This Will Be Gone by the Time You See the Pictures   Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Before you get to the post, a note: I was putting the finishing touches to this week's post a couple of hours ago, when, my attention divided, I accidentally deleted about half the post.

So, what you read below is next week's post. It's very short (ran out of pictures, as explained in the post) and, except for a final spellcheck, read to post now.

Meaning, you will read next week's post this week and this week's post, on it's way now to the post recall and repair facility, next week.

So here's next week, right now.

(Certain elements of time travel  may be involved.)

This post will be up about three weeks from the time I write this. The photos were taken a week before  in a little patch of virgin wood, surrounded on all sides by approaching bulldozers. At the speed at which hills and meadows and woodlands are disappear as the stain of San Antonio spreads, this will be gone/is gone as you read. The past two city administrations have been good about saving what they can, buying large ranches that have been in families, literally, a hundred years and setting them aside as wilderness areas. But there's only so much land that the city can buy. For the rest, there are city rules about sustainable development (no clear-cutting, etc.) that some good developers are careful to abide by. Others are not so good, ignore the rules and tie everything up in court until not a tree survives.

I drive through the hills and take pictures because I know that soon the pictures will be all that survives, as last month's pastures, become today's strip  center, as last month's hills become today's mound of all-the-same housing developments, usually named by the developers after the hills or the woods or the pastures they destroyed. And there are no more oaks on Spreading Oaks Lane.

But enough about the world going to hell in a hand basket, here are the poems and the poets.

the poet and the robot  storage facility

Julia B. Levine

there was a pasture here

Leroy V. Quintana
Poem for Marilyn Monroe
Poem for Rod Serling

an atheist considers the love of Jesus

Anne Sexton
You, Doctor Martin

wet spring

Wendy Barker
Way of Whiteness
Practicality, Foam, and Nighties

watch me bend

Pablo Neruda -
from The Heights of Macchu Picchu

diminishing the stars

Siegfried Sassoon
At Carnoy
Died of Wounds
Two Hundred Years After
A Ballad
The March-Past
The Rear-Guard

this is where I’ll be (just in case you need me)

Yusef Komunyakaa
Outside Gethsemane
Philosophers, Incorporated

the life we lead

Here's a poem of the poet  as a refugee.

the poet and the robot storage facility
it is a large
mostly empty space,
cool, brightly lit,
in the McDonald sense
of mostly clean and plastic,
but a visual and aural
desert, like an old time
bus station
with all the life bled out,
the people, the children crying,
pin ball machines clattering,
public address announcements
of times and places, some known,
some spice for imagination,
all that life
bled out, banished,
a 25th century depot
instead, a place
for storing defective robots,
white plastic, mute
and non-functioning, any
attempt to present
a human presence wiped
bright and antiseptic…

I am an eavesdropper,
a people watcher…

and there is nothing here to see,
nothing to hear,
no stories half-heard,
extrapolated in the mind of the poet
to satisfactory
fantasy, the mystery
of humanity laid out to study,
to enjoy, to celebrate
by a discriminate

there is nothing here
to feed me

there is nothing here
to move me

there is nothing here
to wake
my muse, my creative
hanging on a tipping balance…

so I must move
before I find myself
setting out
on some long and desperate
to become an
tax attorney
or possibly a salesman,
door to door,
pushing vacuum cleaners,
to housewives
with hairy legs and baby food stains
on their sweat shirts and diaper rash
on their fingers,
selling hard,
spreading dirt on carpets to show
the power
of my rug-a-matic magic
sucking machine,
or maybe,
and this, at least
would get me out in the fresh
country air,
harvesters and such
to farmers in gimme caps
and overalls
and thick-soled work boots
wanting to try out their Grateful Dead
CD's in the air conditioned
cab of a $500,000,
sixteen row John Deere mega-tractor built to crawl
across a field like a giant prehistoric
yellow and green
stirring up the dust,
extruding food out of its
for our kitchens
and our Caesar salads
and peanut butter sandwiches…

this could be my future
if I don’t find
to write my poems
because the longer I stay
in this robot-storage
the better the vacuum
and farm-fresh air
is beginning to seem to me…

My first poem from my library this week is by Julia B. Levine. The poem is from her book, Ditch-tender,  published by The University of Tampa Press in 2007.

