Snow is the Only Word I Know for Snow   Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Been down with the flu most of this week, feeling a little spacey.

Have more of  the same, even the same anthology as last week, The Outlaw Bible of American Poetry. It's a huge book, with hundreds of poets and poems. Also, I noticed  that my random selection  of poets last week only produced one female. Not representative of the women outlaws in  American poetry, so  I went back for this week and  selected only women poets.

The photos this week are from  at least two visits to Colorado over a couple of years. The picture above  was taken from Red Rocks and the city in the distance is Denver.

Nothing unusual  in the rest.

Here it is:

if originality fails
Maura O'Connor
At the End
business breakfast
Siri von Reis
Lawrence Singleton Lives in a  Trailer
charcoal cat
bright day
medicated meditation
Patti Smith
maybe some  duct tape
Pablo Neruda 
Leaning into  the Afternoon
melancholy morning
Diane DiPrima
from Revolutionary Letters
I used to  wonder about the purpose of life
Su Tung Po
Looking from the Pavilion Over  the Lake
The Southern Room Over the River
At the Washing of My Son
gloomy day
Amy Gerstler
A Non-Christian on Sunday
the very proper lady in the black Sunday dress
Ralph Angel
Like Land Crabs
Eileen Myles
I Always  Put My Pussy...
chaos management
Sonia Sanchez
A Poem for  Jesse
On Passing  thru  Morgantown,  Pa.
the good old  days of mid-life crisis  management
I  dissemble convincingly

I  wrote  this last week, desperate to find my poem for the day, finding nothing in the bait bucket.

if originality fails

originality today
or any hint of elaborated thinking
I  search through the husks
of bits and pieces I fumbled with before, then discarded but never quite
threw away
hoping to find something from my past
that I can  push of on the present
as  today's holy cow moment,
finding instead all the good reasons
the bits  and pieces
were, at their earlier fumble-date, discarded
and all the even better reasons
they should have been dropped into the infernal pit
of punky putrid poetry
before they could
to  such gargantuan proportions
that they might force-feed
Cincinnati or Fargo,
North Dakota
or Isleta,  Minnesota
with its own cavern-bred
puky, punky poetry

it is a lesson I must

must fumigate
after  each  session
of  inadequate poetization
or  be  prepared to explain their
reckless  behaviour
to the gagging, retching residents of
Cincinnati, Fargo, North Dakota
and Isleta,  Minnesota
and, to be  safe,
lots  of places in between


this is the lesson  I learned

if  originality continues  to hide
behind  the pitted stones and fiercely towering  trees
of you-can't-make-me-do-it
I might  have to write a poem about it

My first poem this week from The Outlaw Bible of American  Poetry is by Maura O'Connor, author of The Hummingbird Graveyard.

At the End

You sold your  computer without backing up the hard dis
              losing a novel in progress

You set fire to the wall in your room by nodding out
             with a candle  lit

Those last days you tried to convince m you had it under
              control, were only shooting a little bit, and
              the next hospital trip you'd clean up for good

I found you wasted naked body in a filthy room after
              you didn't come to the phone  for three days
The coroner asked if you had cancer, I said, "No,  he just
               stopped eating

You spent your life chasing a moment  without pain -
With steaks and Ben & Jerry's
               12 step meetings and bottles ofSnapple
               with Vicodan and Jack water back
               with dreams  as  big as Africa
As you lay alone in your room, 300 pounds of insolent child
With three herniated disks
                hemorrhoids that bled so much you actually needed
                                a transfusion
                peripheral neuropathy, sciata,
                pounding headaches no pill could cure
                a painful twisted wrist  broken in a manic blackout

and days where you were working for  God and he wanted
                you to  take a fifty-dollar cab ride to  some burnt-out
                East Oakland neighborhood where the pharmacy was

and days where getting out of bed was like taking the  last
                four steps to the guillotine

and a scar where the pharmacist shot you
                a scar where a crack  pipe burned you
                a scar burned so deep it was a secret even to yourself

Yet somehow you believed in a sip from the Holy Grail,
                a best-selling novel that would buy you a house  full of
                Himalayan cats with a yard dotted with flowers or
                one  of your poems sparking a  revolution of beautiful
                misfits in black or
                the kind of fame where you read your work in electrified
                stadiums with a famous rock band  as the opening act\

and that hopeless hope made you
                beautiful as Aphrodite in a giant  seashell
                lovable  as a basket of kittens
                intense as a jeweller inspecting a diamond  that's
                        going to make him rich

In the end it wasn't the wine that went to your head

As I mentioned earlier, I'm continuing this week with poems from my next book, New Days and New Ways.

