For My Constant Friend and Travel Companion   Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Before I begin, a personal note.



Reba
Constant friend, traveling companion & subject of many poems
1994-2012
She travels alone now, as do I








No plan for my photos this week. I don't have any new ones, so I'm just hopping an skipping through the old one I  have, with no particular  reason to use one over  the other except  that I hope they all  have something that makes them worth looking at.

My anthology for the week is  Burnt Sugar - Cana  Quemada, a collection of  contemporary Cuban poets  in  English and Spanish. The book was published by Free Press in 2006.

Also, I want to mention that I  have a poem in Loch Raven  Review, a very fine on-line poetry journal that you can find at  http://www.lochravenreview.net/2012Fall/index.html. It's unusual since, for the past several years, I  almost never send my stuff out or publish anywhere but "Here and Now" and, every year or so, a book of my own. Loch Raven Review  is an exception because it is an excellent journal and I know it's editors and know them to be excellent poets themselves. I'm always very pleased when they identify something of mine that would like to use, in this case, a response to a poem by another poet-friend, Alice  Folkart, a fellow house member on Blueline's "House of 30" poem-a-day forum. Alice's poem is also in this issue.



Me 
hope for the best

Pablo Medina 
A Poem  for the  Epiphany

Me 
muffin making and other activities of the long night

Naomi Shihab Nye 
Passing the Refugee Camp
Lunch at Nablus City Park
What Kind of Fool Am I?

Me 
fear and loathing 2012

Jose Arreu Felippe 
Rain

Armando Valladares 
Bebita  I

Me 
4 a.m.

Paul Durcan 
The Bloomsday Murders, 16 June 1997

Me 
old folk at home

Ricardo  Pau-Llosa 
For the Cuban Dead

Me 
a memory of a dream
we watch

Charles Simic 
Paradise Hotel
The Clocks of the Dead
Leaves

Me 
Texas weather

Orlando Rossardi 
Weariness

Me 
true confessions

Robert  Bly 
Moving Books to a New Study
Driving My Parents Home at  Christmas
After a Day at  Work

Me 
very entirely clear to me now

Dionisio D. Martinez 
Years of Discourse

Me 
the ghost in the attic

Henri Coulette 
At the Hotel des Saints Peres
In the Ninth Year of the Literary War

Me 
first winter smell in a hot arid country

Orlando Gonzalez Esteva 
Word are Islands

Me 
the deer and the pigs and me, again

Reg Sarne 
Return to Tundra at Bighorn Flats: for Anne

Leslie Ullman 
The Split

Robert Wallace 
A Fresco of Swans and Bears

Charles Wright
Cloud River

Me 
this old bed

Uva De Aragon 
If You Press Me

Me 
a real loss to poetry

Charles Harper Webb 
The Dead Run

Me 
watching for signs that signal her decision

Me 
I will write…










Okay, so I'm currently using three different search engines. Some work on some sites; others work on other sites; and no single one works on all sites.




hope for the best

since
6 o’clock this morning
trying to unravel all the knots
tied last night
when I keyed “yes” to the offer
from Internet Explorer
to download an upgrade, the up-
grade that has degraded
all of my computer functions
so that I know have three different
search engines, all only half-
functional and meanwhile all my poetry time
this morning is lost and my blog post 
time being even know
eaten away
by Internet Explorer malevolence
and I don’t want to write
a mean, nasty poem
because I wrote a mean, nasty poem
yesterday
and I like to separate my mean, nasty poems
by a couple of days on 
either side
so I wanted to write a nice poem
today, an ode, 
no less,
to the beneficent nature off the universe
and the love with which
all the positive energies of time and space
and chocolate chip cookies
embrace us, we poor
humans
and make us better than we have 
a right to be,
born
of sin and rot
by a vengeful God who
gave us sexual
organs
and then cries gotcha
when ever we try to utilize them
in ways not sanctioned in his secret book
which only a few are allowed
to read and understand,
who all read and understand
different…

what are we to do…

the electric digits
of this vengeful God's
weasel henchman calling itself
in this world,
“Internet Explorer,”
having struck me 
down
and me not even knowing
what I did wrong
but pretty sure it was nothing
involving sexual organs…

again,
what am I to do?

I have decided that the thing to do 
is sit outside my coffeehouse
under little grove of adolescent oak trees
that might protect me

(being known well in treedom
as a strong and consistent
friend and nurturer 
of oak trees)

from the murky, mealy-grained sky
the Great Vengeful He 
Who Has Targeted Me For My Sins
(not having to do with
sexual organs, but possibly related
to my stomach organ which
indulged last night
in a piece
of double-chocolate cake
before going to bed…yes that could be
it)…

anyhow, the Vengeful He Etcetera
who has placed above
me
a gray sky
of digital disturbance
which I thought to disrupt
by hiding outside
which turned out to be a major
mistake,
making me, as it did, an open
target
for the Vengeful He, Etc.
so I’m reconsidering
the outside portion of my escape plan
and think it might be best
if I were to crouch 
under the espresso machine
since the Great Ball-Buster In The Sky
is known to have switched
to decaf
some eons ago, sparing the universe
the constant threat
of caffeine jitters
which, in the beginning, 
is known to have lead to the collapse
of several star systems
and the flood
on this particular planet
and a number of other planets 
as well

so I guess that’s what I’ll have to do
and hope for the 
best









My first poem from this week's anthology, Burnt Sugar, is by Pablo Medina.

Medina, a poet,  translator, and novelist, was born in Havana and has  lived in the United States since 1960.  He has published a number of books,fiction and poetry collections,since then.



A Poem for the Epiphany

    for Ellen Jacko

It  snows  because the door  to heaven is open,
because God is tired of working
and the day needs to be  left  alone.
It snows  because there is a widow hiding
under  her mother's bed,
because the birds are resting their throats
and three wise men are offering gifts.
Because the clouds are  singing
and trees have  a right to exist,
because the horses of the past are returning.
There are gray and trot gently into the barn
never touching the ground.

