Hard Rock, Paleo-Style   Monday, February 11, 2013





Another week, this one featuring a rerun of pictures I took in 2010 when my son and I took a hike to the top of Enchanted Rock, an enormous red granite dome in the hill country, covering approximately 640 acres, rising 450 above the surrounding terrain to a height of 1,825 feet above sea level. Evidence indicates human visitation to the "rock" from as early as 10,000 years ago. My first visit was when I was ten. Every year we visited my father's hometown, Fredricksburg,and just about every year climbed the rock as part of our annual visit. At the time, it was on private ranch land whose owner had no  objection to visitors. It is now an official State Natural Area as part of the start park system. It  is also designated a state historical landmark.

Folklore of local  Tonkawa, Apache, and Comanche attributes magical powers to the site (thus the name Enchanted Rock). Ghost fires were said to flicker at the  top of the dome, and the rock's contractions and expansions from day to night created creaks and groans said to be the ghosts talking.

The first European to see the rock was probably Cabeza de Vaca who visited the area in 1536. It's hard to miss  from the surrounding countryside.

I also have this week the normal mix of library poems, anthology poems, and my own poems, new and old. Included among the new are more  poems in my Chekhov's 8 qualities  of cultured people theory. The only difference from previous


Here's the lineup.


Me
Chekhov's8 qualities of cultured people - #3
 
James Wright
A Blessing
 
Me
mysteries of night and morning
 
Marty Andrews
Mary's Boy
 
Me
Chekhov's 8 qualities of cultured people - #4
 
Charles Foster
How Everything Was  in the End Resolved in California
 
Me
but what does it  all mean?!
 
Carol Coffee Reposa
Facts of Life
 
Me
in a Mexican courtyard, 1959
 
Hayden Carruth
The Cows at Night
 
Me
about these cold winds that blow
 
Anna Akhmatova
from Bezhetsk
 
Me
Chekhov's 8 qualities of cultured people - #5
 
Me
path to enlightenment
 
Charles Bukowski
bums and heroes
 
Me
rodeo days
 
Rebecca Gonzales
South Texas Summer Rain
 
Me
unlike some,  I've been  born only once
 
Cornelius Eady
Birthing (from Brutal Imagination)
 
Me
Chekhov's 8 qualities of cultured people - #6
 
Ron McFarland
Idaho Requiem
 
Me
a cold, fishhook  moon
 
Fady Joudah
Landscape
 
Me
anthropocene










I've been writing this Chekhov's qualities of cultured people, intending them to be a satire on Facebook culture. I must be a lousy satirist because, so far, nobody seems to have noticed that they're satire.

But I still have five (after this one) to go and decided to change my plans or  the series, dropping the satire and going straight for farce.

For anyone visiting "Here and Now" for the first time, the first  two  poems in my "Chekhov's  cultured people" are in my previous post.



Chekhov's 8 qualities of cultured people - #3
     They respect the property of others, and therefor pay their debts.

(Facebook version)

installment debt
is a wonderful financial instrument
for those of us
who expect to die in a fiery airplane crash
with a huge insurance
payoff -

and especially wonderful
for those of us who think we know a way
to fake our death
in a fiery airplane crash
with a huge insurance
payoff

the sandy beaches
of many Caribbean islands
being especially
welcoming to those of us
who enjoy the benefit of huge insurance
payoffs...

but
not being one of the clever
or lucky ones
I have never gone to a fiery death
in an airplane crash
nor have I figured out how to fake one,
leaving me stuck with an ever-continuing monthly payment
on my 1956 Frigidaire, concentrating
all my investments in
commodities
such as bacon and pinto beans
at my local supermarket

and owing my soul
to the company store
that left me with 346 books
of worthless Green Stamps when they went
corporate and
national











Here's my first poem from this week's anthology, Across State  Lines.

The poet is James Wright, the state is Minnesota.



