I decided I'd do some more "color flash" photos this week, old ones, mostly, but not entirely flowers. These were some of the first ones I did. Some a little sloppy, but I got better.
My anthology is Claiming the Spirit Within, a Sourcebook of Women's Poetry
,published by Beacon Press in 1996.
Here's what I got.
quantum effects on poetry
Naomi Shihab Nye
the secret of our success
e. e. cummings
the way you hump a cow is
a peopleshaped toomany-ness far
Jacinto Jesus Cardona
The County Trizteza
Wicked Green Buicks
The Celluloid Needle
For My Husband Sleeping Alone
high and mysterious grasses
Ella, in a Square Apron, Along Highway 80
This is my favorite time of the year, an escape from endless summer with a promise of better days to come.
a nip in
a hint of damp in trees,
of season change
in still air
beep, beep, beep
from a truck backing up
from the north west
a delivery of falling leaves
and an orange moon
on chill nights…
from the truck,
building supplies, lumber
and nails and drywall,
materials for sky-reaching
buildings on every
things are about to change
in a small oak grove by the street
I can hear it, I can
feel it in the soles of my feet
of new days coming
on the midnight
My first two poems from this week's anthology is Lucille Clifton
In addition to the Ruth Lilly prize, Clifton was the first author to
have two books of poetry chosen as finalists for the Pulitzer Prize, Good Woman: Poems and a Memoir, 1969-1980
and Next: New Poems.
Her collection Two-Headed Woman
was also a Pulitzer nominee and won the Juniper Prize from the
University of Massachusetts. She served as the state of Maryland's poet
laureate from 1974 until 1985, and won the prestigious National Book
Award for Blessing the Boats: New and Selected Poems, 1988-2000.
In addition to her numerous poetry collections, she wrote many
children's books. Clifton was a Distinguished Professor of Humanities at
St. Mary's College of Maryland and a Chancellor of the Academy of
she is standing by
glisten like rubies.
her hand is clutching
a sheaf of papers.
she gives them up.
jewels into jewels.
her eyes are animals,
each hank of her hair
is a serpent's obedient
she will never recover.
remember. there is nothing
you will not bear
for tis woman's sake.
woman who shines at the head
of my grandmother's bed,
brilliant woman, i like to think
you whispered into her ear
instructions. i like to think
you are the oddness in us,
you are the arrow
that pierced our plain skin
and made us fancy women;
my wild witch gran, my magic mama,
and even these gaudy girls.
i like to think you gave us
extraordinary power and to
protect us, you became the name
we were cautioned to forget.
it is enough,
you must have murmured,
to remember that i was
and that you are, woman, i am
lucille, which stands for light,
daughter of thelma, daughter
of georgia, daughter of
I wrote this in 2010.
quantum effects on poetry
reflected back inside
by the windows
myself chew -
the reflection or myself
because the dark is outside
and the light is inside
turning the windows into
one biscuit in the mirror,
gravy on the side
& coffee, lots
which i do not
because i don’t chew
coffee and because
puts me off chewing
i watch myself
write a poem, or
more correctly, i
for the first line
i will watch myself
when i find the line
that will lead to a poem
i will watch myself write
all this has to happen
before the sun
comes up, changing
the window from a mirror
to a window looking out
instead in so that
i would have to go
to watch myself write
and since that is
it not being possible
to be in two places
at once, except
maybe not, since
testing quantum theory
have in fact placed
the same molecule
in two places at once
but only for a couple
of seconds which is
not enough time for me
to write a poem though
it would give me enough
time to watch me
write a poem if i could
write a poem in just
a couple of seconds
this makes my
i think the answer is
i just need to write a poem
before the sun
comes up and makes a mess
My next several poems are from the collection, River of Stars - Selected Poems of Yosano Akiko
. The poems were translated by Sam Hamill
and Keiko Matsui Gibson
The book was published in 1996 by Shambhala. Akiko was Born in 1878 in Sakai, Japan, one of eight children of the owner of a confectionery shop in a suburb of Osaka. When she died in 1942, she was the most famous and controversial female writer in Japan, having published seventy-five books , of which twenty were original poetry, including seventeen thousand Tanka and five hundred poems in free verse.