It snows because the wind wants
to be water,  because water
wants to be powder and powder  wants
to seduce the eye. Because once  in his life
the philosopher has to admit
to the poverty of thought.
Because the rich man  cannot buy snow
and the poor man has to  wear it on his eyebrows.
Because it makes the old dog think
his life has  just begun. He runs
back and forth across the parking lot.
He rolls on the snow.  He laps it up.

It snows because light and dark
are making love in a field where old age
has no meaning, where colors blur,
silence covers sound,  sleep covers sorrow,
everything is  death, everything is joy.










This is an old poem from 2011.




muffin making and other activities of the long night

it’s a bright and sunny
Sunday morning
and I’m thinking about sex

now 
I can tell
some off you
are surprised that I’m thinking about sex
on such a bright and sunny
Sunday morning,
but I don’t know why...

I’m an old gent 
after all,
a getting-on gent,
a heading-for-the-last-round-up gent,
a drawing-near-to-that-last-sunset-cowboy

and men 
in my particular chronological condition
think about a lot of things,
the weather,
dumb-ass politicians,
uncomplicated bowel movements,
occasionally a poem,
and sex…

mostly sex

cause even though we may not be getting
much of it anymore ,
sex is still the prime concern,
at least of those whose 
manly mojo
has yet to fall off,
and since my  mojo still
abides
I spend a lot of my thinking time
thinking about sex

that’s just the way it is,
just ask any mojo-intact
old man 
and he will confirm
if he’s even the least bit honest
sex beats weather
and dumb-assed politicians
to think about
any old
day…

in particular,
this bright and sunny
Sunday morning,
I’m thinking about a particular 
girl I once knew
a long time back,
in the old days when Ike
was still hitting par
with Mamie,

a particular girl
I’m remembering 
whose nipples
were in constant confrontation

the one always hard
like a marble,
proudly erect like a sweet
dark cherry
on a cream-puff pie

the other lazy
always lying back,
holding back, small and
unobtrusive…

her conflicted nipples like
her conflicted nature,
the one ever-erect
showing 
the wild part of her, the
part always ready
for the next adventure,
the next sensation -

touch me, kiss me, play
me lightly with your teeth,
 she’d say
lick me like a triple-dip ice cream
cone -


(and other such things
she’d say
I’m much too shy 
to repeat
in a public forum
such as this)

but there was, still,
the other side 
of her,
the Betty-Crocker-in-a-white-
frill-apron-muffin-
baker
side,
the nipple so slow to rise
like reluctant muffins,
so hard to arouse, the nipple 
of modesty, 
of consequence and restraint,
of look twice before you leap, 
the nipple of probably shouldn’t leap at all,
the nipple of banked fires
and still nights and clouds slow moving
against dark and starless skies…

but the fire was not out, just laid low,
waiting for the breeze of soft whispers 
to flame again, to re-ignite the stars,
to push the clouds and clear the sky,
the fire when it came
as hot and bright as any other,
only slower to rise…

and it was in the 
conflagration
that the two sides of her
joined in the end

confusing to me,
sometimes,
leaving me never knowing
which of her two sides
would come with me
through the long night
till dawn…

but the truth is,
while possibilities varied,
there were no bad nights
when sooner or later 
her secret identity was
revealed








Next, I have two poems by Naomi Shihab Nye. I use a lot  of her work here because she is one of my favorite poets (first favorite San Antonio poet) and because it seems every other anthology I pull out has her work in it.

These two poems are not from  one of those anthologies, but from one of her own books, 19 Varieties of Gazelle - Poems of the Middle East. The book was published by HarperCollins in 2002.



Passing the Refugee Camp

I know who's in there

girl  spinning string  around her finger

boy with a bruised eye

If he lifts his other eye to the sun
his father rises saying, "Wait, wait"
but this fruit is too  slow

The pit of this peach
breaks a hundred teeth

*

In suits the color  of olive trees
soldiers stand and stand

but not as  olive trees stand
at the gate  of the camp

They think they see both ways

They look pas the widow with a hand
on her daughter's shoulder

the schoolgirl's pleated skirt

watching for something bigger
or worse

*

In the next town
a man sets tea on our table

He does not speak
He glides from the kitchen

a pot of steaming water
a pot of steaming milk

His brother has been beaten by soldiers
He saw the blood come out of the nose

Because of this he  is walking
very slowly so not one drop

exceeds the edge

*

Yesterday the soldiers smashed
Lena's sink and tub and tiles

The whipped a father in front of his sons
ages 2 and 4

They do this all the time
The house filled with water

The locked the door on the crying boys
taking the father

Believe me Lena says
They had no reason

On the steps of the National Palace Hotel
soldiers peel oranges

throwing back their heads so the juice
runs down their throats

This must be their coffee break
guns slung sideways

They are laughing
stripping lustily

They know what sweetness lives within
How can they know this and forget

so many other things?

*

The olive's dusty gray-green shadow
won't leave a single one of its people alone

It follows them inside their own shadows
It loves them when  the think there is no more
     loving

A man places his hand into the river
that holds him back

His dreams crosses the slim water
What  happens to the man and dream who get

separated?

Some  people place  their  whole bodies
inside  a dream
A woman steps out of a dream
with fresh almonds wrapped in a towel

holding them out
to any open mouth

    for Palestine


Lunch in Nablus City Park

When you lunch in a town
which has recently known war
under a calm slate sky mirroring none of it,
certain words feel impossible in the mouth.
Casualty: too casual,  it must be changed.
A short man stacks mounds of pita bread
on each end of a table, muttering
something about more to come.
Plump birds landing on park benches
surely had their eyes closed recently,
must  have  seen nothing  of weapons or blockades.
When the woman across  from you whispers
I don't think we  can take it anymore
and you say there are people praying for her
in the mountains of Himalaya and she says
Lady, it is not enough, then what?


I said two, but here's a third because it's short and I like it.


What Kind of Fool Am I?

He sang with abandon,
combing his black,  black hair.
Each morning in the shower,
first in Arabic,  rivery ripples
of song carrying him back
to his beloved land,
then in English where his repertoire
was short. No kind at all! we'd shout,
throwing ourselves into the brisk arc
of his cologne for a morning kiss.
But he gave us freedom to be fools
if we needed to, which we certainly
would later,which we all do now and then,
perhaps a father's greatest gift -
that blessing.