Levin's poetry collections  include Ask - winner of the 2002 Tampa Review Prize for Poetry - and Practicing for Heaven, which won the 1998 Anhinga Prize for Poetry, as well as a  bronze medal from ForeWord magazine. She has received many awards and grants, including the Discovery/The Nation Award for Emerging New Writers, the Pablo Neruda Prize in poetry, a California State Arts Council Grant, as  well as five Pushcart Prize nominations.

She received her Ph.D. from University of California at Berkeley in clinical psychology and lives and works in Davis, California.


Tonight, the moon broods in a house poured with light.
Gulls carry over the darkening sea, and it is hours
since the notebook you were carrying
                      shot into the streets like swallows.

Then the Jeweler, still in his apron, raced out
to unpin you from the car, and holding your shattered legs
together in the gutter, barked orders for me
to slip my sweater underneath your head.

                                                    Poor stranger,
who knows how deep  a pool
the day is, or where fate drowns
the future we can no longer have.

                     Tonight, I listen to water
dream along the lips of the shore.
The  ramp creaks up and down the pier,
the way you must drag a heavy chain
in and out of morphine.

                                                          Truth is,
I came here years ago  with a gun and whiskey,
praying for courage.And I don't know why
I unloaded the chamber
into a  black bay and watched the water
become a field of listening.

                   I only know that the morning
I drove  back into my life, ruined,

I was too  far  away from this moment
to see a woman staring out at  the moon
unrolling its sheets  of  gleam across the bay,

as if gazing into a  mirror  of her losses,
believing a second more complicated melody
ripens inside the shadow's  fruit,

         ready, finally,
         to live its tender  song  out loud.

In line with my pictures this week, I have this poem from 2007.

there was a pasture here

there was a pasture 
right here, 
rocky and not good for much 
but in the spring 
it was a field of bluebonnets, 
blue from fence to fence 
like a summer 
brought softly 
to earth 

not so many years ago 
there were many 
just like this one, 
a special one I remember, 
on a hill, where, 
on an April afternoon 
you could sit amid the flowers 
and look down on the city 
in the broad river valley below, 
on the edge of the first beginning 
of the descent to the coastal plains 

there are still 
great fields of wildflowers, 
but none so close 
as those in years before, 
all those drowned 
in the advancing asphalt tide, 
the stink and heat of the city 
pushing those fields 
where wildflowers bloomed 
in spring 
further and further away 

it is this time of year 
and little things 
like all these missing 
that make me feel 
I should apologize to my son 
for the world I’ll be leaving behind

Next, from  my library, here are  two poems by Leroy V. Quintana, from his book, The Great Whirl  of Exile. The book was published by Curbstone Press in 1999.

Quintana was born in 1944 in Albuquerque and was raised in small northern New Mexico towns such as Ratón and Questa. He was drafted in 1967, and served in the 101st Airborne Division.
He graduated from University of New Mexico, and New Mexico State University with an M.A. in 1974 and teaches at San Diego Mesa College.

His work has appeared in many journals, including Ploughshares, Prairie Schooner, Progressive, and Puerto del Sol.

He lives in Mexico.

Poem for Marilyn Monroe

Proof is what mathematicians'  wives  contend with.
The more proof you require the better the whiskey.

Therefore, if there is a storm, or say
your minimum  wage  pays for three weeks and a couple of days
out of the month and electricity turns its back on you,
you need only pull the three socks out of fie
from your dresser drawer to find a match.