The poems are untitled and unnumbered.
to fall on white lotus leaves.
While my lover paints,
I open the umbrella
on his little boat.
Among the new leaves
of all these budding trees,
I see everywhere
your smiling friendly face,
O my beloved Buddha.
A man, like a twig
of the blossoming wild plum,
it's temporary, and
temporary out parting.
Standing beside him
at his poor mother's grave,
we place in anis sprig
upon her tomb. And I weep
the tears of a common-law wife.
With teary eyes, she
turns to me for sympathy,
but all I can see
reflected on the water
is a lonely harvest moon.
In addition to the poet's Tanka, the collection also includes a sample of her free verse.
The emotional duration of ancient love,
endlessly, day after day,
talking to each other constantly.
How intense love is now.
As we usually pretend we don't rally know each
our hearts suddenly become tense,
leaving us helpless with love
just like burning magnesium,
just like steam from a leaking locomotive,
just like the dying swan,
screaming and writing in its body.
I wrote a lot of crap last week so, in order to salvage what I can of my already tattered reputation, I'm going to minimize my new poems this week and pay more attention to old poems, like this one also from 2010.
i am told
Buddhists have no sense
and i wonder how a person can be human
if unable to recognize
the wrong-doing to which
we are, by our nature,
unless they are saying
that a true Buddhist surpasses
and is no longer prone to human failure...
Christians have such
and they call him
and i don't believe
either the Christians or the Buddhists
because i know that though
i am not the best of all there is
i am as good as most
and i have wrong-done in my life
and will no doubt wrong-do
and it is my sorrow at this sad
that makes me a better human
than either the true Buddhist or Christ
and unlike Christ
or the true Buddhist
a true and better human
is all i hope someday to be
Seems you can't hardly pick up an anthology published in the last twenty years that you can't find at least one poem by my San Antonio favorite Naomi Shihab Nye
. This week's anthology has several, from which I chose two.
"A true Arab knows how to catch a fly in his hands,"
my father would say. And he'd prove it,
cupping the buzzer instantly
while the host with the swatter stared.
In the spring our palms peeled like snakes.
True Arabs believed watermelon could heal fifty ways.
I changed those to fit the occasion.
Years before, a girl knocked,
wanted to see the Arab.
I said we didn't have one.
After that, my father told me who he was,
"Shihab" - "shooting star" -
a good name, borrowed from the sky.
Once I said, "When we die, we give it back?"
He said that's what a true Arab would say.
Today the headlines clot in my blood.
A little Palestinian dangles a truck on the front page.
Homeless fig, this tragedy with a terrible root
is too big for us. What flag can we wave?
I wave the flag of stone and seed,
table mat stitched in blue.
I call my father, we talk about the news.
It is too much for him,
neither of this two languages can reach it.
I drive into the country to find sheep, cows,
to plead with the air:
Who calls anyone civilized
Where can the crying heart graze?
What does a true Arab do now?
Making a Fist
We forget that we are all dead men conversing with dead men.
Jorge Luis Borges
For the first time, on the road north of Tampico,
I felt the life sliding out of me,
a drum in the desert, harder and harder to hear.
I was seven, I lay in the car
watching palm trees swirl a sickening pattern past the glass.
My stomach was a melon split wide inside my skin.
"How do you know if you are going to die?"
I begged my mother.
We had been traveling for days.
With strange confidence she answered,
"When you can no longer make a fist."
Years later I smile to think of that journey,
the borders we must cross separately,
stamped with our unanswerable woes.
I who did not die, who am still living,
still lying in the backseat behind all my questions,
clenching and opening one small hand.