Okay, this next poem is angry, pissed-off, profane and probably offensive to some.

So, sue me.

I've been watching elections since 1956 when I was twelve years old and this one, with the intellectual dishonesty and moral indecency of the Republican candidate and his far-right promoters, is the worst ever.

I just want it to be over, and hope, when it is, that I still have a county to go home to.



fear and loathing in 2012


first day


of early voting

and I will be in that line

smiting
the infidels as best I can
alone,
hoping many more 
will smite
along with me

knowing
as I go through the ballot
(no straight ticket
for me, too much pleasure
as I go down to each
name,
reciting my mantra,
spit on you Mr. Mitt Romney
spit on you Mr. Ted Cruz
spit on you Mr. Crazy
Wannabe-Fascist-Theocratic-Goat-Fucking-Pin-Striped -
Button-Down-Death-to-Decency-Terrorist-
Dickhead
Republican,
and you and you and you
and you and you and….)

knowing
in the end I will have,
if nothing else, 
nullified the vote of at least
one
right-wing-lunatic-wing-nut

sorry…

it’s the best I can do









The next poem from this week's anthology is by Jose Arreu Felippe.

Born in 1947 in Havana, the poet left Cuba in 1983 and has been living as an exile in Miami since 1987. In addition to his two books of poetry, Arreu-Felippe has published plays and novels.

This poem was  translated from  Spanish by Lori M. Carlson, one of the editors of the anthology.



Rain

Everything has overflowed
as if existence in the air were
a silent downpour,
this softening of walls
that everything descends, washes away
or transfigures.
Days do come, however, and the air,
color,  life take hold in me
gushing in desire to keep going.


Another short poem from the anthology is this one, written by Armando Valladares and translated by Lori M. Carlson.

Villadares was born in Pina del Rio in 1937 and was a political prisoner  in Havana for  twenty-two  years. When released in 1981, he moved to Madrid. When the anthology was published, he was living in Miami.


Bebita I

Your name is blue
leaf of time
the end point
of the universe
a dream of pulverized
crystal
in my hands
of lover becoming verse.










This is another poem from 2011, July.



4 a.m.

fresh breezes


at 4 a.m.
play 
on my bare body
stir the trees
branches and leaves
spider patches
against
moon-bright sky

an ambulance
crosses the creek
lights and sirens
breaking the fading
night

the neighbor’s dog
barks
me back to bed









My next  poem is  by Irish poet  Paul Durcan, from his book Greetings to Our Friends in Brazil. The book was published by The Harvill Press in 1999.



The Bloomsday Murders, 16 June 1977

         - A nation? says Bloom. A nation is the
          same people living in the same place.
          "Ulysses," Bodley Head edition, 1960, p.498

Not even you, Gerry Adams, deserve to be murdered;
You whose friends at noon murdered my two young men,
David  Johnston and John Graham;
You who in the afternoon came on TV
In a bookshop on Bloomsday signing books,
Sporting a trendy union shirt.
(We vain authors do not wear collars and ties.)

Instead of the bleeding corpses of David and John
We  were  treated to you gazing up into camera
In bewilderment fibbing  like a spoilt child:
"Their deaths diminish us all."
You with your paterfamilias beard,
You Fidel Castro street-cred,
Your Parnell martyr-gaze,
Your Lincoln gravitas,
O Gerry Adams, you're a wicked boy.

Only on Sunday evening in the sunlight
I met David and John up the park
Patrolling the young mums with prams.
"Going to write a poem about us, Paul?"
How they laughed! How they saluted!
How they turned their backs! Their silver spines!
Had I know it, would I have told them?
That  for next  Sunday's newspaper I'd compose a poem.
How you, Gerry Adams, not caring to see,
Saw two angels in their silver spines shot.

I am a citizen of the nation of Ireland -
The same people living in the same place.
I hope the Protestants never leave our shores.
I am a Jew and my name is Bloom.
You, Gerry Adams, do not sign books in my name.
May God forgive me - lock, stock, and barrel.










I wrote this last week.

The best thing about feeling sorry for oneself is that if you do it really well, you don't have to call on anyone else to do it for you.




old folk  at  home

I dream sometimes
of the days
when I made a difference,
a character
of consequence
in the passing stories
of my life - I led
and others followed

but,
while leading edges are
blunt and worm,
the urge
to drive the world
still strong as
ever,
what does a leader do
with his need
to lead
when there are no more
followers to
follow?

he organizes
his roses
and calls them a garden;
he organizes
his words
and calls them a poem








The next poem from my anthology Burnt Sugar/Cana Quemada is by Ricardo Pau-Llosa. Born in Havana in 1954, he has lived in Florida since 1960. He is the author of six collections of poetry and is also
an art critic specializing in twentieth-century Latin American painting and sculpture.



For the Cuban Dead

Once they were men fully because they belonged,
and everywhere they looked and chatted and sipped
a bit of coffee whisked away a fly with a wrist
or jolted a newspaper readably straight,
and curtains dipped and bulged breast-like
and hid again in the  proper window. They were
home and citizens of it and dared and loved
and were decent and stole and killed and loved again.
They were home. How like the root in the earth,
the crease in the linen, the wind rending the cloud,
the growl in the hunger,  the pavement sprayed
with waves crashing against the sea wall.
How  like all right things in the mind of place,
they jostled and failed, learned and betrayed.
Like coins in pockets made for them
they cried stridently or simply tinkled in murmurs,
and it didn't matter if talk or life had substance.
Right of place was substance.

There is no enough in exile. Not  enough anger,
and the blanket  of safety always leaves the feet bare.
And it  is here, no matter how clean and golden,
that one learns how differently the wrist and the fly
and the shot of wave,  how it never stops
calling although the law of distance deafens.
Memory of the heart's gravity.
The accent of the children
becomes unbearably alien, a dampness
from the sidewalk creeping past the thin sole
and into the ignored sock. Now nothing
escapes notice and the balance is always against.