A Blessing

Just off the highway to Rochester, Minnesota,
Twilight bounds softly forth on the grass.
And the eyes of those two Indian ponies
Darken with kindness.
They have come gladly out of the willows
To welcome my friend and me.
We step over the barbed wire into the pasture
Where they have been grazing all day, alone.
They ripple tensely,  they can  hardly contain their happiness
That we have come.
They bow shyly as wet swans. They love each other.
There is loneliness like theirs.
At home once more,
They begin munching the young tufts of spring in the darkness.
I would like to hold the slenderer one in my arms,
For she has walked over to me
And nuzzled my left hand.
She is black and white,
Her mane falls wild on her forehead,
And the light breeze moves me to caress her long ear
That is delicate as the skin over a girl's wrist.
Suddenly I realize
That if I stepped out of my body I would break
Into blossom.











This is from the next book coming, New Days and New Ways.



mysteries of night and morning

it began
about nine
with thunder and lightning
and rumors of rain
which, turned out, were
only rumors
but it was a nice treat
to ponder any-
way

all that fuss
had settled by four thirty
with a clear  sky
and a full moon, bright
and silver on a soft black sky,
like a cushion,  a night
to rest your head
on

I lay
in the blazing moon glow
like a white-bellied cat, stretching,
lazing on  a dim sea shore,
shining under the moon's  ocean
of bright

my head pillowed back
I watched the moon as it slipped
toward morning - west, behind pale,
passing clouds, slowly
dipping
behind the trees that line the creek

no sun yet
but you can hear the night give up
with a sigh, a rustle of birds
in the trees,dogs sensing the scent
of a new day, barking
at the moon
setting
around the curvature of the earth,
soft, like a reclining woman's
rounded hip,
it's night shadows
overtaking
the fading light
of the other side of the world,
the part that is not my part,
where other  people live
lives as mysterious to me as
the traveling moon
itself,
ancient
and steady in its orbit,
silver side to me,
dark side  unknown

my day begins
here,
now,
unknown
as to what it will  be,
another dark side hidden
before  its moment
arrives,
fresh
and untested,
as mysterious, I suppose
to  the others
as theirs is to me









This next poem, is by Marty Andrews, a new poet friend I just met on the Blueline, "House of 30" forum. She was born in Minnesota, lived for many years in Minnesota and now spends most of each year in Arizona. She taught high school English teacher, then retired to take over new family responsibilities. Freed from most of  those responsibilities now, she has turned more of her attention  to  reading and writing.

This is a powerful poem, made ever more powerful because Marty knew Ambassador Chris Stevens when he was a boy and  has stayed in touch with his mother, Mary.

I don't want to dilute the  power of the poem by throwing in my own two cents,  but I have to  say I have never been more disgusted with Republican politics than when watching them, including my two senators  from Texas, try to make political advantage out of the death of this and his fellow patriotic Americans.




Mary's Boy

Please don't further desecrate the legacy of the ambassador
Like Achilles, dragging he body of Hector through the City of  Troy,
Like Creon,  throwing Polynice's body outside the city gates to be eaten by crows.

Please remember that the ambassador was  a boy once,
Hiking he hills of Mt. Tamalpais,
Amusing friends and siblings with practical jokes and playful games.
Mary's boy, he was,  and, even as a child, he loved to bring people together.
He never knew a stranger.

Maybe it was the legacy off his great, great, great grandfather - Comcomly - who tried to bridge
the gap between the Chinook nation and the white settlers who
Gave the boy his gifts; the gift of language and the gift of understanding others.

The  ambassador absorbed these gifts.
He jogged through the streets of Benghazi, not entourage of black  limos
No retinue off armed guards.
He would turn to those following him and ask them to join him for coffee,
Disarming them with his fluent friendliness and curiosity, joy and charisma.

As so  often when cultures collide
And when misunderstandings prevail,
Whoever it was who stalked him, found him,  killed him
Did not know they had  destroyed
Their best hope for the future.

Like his Chinook ancestor whose  land was taken from him and his people
As a reward for his  bridge-building,
Mary's boy, the ambassador was rewarded with premature and tragic death.

But please don' further  desecrate his legacy.
No one in particular is yet to blame.
Such recrimination will solve nothing.
It will only drag the body through the street and invite crows to feast.
His work should be continued
Waiver Not, he might have said.
And as his mother said with simple eloquence,
Well, it won't bring him back,  will it.