This is from 2010, about this time of the year, a little further into what passes here for winter.
the secret of our success
a neighborhood away
in the north wind
across the way
neither brown nor yellow
but some winter color
that is neither
but includes shades of both
there are several hundred
varieties of oak tree
most of them found
in the hills north of the city,
four kinds in the oak grove
that bounds the pasture across,
from evergreen green to
red and gold to bare for the
I have four oaks
in my yard,
one, the kind that sheds
its leaves in the spring
for new growth; one, fast-
beautiful in its colors
now, and two I transplanted
from my front yard, volunteers
from the large acorns
that fall in spring in the grass
and flowerbeds, pushing up
little oak-tree shoots that
you have to transplant quickly
before their roots get too long,
hard to get the whole tap root,
or at least enough of it to
allow continued growth elsewhere.
two times successful, so far,
out of many tries, one moved
last year, beneficiary of a very wet
spring, grown from about
three inches to three feet,
the other transplanted late
this year, still barely three inches.
I worry about them in the cold,
like I worry about the dog
and the cats - nature having
a much larger margin of error
than I, can afford to lose 90 percent
of each year's seedlings
I can’t -
I must cherish all that I have…
and so must you,
for it is the secret of our success
Next, I have several poems by e. e. cummings
. The poems are from his book, 50 poems
, originally published in 1939, my edition by Grosset & Dunlap in 1970.
cummings is not for everyone. If you're not willing to have some fun with your poetry you won't think he's worth the effort of reading.
the she of the
der a wo
a he a moon a
of the black this which of
one street leaps quick
the way you hump a cow is not
the way to hump a cow is not
to get yourself a stool
but draw a line around the spot
and call it beautifool
to multiply because and why
dividing thens by nows
and adding and(I understand)
is hows to hump a cows
the way to hump a cow is not
to elevate your tool
but drop a penny in the slot
and bellow like a bool
to lay a wreath from ancient greath
on insulated brows
(while tossing boms at uncle toms)
is hows to hump a cows
the way to hump a cow is not
to push and then to pull
but practicing the art of swot
to reach the golden rull
to vote for me(all decent mem
and wonens will allows
which if they don't to hell with them)
is how to hump a cows
or thrushes toward dusk among whippoorwills or
tree field rock hollyhock forest brook chickadee
whycoloured worlds of because do
not strand against yes which is built by
forever and sunsmell
(sometimes a wonder
of wild roses
a peopleshaped toomany-ness far too
a peopleshaaped toomany-ness far too
and will it tell us who we are and will
it tell us why we dream and will it tell
us how we drink crawl eat walk die fly do?
a notalive undead too-nearishness
and shall we cry and shall we laugh and shall
entirely our doom steer his great small
wish into upward deepness of less fear
much than more climbing hope meets most despair?
allknowing's having and have is (you guess)
perhaps the very unkindest way to kill
each of those creatures called one's self so we'll
not have (but i imagine that yes is
the only living thing) and we'll make yes
i am so glad and very
i am so glad and very
merely my fourth will cure
the laziest self of weary
the hugest sea of shore
so far your nearness reaches
a lucky fifth of you
turns people into eachs
and cowards into grow
our can'ts were born to happen
our mosts have died in more
out twentieth will open
wide a wide open door
were are so both and oneful
night cannot e so sky
sky cannot be so sunful
i am through you so i
I think my spellcheck just had a seizure.
Here's a new one from last week.
about that charity ball
I have these two
running through my head,
offensive, probably, to 98 percent
of the known universe,
and incredibly clever -
clever to me, at least, but possibly
only to the 13-year-old me
still lurking behind
the sophisticated and adult
facade I try to sell to the world
but still, that 13-year-old
has to be released
occasionally, a controlled release,
or he’s likely to just
right out of one at the worst
(remember Wilbur Mills,
and his foxy stripper
in the Tidal Basin,
or the college president
groping the transsexual hooker
in the park, (you read about it in the paper
once a month or so,or...)
you know the story,
out of some pin-striped suit’s
to his eternal shame and the confusion
of all who ever called him
friend and colleague…
so I’m not going to do it
so don’t expect any
unruly 13-year-old brat
to overpower me
as great as these
obscene, insensitive, offend
the sky and the clouds and the sun
and planets not yet discovered
circling suns to small
for even the telescopic
and the animals grazing docilely
in their fields
those wonderfully offensive
no matter how great they
I can’t think of any way
to work them into a poem…
but I can say it has to do
with a story
in the newspaper
about an upcoming charity
Though not usually thought of as a poet, here's another San Antonio writer, Sandra Cisneros
, with a love poem.