And it hits them, these never again composed,
that the time to see and hear was then,
when rightness  held even the storm evils
of the quotidian in the same palm
with the trash of years of seconds
and the kissed joys.
Then, as we have come to know, was
the proper place to gaze at the dust
of  butterfly panoplies,  ponder
the calligraphic crud on the china,
relinquish decorous ears to taut goatskins,
wash in the lace of Sunday clouds,
and otherwise pay attention
with one's whole life to shadows
knitting five centuries of incomparable capital,
field's antique jewel, and the cradling shore.
God is was who let them die
filled with late understanding,
so who dares say we the innocent lurk
unpunished in the works and days?












Here are two older pieces, from 2007,  short ones.




a memory of a dream



I have a 
memory 
of a dream 
that through 
constant dreaming 
has become a memory 
of another life 
that with constant 
remembering 
seems as real 
as the life 
I might have 
with you tonight










we watch

to the north 
rain 
creeps 
over green hills 
like a blue sea 
rising 
from above 

here 
there is no sound 
no movement of air 

here 
we watch










Next,  I have three poems by Charles Simic.

A recent Poet Laureate of the United States, Simic was born in Yugoslavia in 1938 and immigrated with his parents to the United States in 1954. He is retired from the University of New Hampshire where he taught American literature and creative writing. He won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1990 and a MacArthur Foundation "genius" grant from 1984 to 1989. He is also a previous winner of the Wallace Stevens Award from the Academy of American Poets.



Paradise Motel

Millions were dead;everybody was innocent.
I stayed in my room. The President
Spoke of war as of a magic love  potion.
My eyes were opened in astonishment.
In a mirror my face appeared to me
Like a twice-canceled postage stamp.

I lived well, but life was awful.
There were so  many soldiers that day,
So many refugees crowding  the roads.
Naturally, they all vanished
With a touch of the hand.
History licked the corners of its bloody mouth.

On the pay channel, a man and a woman
Were trading hungry kisses and tearing off
Each other's clothes while I looked on
With the sound off and the room dark
Except for the screen where the color
Had too much red in it, too much pink.



The Clock of the Dead

One night I went  to keep the clock company.
It had a loud tick after midnight
As if it were uncommonly afraid.
It's like whistling past a graveyard,
I explained,
In any case, I told him I understood.

Once there were clocks  like that
In every kitchen in America.
Now the factory's windows are all broken.
The old men on night shift are in Charon's oat.
The day you stop, I said to the clock,
the little wheels  they keep in reserve
Will have rolled away
Into many hard-to-find places.

Just thinking about it, I forgot to wind the clock.
We woke up in the dark.
How quiet the city is,  I said.
Like the clocks of the dead, my wife replied.
Grandmother on the wall,
I heard the snows of your childhood
Begin to fall.


Leaves

Lovers who take pleasure
In the company of  trees,
Who seek diversion after many kisses
In each other's arms,
Watching the leaves,

The way they quiver
At the slightest breath of wind,
the way they thrill,
And shutter almost individually,
One of them beginning to shake
While the others are still  quiet,
Unaccountably,unreasonably -

What am I saying?
One leaf in a million more fearful,
More happy
Than all the others?

On this oak tree casting
Such deep shade,
And my lids closing sleepily
With that one leaf twittering
Now darkly, now luminously.











I don't really like this poem so much, but it's a long post this week and I need it. How's that for honesty in poetry,




Texas weather

patchy clouds at 4 a.m.
so thin
stars shine through
like a coquette’s smile
behind
the bare dim shadows
of a translucent veil…

three hours later
black clouds
on the west horizon,
furious rain
advancing, blown
by wind
that shakes the largest trees…

the fury
comes and goes,
leaves in its wake
a gentle morning rain
like mist
behind a waterfall…

Texas weather…

who knows
what waits for us
when the noon whistle
sounds

~~~

and the rest of this poem
is lost
as I remember the noon siren
in the small town where I grew up,
a call to service
for volunteer fireman
when blazes
burned

- and, for a while, the signal
that would tell us the attack
had come and the atomic war
begun -

but mostly a sign to workers
to put aside their tools
and settle in with lunch box
and thermos for their mid-day
meal…

the storm,
surging in from the west this Sunday
morning, like the siren
in my little town, a call to believers,
a reminder,
that St. Peter was watching
and checking his lists…

for the rest of us,
well, a little bit of excitement
to help us settle in with our
flapjacks and coffee
at the start
of another dull Sunday
when nothing else is going to happen
the whole rest of the day

~~~

new clouds
building on the horizon,
black
and threatening…

listen
for a sign
as the sun slinks
east








My next  poem from Burnt Sugar, this week's anthology is by Orlando  Rossardi, who was born in Havana in 1938. He 1960 he left Cuba for Spain, then moved to the U.S. where he has taught at several universities. An essayist, playwright,  short story writer and poet, he has written a number of books of poetry.

The poem was translated by the anthology's editor Lori Marie Carlson.



Weariness

this afternoon that slams in my way I'm tired of virtually
          everything
I'm tired of water, of stones, of making do and distances;
of the I that ages among no one, of time that discovers
           its parts,
of solitude  that explodes in emptiness of purity that doesn't
           count,
of you so carefully guarded and lashing on the banks like a
           bridge.
I'm tired of absence, and also of sameness.
And this afternoon, suddenly, I am tired of grace
and disgrace, of command and countermand of suffering
and being by virtue of happiness tender and useless as a peach.
I am tired of this useless,  blank page,
of regret and laughter, of siege and condemnation;
of being and of  suddenly being  sunk in tinder;
of hunger and of conscience I'm tired, of  air that gives rise
to the voice of hands fashioning, tirelessly, words.
I'm tired - to the brim - of the perfume of rain,
of God being a pretext for catastrophes,
rotting away walking the hallways and offices, of thinking
             deeply
about life and survival,  of drinking with my eyes from empty
              vessels,
of livid lips like wounds and the smell of uninhabited skin.
From the very depths of my being I'm tired; from A to  Z,
from my head to my toes, with its periods and  commas,
just as Neruda was tired, the way that Vallejo cracked up,
just as Blas Otero  was fed up  with death, the way Celaya
suddenly burst up to bury his land. This afternoon I'm tired
                of everything, abysmally, and so it's not so strange
I settle down in murmurs - don't scream, don't make noise -
                and
let begin  and leave  alone, like this afternoon is passing, this
                poem.