Here's number 4 in the  Chekhov  series.



Chekhov's 8 qualities of cultured people - #4
They are not given to babbling and forcing their uninvited confidences on others. Out of respect for
people's ears they more often keep silent than talk 
 
 
(Facebook version)
 
just
wait
till
you hear
i
tell my
Facebook
friends
it's 
my very
biggest
biggest
secret
ever...
 
but
you
have to
promise
not 
to tell









From  the anthology, the state that is subject of this poem is California. The poet is Charles Foster.



How Everything Was in the End Resolved in California
 
it
wasn't 
san
andreas
fault
it  wasn't
mine
things
just
started
sliding








Here's another from the prospective  New Days and New  Ways.



but what  does  it  all mean?!

sky
hanging  low  and heavy
this  morning,
clouds dark and deep

something's up

^^^^

that's the way
this poem begins

what's next?

what are these
heavy
low
dark and deep
clouds  predicting
for  this  morning

^^^^

are the
heavy
low
etc.
clouds a representation
of smoke, the fires  of apocalypse
burning  again  today,
the first  sparks
here in the Texas hill country
of the conflagration
that will  sweep the world
in  its final throes of judgement
day,
brimstone's
next on the agenda

I know some hard-shell ecclesiasticals
who would buy into that
in a minute,
unquestioning believers
in every chapter, verse, word,
period, comma, and colon of the Word
which says and they agree
we're due our heavenly smiteance any day now
and all these
low
heavy
etc.
clouds prove the time is here

hallelujah,
praise be to He who smites

^^^^

on the other hand
all these etc, clouds could be
sign of the wave of alien invasion,
like in that  movie,
huge alien  spaceships pushing their
broad  gray noses
out of the clouds any minute now,
aliens
with teeth and tentacles and tiny feet
with twisted talons,
come to eat our brains,
rape our women,
abduct our children for  slave labor
in the potato mines
of the barren planet Bitselboogerish -
aliens
come to cut down our trees,
build massive pulp factories
for cheap tennis shoes
to sell  in China
before they eat their  brains,
rape  the children,
abduct their women for slave
labor in pasta mines
on the  other side of the barren planet
Bitselboogerish
where buffaloes no longer roam
and skies are  cloudy all day,
where seldom is heard
a  discouraging word
since everyone is underground
digging for potatoes
and pasta
and you can't  hear them moaning
discouragingly
topside...

I  have a brother-in-law
who would buy into that,
a  watcher-for-aliens
in the night,
discourage because
he's never seen one  except
in the movies where they always get it
wrong,
waiting  every night
for his inevitable  abduction
for weird  alien science
sexual  experiments on the average
alien-believing male
when awarded conjugal visits
with their Lady Gaga simulation
plastikiey,  but pliable
and open  to  new ideas
as to more unusual  practices
of conjugality,

they just want to  see how
it all works,
and he's willing
to show  them, if they're willing
to take  him back with them
to their  fantastical  home planet
of  noodle and
noze

^^^^

or it could just be
that the clouds,all
low
and
heavy
and
dark
and
deep
are just the precursor to rain...

but that's just one crazy idea
too many...

if I was you
I'd go  with apocalypse
or aliens









My next poem  is from Keeping Company, a collection of poems by a  number of San Antonio (not necessarily) armature poets who met regularly to discuss their own and each others'  poetry.

The book was published by Pecan Grove Press  of St. Mary's University in 1996. The poem I selected to use this week is by Carol Coffee  Reposa, at the time,  an English teacher at San Antonio College.  The year before publication she had  spent five  weeks in Russia  as a Fulbright Scholar. She had  publish widely in poetry journals.



Facts of Life

The fiber optics make it all look cosmic:
Sperm like warheads, eggs like planets
Whirling in their milky galaxies
Waiting for the aliens to come.

Yet this  attack is poignant:
Three hundred million swimmers
Shot into an  acid  sea,
Their numbers shrunk to hundreds,  then scores.

