Black Hearts & White Hats   Thursday, February 21, 2013





I usually write  this introduction last, since I  usually don't know for  sure  what I'm going to do  with the post. That's  true  also this week.

And with  the  post  done,  the only special thing  I can think of are some poems by my poet friend 
R.D. McManes.

While Mac is  special, I have some other good things this week as well.

As follows:
 
Me
the poets' creed must be  obeyed
 
Elizabeth Alexander
Manhattan Elegy
 
Me
more about skin
 
Nanao  Sakaki
Bellybutton
November  Song
 
Me
spice for the morning
 
R.D. McManes
generational recycling
no  going back
the literary they
tunes
 
Me
Munch finds  his scream
thinking
 
Brenda Cardenas
Poem for the Tin-tu-teros
 
Me
Chekhov's8  qualities  of cultured people  -  #8
 
Stephen  Dunn
Visiting the Master
 
Me
blank page before me and  i must fill  it
 
Octavio  Paz
Dawn
Here
Oracle
Friendship
Certainty
Touch
 
Me
tussling with Tannhauser
 
Stanley Moss
Munich 2010
Down River
 
Me
sixty percent chance of  looking like rain today
 
Semezdin Mehmedinovic
Spirituality
Kids
Hero
 
Me
an unscientific answer to the mystery of the disappearing ancients
 
Marsha Pomerantz
Cow in a Galley
What  To Do in a Musical Emergency 
 
Me
as good an  explanation as any
 
Jose Emilio  Pacheco
For You
A Farewell  to Arms
 
Me
falling
 
Me
Happy Birthday









Here's my first  poem for this week. I wrote it  last  week.



the poets' creed must be obeyed

a bright
and sun-shinealicious
day

a blue  sky
so blue it hurts
as only the most intense
blumenosity
can pain the retinal
receptors
unprepared for such
bluesy intensity

a light breeze
that seems to whisper
names of women I don't  know
but would like
to meet

71.75 degrees,
the perfect temperature
designed by the Great  Mildred
in the sky
for human comfort

pleasant  people
abound,
happy people, I can tell
by the way the sun
slips  lovingly off their face
to  puddly cuddling
at their feet

a  perfectly beautiful perfect
day

no day for poets
to be laboring over verse
in the gloom of shadow  walls
and ceiling alight with
the most intense fluorlescensity,
mercilessly illuminating
our sallow poet
faces
and skinny poet arms
and knobby poet
elbows

but we do what we  must,
for  it is the poets'
creed

whether we feel like it  or
not
unwrite poems  require out
creative
bludgeoning
for  it is after all called
a  creative  art,
after all,
requiring creative  artists to  create
on even the most
sun-shining-come-out-and-play-with-me
day

and so I must
and so  I
will

----

...it was
a dark and stormy
night,
I write creatively








The first poem from my library this week is by Elizabeth Alexander, from her book Body of Life. The book was published in 1996 by Tia Chucha Press of Chicago.

Alexander was born in New York City and raised in Washington D.C. She has degrees from Yale University and Boston University and a Ph.D. in English from the University of Pennsylvania. At the  time of publication, she was on the faculty of the University of Chicago.



Manhattan Elegy

I left behind a mother, father,
baby brother, town-house, door bell, family-
sized gallons of two-percent milk, for
my grandmother's apartment near
the United Nations, her apartment
building with elevator, incinerator
chute, intercom with buzzer,
deliveries from Gristede's. There I had
a godfather who took me out to lunch,
great-aunts who took me to tea,
a great-uncle who took me to the Museum
of the City of New York, and a grand-
father who took me on the IRT.
I was the only child in all Manhattan.

My grandmother loved the Museum
of Modern Art, Matisse's revelers,
the red parlor with goldfish.  She loved
the rough-cut oil of "Starry Night" and Monet's
lily ponds, took me after to a hotel
dining room just like in "Hello, Dolly!"
where the violinist asked for my song,
and I didn't have one, and how, she said,
could an eight-year old lady not know
a serenade? She took me to Broadway
and home on the cross-town bus.

The U.N. tulips reminded me of Holland,
my eight-year old idea of Holland, like
in Mary Poppins when "Canada"
was grasshoppers and roses in white snow,
a beautiful word. I watched my grandmother
summon friends to come see me from the pages
of her red kid address book: Dorothy
and Kay, Mae, Phyllis, Helena and Eddie,
Lucille, Louise. Venetian blinds, taxi-
cabs, milk by the quart, lamb chops and water-
cress, brass candle snifters. Permit me
to sing this kaddish for New York,
New York, my city of adults.








I continue with 2012 poems that might be in the book after the next book.