The owner agrees; he posed the question,
but no matter what brand of truth you offer,
the chap next in line for the best fish and chips
in Albuquerque, or New Mexico, in other words, the world,
is harder  to convince than an enraged tax collector.

It's an  easy world; all that  needs to be  done  to be considered
an adult is to lift the plastic sheet over that picture
of hers on the calendar, and her clothes come off. Easy.
Nobody has to worry about what thirteen-year-olds
have to say or what miracles they pray for.

Poem for Rod Serling

You make  a wrong  turn one day;
you think you know why.
It's the same town, nothing's 
changed though you were last
here eighteen years ago, the same
town you were raised in,
the same town even though you're lost.

You've seen the great cities of the world,
but never these groomed avenues, two-story
houses; you've stepped into
one of the Currier and Ives prints
that came inside those  fabulous boxes
of Raisin Brand you collected long ago
when you lived in that green house
by the unpaved road, on the opposite
edge of the universe.

A discussion with believers led me to think about this.

an atheist considers the love of Jesus
the love of Jesus
is not the love of the familiar,
it is the love of the stranger, the unlovely
and the unlovable; it does not
ask permission to love and does not
expect love in return

it is not pity -
pity is self-referential,
the seeing of oneself in the pitiful
and responding to their pitiful state
as to oneself similarly

love is not self-referential,
your good works are good
but are not evidence
of a loving spirit - for all they
truly demonstrate
is love of

love is not duty, something
one must do
to meet obligations, something that
by the doing maintains you self-perception
as a person of honour
and goodness…

again, this self-referential

though honour and good works
and duty fulfilled
bring credit
they are not Jesus’
kind of love…

in the allegories,
Jesus does not heal the sick
out of pity or duty;
he heals because he is the
pure essence of
and can no more
not heal
than the sun cannot shine -
the sun is the essence of light,
day and night ,
clear days or cloudy,
whether we can see it or not,
just as Jesus
is the quintessence of love,
in his love
and in his healing,
the personification of the one,
the living embodiment
of the way -
the Buddha’s brother,
the Zen Master’s
to the ever-quiet
serenity of the all-loving
within and without

Anne Sexton was born in Newton, Massachusetts in 1928 and spent most of her childhood in Boston. In 1945 she enrolled at Rogers Hall boarding school, Lowell, Massachusetts, later spending a year at Garland School. For a time she modeled for Boston's Hart Agency.

Sexton suffered from severe mental illness for much of her life, her first manic episode taking place in 1954. Dr Martin Orne, who became her long-term therapist at the Glenside Hospital, encouraged her to take up poetry. She felt great trepidation about the first poetry workshop she attended, relying on a friend to enroll her and go with her to the first  session, then quickly finding early acclaim for her work.

In the late 1960s, the manic elements of Sexton's illness began to affect her career, even as she continued to write,  publish and give readings. She also collaborated during this time with musicians, forming a jazz-rock group called "Her Kind" that added music to her poetry. Her play "Mercy Street," starring Marian Seldes, was produced in 1969.

Within twelve years of writing her first sonnet, she was one of the most honored poets in America: a Pulitzer Prize winner, a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and the first female member of the Harvard chapter of Phi Beta Kappa.

On October 4, 1974, Sexton had lunch with poet Maxine Kumin to revise galleys for Sexton's manuscript of The Awful Rowing Toward God, scheduled for publication in March 1975. On returning home she put on her mother's old fur coat, removed all her rings, poured herself a glass of vodka, locked herself in her garage, and started the engine of her car, committing suicide by carbon monoxide poisoning.

The poem is from her book, To Bedlam and Part Way Back, published in 1960 by Houghton Mifflin.