(Though I'm thinking I may have read recently that she's moving (moved) to California.)
Make love to me in Spanish.
Not with that other tongue.
I want you juntito a mi
tender like the language
crooned to babies.
I want to be that
lullabied, mi bien
, that loved.
I want you inside
the mouth of my heart,
inside the harp of my wrists,
the sweet meet of the mango,
in the gold that dangles
from my ears and neck.
Say my name. Say it.
The way it's supposed to be said.
I want to know that I knew you
even before I knew you.
2010, again, apparently written on a Sunday morning.
best place i used to go when i was playing hooky
used to be in pool halls
of balls sounding
down a long line of
in the cooler for a dime
now they're in
and rec centers
and and all manner of
puts a solid in the corner
on a three-cushion bank
and no one
wins or loses even a nickel
on the shot...
and the fat little man in the corner
with a mustache and half-chewed cigar
i don't know where
supply & demand
swarm in overnight
after the first sustained rains
between late summer
and early fall
along the curb
and against walls
and in doorways, trying
to get inside? nobody knows
some primitive insectual urge
treat them like vipers
writhing on the sidewalks -
but for birds,
it’s a bountiful
free lunch for two weeks,
no labor involved
the curious thing is
you don’t see the birds
during this period
it’s like they’ve filled
their belly with crickets
at first light
and have gone home
to their tree
to take a nap as the sun
it’s rising - it’s only when
most of the crickets are gone
that you see the birds
chasing them along the sidewalk,
competing with other birds
it’s like a grizzled old economics
professors wet dream - real life demonstration,
when supply goes down, demand goes up
as for me
and the crickets,
i kind of like them,
signaling season change
i ate a few one time,
fried crispy with chili pepper,
nice crunchy taste, except for the legs
it felt like they were wiggling
as they went down my throat
probably won’t eat them again
law & order
i am the kind
by nature seeks
to apply order
to the world, especially
on things i can easily control
like my philosophy
and method of boot
shit-kicking cowboy boots, even though,
except, for a very little while
in my youth, i didn't
do any of that in boots
i wore them almost exclusively
most of my life,)
having in my closet during all those years
four pairs, two pair, one black
one brown, for dress-up and work,
one pair of everyday,
the latest dress-up replaced,
and one for dirty work,
the every-day pair
replaced by the latest
a pair of boots
used in this orderly
and methodological manner
for five or six years,
for a pair of
for maintaining order
in the universe
forgetting all the good stuff
i write poems
about old people
because there is too much
i don't remember...
that remind me
there are wonderful
important exciting things
i have forgot
and though i have accepted
this ravage of time
i still don’t understand it -
how can one forget
so unforgettable at the time?
the color orange
or the taste salt
or the smell of a fresh
plowed field in the morning
My next four short poems are by Jacinto Jesus Cardona
. They are from his book Pan Dulce
, published in 1998 by Chili Verde Press.
He was born in Palacios, Texas, not far from the coast, but grew up in Alice, a smallish city about 100 miles south of San Antonio. He teaches English at Palo Alto College, one of six campuses of the San Antonio Community College system. He also teaches at the Trinity University Upward Bound Program in San Antonio and in San Antonio's Northside ISD, according to one of my nieces, who graduated from the district's high schools where he taught.
His poems of growing up in South Texas bring many memories to me, also a South Texas native.
The County of Tristeza
Under a canicula sun,
my skin is a scorch of scorpions
el son del zenzontleno longer hums in my blood.
I am the Count of Tristeza
walking down my unpaved street
under Aztlan azul skies.
Caught between anil and caliche,
I am lost in the sweep of dry mezquite.
Wicked Green Buicks
dogs ran loose
in our neighborhoods,
and wicked green Buicks
curled their chrome lips
The Celluloid Needle
In the summer of 1957
alone in my four door Ford
I cruise down the dark streets
of Alice, Texas.
the celluloid needle
of the speedometer
trembles in the dark.
Sal Mineo leans back
in his paranoid black Hudson,
fingering the zipper
of his leather jacket.