Here's the first one.

business breakfast

there is a large crowd,
ten diners
on several tables pushed

a breakfast business
it  seems, for  a congregation
of insurance agents, (my guess,
they look like insurance people) mostly
in dress shirts and ties
and a couple of women
for lack of male genitalia

at the end of the table
a very large
red-faced man
who appears to be the boss,
with the assurance of a person
genetically in the dark
most of the time,
telling sleep-deprived staff
all about the Shinola
he don't know
from, and beside him
a mid-thirties blond, well-put-together,
who has a 17-year old daughter
at home
who's driving her nuts
with skimpy dresses and good-for-nothing
all this exposed to the world
before the meeting started, and now that
has, reveals herself to be
the boss carry-on brain, taking over
his Shinola punditry
to put the meeting to order
providing such business  as there
was scheduled to be
at this early morning business meeting

the other eight at the table
who knows
what needs to be known
because their droopy-eyed attention
to the boss's Shinola
is immediately replaced by edge-
of-the-seat attention
when she starts talking, chewing
reduced from a roar,
petite and silent little chomp chomps
as eggs and bacon and toast
slide quietly and respectfully down
alert and thoughtful gullets

I have been
to -
convened even -
many such meetings,  sat
and the head of many such tables
spouting my own Shinola,
killing time
my nearby brain finishes
her poached egg and fat-free milk
and sets herself
to take care of business -

my job done for
the day

Next, a poem from my library. The poet is Siri von Reis and the poem is from her book, The Love-Suicides at Sonezaki. The book was published in 2001 by Zoo Press.

von Reis received her Ph.D. from Harvard in 1961 and has  an entire career as an ethnobotanist, producing four books on the subject. In addition, she has published widely as a poet.

What a quiet little horror story.

Lawrence Singleton Lives in a Trailer,

tending his yard in a remote corner of the San
Quentin compound. He keeps a nighttime curfew,

visits a psychologist weekly, "We hardly know
he's out there," says Parole Officer David

Langerman. "When he needs to shop, he lets  us
know. Technically,  we escort him, but anyone on

the streets has more to fear from the unknown
than from this little burned-out guy."

In three weeks, Mr. Singleton will be given
early release for good behavior and will be under

no obligation to tell officials his whereabouts
nor  to  take any longer the medication that

would sicken him if he drank alcohol.
According o Langerman, Singleton is wholly

defused and says he doesn't even need the drug -
he doesn't lose that much control. "I never

live in the past", says Mr. Singleton. After ten
years in prison, the once burly 60-year-old

still  maintains he was mistaken from someone else.
Miss Mary Vincent says she still fears

the man  who raped her and cut off  her arms.

I  was down with cold or flu a good part of  this  week and met my poem-a-day requirements  with  these little squiggles.

charcoal cat
charcoal cat
a shadow in  the dark,
her  plush gray
coat fades into the night,
shifting between  trees, picking
her hidden  way
finding all the dark pools
along her way,
a mysterious early-hour specter,
a presence unseen
until she  steps to  close to the light
and I see her choose her soft lurking way
she  is so surprised
bright day
bright day
morning clouds
burned away; sunshine
folds itself  around
afternoon shadows
medicated meditation
a small boat
on calm  seas, ripple
suggests, but forgotten,
lulled by soft tides
that rise and fall  such a very
little bit, day to  night, night
today,  drifting
small boat calm
day to night
night to
a tiny whirlpool
of  nowhere

The next poem from The Outlaw Bible of American Poets is by musician, singer/songwriter, poet Patti  Smith.