Here's the first for this week.



more about skin

it's
not just the bag
you carry yourself
around in -

it is an essential
organ,
the wrap 
that holds together
all the requisite parts
in all their proper places,
gatherer
and processor
of the natural sun-baked nutrients
every body needs;

it is a sociological
and cultural mark of genetic
geography,
dark
or light,
a mark of long-dust
ancestral origin, less so now
in the modern world
of connectivity
in all things, a melding of skin
to the universal toe
of coconut-butter swirl;

it is a tactile
and visual  affirmation
of the essential  elements
of art and pleasure
that affirm us,
the soft  slide  of skin on skin
in moments of  passion,
the round curve
of a woman's breasts and ass,
the probe of a nipple
aroused in a moment  of anticipation
the impatient skyward thrust
of an erect penis,
the tender pleasure
as your fingers caress a baby's cheek,
the rough hard calluses
of a cowboy's hand,
the soft tickle of pasture grass
on bare feet, the pain sometimes of parts
abused or inflicted,  such pain
as important to the pleasure of skin
as all the softer sensations -

many things is skin,
soft and smooth or hard and rough,
the most human of all beauty,
much more
than the bag  we carry ourselves around
in








Next, two poems by Nanao Sakaki from the collection, The Poems of Nanao Sakaki,  published by North Point Press of San Francisco in 1987.

Sakaki, who was born in 1923 and died  in 2008, was a Japanese poet/storyteller who lived a good part of his life after World War II wandering in Japan and in the United States. He lived an extremely interesting life which I leave to my readers to investigate.



Bellybutton

The plants
Given life by minerals
Then give life to animals.

And animal called man...
A man, you,
Stand with legs, eyes, nose & nipples.

A puppet, you
who work so hard
with two hands & a head.

When your naval starts laughing,
you are a song.


November Song

In a November night
Under the kerosene lamp light
Around the clear flame of oaks in the open fire pit
We chatter and peel persimmons.
Tomorrow we will hang the naked fruits
Under the eaves for drying by sun, wind and frost.
      ---Something running through darkness,
          Is that gushing wind or shower?

                    ...

The past is now.
Three hundred years ago
A Japanese potter named Kakiemon or Persimmon Jack
Tried so hard to catch the jewel light
Of persimmon in November sun,
Forgot to eat, to sleep, to talk.
Three years later he was able to bring out
The gorgeous color n his ceramic

                   ...

The  past is now.
Five years ago
An eighty one year old Japanese lady
Jumped into a nearby river
And finished her life under the November Sky.

      ---Beyond the old lady's reach
          There hung hundreds of flaming persimmon fruit
           Backed by heavenly blue
           In the dazzling sunshine.

      ---With her family and her friends
           Sitting around the open fire pit in November nights
           She chatted and peeled the fruits
           All her life for eighty one years.

       ---Now living by herself
           She can make dried fruits no more
           She can present the sweet jewel to friends no more.
           Missing the cheerful work
           No pleasure to live off
            No treasure to share
            The old lady sank into the river.

                    ...

Stormy November night.
Something running through the darkness---
Is that gushing wind or shower?
Around the fire pit we chatter and peel the fruits.

To  chickadees, black bears and men
The tree offers cool shade in summer
Bittersweet cakes in autumn.
Botanists call the tree
               "Diospyros Kaki"

                "The flame of God"
Very bitter in the beginning
Very sweet at the end.
Is this the food of life
Or of the light of life?
botanists call the tree
        









Here's another new poem about one  of those events you see that are never explained.



spice for the morning

squirrels
hang from the trees
by their reversible toes,
intent
on the scene 
as it unfolds

pigeons
stop their peck-pecking,
look  over  their shoulders,
gather in a circle
and murmur quietly,.
conversation among  the coven,
dance a little,
stomp their pink
toes
to  a fowlish beat,
play a guessing game
they call
what-the-pluck,
training guesses
as to the meaning of it all

we all, diners and staff,
gather at the large windows,
wondering,with  the birds
and squirrels
what it all means

as five  police
vehicles
gather
a black and white
posse,
hunters
of the black-hats,
short their prey
today
and
hungry,
clustered
nose to nose  to  nose to  nose
to tail
at the other end 
of the building,
the black and whites,
the big Fords that
police agencies of all kinds
have  preferred
for years, automotive sharks
prowling the waters
of every city street, the man
and his car, together
no  more,
the  car discontinued
by its maker,
only one here today,
the single,  lonely
obsolete
lost to the ages
gathered with five SUV's,
the new order of things  dwarfing
the old,clustered
together,
the old sedan  alone and lonely
like granddad
on his failing farm,
pushed aside
by his city-slicker grand kids
who  consider the farm
like a buzzard
considers the bloody heap
spread flat in the middle
of a country road...