A few will beat the heat,strung out
Like cyclists wiggling up  a cliff
On some exhausting tour,
The  pack left miles behind

Or marathoners panting up a hill
Hitting walls
Collapsing on the roadside,
Cutting loss.

A few  reach journey's end.
One wear missile  hits the target.
Plunges home.
And now the occupation starts

A new regime  that changes everything
Demanding constant growth
The quotas greater every day
Until at last a reddened cry
Begins another war.











Half-way through the Chekhov series, this new poem a diversion.



in a Mexican courtyard,  1959

a Mexican courtyard
under a rhinestone studded sky
on a black border town night...

she dances,
slowly, like a cat,
around the courtyard,
pausing before every table
to stretch,  again like a cat
perfect in its shadow body,
feet barely brushing
the dirt floor, compact,
sleek, full breasts,
dark  Indian  nipples
erect,
no burlesque,
no go-go  dancer, nothing  overtly
sexual, more like
a cat  stretching, except she is
naked and it is a whorehouse
and it has to be about sex,
sex as a cat can be like sex,
slow and sensual in every step,
every smooth,silky step
a caress of the night...

15-year-old boys
clutch their tight crotch under the table
and wonder if the girls
they know
could ever be like this









This poem from the anthology Across State Lines celebrates the state of Vermont. It was written by Hayden Carruth.



The Cows at Night

The moon was like a full cup tonight,
too heavy, and sank in the mist
soon after  dark, leaving for light

faint stars and the silver leaves
of milkweed beside the road,
gleaming before my car.

Yet I like  driving at night
in summer and in Vermont:
the brown road through the mist

of mountain dark,  among farms
so  quiet, and the roadside willows
opening out where I saw

the cows. Always a shock
to  remember them here, those
great breathings close in the dark.

I stopped, taking my flashlight
to the pasture fence. They turned
to me where they lay, sad

and beautiful faces in the dark,
and I counted the - forty
near and far in the pasture,

turning to me, sad and beautiful
like girls very long ago
who were innocent, and sad

because they were innocent
and beautiful because they were 
sad.I switched off my light.

But I did not want to go,
not yet, nor knew what to do
if I should stay,for how

in that great darkness could I explain
anything, anything at all.
I stood by the fence.  And then

very gently it began to rain.








This is from the next book, written late in the year, 2011.



about these cold winds that blow

I was sitting
outside last night
in my lawn chair,  about
nine thirty,  two
hours past sundown,
all  blanketed up, planning
to enjoy the on-rush of the cold front
that was on-rushing in,  trees
swoosh-dancing, dingle-dangles
hanging  form the eaves
dang-dingling, wind damn-cold blowing
at fifty degrees
and forty miles an hour
right up under my blanket, near
freezing my tallulahs, not to
mention old satchmo and I  gave it up
and went inside and satisfied myself  with
just listening to the wind,tallulahs and old satchmo
safe and warm...

but it did set me to thinking about women
wearing dresses in the  winter and even though
bereft as they are of tallulahs or even old
satchmo, they must be doing some freezing
when that old north wind whips up their dresses
like a teenage boyfriend beer-drunk
on prom night...

and I'm thinking
that surely explains a lot about
how women get when the weather
gets all cold and blowsey and leaves me
with a whole new attitude
of respect for women and the challenges
of their gender...

and I guess that also  applies
to  the Scots,  maybe even more since
their skirts are so short winter
spring summer and fall

their tallulahs and satchmos
must  be wonders
to
behold...

just guessing of
course







Here's my favorite Russian poet, Anna Akhmatova, from the collection, You Will Hear  Thunder, published in 1985 by Ohio University Press. The poems in the book  were translated by D.M. Thomas.

Akhmatova, born in 1889, died in 1966, was part of  a generation of Russian artists who came to maturity before the 1917 revolution and then had to deal with official discouragement and often persecution. Official suppression insured that none of her poetry was published between 1923 and 1940. Despite that, she was known and revered by the ordinary people of Russia. Five  thousand mourners, mostly the young, crowded into her requiem mass in a Leningrad church.

