and an Ed.D. in Educational Leadership (from Seattle University, where she was a Morford Scholar). She taught at universities in the People's Republic of China from 1988 - 1990 and 1992 - 1994, the latter two years through the United Nations Volunteer Programme of the UNDP. She was a tenured faculty member at Shoreline Community College. She has taught at the university and college levels for many years. She was born in Huntsville, Alabama.

Currently, she reviews for Education Quarterly and the Journal of Online Learning and Teaching of MERLOT (Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching). An edited text, "Constructing Self-Discovery Learning Spaces Online: Scaffolding and Decision Making Technologies" (with IGI-Global) is forthcoming in November 2011.

Hai-Jew is current editing "Open-Source Technologies for Maximizing the Creation, Deployment and Use of Digital Resources and Information," which is due out in 2012.

Unless there were two women of the same name born in Huntsville, Alabama, these  two very different resumes belong to the same person. Her latest biography above  notes she entered the University of Washington when she was 15 years old. I guess when you start that early you have plenty of time for lots of different lives.


Three Gypsies

Balancing on Oriental spike heels,
these three Zhou daughters squint
from the Kodak print, their silk
dresses shaping their bodies
with cloth hips and cardboard collars.
They lean  forward, maybe to talk
or stay upright. Gold gypsy beads,
plastic roses and pearl brooches
draw  down  their  flat bosoms, line
their  necks and sun-stroked arms.
Serious in their dressed-up beauty,
they are unaware that  the silk dyes
and embroidery do not mix with
the Kansas browns of the lawn,
or the wood  A-frame of houses
in construction behind them.
Carolyn smiles through zippered brows,
her blues silk skirt puddled
around her ankles like cast-off clothes.
She cannot  be taller than four feet.
Daiyan  holds her coral  skirt  out
like bat  wings, chest  puffed out,
a belt hula-hooped  around her American
jumper. Hands taped flat on her thighs
to show off the ten cent rings
on each finger, Sonya stands with her toes
pointing  inward. Her earrings do  not
match: on spring outward, a locked
pendulum, while the other droops
like the water  of a sprinkler behind them.
There are patches of green, a calico
of browns, tans and leaf. In this
tapestry, a boy bikes past with a Federal
Way News bag on his shoulder.
He turns to watch this parade  of  gypsies.

















The latest from Facebook!


old people turn into lizards,  I  was  told
people
turn into lizards if
they live too long, the
great horned kind
that skitter
between rocks
in the dry South Texas
brush…

this is true for all humans,
except used-car salesmen,
carnival barkers
and big tent evangelists
who devolve into
a kind of stinky
cheese
that grows under mushrooms…
I was told this
by my great-grandfather
who lives on a rock
outside my bedroom window

from the Great Lizard
we came,
he says,
to the Great Lizard
we will return


at about 110 it starts,
when the loose and craggy
flesh of failing human-hood
begins to fill out
again, and,
like Luther nailing his 95 theses
to the cathedral door,
by 115 we are
almost truly reformed
into our primeval
reptile state

our tongues
long and flicking
at insects
passing in the sunshine
of our rebirth,
our tails long and slender -
go ahead, chop it off
the apprentice lizards say,
and I’ll show you a trick -
such a marvel is me,
they say,
as their great horns grow red
in the fading light of
sunset…

unless
due to a premature
death
we die while still
in the human larval
stage

which is a good thing,
I suppose,
or we in the brush country
would be overrun by centenarian
lizards
thrashing and fighting
and sting tongue-flicking
over their own
personal
retirement rocks

...

even so,
it is true
that our greatest lizards
were at one time
grandmas and grandpas

and for that
we
should be
quite pleased
to have the pleasures of their
company







That's the stuff for this week. As usual, all the stuff I borrowed for "Here and Now" this week, remains the property of those who created it. You can borrow my stuff, if you want to, just give proper credit to "Here and Now" and me if you use it anywhere.

I'm allen itz, owner and producer of this blog, and peddler of the following books at:

Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Sony eBookstore and Apple iBookstore for iPad,iPhone, i-everythingelse, as well as  Kobo, Copia, Gardner's, 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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Links
Loch Raven Review
Mindfire Renewed
Holy Groove Records
Tryst
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