meanwhile,
springing equally
from the doors of the old
and the new

the most officers
I've ever  seen at a single place that  didn't
sell
donuts,
except  for  the police station,
of course,
where they have their donuts
shipped in
from a nearby Krispy Kreme

then
they scatter
as quickly as they came,
leaving the old Crown Vic behind,
the aged guard
at the entrance of  a gated
community
of faded McMansions,
bought
for  more than they were worth,
deserted, abandoned,
their fate like the planned fate
of granddad and
his farm,
granddad,  the gate guard
protecting from imaginary threat
that  which used to be his,the minimum
wage job, the most he's gotten
out of the old  farm
in several
years...

and the squirrels
return to gathering their nuts
and the pigeons
return to their own  singular  path
of peck-pecking
and the rest  of us
return
to our biscuits and gravy
and corporate  hatchery
eggs  over easy
and pancakes and waffles
and oatmeal
and coffee buckets,
peck-pecking
at  our plates,like the former
chickens at their  bucket
of feed
and none of us
know what  just happened
but it did put a little spice
into an overcast
Monday morning, almost
as much fun
as being  back  on the farm
when  it was making
money








Here are several  poems by my poet friend, R.D. McManes, of Kansas.

Mac is the author of seven poetry books and has had over 190 poems published in 60 worldwide poetry publications. He has been a featured speaker and conducted poetry workshops and copyright presentations for the Kansas Author's Club.


generational recycling

we are the generation
with a failing grade
somehow we have fallen beyond
the wildest expectations
excuses are our normal responses
lamenting our future status
history will not be kind

we didn't fit, didn't click, didn't fix
didn't care, didn't worry
about this world or this time
oh, we  pretended
to save those or change that
everything  was important
in retrospect, only self-greed
only self-worth stands out

we hid behind our failings
curtains drawn to block the light
hoping those who follow
will no see  or comprehend
what we have done
the complexity and depth
of our cover stories
soars to unheard of heights

today's false truths fall
on tomorrow's deaf ear
the fires we have started
are cold forgettable ashes
scattered on the eternal  winds
between unforgiving gray shades
this is our big legacy
all  we have left to give
worn our promises
and a newly labelled
recycle can on every curb


no going back

there is a time
when life slowly walks
through each day
barely a baby's pace
almost always a crawl

each day's  rewards
or punishments
pays off in praise
or  swift swats
perceive and believe
justifiable actions
by an older generation

in the evening
we  say prayers
by our bedsides
the night's stars
shimmer silent
behind white curtains
while we dream

dream
of being grown
without a care
never realizing
without childlike
imagination
there is
no going back
to  yesterday


the literary they

you know who they are
the true blues,the blood reds
in a gray literary world
composers whose words fall
effortlessly on empty pages
splashed articulate colors
between hallowed covers

those who make the big list
titles followed by best seller
prize winner, fellowship  of
everyone thinks or pretends
they recognize the words
understand the intent

that night
the reading lamp  stays lit
long after words begin to  blur
to keep them company
when they are  alone
the latest  thriller
the newest  romance
sounding out the words
until they fall asleep

somewhere another genre
sits on a discount shelf
volumes of dusty poems
no one reads them
except a lone critic
and he smiles with delight
another poet to  consume
lightly roasted over a fire


tunes

beautiful music
behind the words
a thousand tomorrows
the words still dance
in  yesterday's mind

half-forgotten tunes
loud in the clearing
imagination's horizon
beyond the tallest trees
tilted to an open  sky

i look for a spot
to s it and reflect
in external silence
the internal rhythm
never misses a beat
not a single note falls

no  meaning
to understand
no  point to  make
greatest hits spin
and for a moment
nothing else exists
me and their songs
etched inside











Two more from 2012.



Munch finds his scream

dark nights
& darker days
clouds
cover both the sun
and the moon

I dream
mechanical spiders
crawl
sssifty sssifting
from an open
grave

and it  seems
that which mattered
most
matters least

it  is dark
at  the end of the tunnel



thinking

thinking
of  someone who could have been
fifty years ago

thinking
how foolish it is to be  thinking
of someone who could have been
fifty years ago

thinking
time
has not time
for could-have-been;
deals only
with was and is -

thinking
it's
only baseball
that allows more than one  swing
at  life...

thinking
there is nothing more to  say








The next poem is by Brenda Cardenas, from her book, From the Tongues of Brick  and Stone. A small collection of  poetry, it was published  by Momotombo Press in 2005.

Cardenas holds an  MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor and has twice received  Illinois Arts Council finalist awards n Poetry. She teaches Creative Writing; Composition; and Latin American, U.S. Latino/a and American Literature at Wright College in Chicago.