The title, by the way, is the name of a city in Russia, and yes, I had to look it up.



 from Bezhetsk

There are white churches there, and the crackle  of
     icicles,
The cornflower  eyes of my son are blossoming there.
Diamond nights above the ancient town, and yellower
Than lime-blossom honey is the moon's sickle.
From plains beyond the river  dry snow-storms fly in,
And the people,like the angels in the fields, rejoice.
They have tidied the best room,lit in the icon-case
The tiny lamps. On an oak table the Book is lying.
There stern memory, so ungiving now,
Threw open her tower-rooms  to me, with a low  bow;
But I did not enter, and I slammed the fearful door;
And the town rang with the news of the Child that
     was born
                                                    26 December 1921

_______________

I'm not of those  who left their country
For wolves to tear  it limb from limb.
Their flatter does not touch me.
I will not  give my songs to them.

Yet I can take the exile's part,
I pity all among the dead.
Wanderer, your path is dark,
Wormwood is the stranger's  bread.

But here  in the flames, the stench,
The murk, where what remains
Of youth is dying, we don't  flinch
As the blows strike us,  again and again

And we  know there'll be reckoning,
An account for every hour...There's
More pride,  or fewer tears.
                                                   1922

________________

Behind the lake  the moon's not  stirred
And seems to be a window through
Into a silent, will-lit house,
Where something unpleasant has occurred.

Has the master been brought home dead,
The mistress run off with a lover,
Or has a little girl gone missing,
And her shoes found by the creek-bed

We can't see. But feel some awful thing,
And we don't want to talk.
Doleful,, the cry of eagle-owls, and hot
In the garden the wind is  blustering.
                                                               1922








Here's the next installment in Chekhov's 8 qualities.



Chekhov's 8 qualities of a cultured person - #5
     They do not disparage themselves to rouse compassion. They do not play on the strings of other
     people's hearts so  that they may sigh and make much of them.

Manfred Wiggins
is about to have a heart attack
and he's pleased to tell me about it,
but it's not as bad
as it could be
he says,
after all, a heart attack is relatively quick,
much quicker
than the cancer he's been telling me about,
or the brain tumor
he's felt coming on for years
now,
probably radiation from his cell phone,
he tells me,
and these sniffles
he's had
for three days, the overhead
electric wires
agitating
the ozone layer,
stirring up the filimentatious obviouses
in his lungs, can't
you smell it, he asks, saying,
and I probably broke my toe
last night,
on the chair,
he explains, as I went
to the bathroom
mirror
to  look  at these  dark circles
under my eyes,
can't you see them, he complains,
it's a sure sign of legionnaires disease
from what I've
read,
he says

ah, he sighs

it'll be great to be dead,
he says,
and relatively
healthy
again







Here's another poem that will be in the next book, New Days and New Ways. After re-reading  these  poems for the  past couple of weeks, I'm very pleased with the book. I think it's going to be  my best so far by far.



path to  enlightenment

I intend
to put my brain
on a leash this morning
because I'm thinking I want to be  taken
seriously
as a poet and
adult human being
of the masculine persuasion
and nobody takes nobody serious
who's always running off at the brain
like I'm prone to do,
chasing ever little bushy-tailed squirrel
that happens across my path
to enlightenment,
meaning making it  hard to get  to the end
of that path,
difficult to find enlightenment
that one naturally expects
of a human being
of the masculine persuasion
and a poet to boot

never
even close

chasing squirrels
instead...

but, second-guessing  myself,
something us chasing-every squirrel types
rarely do, and
never without good cause,
I'm reconsidering my decision
to  adopt  the leash-constrained
mode, thinking to  abandon
the chase for the mantle of seriousity
expected of poets and adult human beings
of the masculine persuasion
because there are advantages
to the chasing-squirrel
state of mind,like flushing out a bird
bath, getting  rid of all the leaves and algae
and bird  poop that collects in the presence
of birds and shallow water, giving it a good flush,
a good scraping out,leaving behind clear  water,
water free of entrenched distraction, water
renown for its clear thinking,  water that  knows
its own  mind -  and I'm thinking that is a clear advantage
for the chasing-every-squirrel state of mind, because
how is one to find enlightenment when the path
is strewn with leaves and algae and philosophical  bird
poop?

just won't  work...

if you want to find  enlightenment
you have to clear the path, flush the pump,
like you flush a birdbath and that's what  a chasing-
every-squirrel state of mind, freed from the leash
and of the chase is good for, stirring up such
a frenzy,  a regular twister of misdirection
that blows
all the extraneous crap out of the way, leaving
a clear  path,  enlightenment
just over the next 
rise...

seriously...