Passing St. Joseph's Catholic Church,
I make the sign of the cross
to the sounds of Santo and Johnny.
I run my fingers across my cicatrix,
dreaming of Natalie Wood
clutching my limp body
to her breast.
Where "Ladies Are Always Welcome"
and Jimmy Edwards and the Latin Breed
battle it out with Timi Yuro on the jukebox.
John F. Kennedy descansa en paz
in a plastic frame next to the packets
of dry shrimp and fried pork skins.
Un chaparrito in his blue seersucker suit
se despide de sus compas
including la mujer sola in the red booth
who confides to Lola that her cigarette lighter
leaks in her purse
while I jot down a title:
The Idea of Fraternity in America.
(Why not one more - they're short.)
La Coste, Texas
for Don Hurd
deep in La Coste, Texas,
two poets looking for lost love
closed the bar with two Lone Stars
and cross the street
over the lyrical ooze
of a Tex-Mex squeeze box,
witnessing la raza cosmica
wiping dust devil dust,
swaying hard labor hips
to classic conjunto hits,
polkas, boleros, ye huapangos
on the VFW concrete floor
wile the proverbial young girl
in the romantic red dress
marvels at the cumbia poetics
of the local crazy
who seldom speaks
but keeps on dancing
like waves off summer heat.
Here's another old poem from 2010.
at 7:45 a.m.
is like attending
a linear convention
of type-A personalities,
every one of them
the kind that sees every
little trip to the grocery as
a competition with everyone
else on the road between
home and the supermarket
sometimes i begin to feel
like that, the onset of an insanity
too common in our lives,
and i try to treat it with imaginings
of more peaceful times
like the little bamboo hut
for the haiku master Basho
where he sometimes found peace
between his travels -
i join him in my mind,
kneeling with him in his garden
of high weeds, flowers
no one else wanted
until he, in his peace, found
their beauty - beauty not of color
or spread of stems, or grand blossoms,
but of their perverse
indifference to the gardener,
their tenacity and will to survive
and spread, their willingness to struggle
for place all others would deny them
useful traits, all,
for poets and philosophers
so like weeds we are
in the Queen’s formal gardens,
might well have known
Next from this week's anthology, I have this poem by Donna Masini
Born in Brooklyn, Masini lives in New York City. She graduated from Hunter College and New York University. Her first book of poems, That Kind of Danger
received the Bernard Women Poet's Prize. In addit
has received a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship and a New York Foundation for the Arts Grant. Published widely in the best known journals, she currently teaches poetry as a part of CUNY Hunter College’s MFA
Program in Creative Writ
ing.She has also taught
at Columbia University and New York
For My Husband Sleeping Alone
Every nigh now my husband falls
asleep with the lights on, bent are
hooked around his head, book tented
across his face. His mouth is open,
lips move as though searching
(here I imagine) for me. One cat
rests its nose to his armpit, the other,
above his head, moves with his breath.
Sometimes at two or four he wakes to shut
the light, shift, adjust the covers.
Alone in that bed he is half of something, and wholly
himself. A gentle man, a man who could fall
in love with a difficult woman. He holds
her shape beside him.Sometime she is silent.
Sometimes she hisses and ticks.
I want to ask if he keeps
to one side of the bed - leaving space for her
as you leave unplanted soil between seeds.
Does he think he will grow into her?
Myself,I sleep in the dark, opposite another
of me sleeps in the mirror. I am a couple.
Sometimes I wake, stumble across the room
blurting words I don't understand
in the morning. Words I forget. Hunger
is one I always remember. Each day we speak
on the phone, tell each other how we have slept.
I missed you
, we say, as though we'd passed
up a chance, as though one of us were a ball
the other had not caught.
Each separation an awful rehearsal
(I know this from my own nights alone in that bed).
So I think I know why he moves into night
lights on, sheltered by fictions. Not to lie
in the dark and listen for the collapse
of a marriage, a home, a life.
It is hard to be married
and left - even for a short time.
to drift, unanchored, untouched.
To rock alone in shapeless night.