I  keep trying to figure out what it means
to be american. When I look in myself
I see arabia, venus, nineteenth-century
french but I can't recognize what
makes me american. I think  about
Robert Frank's photographs - broke down
jukeboxes in gallup, new  mexico...
swaying hips and  spurs...ponytails and
syphilitic cowpokes. I think  about a
red,  white and blue rag I wrap around
my pillow. Maybe it's nothing material
maybe it's just being free.

Freedom is  a waterfall, is pacing
linoleum till dawn, is the right to
write the wrong words. and I done
plenty of that.

Here's another from the soon-to-be book of poems from 2011.

maybe some duct tape

it  was about
1:30 in the p.m.
and I'd had my lunch

-tomato  soup
and a grilled cheese sandwich
with a side of Fritos -

and I was thinking, jeez,
I can't think of a damn thing to do
this afternoon,
having watered the
and taken my daily dose of mid-day sun
and washed the dishes
and swept
and vacuumed
and planned the menu
for dinner tonight

being not a big issue, involving
only a quick
on the computer
to find the shortest route
to the nearest Popeye's -

and there I was
in the bathroom, trimming my beard

decided a couple of weeks ago
to cut it down
to  bristle level every three
or so days,
it doesn't involve taking
up a major portion of a dead
afternoon -

and looking at my near-naked face
in the mirror
the thought came to me
that I hadn't seen my head,
that is,
the shape
and curvature of it,
and the various bumps and hollows
usually hidden under my hair,
since the first day of basic training
at Lackland Air Force  Base in San  Antonio
a little more than 45 years ago

and the thought occured to me
that a fella ought to see
his head,
and shape
and bumps and so forth
more than once every 45 years
having done all my chores
with nothing else to do,
it only made sense
to go down and get all my hair shaved

and so I did

and now I can say it's
positively true
that there's absolutely nothing especially
about my head
except for all the skin
showing through
which I don't remember
from 45 years
and I'm already suspecting
really don't like my head
all that much
at all...

but I figure,
what the hell, hats are cheap

in many places if you tell 'em
you're thinking of buying
a John Deere
next time  you need a farm implement -

of course,
the hat won't do anything
about the ears...

some duct tape...

Now I have a poem by Pablo  Neruda, from  his small book, Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair. The small book is a Penguin Classic, reprinted in 2004.

Leaning into the Afternoons

Leaning into the afternoons I cast my sad nets
towards your oceanic eyes.

There i the highest blaze my solitude lengthens
   and flames

I send out red signals across your absent eyes
that move like the sea near a lighthouse.

You keep  only darkness, my distant female,
from your regard sometimes the coast of dread emerges.

Leaning into the afternoons I fling my sad nets
to that sea that beats on your marine eyes.

The of night peck at the first stars
that flash like my soul when I love you.

The night gallops on its shadowy mare
shedding blue tassels over the land

Here's another poem from under the influence of brain freeze disease. When flu is done eating my brain I'm hoping it  leaves a  little behind.

melancholy morning

about  a dense morning fog
that suggests
all that is missing
in my life


that's what I miss
the most

the days when I knew
the answers,
knew how all the mysteries
could be  solved
with a simple accusatory finger
at the butler,
or  the corporations, or the unions,
or the commies,  or the fascists,
or the despoilers, or those who hinder
the  despoilers, or  the priests, or the anti-religionists,
or our mother/father/6th grade teacher
the other under  whatever  guise

I just cannot  help  it

I am of a people
who like it when things
work out, simple
and painless conclusions

imagining clarity
where the  fog  is thickest,
real answers
lost  in shrouds of  ambiguity

but I have lost the faith,
finding no answers, instead,
only melancholy
in  the  dim shifting
of days like today

The next poems from the anthology  are by Diane DiPrima, one of the founding poets of the beat generation.