Well, yes, it was the kind of pretty normal evenings for back in the day, my day anyway.

This is from 2008, things you remember you wish you didn't




true confessions

there was
a time
then
when lots
of stuff was
going on,
shit
most of us
hope
every one else
already
forgot,
and i was there
too
and i remember
particularly
a little bar
on north lamar
way back
off the street
kinda dark
mostly
had to know
it was there
to find it
$5 cover
$5 for a glass
of warm
watered-down
beer
and dancers
who started out
naked
and went on
from
there, tough
women,
throw your money
on the table
honey
they’d say
stick your
face
right up here
so i can
show you
what you came
to see

never
got drunk there -
couldn’t afford it
at their prices -
so usually
came
already drunk
from cheaper
dives -
places where
old flies
go to die
and
red-eyed
sots
fell asleep
in their
beer

from
what i
remember
i did
in those days
i hope to hell
there ain’t nothing
i
forgot









Here are three short poems by Robert Bly. The poems are from his book, This Tree Will be Here for a Thousand Years, published in 1979 by Harper & Row.



Moving Books to  a New Study

First snow  yesterday, and now more falling.
Each blade has its own snow  balanced on it.
One mousetrack in the snow ahead,
the tailmark wavering in
between the footprints. Dusk in half an hour.

Looking up I see my parents' grove.
Somewhere neither the Norwegian culture
nor the American could keep them warm.
I walk around the barn the long way
carrying the heavy green book I love through the snow.


Driving My Parents Home at Christmas

As I drive my parents home through the snow
their frailty hesitates on the edge of a mountainside.
I call over  the cliff,
only snow  answers.
They talk quietly
of hauling water, of  eating an orange
of a grandchild's photograph left behind last night.
When they open the door to their house, they disappear.
And the oak when it falls in the forest who hears it
      through miles and miles of silence?
They sit so close to each other...as if pressed together
     by snow.


After a Day of Work

How lightly the legs walk over the snow-whitened fields!
I wander far off,like a daddy-longlegs blown over the
     water.
All day I worked alone, hour after hour.
It is January, easy walking, the big snows still to come.













Just like everyone says, if we knew then what we know now...




very entirely clear  to me now

all things
considered
if I had known then
what
I know now
I’d have
stayed in bed

but
what’s
to be done

I’m up
though the day is not…

still dark
as midnight
but I can see a hint
of a suggestion
of a chance
of a possibility
of an orange glow
in the west,
a reflection off low clouds
of a western sun
rising
just like it’s
supposed to and just like
I already did,
risen
before my time,
who knew
that today
would be the day
the sun rose
again
even though laggardly
and at a sleep-a-bed pace,
making me
once again responsible
for justifying my own not to mention
the sun’s
rising -
casting its/our glow
on the vast plains and forests
and mountains and cities
and quaint and picturesque villages
of the clandestine
cultures of the skibobs and kabobs
and hobnobs and heartthrobs
of this every-so febrile
planet
and I had no such plans
for anything of such magnitude
and consequence
when to my bed I went last night

which
as I said in the very beginning
means that
had I know then what I know now
I would-a stayed in
bed

cause it’s barely
daylight
and all this pressure
is killing me

should-a left a
don’t wake up call…

that’s very entirely clear to me
now










This next poem from this week's anthology is by Dionisio D. Martinez.

Born in Havana in 1956, Martinez and his family left Cuba for Spain in 1965. At the time the anthology was published, he lived in Florida.



Years of Discourse

are  not always preceded by years of silence. More than likely,
they follow unfulfilled demands.

An arsenal of threats is dismantled.

the hands of the adversary begin to look surprisingly lifelike.

For the agnostics, a man with cancer in his throat heals
himself and begins to sing  like a  broken angel.

those most susceptible to nostalgia re reminded of the
mythical Age of Miracles.

An arsenal of memories,long  abandoned, is discovered and restored.

Familiar voices reappear. In proportion to the sky, they are
whispers.










Here's another old poem, from 2009.




the ghost in the attic

it’s why
we talk so loudly,
us old men,
it’s because for most of our lives
we’ve been accustomed
to being heard and heeded
and now that we’re older,
it seems nobody listens,
and the older
we get
the less we’re heard

try sitting at table
with a group of younger people;
try joining in whatever
conversation
is going on at the table,
it’s like telling a story in the middle
of a noisy bus station,
nobody hears anything you say
until, for some reason
all the noise stops for five seconds
and your voice,
suddenly very loud in the silence,
gets out four words
before the noise starts again,
four words from the middle of the story,
inane in their isolation
from the rest of the story,
four words, that, alone
like some tiny Pacific atoll,
make you seem like a drooling
old fool -

i think it is that
even those
who haven’t heard all your stories
a dozen times
assume they have, and, they just
don’t hear what they’re sure
they've heard too many times before,
and if they pay any attention at all
they just see you talking,
just watch your mouth move, exuding
little bubbles of gibberish
and old news

and, frankly, who cares
about any of that
when you’re young and have
it all figured out already

it’s just the way it is
and i’ve come to accept it,
given up any thought
of ever finishing a sentence
the rest of my life

my only worry is - what next?

invisibility?

do i just turn into a bundle
of an old man’s clothes,
the fleshly frame that holds
the bundle up
unseen by anyone

is it like a progression -
first unheard,
then unseen, then what?

is old age
only the first step to
becoming
the ghost in the attic?








Next, I have two poems by Henri Coulette. The poems are from the book, The Collected Poems of Henri Coulette. The book was published by the University of Arkansas Press in 1990.

Coulette was born in 1927 and died in 1988. He was a poet and educator whose first book, The War of the Secret Agents and Other Poems, published in 1965, was greeted with acclaim and won the Lamont Poetry Prize. His second collection, The Family Goldschmitt, published  in 1971,  received little attention, and it has been reported that much of the print run was accidentally pulped. He did not publish another book during his life, but had been organizing a volume when he died.