Here's a poem by Charles Bukowski, in a more thoughtful mood than  usual. It's from his book Open All Night, published by ecco in 2003.



on bums and heroes

I've thought of e.e. cummings sitting on  his front
porch thinking about nothing
or Thurber going blind
and writing upper middle class stories of madness.
now a few miles  east  of here
the Queen Mary sits moored in Long Beach Harbor
motionless
with tourists in deck chairs
dreaming off how it used to be,
paying to do that
while the Queen  Mary
falls millions of dollars into debt
and nobody knows  what  to do with
her.

the chances get less and less.
the man who used to live here
I still get his magazines and advertisements:
toy soldiers and tanks
that can move and shoot;
World War I uniforms, medals, helmets,
guns;
mace cans, weapons of all sorts;
long knives more beautiful that
the legs of women.

I think of Tolstoy going mad
giving it  all away to  God and the peasants
and the peasants took it all:
his house, his rubles, everything.
this Spiritual Communism
was necessary to Leo.
then he sat by the side of the road
satisfied and at peace
and after that
he wrote nothing but crap.

Hemingway typed standing up
usually beginning at 6 a.m.
one of his definitions of an
alcoholic was
someone who drank  before 
noon.
Ernest seldom wrote anything in the
afternoon.

there was  a cricket who
crawled into an opening in the wall
downstairs
where an electric  socket used to
be
and it was pleasant
because when I turned out the lights
at night
the crickets outside
would  begin their music
and his music would come from
inside the wall.
"let's save him," she said,
"he's going to stave."
"yes." I said
getting up and looking into the
hole
but he always got quiet when I
got close.
then one night
you know the rest.
the chances get  less and less.

when I was very young
about 17
I'd never heard Sibelius or
Shostakovitch
there was  no one for me
except this man in his mid-
thirties
who played right field
for the Angels
in the old Pacific Coast  League
batted left-handed
never made the majors
but hit .332, .338, .337
year after year.
it was something about
the way he stood at the plate
calmly
effortlessly
and with style.
one doesn't forget
first heroes.
two or three years ago
I saw the obit
3 lines in an L.A.. daily:
he'd died at
75.
atta boy, Cleo.

Big Sam
he was so big standing  there
at Sunset and Western.
he walked through clouds and walls.
"I can see it's going to be a
beautiful day!" he'd say.
he talked to  cops and old
ladies
was always sucking on a cigar
and  grinning.
he knew every prostitute within
five miles.
"I can fix you up with anything
you want, Hank, free..."
then it began to happen
he got thinner
and thinner
he stopped grinning
started gambling in Las Vegas
20 hours a day
not coming back to his place
sleeping in a public crapper
for 4 hours
then back to the tables.

then he vanished.
it took me two weeks  to locate
him
in an  old apartment building on
South Normandy Avenue
he  was sitting over  a dishpan
among empty milk cartons
with this sour smell everywhere
and those eyes
close to weeping.
"it's good to see you, Hank,"
he said.
the doctors
had told him that
there was something terribly wrong.
Sam, I don't like the way it
happens.
sometimes it happens too fast
sometimes it  happens too slow.
I never  thought it would happen  to you,
Sam,
but I can see you're getting
ready.

the chances get less and less.