Revolutionary Letters
Dedicated to Bob Dylan


I have just realized that the stakes are myself
I have no other
ransom money, nothing to break or barter but my life
my spirit measured out, in bits, spread over
the roulette table, I recoup what I can
nothing else to shove under the nose of the maitre de jeu
nothing to  thrust  out the window,  no  white flag
this flesh all I have to offer, to make the play with
this immediate head, what it comes up  with, my move
as we slither over this Go board, stepping always
(we hope) between the lines


Left to themselves people
grow their hair.
Left to themselves they
take  off  their shoes.
Left to themselves they make love
sleep easily
share blankets,dope & children
they are not  lazy or afraid
they plant  seeds, they smile, they
speak to one another.The  word
coming into its own:  touch of love
on the brain, the ear.
We  return with the sea, the tides
we return as often as leaves, as numerous
as grass, gentle,  insistent, we remember
the way
our babes toddle barefoot through the cities of the universe


the vortex of creation is the vortex of  destruction
the vortex of artistic creation is the vortex of self destruction
the vortex of political creation is the vortex of flesh desgtruction
          flesh is in the fire,  it curls and terribly wraps
          fat is in the fire, it drips and sizzling  sings
          bones are in the fire
                      they crack  tellingly in
                      subtle hieroglyphs of oracle
           charcoal  singed
           the smell of your burning hair
for every revolutionary must at  last will his own destruction
rooted as he is in the past he sets out to  destroy

And now another from the next book.

I used to wonder about the purpose of life

I used to
wonder about
the purpose
of life
and my place in

I wonder
why I'm standing in front
of the Frigidaire
at 6:30
in the morning,
door open,
refrigerated light illuminating
all  the staples,
Miracle Whip
Stubbs BBQ sauce
liver  sausage and
punkmunster cheese
along with  a week's worth of
in varying shades of green...

then I see them...

my keys...

and now I wonder
how my keys got into the
and why I knew
to look
for them  there
in the first 

and thus begins
another week
in a life of
my purpose in it
to appreciate the ever-expanding
of my

Next, from the book, One Hundred Poems from the Chinese, edited and translated by Kenneth Rexroth, I have several short  poems by Su Tung Po who was born in 1037 to a family of literati, he was a poet, writer, painter and statesman during China's Song dynasty. He died in 1101.

Looking from the Pavilion Over the Lake
27th, 6th month, written while drunk

Black clouds spread across the sky
Like ink. I can no  longer
See the mountains. Hailstones rebound
From the roofs of the boats.
A whirlwind sweeps out from the
Shore and is suddenly gone.
From the pavilion over
The lake the water has become
Indistinguishable from the sky.

The Southern Room  Over the River

The room is prepared, the incense burned.
I close the shutters before I close my eyelids.
The patterns of the quilt repeat the waves of the river.
The gauze curtain is like a mist.
Then a dream comes to me and when I awake
I no longer know where I am.
I open the western window and watch the waves
Stretching on and on to the horizon.


I fish for minnows in the lake.
Just born, they have no fear of man.
And those who have learned,
Never come back to warn them.

At the Washing of My Son

Everybody wants an intelligent son.
My intelligence only got me into difficulties.
I want only a brave and simple boy,
Who, without trouble or resistance,
Will  rise to the highest offices.

Still battling the tail end  of  the flu.

gloomy day

a gloomy day,
starts  gloomy
stays gloomy,
look of might-rain
which means nothing
except that it might be a gloomy
day where it might have have rained
but didn't

mean a thing about
it's gonna rain or not


to Johnny Cash
at Folsom Prison,
the "Man in Black"
on a black day,
how in his later years
the man could reach into
your soul, make a believer out of you,
at least as long as he sang
his songs

such American stories
he  told,
such old  stories


near 10 a.m.
cars pass on Broadway,
lights on
in the dim...


a devil-day
some might say
looking into the dark,
Armageddon just over the hill,
down the street
three blocks
on the  right near the Tidy Suds


first day in a week
on my unmedicated own

dreams trip over
shards of
like shattered  glass
on cracked  side-

The next poem from The Outlaw Bible of American Poetry is by Amy Gerstler, poet, novelist, and journalist.