This is also from 2010, early in the year, and my walking-companion, Reba, near twenty years old now, can barely get around. I miss her, on her leash, walking beside me.
before i put her
that i’d take her
for a walk
and i know
she’s sits by the door
and i’ll be there
to get her
as soon as i finish
because the joy to me
of watching her joy
when i reach for the
feeds the new day
like a shot of sunshine
on the cold shoulders
of a sleeping cat
in the morning chill -
the morning dream
of slow and stupid
and warm milk
waiting in a bowl
by the fire
and the safe lap of he
who makes the sun to shine
on this winter morning
begun by a walk
through high and mysterious
I have two poems by Arthur Rimbaud
from the book, A Season in Hell and Illuminations
. This collection of Rimbaud's best know work was published by J.M. Dent in 1998, with a new translation by Mark Treharne.
This is mindful repose, not fever, not languor, on the bed or
on the grass.
This is the friend, neither pressing nor undemanding. The friend.
This is the beloved, neither tormentor nor tormented. The
Air and the world unsought. Life.
- So this is what it was?
- And the dream grows cold.
The light returns to the roof-beam. From the two ends of the
room, nondescript scenes, harmonic, elevations meet up
together. The wall facing the watcher is a psychological
sequence of cross-sections of friezes, atmospheric layers and
geological strata. - A vivid, rapid dream of sentimental groups
with beings of all kinds in every conceivable setting.
The lamps and the rugs of the vigil sound like waves, at night,
along the hull and around the entrepont
The sea of the vigil, like Amelie's breasts.
The wall-hangings, up to half way, thickets of lace, dyed
emerald, where the doves of the vigil dart about.
The fireback of the blackened hearth, real suns on seashores:
ah! wells of magic; the only glimpse of dawn, this time.
On the slope of the bank angels turn their woolen robes in
pastures of steel and emerald.
Meadows of flame leap up to the top of the knoll. to the left
the leaf-mound on the ridge is trampled into the ground by all
homicides and all battles, and every sound of disaster pursues
its curving path. Behind the ridge on the right, the line of
orients, of progress.
And whereas the strip at the top of the picture is formed
by the whirling, leaping murmur of conch shells and human
The flowery softness of the stars and the sky and everything
else descends opposite the slope, like a basket, against our face,
and creates the flowering blue abyss beneath.
Here's a new poem from last week.
on the freeway -
in SUVs push past
in instant levitation
should an immovable object
materialize from the mist…
a proposition I suggest to them
with an appropriate finger
my morning flag
of freeway philosophy
I have two more poets from the anthology, both from the section of the book titled "Illness."
The first is Sharon Olds
. Born in 1942, Olds graduate first from Stanford University, then went on to earn a Ph.D. in English at Columbia University.
When we understood it might be cancer,
I lay down beside you in the night,
my palm resting in the groove of your chest,
the rachis of a leaf. There was no questioning of
making love: deep inside my body that
small hard lump. In the half-light
of my half-life, my hand in the beautiful
sharp cleft of your chest, the valley of the
shadow of death,
there was only the present moment, and as you
slept in the quiet, I watched you as one watches
a newborn child, aware each moment of the
miracle, the line that has been crossed
out of the darkness.
My last poet this week from the anthology is Jeanette Leardi.
Leardi is a freelance writer, editor, and teacher. She holds a master’s degree (with
honors) in English from Rutgers University and a Graduate Certificate in
Gerontology from UNC Charlotte. Her publishing experiences include staff
positions at Newsweek, Life, People, Condé Nast
Traveler and Sesame Street magazines and The Charlotte
Observer. Her poetry has appeared in The Centennial Review,
Poem, The Texas Review, Iodine, Kakalak,
Main Street Rag, The Charlotte Poetry Review, The Little
Magazine, Northeast Journal, University of Portland
Review, and Claiming the Spirit Within (Beacon Press). Her
articles and book reviews have appeared in The Charlotte Observer,
The Oregonian, The Dallas Morning News, Parents
magazine and YOU Beauty. She teaches workshops and classes in
journaling, spiritual writing, personal mythmaking, memoir writing, brain
fitness, and caregiver support. Her clients include the National College of
Natural Medicine, Queens University of Charlotte, Carolinas Medical Center,
Hospice and Palliative Care Charlotte Region, and the Public Library of
Charlotte and Mecklenburg County.