You, Doctor Martin

You, Doctor Martin, walk
from breakfast to  madness.  Late August,
I speed through the antiseptic tunnel
where the moving dead  still talk
of pushing their bones against the thrust
of cure. and I am queen of this summer hotel
or the laughing bee on a stalk

of death. We stand in broken
lines and wait while they unlock
the door and count us at the frozen gates
of dinner. the shibboleth is spoken
and we move to gravy in our smock
of smiles. We chew in rows, our plates
scratch and whine like chalk

in school. There are no  knives
for cutting your throat. I make
moccasins  all morning. At first  my hands
kept empty, unraveled for the lives
they used to work. Now I learn to  take
them back, each angry finger that demands
I mend what another will break

tomorrow. Of course, I  love you;
you lean above the plastic sky,
god of our block,  prince of all the foxes.
The breaking crowns  are new
that Jack wore. Your third eye
moves among us and lights the separate boxes
where we sleep  or cry.

What large children we are
here. All over grow most tall
in the best ward.  Your business is people,
you call at the madhouse, an oracular
eye in the nest. Out in the hall
the intercom pages you. You twist in the pull
of the foxy children who fall

like floods of life in frost.
And we are  magic talking  to itself,
noisy and alone. I am queen of all my sins
forgotten. Am I still lost?
Once  I was beautiful. Now I am  myself,
counting this row and that row of moccasins
waiting on the silent shelf.

This is another of my poems from 2007, kind of along of the lines of my picture theme this week, also in accordance of our unusual weather here in San Antonio in mid-July.

wet spring

wet spring 
and we live 
in a hundred 
shades of 
tree limbs 
so leaf-heavy 
they break 
in the softest 
wet spring and 
pools of 
fresh laundry 
grow in fields 
and pastures 
and beside roads 
and small 
going to market 
going to town 
going nowhere 
at all 
wet spring and 
days of summer 
for a moment 

Here are two poems by Wendy Barker, from her book , The Way of Whiteness, published by Wings Press in 2000.

Barker, born in 1942, is  Poet -in-Residence and a professor of English at the University of Texas at San Antonio. Though born in New Jersey, she grew up in Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona. Between 1968 and 1982 she lived in Berkeley, California. She received her B.A. and M.A. from Arizona State University and her Ph.D. in 1981 from the University of California at Davis. Barker also taught high school English in Scottsdale, Arizona, between 1966–68 and in Berkeley, between 1968-72. She has published five books of poetry and three chapbooks as well as a selection of poems with accompanying drafts and essays about the writing process. Her translations (with Saranindranath Tagore) of Nobel Prize-winning poet Rabindranath Tagore received the Sourette Diehl Fraser Award from the Texas Institute of Letters.

Way of Whiteness

            ....until the whole field is a
            white desire, empty, a single stem,
            a cluster, flower by flower,
            a pious wish to whiteness gone over....

                                      W. C. Williams

All month the moths hovered ,
bits and slaps of white pricking
the green mist: yarrow
at Fountain Abby, dotted blossoms
clustered among leaves and branches, the white
rumps of lazing goats on the hills,
two white horses, muscles
grazing moorland above the Haworth parsonage.

This summer I have been tracking whiteness.
Clusters like doilies, caps, crowns,
but away from our own country
we aren't sure of he names.

You said elderberry, it could have been Queen Anne's Lace.
And on the train the row after row of windows,
one after the other, rhythm of lines
of trees  ordering fields, furrow.
The colors friends were changed daily,
jackets of jade and pink, yellow, green, brilliant
as the creme de menthe at one time
I had though a fancy drink.

Until this trip I had never had time to walk
behind Chartres, to stop and face the row
of white blooming trees, hawthorns, I finally decided,
masses of white clustering sweet flowers.
Tree after tree, each one almost
as tall as the cathedral.

In Strasbourg on the river blackening one night
someone spotted a swan and suddenly
there were dozens gather in a cove
of the river a progression of white neck after
white sliding into the dark.

Miracle of sweet milk in coffee.
Until, finally at Canterbury, there was only this: white
clouds sweeping behind a spire, the spire
easing into the white
sky filling vision.