At the Hotel des Saints Peres

The Ginsbergs, pere et fils,
Poetes extraodinaires,
Are in the courtyard below.
Their voices rustle like money.

Madame Dupon, who scorns me -
My French name, my lack of French -
Blesses their travelers cheques.
Her eyes are like ice cubes.

Sick with fever, needing a drink,
I read the Paris Trib:
The Red Sox are in first place,
And Rockwell the Nazi lies dead

In a parking lot in Dominion.
Sick with fever, sick for home,
For the black and black-hearted,
I tiptoe to the window

To catch the English of the Ginsbergs.
It rises up and I see it!
There's a split infinitive.
And there's a four-letter word.

I must do something today.
I'd go to the grave  of Baudlaire,
But I don't know where it is,
And I'm afraid to ask.


In the 9th Year of the Literary War

      to Charles

Well,  poetry lovers of America,
this is about Heinz
and my stepping on his  tail.

He was dreaming
57 variations
on that theme eternal,
the theme of Heinz,

and I was drunk,
having  trouble with my feet,
having trouble
with my head....

Lowell and Ginsberg and Bly were dead,
Justice was missing,
so I turned to Wright,

whose face loomed
in the light
the dead gave off...

and it happened!
I mean, it really happened.
(Poetry lovers,
would I lie to your, would I?)

The Pekingese next door took up the cry,
and the Afghan down the block,
and the Bull beyond,
and the cry went forth.

Dog to coyote to wolf,
the cry went forth,
Able to Baker to you,











The onset of the first cool front in South Texas is almost comical, as people put on their heavy coats and boots like they're about to step out into Arctic winter. You do see less of it now, as more and more people from really cold places come in to outnumber all us desert rats.




first winter smell in a hot, arid country

strong wind 
outside this morning,
trees blowing
the shaggy dog
shuffle

cool front
coming

down to the low sixties
tonight
and stay that way tomorrow

then
mid-forties 
a couple of nights in a row

and people are in a happy panic
of anticipation -

fur coats 
and gloves pulled from their deep summer
hide-away

the smell of first winter day…

moth balls
our city’s,
eau de Cologne
drifting with the River’s
morning mist








This short poem from this week's anthology is by Orlando  Gonzalez  Esteva.

The poet was  born in Santiago de Cuba in 1952. He studied at Washington University, where he received his M.A. in Hispanic literature. A playwright and poet, he taught in Miami from 1976 to 1980.

This poem also was translated by editor Lori Carlson.



Words Are Islands

          Words are islands
fabulous, disperse
in the sea of silence.
Only the caravels

              of death devour
the distance between them.
We don't  write: we set  sail
upon the blank  page

                toward the unknown.
A poem is in the wake.








Back  to 2010 with this old poem.




the deer and the pigs and me, again

i used
to write about

lots of different
things

but,
lately,

i seem to be
writing mostly about

myself
which would be OK

if i was a more interesting
guy

but
i’m not

and i know
the tolerance level

to me
is declining

even
to me

so how to get out
of this me-rut -

think of things
that are interesting

or beautiful
to me

but not about me,
like the herd

of deer
i saw yesterday evening

on the hillside pasture
across the interstate -

the tranquility
of the deer grazing

in early dusk
a contrast to the

moving necklace
of headlights, fast-moving

lights,
workers on their way home

to family and dinner
and Tuesday-night television -

the deer placidly and fully
fed and entertained

by their dinner
on the hill

and i’m reminded of the evening
about this time

coming home
from Kerrville on this same interstate

cresting a hill
as i rounded a curve

coming face to wet brown nose
with another herd

of deer
in the middle of the highway -

probably the most skillful driving
and i’ve ever done,

getting safely through and around the
herd, first frozen in my headlights,

then in panic, scattering
with great leaps

in every direction,
mindless in their fear -

the best driving
i’ve ever done except

one time, maybe a dream,
maybe for real,

when i had the same experience
with a group of pigs

on a farm-to-market road,
waddling porkers instead of fleet-footed deer -

but here we are again,
back to where we started,

talking about me
again

and my dreams









Next, I have several poets from Three  Rivers, Ten Years, an anthology of poems from Three Rivers Poetry Journal. The book was published in 1983 by Carnegie-Mellon University Press.

The book includes no information, other than name, on its poets. If they don't think it's important, I don't guess I will either.



The first poem is by Reg Saner.


Return to tundra at Bighorn Flats: for Anne

4 years back, far from the lines of your hand,
this mountain was it. I hiked into dead rock
till  stone spoke more deeply than anyone.

Stunned on packweight, blank sun, thinned oxygen,
I took talus piles for insane civilizations
drawing me in, out of the lines of your hand,

prophesying my name as as ruin, till granite
held me at gunpoint and wind was a thug
with stone propositions deeper than anyone's.

Climbing to keep my misery pure I knocked
at odd cairns, bone eclipses spelling
dim wreckage into the lines of all hands.

But this is not where I am, with mountains
that emptied a house. That was then - mineral smoke
drawing me deeper, further than anyone,

into iron seams like mean blue moths sewn shut.
How could blind rock go deeper than anyone?
the plan of its temple is wind. No slabs
spell my name. Only the lines of your hand.,


The next poet is Leslie Ullman.


The Split

All evening I carry myself
gently. Finally, rain
softens our lawn. In another
woman's room, your  sorrow lifts
all at once and leaves you
amazed. Her hand on your  cheek

is more real  than any secret flesh.
This rain sounds like women
whispering among themselves,
and I want to tell you,
I can feel them touch my face.
I see her touch
lets you out of your large body

as though a child
of your own stood beside you.
I see a sad woman,
her fine luminous hair:
she sees herself
as a rumor, and now you must
tell her not to leave you.


Also  from the Three Rivers anthology, this is by Robert  Wallace.


A Fresco of  Swans and Bears

The moon is a furnace,
sun
a stormy mirror.

Inside the world's head,
one gray
and twenty-six greens,

the past goes on repeating itself -
violets, straw,
a frozen waterfall,

policemen's horses,
birds,
us,shadows on the sea's  vault.