I am reluctant to confront it
like an inevitable argument:
as I dress before the mirror,
I try not to look at my upper abdomen,
at the long, diagonal slit of a scar
that grins at me like a thin-lipped critic
ready to pan my life.
No, I think;I don't want to hear
your opinions. I have enough of my own.
I slowly move a finger across the
hard, raised, sharp red line
and think of a train track,
built and abandoned,
coming from and going nowhere.
I try to push my thoughts beyond.
to my life, for instance.
I'm still here; I'm still alive.
Surely this blood-red fiery brand
is a small price to pay for hanging on.
I think of other experiences I can have,
thanks to this scar. Other experiences.
Despite myself, I imagine caressing hands
making their way into my blouse,
exploring my ample breasts,
being enticed to go farther,
then suddenly becoming motionless,
as if interrupted on a journey by an
unexpected calamity, a wrong turn.
What's to be made of this sight?
Could it really repel the eye, hand, mind?
It merely marks and undefinable place -
not a lost breast or even ovary -
no sign that sexuality has been disturbed.
But a traveler may still shy away; perhaps
the rest of that journey is best taken alone.
If there's a direction, I must do the charting.
So I'll make it a symbol without pretense,
a hieroglyph without mystery.
It will say, this is me, who I am
in this place and time, and for always.
From this course no critic will deter me,
no explorer can make me lose my way.
This is another 2010 walking-Reba poem. It's from one of our travels together. I think I remember the day, Durango,Colorado, snow falling, drifting, about 4 degrees above zero.
Cold, but we all have our necessities.
a norther blows in
right before dawn,
throwing ice knives
at the sun,
for the warm
I walk Reba,
from the wind
a quick walk
and a hurry-pee
on the grass in front
of the hotel
The next poem is by Robert Hass
, from his book, Time and Materials, Poems 1997-2005
, published by HarperCollins in 2007.
After the Winds
My friend's older sister's third husband's daughter -
That's about as long as a line of verse should get -
Karmic debris? A field anthropologist's kinship map?
Just sailed by me on the Berkeley street. A student
Of complex mathematical systems, a pretty girl,
Ash-blond hair. I could have changed her diapers.
And that small frown might be her parents' lives.
Desire that hollows us out and hollows us out,
That kills and kills us and raises us up and
Raises us up. Always laughable from the outside:
The English wit who complained of sex that the posture
Was ridiculous had not been struck down by the god
Or goddess to whose marble threshing floor offerings
Of grapes or olive boughs and flowers or branches
Laden with new fruit or bundles of heavy-headed wheat
Were brought as to any other mystery or power.
My friend sat on the back steps on a summer night
Sick with her dilemma, smoking long cigarettes
While bats veered in the dark and the scraping sound
Of a neighbor cleaning a grill with a wire brush
Ratcheted steadily across the backyard fence.
"He's the nicest man I could imagine," she had said,
"And I feel like I'm dying." Probably in her middle thirties
Then. Flea markets on Saturday mornings, family dinners
On Sunday, a family large enough so that there was always
A birthday, a maiden aunt form the old neighborhood
In San Francisco, or a brother-in-law, or some solemn child
Studying a new toy in silence on the couch.
Had not lived where, tearing, or like burnished leaves
In a vortex of wind, the part of you that might observe
The comedy of gasps and moans gives way, does not
Demur. Though she did laugh at herself. an erotic
Attachment one whole winter to the mouth
Of a particular television actor - she'd turn the TV on -
Watch him for a minute with a kind of sick yearning -
Shake her head - turn the TV off - go back to the translation
Of Van Gogh's letters which was her project that year -
Or do some ironing - that always seemed to calm her -
The sweet iron smell of steam and linen. "Honest to God,"
She'd say, an expression the elderly aunts might have used.
"For Pete's sake," she'd say, "get yourself together."