And this was even before the music
filled  the interior spaces
of the choir at Evensong.

Practicality, Foam, and Nighties

Not very practical, you said, when I brought home
the satiny lace nightie, won't hold up. Funny:
this pale shimmer takes to suds as if it were
made for water. Pale green foam

of ocean, pearl bubbles of white lace.
Sometimes when you're floating in the shallows
and a wave folds in, pushes you under,
you gasp at such sudden immersion.

When a breast spills from a slipped strap,
when we sink down under the sheets,
sometimes  I would like (wickedly) to whisper
we are not being very practical.

After a bad night, woke up feeling like I needed to be put down - wrote this poem before I cancelled the day.

watch me bend
colors fuzzy
slip-slidery stomach
tilt-a-whirl brain
to leave the carnival behind,
my interrupted dreamer
and sleep away
these pesky irregularities…

I am a poet
after all, and can blame
my absence
from the world all around
as meditation
on the subject of all the finer forms…

ah, the vagaries, I find
in my search
for the footprints
of my departed muse -
ah, the absolutes
when life takes a powder
like a thief
in a black Chevrolet…

watch the trees
my grandfather would say -
when they bend
they do not

watch me bend,
my dear dead grandpa,
watch me bend
so I will not

I used three love poems by Pablo Neruda last week. This week  I have three sections from his poem, The Heights of Macchu Picchu. The twelve section series recounts Neruda's first visit to Macchu Picchu, a fairly recent discovery (1911) in historical terms. The first five sections include much internal musing about himself and the life he has lived in comparison to the long history of Macchu Picchu. It is only in the sixth poem of the series that he reaches the site and begins to respond to it.

The three sections I'm using this week are the first, as he begins the journey, the sixth, when he arrives at the site, and the last section, number 12, his conclusion to the poem.

The book contains the original Spanish version of the text and English translation by Nathaniel Tarn. This edition, with translation, was published in 1966 by Farrar, Straus & Giroux.


From AIR TO AIR, like an empty net,
dredging through streets and ambient atmosphere, I came
lavish, at autumn's coronation, with the leaves'
proffer of currency and - between spring and wheat ears -
that which a boundless love, caught in gauntlet fall,
grants us like a long-fingered moon.

(Days of live radiance in discordant
bodies: steels converted
to the silence of acid:
nights disentangled to the ultimate four,
assaulted stamens of the nuptial land.)

Someone waiting for me among the violins
met with a world like a buried tower
sinking its spiral below the layered leaves
color of raucous sulphur:
and lower yet, in a vein of gold,
like a sword in a scabbard of meteors,
I plunged a turbulent and tender hand
to the most secret organs of the earth.

Leaning my forehead through the unfathomed waves
I sank, a single drop,  within a sleep of sulphur
where, like a blind man, I retraced the jasmine
of our exhausted human spring.


Up here men's feet found rest at night
near eagles' talons in the high
meat-stuffed eyries.  And in the dawn
with thunder steps they trod the thinning mists,
touching the earth and stones that they might recognize
that touch come night, come death.

I gaze at clothes and hands,
traces of water  in the booming cistern,
a wall burnished in the touch of a face
that witnessed with my eyes the earth's carpet of tapers,
oiled with my hands the vanished wood:
for everything, apparel, skin, pots, words,
wine,  loaves, has disappeared,
fallen to earth.

And the air came in with lemon blossom fingers
to touch those sleeping faces:
a thousand years off air, months, weeks of air,
blue wind and iron cordilleras -
these came with gentle footstep hurricanes
cleansing the lonely precinct of the stone.


Arise to birth with me, my brother.

Give me your hand out of the depths
sown by your sorrows.
You will not emerge from subterranean time.
Your rasping voice will not come back,
nor your pierced eyes rise from their sockets.