A Non-Christian on Sunday

Now we heathens have to town to ourselves
We lie around, munching award-winning pickles
and hunks off coarse, seeded bread smeared
with soft,  sweet cheese. The streets seem
evacuated, as if Godzilla had been sighted
on the horizon, kicking down skyscrapers
and flattening cabs. Only two people
are lined up to see a popular movie
in which the good guy and the bad guy trade
faces. Churches burst  into  song. Trees wish
for a big wind. Burnt bacon and domestic tension
scent the air. So  do whiffs  of lawnmower  exhaust
mixed with the colorless  blood of clipped hedges.
For whatever's about to come crashing down
on our heads, be it bliss-filled  or  heinous,
make us grateful. OK? Hints of the savior's
flavor   buzz on  our tongues, like crumbs
of a sleeping pill shaped like  a snowflake.

A breakfast observation from the next book.

the very proper lady in the black Sunday dress

the very proper
in the black Sunday dress
and jeweled necklace and dangly earrings
blows her nose
into a tiny lace handkerchief

and her eyes
like a bug's or maybe like
a big spotted frog caught wide awake
on her lily pad
at midnight
thinking silverfish thoughts

her ears
I swear they're flapping
and I'm thinking
holy shit
her  head's gonna explode
like the bad guy's
at the end of the Indiana Jones movie

and I don't know
if I should watch
or shield my eyes from the sight
so I compromise
and peek through my fingers
and watch
as the pressure slowly eases
and her head shrinks
back to regular size and her ears
like again supine at rest against her head
and her  eyes slink back
into mean little slits like when she came
but I didn't notice them
like I do now
that is is one evil woman
in her proper black dress and jewelry
and hanging earrings
and by gosh
I'm glad she didn't blow u[
or I'd probably have evil debris
gunk dripping all over me

a pretty scary experience
for this early in the morning
but it is one of the reasons
I like to have breakfast here -
you meet the most  interesting
and other creatures
can't be entirely

Now I have a poem by Ralph Angel from his book  Neither  World, winner of the 1995 James Lauglin Award of The Academy  of American Poets. It was published by the Miami University Press.

Like Land Crabs

skittering sideways
when the moon drives by, the blank stare
of the boulevard and everyone carrying something.

Eating a double-dog chili burrito
seems like a perfectly natural thing to do.
Nothing much matters because
so much turns into a face

that looks back at you. Blundering,
I think. It's out of the question, the night.
Out of the hands at the ends of my arms
on the hips of the lush who's undressing me.

Everyone keeps getting in
and out of cars. I'm electrified
by earth shoes, a solitary goat dance,
the weird expanse of parking lots,
glittering, peopled with loneliness.

Past news racks and policemen, past
all-night doctors carving up corners
in bedsheets of torn light, I follow a friend
who swears I know where I'm going
among headless palm trees
and other fences.

"Bring on the coffee," I hear myself
say as you reach over and turn on
the radio, "I didn't know I was already driving,"
I brake for a stop sign.
The earth speeds up a little.

Still getting over  the flu. No really sick, just disassociated, like I'm not fully present and accounted for.

north wind
blows hard against  me,
cold  hand
on the nape of my neck.
trickles under my coat
down my back
clear blue  sky
sharp as a diamond's cutting edge
bright sun
like broken glass  falling
long night's sleep
to a  five-year old's
construction paper
construction paper
bright colors
sharp corners

Next from The Outlaw Bible of American  Poets is Eileen Myles, who writes about art and literature in a number of national magazines. Winner of the Lambda Book Award for her collection School  of Fish, she was also co-editor of The New Fuck You/Adventures in Lesbian  Reading.

I Always Put My Pussy...

I always put my pussy
in the middle of trees
like a waterfall
like a doorway to God
like a flock of birds
I always put my lover's cunt
on the crest
of a wave
like a flag
that I can
pledge my
to.This is my
country. Here,
when we're alone
in public.
My lover's pussy
is a badge
is a night stick
is a helmet
is a deer's face
is a  handful
of flowers
is  a waterfall
is a river
of blood
is a bible
is a hurricane
is  a soothsayer.
My lover's  pussy
is a battle cry
is a prayer
is lunch
is wealthy
is happy
is on teevee
has a sense of humor
has  a career
has  a cup of coffee
goes to work
is always alone
knows my face
knows my tongue
knows  my hands
is  an alarmist
has lousy manners
knows  her mind

I always put
my pussy in the middle
of trees
like a waterfall
a piece of jewelry
that I wear
on my chest
like a badge
in America
so my lover & I
can be safe.