Poem for the Tin-tun-teros

This for the tinbaleros,percussioists,  tin-tun-teros,
those who tap  with spoons on their stoves
with pencils on their desks
with nails and knuckles on tables, beds, their own heads
with fists against the walls
and fingers on the spines and curves of their lovers, dancers.

this for the congueros,  drummers, bongoseros,
those who never rest
with their staccato heels always hammering the skin of the floor
stomping in their dreams filled with maracas, guiros and claves,
these dancers with steps so smooth
and hips that move like their high hats and snares.

This for the timbaleros,  percussionist,  tin-tun-teros.
They are bad asses with their cymbal storms
their games of sticks that fly like wings. How scampish
their tricks that won't let us work or sleep
only dance and sing, sing and dance
some sometimes move the earth a little.








This is the last  in my series on Chekhov's eight  qualities of cultured people.  I don't like it,  but you can't have a series about 8 somethings and stop  at number 7 something, so it's what I have. If I ever put these eight pieces together to make a single piece, this one will  be stuck in middle somewhere, certainly not the last in the piece.



Chekhov's 8 qualities of  cultured people - #8
They develop  the aesthetic feeling in themselves
 
little
Henry
gets an
aesthetic
feeling
in himself
at least
twice
a
day
 
he likes
that
feeling
a lot
 
-
 
but
the warts
are
getting to
be
a problem
 









Here's a poem by Stephen  Dunn, from his Pulitzer  Prize winning book Different Hours, published by W.W. Norton in 2000. At the time of publication, Dunn taught at Richard Stockton College in New  Jersey.


Visiting the Master

Don't follow me, I'm lost,
the master said to the follower
who had  a cocked pen
and a yellow pad.

But I live for art, the follower said.
I need to know some of its secrets,
if not the rules.

I'm lost, said the master,
I ask only for your forbearance
and a little help with the rent.

the follower  realized he'd  caught
the master at a bad time.
I'll come back next  week, he said.

He knew the master had  told  others
that over  a lifetime
the word autumn should not be used
more than fiver or six times,
and that  only a fool
confuses activity with energy.

The follower came back the next week.

The master said, go away.
It all begins elsewhere, apart from me.
Both sunshine and shadow,  these days,
oppress me. A good woman
is hard to keep.

The follower thought he understood.
You mean, he said,  privation
is the key?

Oh, return to zero, the master  said.
Use what's lying around the house.
Make it simple and sad.









From early 2012, I guess you could call this a  tribute to one of my former, now defunct, coffeehouses. It was operated by a church and closed under mysterious circumstances. I  think maybe some of the more  conservative  people at the church grew concerned about all  the unchurchly people  who drank their coffee.

It was the only coffeehouse I've ever adopted as day-home that  actually made a profit.  Which is why it was such a surprise when it closed (with less that 2 weeks notice).



I sit by the window

I sit
by the window
so I can smile at  all the  people
who  pass
and enjoy the smiles they return
to  me

I sit by the window
so I can hear the conversations
all around, passing toward the window light,
reflecting off the glass
and to my ears

I sit by the window
so I can enjoy the paint salesman
working his phone, a rainbow conversation
of gloss and matte
as he talks to painting contractors
about the colors to be displayed,
all the regular colors of a Crayola box
and new colors I never heard of,
or maybe just new names

I
sit by the window
so I can hear the attorney
talk to her friends,
always her men friends she has coffee
with nearly every day,
the businessman, the artist,
the musician,
and the novelist,
telling stories in Spanish
and English,
a modishly-clad free-spirit woman,
I can tell,
long black hair.
dressed in elegant black
to match,
her late  thirties,maybe older,
with the light fresh laugh of a girl
twenty years
younger

I  like to hear them talk
and I like to listen to her laugh

I sit by the
window
so I can watch the young students
from the college down the street
and the high school boys and girls
from the Catholic school down the street,
uniformed and fresh
and alive with after-school freedom

I sit  by the window
to enjoy the artists and musicians
and filmmakers
who meet here to talk about their latest
art, and the teacher  from the private school
who meet to plan their lessons,
and the politicians and social activists
and community volunteer who meet here
to conspire their ongoing insurrections
and the mothers
gathered
with their babies
and the old men with their crosswords
and
the city planners
in their pin-striped suits
and the hobo
questing freedom
and quarters from bridge to bridge
and the churchly do-gooders
planning
their good-doings
and the man in the corner
who reads his worn bible,whispering
to God
the things for only God
to  hear

I  sit by the window in this place
where I spend my day,
alive with the life around me,
my mind
and my heart
alive
with the stories around
me










Next, I have  this poem by Marilyn Hacker. The poem is from her book (her seventh), Winter Numbers. The book was published in 1994 by W.W. Norton.



A Note Downriver

Afternoon of hungover Sunday Morning
earned by drinking wine on an empty stomach
after I met Tom for a bomb on Broadway:
done worse; known better.