Look at me from the depths of the earth,
tiller of  fields, weaver, reticent shepherd,
groom of totemic guanacos,
mason high on your treacherous scaffolding,
icemen of Andean tears,
jeweler with crushed fingers,
farmer  anxious among his seedlings,
potter wasted among his clays -
bring to the cup of  this new  life
your ancient buried sorrows.
Show me your blood and your furrows;
say to me: here I was  scourged
because a gem was dull or because the earth
failed to give up in time its tithe of corn or stone.
Point out to me the rock on which you stumbled,
the wood they sued to crucify your body.
Strike the old  flints
to kindle ancient lamps,  light up the whips
glued to your wounds throughout the centuries
and light the axes gleaming with your blood.

I come to  speak for your dead mouths.

Throughout the earth
let dead lips congregate,
out of the depths spin this long night with me
as if I rode at anchor here with you.

And tell me everything, tell chain by chain,
and link by link, and step by step;
sharpen the knives you kept hidden away,
thrust them into my breast, into my hands,
like a torrent of sunbursts,
an Amazon of buried jaguars,
and leave my cry;hours days and years,
blind ages,  stellar centuries.

And give me silence, give me water, hope.

Give me the struggle,  the iron, the volcanoes.

Let bodies cling like magnets to my body.

Come quickly to my veins and to my mouth.

Spread through my speech, and through my blood,

This poem is from 2003-2004 or around that time. I don't remember exactly, but I used it in my first book, Seven Beats a Second, published in 2005.

diminishing the stars

the city approaches

    its lights
    across the hills
    at sunset

    the black serenity
    of night

diminishing the stars
that  shine
in the virgin sky

sounds of the city
soon follow

then heat

then haze
    that blocks
    the lights
    that spread
    across the hills
    at sunset

the city approaches
in a fog
of its own detritus

Here are several poems by Siegfried Sassoon, one of the World War I poets who set aside the supposed glory and romance of war, reporting back to the British  public the reality of trench warfare  through their poems. Sassoon,  one of the lucky ones, survived the war and went on to live and write for many more years. Born in 1886 he died at 81 in 1967.

The poem are  from The War Poems, published in 1983 by Faber and Faber.

This edition includes dates the poem were written, as well as, in some cases, notes about the circumstances of the poem by Sassoon.

At Carnoy

Down in the hollow there's the whole Brigade
Camped in four groups:  through twilight falling slow
I hear a sound of mouth-organs, ill-played.
And a murmur of voices, gruff, confused, and low.
Crouched among the thistle-tufts I've watched the glow
Of a blurred orange sunset flare and fade.
And I'm content. Tomorrow we  must go
To  take some cursed Wood...O world God made!

3 July 1916

Died of Wounds

His wet white face and miserable eyes
Brought nurses to him more  than  groans and sighs:
but hoarse and low and rapid rose and fell
His troubled voice: he did the business well.

The ward grew dark; but he was still complaining
And calling out for "Dickie." "Curse the Wood!
It's time to go. O Christ, and what's the good?
We'll never take it, and it's always raining."

I wondered where he'd been; then heard him shout,
"They snipe like hell! O Dickie, don't go out..."
I fell asleep...Next  morning he was dead;
And some Slight Wound  lay smiling on the bed.

July 1916

"I got the idea in the hospital at Amiens, where a youngster raved and
died in the bed opposite mine. I think he came from High Wood at its

Two Hundred  Years After

Trudging by Corbie ridge one winter's night
(Unless  old hearsay memories tricked his sight)
Along the pallid edge of the quiet  sky
He watched a nosing lorry grinding on,
And straggling files of men; when these were gone,
A double limber and six  mules went by,
Hauling the rations up through ruts and mud
To trench-lines digged two hundred years ago.
The darkness hid them with a rainy scud.
And soon he saw the village lights below.

But when he'd told his tale, an old man said
That he'd seen soldiers pass along that hill;
"Poor silent things, they were the English dead
Who came to fight in France and got their fill."