Thin vines off smoke
trail
under the starry rafters.

The story always has another
ending.
Night.  The salty rose.


And, last  from Three Rivers, Ten Years, this short poem by Charles Wright.


Cloud River

The unborn children are rowing out to the far edge of the sky,
Looking for warm beds to appear in. How lucky they are,
                                                                                      dressed
In their lake colored gowns, the oars in their oily locks
Taking them  stroke by stroke to circumference and artery...

I'd like to be with them still, pulling my weight,
Blisters  like small white hearts in the waxed palms of my hands.
I'd like to remember  my old name, and keep the watch,
Waiting for something immense and  unspeakable to uncover  its
                                                                                        face.









This is another old poem. I'm not sure when I wrote it, but it's in my first eBook, Pushing Clouds Against the Wind, which means it was  written before 2010 and after 2005, when I published my first book (print),
Seven Beats a Second.

I was thinking about possibly doing a reading next week and thought of this,which reads well. Then decided if there was a chance I would read it in public, I should familiarize myself with it again then and decided, well, if I have to do that, what better way to familiarize myself than using it here.

Long story short, here it is. But still a long poem.




this old bed
i sleep
on the bed
where my father
was born
ninety five years ago,
second child of Celeste
and August
amid rocky hills
and pecan and oak and
flowing streams
in the little
Texas-German town
of Fredricksburg
  
i sleep
on the bed
that has slept my family
through two world wars
a cold war
and multiple wars of lesser scope,
through twenty Presidents
of the United States,
some wise,
some not,
some equal
to the needs of their time,
some not,
through musical genres
from ragtime
to hip-hop,
through prohibition
and bathtub gin,
through the gilded age
the jazz age,
normalcy,
fire bombing,
atom bombing,
getting bombed
in the suburbs
and getting sober
with AA,
through seven presidential
assassination attempts,
death
in Dallas,
death
on the launch pad,
death
in near earth orbit,
Kitty Hawk
to men on the moon,
the cries of the dead
from famine,
from genocide
from indifference
of the ruling class,
through Bull Connor
and his police dogs,
through King
and his dreams
and his death
on a motel balcony,
to Barack Obama
and the triumph
of dreams,
through the triumph
of good
and the reemergence
of evil,
the cycle played out
over and over again
in the days of yellow
journalism, through
Murrow and Cronkite
and Brinkley and Huntley
on radio and TV
and on the web,
Wikipedia fact
and Wikipedia fancy,
truth swaying
on a tumbling pedestal,
lies flying in the wind,
opinionators,
blowhards,
conspiracists,
plain racists,
and everyday bloody
fools

through it all,
all the times of reaping
and sowing,
the bed has calmed the nights
through three generations
of sleep and passion
and midnight dreams...

waiting now
for the final sleep
of this generation
and the lying down 
to rest of the next








My last poem this week from the Burnt Sugar anthology of Cuban poets is by Uva de Aragon.

born in Havana in 1944, de Aragon is a poet as well as  a  journalist. At the time of publication, she lived in Miami and was a professor at Florida International  University and associate director  of the Cuban Research Institute.

Lori Carlson translated the poem.



If You Press Me

If you press me
if you force me
if you come to take me from my timorous silence
I will tell you few things matter
although those few things multiply
like an echo of endless possibilities.
I will  think about the sun, the light, the fire.
I will think about the rain, the sea, the rivers.
I will  speak of the wind, the  breeze, the storms.
I will tell you about the earth, the seed, the trees.
About man, death, hope.
I will look into your eyes. And I will tell you it's enough.










And now, full circle this week, back to 2011.




a real loss  to poetry




it was a golden night
no moon
stars buried
behind thick low
clouds
reflecting back to the ground
and streets and houses
the golden light of the city
never sleeping golden light
filtering through the trees
like spun gold orange shadows
in the golden night
and down at the creek water
flowed in golden bubbles of light
while the crickets
cricked
and the frogs farted
and oh crap
haven’t I done this
before
and who cares
anyway
poetry
is a serious business
and ought to be about 
serious things
like 
how about
that helium
if I ate a ham
and helium sandwich
would I rise to the ceiling
like those balloons they give
to kids at the supermarket
who let go of the balloon
and the balloon rises to the
ceiling which is lined with 
balloons given to kids
who let the balloons go,
red blue yellow green
what a bunch of colors 
lining the supermarket 
ceiling
and what about if I ate
two ham and helium
sandwiches or maybe
three
would I float away 
into the sky
if outside where
there is not super
market ceiling to keep
me safe would this be 
a new mode of green
energy for air transportation
great airplanes guided
through the air by 
teams of pilots gorging
on ham and helium sand
wiches and what about
the porpoise, Einstein
of the sea, Aristotle
with fins, Plato
with a snout and
a jolly smile what
do you call more than
one porpoise - is it 
porpiees, maybe, and
what about a gathering 
of porpiees not a “school”
cause that’s fish and porpiees
are not fish and not a “herd” cause
that’s cows and horses and sheep
and porpiees are none of those
and not a “swarm” cause that’s
bees and not a “flock” cause that’s geese
and chickens and not a pod because
that’s whales (which I think is
a silly name for something as vastly
gargantuan as a congregation of whales - 
it would be much better if we called such
a gathering a “tundra” or something
else equally as vastly
gargantuan, but that’s just me)
and at least whales
are mammals like
porpiees and not fish even
though like whales porpiees
like the water and frolic all about
in it a least the porpiees I saw
at Seaworld like to frolic around
in the water so maybe a group
of porpiees who travel together
might be called a “frolic”
but that’s just a suggestion

and anyway I could go on and on
because there’s lots
and lots of important things
poetry should deal with instead
of getting stuck in frou-frou poems
about golden nights and cloudy skies
and absent stars and vanished moons
and crickets and frogs and what about
those frogs and the way they mate
in Amarillo has anyone ever written
a poem about that well I did
but no one else and that’s a real
loss to poetry

I’m telling you a real
loss









I just realized I  was about to do a Halloween post without a Halloween poem.