I feel muggy-headed and convalescent,
barely push a pen across blue-lined paper,
scowl at envelopes with another country's
stamps, and your letter.

Hilltop house, a river to take you somewhere,
sandwiches at noon with a good companion:
summer's ghost flicked ash from the front porch railing,
looked up, and listened.

I would grouse and growl at you if you called me.
I have made you chamomile tea and rye bread
toast, fixed us both orange juice laced with seltzer
similar mornings.

We'll most likely live in each other's houses
like I haunted yours last July, as long as
we hear rivers vacillate downstream. The say
"always"; say "never."








I wrote this piece last week.  I first wrote a poem with this title many years ago, probably in the late sixties. I remember I had just read a short story by Harlen Ellison titled I have no mouth and I must scream. It was a great Ellison story, basically summed up in the title. The story and the title, which has stuck with me all the years since, but, at the time, I was most fascinated with the rhythm of the story's title and tried to duplicate that rhythm with a title of my own.

So that's where this title came from. The new poem has nothing at all to do with  the old poem.



blank page before me and i must fill  it
 
 
blank page
before
me
and i must fill
it
with shadows
of you and me and all
who pass, shadows where
truth always lies
 
(those who claim
to have
stumbled across
the truth
lie
for there is no
stumbling
over shadows
where
truth always lies)
 
blank
page
before me
and I must
fill
it
 
search
behind the shadows
where truth
lies
sunning
in the
dark
waiting
for you and
me
to find
it
 
behind the
shadows
where all the truths
of truth
lie
 
waiting
for you and me
to find
it
in the shadows
or our final
hours









Here are some short poems by Octavio Paz, from his book Configurations. First published in 1965, my New  Directions edition was published in 1970.

A number of translators contributed  to the book which is published in both Spanish and English. The  poems I chose for  this week were  translated by Charles Tomlinson.



Dawn

Cold rapid hands
Draw back one by one
The bandages of dark
I open my eyes
                        Still
I am living
                 At the center
Of a wound still fresh


Here

My steps along this street
Resound
              In another street
In which
              I hear my steps
Passing along this street
In which

Only the mist is real


Oracle

The cold lips of the night
Utter a word
Column of grief
No word but stone
No stone but shadow
Vaporous thought
Through my vaporous lips real water
Word of truth
Reason behind my errors
If it is death only through that do I  live
If it is solitude I speak in serving it
It is memory and I remember nothing
I do not know what it says and I trust myself to it
How to know oneself living
How to forget one's knowing
Time that half-opens the eyelids
And sees us, letting itself be seen


Friendship

It is the awaited hour
Over the table falls
Interminably
The lamp's spread hair
Night turns the window to immensity
There is no one here
Presence without name surrounds me



Certainty

If  it is real  the white
Light from this lamp, real
The  writing hand, are they
Real, the eyes looking  at what I write?

From one word to the other
What I say vanishes.
I know that I am alive
Between two parentheses.


Touch

My hands
Open the curtains of your being
Clothe you in a further nudity
Uncover the bodies of your body
My hands
Invent another body for your body











From 2012, probably not a candidate for the book after the next book,  but brings back pleasant memories. I  love Wagner, the power and the solemn  beauty of his Ring music.



tussling with Tannhauser

driving
to my coffee house
yesterday afternoon,
some very boring thing on NPR
drove me to the classical music station

in time for
Wagner's most sublime,
his overture to "Tannhauser,"
listening in the car,
transfixed,
the repeated refrain,
the sweet cry of French horns,
then passing around the orchestra,
through the low brass
and back around to the French horns
before  slipping
down the register
to  where the low brass arrives again
for the  final say,
huge and ponderous,
like th earth turning
slowly
on  its axis,
the grandeur
of the planet's regal orbit,
thunderous grieving
as it seems to tear itself  apart,
where it splits atwain,
its howling, fiery,
core
released
with  a roar like the universal
fundament
breaking,

slipping then again
to the dark  side
of the moon...

and I am transported
to time
more than fifty years  past  when
those of us in the bass section
looked forward every year
to the chance to play the piece again
because
it was one of the few times
we were given official
sanction
to  "blow our guts out"

and we did
and,
by God,
I wish I could have that much fun
again today









Here are a couple of poems by Stanley Moss, from his book,God Breaketh Not  All Men's Hearts Alike, published in 2011 by Seven Stories Press.

Moss was born in New York City and was educated at Trinity College and Yale. Publisher and editor of Sheep Meadow Press, a non-profit press devoted to poetry,  he makes his living as a private art dealer, primarily in Spanish and Italian old masters.