Here's another from the sometime-to-be New Days and New Ways book.

chaos management

"I am not afraid of chaos  because chaos is the womb of light and life. What
I don't like is mismanagement of chaos."
          - Franketienne,Haitian author, poet, playwright, painter

there are patterns  to the
from the orbits of galaxies
to  the circling
of  the  tiniest electron
around it's mother-neutron
to the greening and falling
of leaves
to the daily commute
of bankers and painters
and donut makers
to the soft  sleep of babes and the long
dry nights
of old and time-worn men
all circling

all circling
each circle a world within itself
inter-acting with its  fellows in shadows
of confusion,
lie looking  at the color  patterns
of gumballs
encased in glass,
patterns seen only through a one-eyed
squint from some great distance, the further  away
the clear becomes the organization
red upon green next to blue under yellow,
each placed in a structured chaos,
indestructible unalterable manageable
only through the indirection
of unseen hands
that mus never fumble
or chaos will  solidify and all the circles
will stop their spinning
and fall to the lethargy of inertia stilled
and all that is will,  like Lot's  wife,
turn to salt crumbling on a silent plain
in a steady wind of never-

Last for the week from The Outlaw Bible  of American  Poetry, I have two short poems by Sonia Sanchez, co-founder of one of  the first African-American studies  university programs in the United States.

A Poem for  Jesse

your face like
summer lightning
gets caught in my voice
and i draw you up from
deep rivers
taste your face of a
thousand names
see you smile
a new season
hear your voice
a wild sea pausing in the wind.

On Passing thru Morgantown, Pa.

i saw you
vincent  van
gogh perched
on those  pennsylvania
cornfields communing
amid secret black
bird societies. yes,
i'm  sure that it was
you exploding your
fantastic  delirium
while in the
red indian
hills beckoned.

Now, last this week from the next book, New Days and New Ways.

the good old days of mid-life  crisis management
deep thoughts
this morning about
"Duck Soup" the Marx bros
or was the that Stooges
"Duck, Soup"
or was it Soupy Sales'
big hit
collaboration with Pinkie Lee;
"Pink Soup"
or was it the John Waters'
about pink flamingos
or  is that a cocktail at the
gay bar
at the corner
of Smith and Wesson,
think that might be
the reason
nobody takes me seriously,
I"m always forgetting little things,
great on concept
but lacking in  details...
like the fellow and the girl
in the booth
in front of me, middle-aged
man, mid-life crisis
in cowboy boots, longish hair
curly in the back
bald on top
and the girl, pretty,
blond, 15, maybe 20 years
behind him
in the chronological sphere,
has a pink poodle
named Fluffer
or Poots
I get the concept,
but the details, will,  I  don't know,
leaving me to  wonder,
should I pity the poor fool
or envy him...
or should I just admit
he reminds me of me
when I try to go to sleep at night,
minus the boots
and the hair
and the convertible (did  I forget
to mention the convertible)
and the young blond
and with an extra 20 years
added to the old tick-tocker, victim
of the longest  continuously
mid-life crisis since
Genghis Kan

I wrote  this thing right at  the  beginning of my not-quite-over flu experience. I  didn't intend to use it, but, lets face it, it's time to post and I'm a poem short.

I dissemble convincingly
been up
for  nearly three hours now
and the bug
time  to get your  acey-duecy ass
back to bed
work to  do
I protest
to keep
I can get all  that done  this
I dissemble convincingly
to my own  self
until  then
my acey-deucy ass
is going back to bed

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Goes Around Comes Around

Pushing Clouds Against the Wind

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

Seven Beats a Second

Short Stories

Salvador - The Dreamer



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