October 1916

A Ballad

Have you heard the famous story of the Captain in the
Who  was out for  blood and glory in the service of his
When he'd  served a home a year, in a quaking sweat of
He arrived at bloody Combles when  the talk was all of

So he stuck it for a week (of that time he loves to speak);
Then he went out with his revolver and he brandished it on
in a solitary place, with a white and anxious face,
Swift he plugged a bullet in his foot, and hoped he
    wouldn't die.

Now the Captain's at the Depot, lame, but happy as a
And in billets out in France the men who  knew him  tell
    the story
Of the "bloke that 'ad an accident when walking in the d
    dark -"
While the Captain teaches raw recruits the way to blood
    and glory.

25 October 1916

The March-Past

In  red and gold the Corps-Commander stood.
With ribboned breast puffed out for all to see:
He'd sworn to beat the Germans, if he could;
for God had taught him strength and strategy.
He was our leader, and a judge of Port -
Rode well to hounds, and was a damned good sort.

"Eyes right!" We passed him with a jaunty stare.
"Eyes front!" He'd watched his trusted legions go.
I wonder if he  guessed how many there
Would get knocked out of time in next week's show.
"Eyes right!" the corpse-commander was a Mute;
And Death leered round him, taking our  salute.

25 December 1916

The Rear-Guard


Groping along the tunnel, step by step,
He winked his prying torch with patching glare
From side to side, and sniffed the unwholesome air.

Tins,  boxes, bottles, shapes to vague to know;
A mirror  smashed, the mattress from a bed;
And he, exploring fifty feet below
The rosy gloom of  the  battle overhead.

Tripping, he grabbed the wall; saw some one lie
Humped at his feet,half-hidden by a rug,
And stooped to give the sleeper's arm a tug.
"I'm looking for headquarters." No reply.
"God blast your neck!" (For days he's had no sleep)
"Get up and guide me through this stinking place."
Savage, he kicked a soft unanswering heap,
And flashed his beam across the livid face
Terrible glaring up, whose eyes yet wore
Agony dying hard ten days before;
A fists of fingers clutched a blackening wound.

Alone he staggered until he found
Dawn's ghost that filtered down a shafted stair
To the dazed muttering creatures underground
Who head the boom of shells in muffled sound.
At last, with sweat of horror in his hair,
He climbed through the darkness to the twilight air,
Unloading hell behind him step by step.

22 April 1917

"Written at Denmark Hill Hospital about ten days after  I was 
wounded . Gosse, after seeing me there, wrote to Uncle Hamo  that he
thought I was suffering from severe shock. But  if so, could I have
written  such a strong poem.

This poem, from last week, on the second day of feeling lousy.

where I’ll be (just in case you need me)
new hostess
at the restaurant this morning
and she gave my booth
to someone else,
even though I got there only
a minute after opening…

my south facing
taken, I’m stuck
in a booth facing north,
with all that

all day yesterday
may do it again today,
especially if I’m supposed
to write a poem
in a north-facing booth…

it’s all ass-backwards,
promising a whole ass-backward day…

the only thing to do with an ass-backward day
is sleep through it,
best if
on the opposite side of your bed…

so if you need me for something,
just check on the opposite side of my bed
on this ass-backward day

Last from my library this week, I  have several poems by Yusef Komunyakaa.The poems are from his book, Talking Dirty to the Gods, published in 2000 by Farrar,  Straus and Giroux.

Komunyakaa was born in 1947 in Bogalusa, Louisiana, where he was raised during the beginning of the Civil Rights movement. He served in the United States Army from 1969 to 1970 as a correspondent, and as managing editor of the Southern Cross during the Vietnam war, earning him a Bronze Star.
He began writing poetry in 1973, and received his bachelor's degree from the University of Colorado Springs in 1975. His first book of poems, Dedications & Other Dark Horses, was published in 1977, followed by Lost in the Bonewheel Factory in 1979. During this time, he earned his MA and MFA in creative writing from Colorado State University and the University of California, Irvine, respectively.