Munich 2010

     to Hans Magnus Enzenberger

I was pleased to see a one hundred-year old  oak
and then lindens that survived the air raids.
Now the city seems to me lyrical, the smoke
of yesteryear blown God knows where.
Now my sixty-five years are toast and marmalade,
are sweet and sour.  The dead not here or there,
the living are here and there, have made the grade,
while grandma and grandpa fell down the hill
with another sixty million not Jack and Jill.
Thou shalt not kill is a bitter pill
to swallow. To be human is not human.
We must learn to choose the better part  of human,
go back to kindergarten waking and sleeping.
Laughter is human, so is weeping.


Down River

     to Zhou Ming

She remembered her dad's kissing-her-everywhere game,
her  puppy pushed off the bed, not much about her  old flame.
She could see his pointed eyebrows, heard, "No rain,
no rainbow." She remembered her Uncle James had a game
off pretending to throw his granddaughter out the window.
Why did she remember that, and what did that have to do
with the forced upon her pleasure and pain
of her dad's finger-inside-her game?
She banished herself for his smell and saliva on her pillow.
Smells can lie, but saliva's true as rain.
What she could not remember they would do again;
he was there, sure as hyacinths are blue.
She buried his ashes under a weeping willow
and went down river in a boat she could not row.








The drought in this area - we are being reminded it never  really left.
 
 
 
sixty percent chance of looking like rain today
 
sixty percent
chance
of looking like rain
today
 
so  far, weatherman's
prognostication
right on
 
---
 
quick  spurt
of rain
like the cloud
escaping
over a shower
curtain
 
---
 
light sheen
over parking lot
cars
where pavement
dry
and crackly
like papyrus
from east-ways
caves
 
---
 
walk slow
if
you want to get
wet
 
fast walkers
like my
dog
may never know the rain
 
---
 
blizzards
in Colorado and New Mexico
 
none here
 
ever
 
---
 
hope
to visit
Colorado and New Mexico
next month
 
hope
to crunch then
through remainders
of snow drifts
today
 
---
 
no snow drifts
here
 
ever
 
---
 
but we do have
dry rocks
all
wet
from millions of
years ago
steamed out
by the sun burning
brighter no
as it edges every day
toward
the dark that will come
over all that  remains
 
---
 
weather reports
for end
of days
inconclusive
but for sure not days
for picnics
under cinder-turning
trees
 
---
 
as the economist
told me about making predictions,
say what and say
when, but
never
say the two
together
 
---
 
weather-man
says
it will rain
 
and
 
science-man
says
the world will end
in a nova-flash
to mark earth's
brightest
day
 
both predict
with
absolute assurance
and we must
agree
 
---
 
sixty percent chance
of looking like
rain today
 
it's
all about
which way the wind
blows











Here are three pieces by Semezdin Mehmedinovic. The poems are taken from his book, Sarajevo Blues, published by City Lights Books in 1998. The poems in the book were translated from the Bosnian by Ammiel Alcalay.

Mehmedinovic is one of Bosnia's most prominent poets and writers. He wrote these poems during the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina, from Sarajevo, when he stayed throughout the Serbian siege, and was active through the war in the city's resistance movement.



Spirituality

In the evening we wait for
the moment forms open:
the sky still in darkness
from the radiance of earthly things -
and then the buildings become like models
blackened by the shadow of their surfaces
and torrid sky appears
as the moon begins to shine amidst the war -

That instant everything -
and my son looking out th window -
cast a divine smile
on the domesticated power of the elements


Kids

S: Harun, come on, get into the house, it's grenading
outside.


Hero

He's a hero, says the soldier in fatigues, pointing at the kid
kneeling on the parquet floor. Killed a Chetnik, he says The
boy put the ammunition belt and the old M48 down on the
floor: he smiles, completely carried away, as he plays with
plastic cars and makes the sound of an engine. On Vraca,
he says, after agreeing to tell the story, my friends took some
shots with a Kalashnikov and nothing. Then I let go twice
and the Chetnik just rolled over. My rifle kills at ten miles,
he said, scratching his forehead with a toy car.









Here's another  from last  year, probably not fodder for the book after the next book.

But still,  the book  might serve as an application for my own series on the Discovery Channel, my own ancient astronauts series.



an unscientific answer to the mystery of the disappearing ancients

a dark night
high atop a mountain

the closest  I've ever been to the night sky

and the stars
deep  and bright
in the clear, dark sky,
seen this night
more than  ten  thousand feet
above earth smog
and lazy-drifting surface fog

and I feel
like a space  creature,
visitor from one of those bright
sharp pricks of light above,
marooned, perhaps, on this muddy bog
of a tiny world in a flyspeck system
on the poor side of the galactic tracks
of the universe

a space creature,
struggling in its last days
to get here,
high above the stark below
for one last look at  his brilliant overhead
home

like
the Anasazi, natives
of this dark-night under wide-open sky region,
their disappearance a mystery to those
who have never seen  the stars
from here, the  stars those  ancients saw,
an impenetrable mystery
to those who never felt the power
of the heavens seen
through this tiny mountain air, who don't understand
the draw of home, who don't  understand  that  though
they are called the first peoples
they are really the last peoples
of their kind, gone
home

leaving us
in our dark-caved fears
behind









Next I have two poems by Marsha Pomerantz. The poems are from her book, The Illustrated Edge,
published in 2011  by Biblioasis.