Hollow flute, or bell not struck, sending out a shimmering
Not-sound, in waves and waves, to the place where the stunned dead
In the not-beginning are gathered to the arms of the living
In the not-noon: the living who grieve, who rage against
And grieve the always solicited, always unattended dead
In the tiered plazas or lush meadows of their gathered
Absence. A man wants a woman that way. A person a person.
Down on all fours, ravenous and humbled.And later -
"Lovers,you remember the shoeshine boys in Quito
In the city market? Missing teeth, unlaced tennis shoes.
They approach you smiling. Their hands arr scrofulous,
They have no rules, and they'll steal anything and so
Would you if you were they." The old capital has always
Just been sacked, the temple hangings burned, and peasants
In the ruins area roasting the royal swans in a small fire
Coaxed from the sticks of the tax assessor's Empire chair
Up against the broken wall. Lent: the saint's bodies
Dressed in purple sacks to be taken off at Easter.
For Magdalen, of course, the resurrection didn't mean
She'd got him back. It meant she'd lost him in another way.
It was the voice she loved,the body,not the god
Who, she had been told, ascended to his heaven,
There to disperse tenderness and pity on the earth.
Next, I have two poems from this week's anthology.
The first is Judy Grahn
, an internationally known poet, writer, and social
theorist whose work
underpins several movements, including Gay, Lesbian, and Queer;
Feminist/Woman-Centered; and Women’s
Spirituality, but it has spread far beyond any of
She currently serves as Associate Core Faculty
for the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology in Palo Alto, California,
in their Women's Spirituality Master's Program.
She is former director of Women’s
Spirituality MA and Creative Inquiry MFA programs at New College of California.
Ella, in a Square Apron, Along Highway 80
She's a copperheaded waitress,
tired and sharp-worded, she hides
her bad brown tooth behind a wicked
smile, and flicks her ass
out of habit, to fend off the pass
that passes for affection.
She keeps her mind the way men
keep a knife - keen to strip the game
down to her size. She has a thin spine,
swallows her eggs cold, and tells lies.
She slaps a wet rag at the truck drivers
if they should complain. She understands
the necessity for pain, turns away
the smaller tips, out of pride, and
keeps a flask under the counter. Once,
before she got out of jail, the courts had pounced
and given the child away. Like some isolated lake,
her flat blue eyes take care of their own stark
bottoms. Her hands are nervous, curled, ready
The common woman is as common
as a rattlesnake.
The next poet is Jane Gentry
A native of Kentucky, Gentry is
professor of Englis
h at the University of
Kentucky. Her most recent books of poetry are Portrait of the Artist as a White Pig an
d A Year in Kentucky: A Garland of Poems
Washing Sheets in July
Thin clouds work the sheet of sky -
jays cry,flat and starchy.
Against the white garage
The sheets, wet, adhesive
as I hand them, smell
of soap and bee-filled air.
Flags of order in the palpable sun,
how they snap in the new breeze!
Watching them balloon on the line,
I swell with an old satisfaction:
I beat them clean in the Euphrates.
Poems half-conceived drift off-
unwritten essays muddle, fade.
The white sheets crack in the wind,
fat bellies of sails,
sweet as round stomachs of children.
Tonight they'll carry me to sleep
in joy, in peace,
muscles unknotting, tired eyes clearing
in the dark under their lids.
The sheets, fragrant as summer,
carry me into realms of cleanliness,
deep dreams of order.
Back to the old barqu again.
first light -
orange shadows -
on the sidewalk -
biscuit crumbs -
for meeting -
but not decider -
at a time
setting sun -
Everything here belongs to the people
who made it. The stuff that I made is available for any use as long as proper
credit for me and for "Here and Now" is cited.
And "me" would be allen itz,
owner and producer of this blog, poet and. very recently, short story
writer. These are my books, earlier poetry eBooks and my latest
collection of very short stories, all available at the eBook retailers
Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Sony
eBookstore, most all of the Apple machines, plus Kobo, Copia, Gardner's, Baker &
Taylor, and eBookPie.
Always to the
Around, Comes Around
Pushing Clouds Against the Wind
And, for those print-bent, available
and several coffeehouses in San Antonio