A writer  of poetry, prose and  plays, Komunyakaa was the recipient of the 2011 Wallace Stevens Award. His other honors include the William Faulkner Prize from the Université de Rennes, the Thomas Forcade Award, the Hanes Poetry Prize, fellowships from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, the Louisiana Arts Council, and the National Endowment for the Arts.
He was elected a Chancellor of The Academy of American Poets in 1999. He has taught at University of New Orleans, Indiana University, as a professor in the Council of Humanities and Creative Writing Program at Princeton University. He lives in New York City where he is currently Distinguished Senior Poet in New York University's graduate creative writing program.


I wonder if pumping iron
Seduces us back till Zeus
Banishes Hercules to Lydia
As Queen Omphale's slave

After he killed a good friend.
For a year - no,  three-
He dressed in a woman's clothes
& wove on a wobbly loom

for the queen's amusement.
His lips flushed berry red
As he daydreamed revenge
Against King  Eurytus, traveling

To Fire Island: a waterfall
Of satin where cross-dressers
Steal and aristocracy of garments
Woven of hex signs, of hook & eye.


She daydreams a D-cup
She believes a polka-dot bikini
Will  resurrect Adonis,
That he'll climb on a surfboard

& glide into  her world
Of windflowers. The cosmetologist's
Song takes over her body
& transplant twelve

Years of happy amnesia.
The jester's flouncy outfit
Hugs each curve perfectly,
till the translucent gel

Leaks from this fantasy.
A wishbone snaps. Her teeth
chatter like ivory castanets,
& nothing stops the perpetual orgasm.

Outside Gethsemane

Ghosts in walls keep words alive.
Post-this & post-that. Herme-
Neutics & boredom pick each bone
Clean.  speck & spectacle. (Id)

East mutate till dollar signs
Cannibalize memories, dangling
Empty hulls in slatted stalls
Of bartered light. The heart

Cave in when we shimmy up  scales
To sell each other by the pound.
Quid, ducat, peso, yen, & cowie
Shell. Cans of air. Pet Rocks.

Death chews off a finger to show
What it is made of. Vowels dribble
Pinfeathers. We nibble on a spine
to force the thing to howl, to crawl.

Philosophers, Incorporated

Curators of  midnight
Desires,  we  still  need
You as much as hemlock
& larkspur, sex

& arpeggios. To answer
The hermit  thrush & worm
We fill every mystery
With your names. Divine

Scapegoats & voyeurs,
At  whose feet  we cast
Conceit, what we now see
Reflected in each other's eyes

Scares u. Whoever you are,
Prophets or crapshooters, please
Watch us deep as the gyrfalcon
Gazes upon the dozing diamondback.

This is my last poem for this short  post. I was chased out of the place where I was taking the pictures by the security guard at the construction site next door before I could get more pictures.

The poem is another old one, written in 2005.

the life we lead

there is no future  in the life we lead

what else to say
when that's been said

just cliche
and more cliche

truth hidden
like a copperhead 
in the underbrush of cliche

bumper stickers
we read in stalled traffic
going nowhere,  spewing
our poisonous indecision

while birds die
and the trees that nested them die
and the earth is made barren
and the sea is a reservoir of garbage

from the garden, a graveyard
where we will  rot until we are gone

it's all in the life we lead today

This picture has nothing to do with the rest, except that they were taken on the same day and might even serve as recognition of the first developers who,  all things considered, did better by the hills and meadows and woodlands than we  are doing today.

That's it for this short, substitute post. This week will be back next week.

As usual,everything belongs to its creators and, as usual, I am allen itz, owner and producer of this blog, selling books at these  places:

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


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

Seven Beats a Second

Delayed sales reports are coming in
and it turns out I am actually
selling books.

But don't worry,
there are plenty more left.


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