Cow in a Gallery

Thicker  slices than you'd ever think,
no pink lights in the meat  case.
This is me with precision  plastic pins holding
hide and all under utter incandescence,

me here, continuous through all interruptions,
through people crossing through my spine,
my only straight line.
This is my spleen, this is my underwater liver

that, eating slow, I worked so hard to grow.
These  are my mutabilities of brown, my surfaces
absorptive in all senses, my anus urging wonder
in ever-new directions.

I'm doing this for you, consumer:
only you can get out of this
something like alive.

Feed me, please,
your possibilities,
and i will fatten you.


What To Do  in a Music Emergency

When your car rolls into Harmony Lake,
pretend to hum along. Charm a window open;
swivel out. Swim under the rickety wave  where
notes dock. Pull yourself up through a gap
in the planks - between, say, Boy and Does.
See sun plink the water like  a toy piano.

I  was a child under  a chair once,
rising between  a man's thigh, propping my
elbows on his knees.
                                     sing. There is no  reprise.







Here's another new one from last week.



as good an explanation as any

the wind blows

trees do the shimy-shum,
rolling and roiling
like hula
hips

bushes, closer
to the ground, satisfy themselves
with a little buck
and wing

winter-dried
leaves
scramble
across the parking lot

the sky
ripples, clouds
like waves
of whipping cream in a slow
mix-master twist

---

it's supposed to be a very nice
San Antonio early-spring
day,
long-sleeve-cool and sunny
bright,
and I don't know what's going on,
why the wind is blowing
so this morning;
why the sky seems in some kind of
oceanic
angst,
white clouds in an atmospheric
surf...

when I was younger
we used to say the wind blew in Texas
because Oklahoma
sucked

as good an explanation as any
I can  come u
with
this morning









This the last poem this week from my library. It is by Jose  Emilio Pacheco and it  is from his book City of Memory, published in 1997 by City Lights.

Pacheco, born in 1939, is a novelist, poet, essayist and translator. He lives in Mexico City and is the winner of the  Jose Asuncion Silva Award for the best book of poetry  to appear in Spanish from 1990 to 1995.

This book is bi-lingual, with translation from Spanish by Cynthia Steele and David Lauer.



For You

Not a bottle  at  sea nor vampire's flight,
more like a torn  scrap of paper blowing  toward you
     in the street, the poem.

It's one or the other, you trap  it or  let  it go by,
read it or  throw it in the  trash.

The wind blows where it will:
putting it in your hand or steering it  toward
     nothingness.

It's  a  miracle  that  your eyes  linger
on a scrap  of paper in the street.

Do with  it  what you will.


A Farewell to Arms

One afternoon they arrived from a city up north,
or  maybe from central Mexico.
I couldn't say for sure
after the lies of so many years,
that fiction we  call  memory,
forgetfulness that invents.

Maria Elvira, Ana,  Amalia: names of another time,
nearly identical sisters,
all three of them lovely,
all three our erotic and romantic
preteenage dream.

Out of  vanity or shyness
they never looked at us.
We vied for their attention:
bicycle  stunts, scaling and balancing acts
on cornices and railings,
hand games, ball games, boxing matches,
- all of it to no  avail.

With all hope lost, Marco Vargas
somehow  managed to win their friendship.
And one night the Armas sisters' mother
invited us over.

Pate  sandwiches,Munder cider,
two hours of  chatting  right in the long  room.

Marco and I
left more in love than ever with Ana,
Maria Elvira, and Amalia.

And the next day
all three of them went back to where they came  from:
their father  killed  someone
or got an  important promotion.

We never saw the  again.
That one night was our farewell  to arms.








Here's another old poem, in my head for years and years before I finally wrote it down early last year, the kinds of thing you think of when yet another birthday approaches.