This one qualifies, I think, by Charles  Harper Webb, from his 1997 Morse Poetry Prize winning collection, Reading the Water.

The book was published in  1997 by the Northeastern University Press.



The Dead Run

Vampires and zombies,being liveliest, start first -
shambling, jogging, sprinting as their condition
permits. The freshly-dead in hospitals and funeral
homes totter to their feet (if they have any feet)
and, embalmed or not, start running. Corpses claw
up  from the ground, in the order they went in:
skeletons and rotted horrors hobbling and clattering,
stooping to pickup parts that fall. The long-dead
rise as human dust clouds, and run with the rest;
dark, stinking wind that crosses water as easily as land.

and now the oldest rise, the ones whose  atoms
have mixed with everything. the Watson house,
The Pomeroy's  sweetgum, Dottie Tang's azaleas
dissolve to to let them out. Robert Ufman, Jan Nash,
Tiffany the Schneider Schnauzer  disintegrate,
along with the still solid dead, their molecules
joining the marathon that circles the earth
like a jet stream, until only I am left, remembering
how this always happens - how, in despair,
I pull a rib from my side, and begin again.









We wait now for the inevitable end, hoping that it will come on its own.



watching for the signs that signal her decision

she’s been like this
several times
in the past few weeks,
all day,
lying on the patio,
refusing water,
refusing food, sleeping
on an old shirt I took out for her,
or, with her head up, blank, blind eyes
staring, it seems, into the vortex
of life swirling into the forever
dark…

it’s the way of some animals,
I tell Dee, they know
when the end’s coming
and accept it, lay quietly
and wait for it - I’ve seen it before,
an old dog, a pet when I was a small child,
Mitzi, my first dog
in a life of dogs,
lying down in the corner of the kitchen
and sleeping unto death

I wanted to help her, but mother said
to leave her be, let her die
the way she knows,
let her find her
time to meet the end…

so I tell Dee,
let’s watch her tonight
I said, and tomorrow
and if she’s no better by Monday
we’ll take her to the vet
to help her through the hours,
ease her pain the only way
we can…

then,
towards the end of the afternoon,
as the sun began to slip
behind the west fence,
she gets up,
decides,
apparently,
that today might not be the day
after all, and though
she certainly doesn’t look well,
looks every minute of her 18 to 20 years,
still deaf, still blind, still suffering
the pain she lives with,
her back is still crooked and her hind legs
still weak and wobbly, but, with all that,
her unseeing eyes are alive again,
seeking to find, not
the dark night she sought before,
but near and familiar things, things of life,
her life, the door where she scratches
to tell us she’s back, hungry, ready
for her familiar bed
by my desk…

who knows…tomorrow…
will the day be then or will it be
some day after?

she’s not sure,
but she’s ready when the time
comes, more ready
for sure
than her master and friend
who can only wait
and watch for the signs
that signal her
decision











My posts are written over the course of a week or so and,  as happens in life, things change while I'm in process. 

In this case, I decided that events required an additional photo to begin the post with and another poem to follow up on the poem above before I end the week.  

Here it is, a sad poem.



I will write...

I took her for a short walk
first, 
remembering the many
walks before,
before her decline
when it was beaches
we walked, 
when she chased the waves
as they came in
and went 
again,
when it was desert sand and
mountain-side smells
and the scents of
great forests
and high pastures 
that entranced 
her,
before she could
no longer hear, and before
she could no longer see
and before the constant pain
in her hips and legs
of crippling 
arthritis,
before the nights
when dementia overcame 
her,
frantic pacing in the dark
of night,
and though she struggled
this day
on legs weak and wobbly,
she was eager at each tree
for each fresh smell

but 
I was delaying 
the inevitable I knew,
so too soon
I picked her up
and carried her to the car
for our last trip to the vet…

and I left her in the car while
I paid for the caring dreadful
service she would receive
then took her from the car
to the room where
the service would be received
and spent with her
the last few minutes I had asked
the doctor to allow us…

she was afraid
as she always was at the vet’s
and buried her head between my
arm and side until the doctor came
and I held her while he prepared
and she, frightened and in the last
moments
of her continual pain, 
cried, 
and I held
her head, face to face with her,
eye to eye, 
nose to nose, as I always
did when she was frightened
and she quieted, 
looking into my eyes
and for a second, a tiny blink 
of light in her blind eyes
as the doctor made the injection
and in an instant her muscles relaxed
and the light faded and 
the doctor stroked
her side
as she lay unbent
and stilled and it was
over…

it is a sad story
but it had to be told
for every story requires an end
and all stories end finally
in this same way
and cannot be denied and
at least this once
the story has to be told complete,
the end told once
and finally, 
final like the end
so that all the other stories,
the good stories
can be told,
the stories I remembered
all last night
as I lay in bed seeking sleep,
and I will tell the stories
as I deal with this 
sorrow
as I deal with sorrows 
and fears
and dreads and joys
as I always do…

I will write…










A longer post than usual this week, but still at the end the same caution. I want to add, again, a note about all  the font changes in size and color. It started four or five posts ago and I don't know what the hell's  going on. It doesn't seem to make any difference what I don on the site template, it comes out the way it comes out.

It pisses me off, because it looks crappy and I don't like doing crappy looking work, but I don't seem to be smart enough to fix it. So...

At least it doesn't screw with the poems.

All the material I borrowed for this post remains the property of those who created it. My stuff, as usual  is available to  whoever wants it. Simply give proper  credit to me and to "Here and Now" if you use it.

And, also as  usual, am allen itz, owner and producer of this blog and author of fine poetry and short story ( (only 1 of them so far) eBooks available at these fine and  excellent purveyors of same.


Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iBookstore, Sony eBookstore, Kobo, Copia, Garner's, Baker & Taylor, and eBookPie.


Poetry


Places and Spaces



Always to the Light







Goes Around, Comes Around




Pushing Clouds Against the Wind

       
        
And, for those print-bent, available
at Amazon
and several coffeehouses in San Antonio

 Seven Beats  a  Second
                                       

                                          
                                               Short Stories

Sonyador - The Dreamer
    

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