 
 
falling
 
I fell
into thinking of time
this morning,
like falling
into a deep well
 
thinking ob my brother
who died in 1996
who would be 78 today,
of my girlfriend in 1962, old as me now,
and her bedroom
upstairs,
parents gone for the night,
50 years ago,
thinking
of playgrounds,
of fast cars,
of hot nights and cold mornings
on mountains,
of beaches at night
when a cold winter wind blows,
of the things
I wanted
and never got,
the things I got but never
wanted, of the math teacher
with great legs,
of the English teacher
who never believed I could write,
and the other English teacher
who believed
I could,
of  drill sergeants
and old Russians and
pretty girls who might have said,
yes,
and the ones who said, no,
and the ones
I should have never asked,
and desert winds
and the Hindu Kush behind
blowing sand,
oh,
and the suicide
on the roof, talk me down,
he said
or buy me another beer,
and the fella
who walked like a girl
and sang dirty songs while the band
played and played,
and my first bag of marbles
and first ice cream sandwich
and first bicycle
and first bb gun and first
kiss
and first kiss-off.
so  many things,
like falling into a deep  well,
once in
so hard to get out
 
thinking of the long and short corridors
of time and life,
of my father dead
more than 30 years and my mother
dead nearly 20,
and my brother who would be 78
if alive today









My birthday poem.


happy birthday

happy birthday
to me -
my 69th today

I don't always play
the odds
but I usually know them
and odds are that with a modicum
of average-Joe
luck
i should make it
to 75

(all bets off  after that)

75 minus 69
equals
6 years - 2,191 days
(counting one leap year day)

2,191 days
equals
2,191 poems
to  write before
the last day whistle
blows

this is the first
one -2,190
to go












That's It.

Everything belongs to the ones who made it.

If you want my stuff, take it. Just properly credit "Here and Now" and me.

I'm allen itz, owner and producer of this blog.

I have books for sale. Here's where they are and where you can get them.

They're cheap, which is the whole idea behind ebook publishing. Plus, Bookbaby informed me last week that they've added a new distributor, Scribd

Scirib is the world largest online library, with conversions if over a billion pages of written works into web pages. They can be accessed from any web-enabled mobile device.


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



still reputable places all


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 select coffeehouses in San Antonio






Seven Beats a Second











Short Stories






Sonyador - The Dreamer





 

0 Comments:

Post a Comment



Archives
May 2006
June 2006
July 2006
August 2006
September 2006
October 2006
November 2006
December 2006
January 2007
February 2007
March 2007
April 2007
May 2007
June 2007
July 2007
August 2007
September 2007
October 2007
November 2007
December 2007
January 2008
February 2008
March 2008
April 2008
May 2008
June 2008
July 2008
August 2008
September 2008
October 2008
November 2008
December 2008
January 2009
February 2009
March 2009
April 2009
May 2009
June 2009
July 2009
August 2009
September 2009
October 2009
November 2009
December 2009
January 2010
February 2010
March 2010
April 2010
May 2010
June 2010
July 2010
August 2010
September 2010
October 2010
November 2010
December 2010
January 2011
February 2011
March 2011
April 2011
May 2011
June 2011
July 2011
August 2011
September 2011
October 2011
November 2011
December 2011
January 2012
February 2012
March 2012
April 2012
May 2012
June 2012
July 2012
August 2012
September 2012
October 2012
November 2012
December 2012
January 2013
February 2013
March 2013
April 2013
May 2013
June 2013
July 2013
August 2013
September 2013
October 2013
November 2013
December 2013
January 2014
February 2014
March 2014
April 2014
May 2014
June 2014
July 2014
August 2014
September 2014
October 2014
November 2014
December 2014
January 2015
February 2015
March 2015
April 2015
May 2015
June 2015
July 2015
August 2015
September 2015
October 2015
November 2015
December 2015
January 2016
February 2016
March 2016
April 2016
May 2016
June 2016
July 2016
August 2016
September 2016
October 2016
November 2016
December 2016
January 2017
February 2017
March 2017
April 2017
May 2017
Links
Loch Raven Review
Mindfire Renewed
Holy Groove Records
Tryst
Poems Niederngasse
BlazeVOX
Eclectica
Michaela Gabriel's In.Visible.Ink
zafusy
The Blogging Poet
Poetsarus.Com
Wild Poetry Forum
Blueline Poetry Forum
The Writer's Block Poetry Forum
The Word Distillery Poetry Forum
Gary Blankenship
The Hiss Quarterly
Thunder In Winter, Snow In Summer
Lawrence Trujillo Artsite
Arlene Ang
The Comstock Review
Thane Zander
Pitching Pennies
The Rain In My Purse
Dave Ruslander
S. Thomas Summers
Clif Keller's Music
Vienna's Gallery
Shawn Nacona Stroud
Beau Blue
Downside up
Dan Cuddy
Christine Kiefer
David Anthony
Layman Lyric
Scott Acheson
Christopher George
James Lineberger
Joanna M. Weston
Desert Moon Review
Octopus Beak Inc.
Wrong Planet...Right Universe
Poetry and Poets in Rags
Teresa White
Camroc Press Review
The Angry Poet