Here's another diversion from Chekhov and his qualities of cultured people. I wrote it last week to take a break between #5 and #6.



rodeo days

got my cowboy boots
on today
cause it's rodeo days
in San Antonio
and when it's rodeo days
in San Antonio
you got to let the cowboy
out
and i'm a cowboy
even though i haven't been
on a horse in at least
twenty-five years
but i know i'm a cowboy
despite that
cause
i have my cowboy boots
on and if i have my cowboy
boots on i must be a
cowboy

it's kinda like me
and poetry

i'm a poet
and i know that
cause i write poetry
and i know it's poetry
cause
i'm a poet
and i write it

it's all pretty simple
of you think
about it
right








I couldn't do this week's anthology, Across State Lines, without including a poem for Texas, a South Texas  poem, no less, by Rebecca Gonzales.



South Texas Summer  Rain

Dust cools easily
with the lightest summer  rain.
Not rocks.
In the midst of  dry brush,
they hold the sun like a match,
a threat to  the water
that would wear them out.

Dust becomes clay,
cups rain like and innocent offering.
Not rocks.

The round their backs to the rain,
channel it down the street where children  play,
feeling the rocks they walk on,
sharp  as ever  under the water,
steaming away.

If rocks hold water at all,
it's only long enough
for  a cactus to  grow  gaudy flowers,
hoard a cheap drink,
flash it like a sin
worth the pain.








And, again from the next book, written in November 2011.



unlike some, I've been born only once

unlike some
I've  been born only
once
and seeing as how
I feel like I made a pretty good
show
out of that one shot, feel
no need to be born
again

even though I recognize that,
on a deeper  level
I am a being of universal elements
and thus certain to be born
again
as I have been born
before uncountable, uncountable times
for the parts that make me
are as old as the universe
and so must be all the things
I've been, things
near to home and faraway-lost
in the vast
unknown regions where stardust
still drifts -
vastly traveled are my parts
so vastly travelled I must be as well, so
varied and old and well-travelled,
I am a marvel

look around you at the vast  everything-ness
that we are, have been and will  be
a part of an
consider how marvellous I am
and you as well

sometimes I think of  the me  that was a
daffodil,
how beautiful I was, much more
beautiful than I am now
though rooted and consequently
less curious than the proto-cat I was,
roaming  with early felines
newly-created to hunt the me
that  was the deer,  or the beaver,
or the small  mouse, hidden in high grasses,
or the grass I might have been or the wiggling
worm that  fertilized the grass-of-me with my
worm droppings...

so many places I've been; so many beings
I've been, so much more than twice-
born am I; so much more than twice-born
will I be in the millennia ahead,
so much more to be,
so much longer to be them,
I can only imagine those  who think  themselves
as more limited must be so very
jealous









The next piece is by Cornelius Eady. It is from his book Brutal Imagination, published by G.P. Putnam in 2001.

The book contains two long series. The first one, from which the book gets its title, is the story of  Susan Smith, the young mother who drown her children in a lake. The poems are written in the voice of the anonymous black man that Smith invented as her kidnapper and the murderer of her children. The final poem combines the voice of the imaginary black man with Susan Smith's voice (in italics) taken from her confession. This is an really amazing combination of new and found poetry.

Remember, again, as you read this, the italicized sections are from Susan Smith's handwritten confession. The regular text is the voice of the imaginary black man she created to blame for her crime.



Birthing (from Brutal Imagination)

When I left my home on Tuesday, October 25, I
was very emotionally distraught

I have yet
To breathe

I am in the back of her mind,
Not even a notion.

A scrap of cloth, the way
A man lopes down a street.

Later, a black woman will say:
"We knew exactly who she was describing."

At this point, I have no language,
No tongue, no mouth.

I am not me, yet.
I am just an understanding

__________

As I rode and rode and rode, I felt
even more anxiety.

Susan parks on a bridge,
And  stares over the rail.
Below her feet, a dark blanket of  river
She wants to  pull over herself,
Children and all.

I am not the call of the current.

She is heartbroken.
She gazes down,
And imagines heaven.

__________

I felt I couldn't be a good mom anymore, but I didn't want
my children to grow up without a mom.

I am not me yet.
As the bridge,
One of Susan's kids cries,
So she drives to the lake,
To the boat dock.

I am not yet opportunity.

___________

I had never felt so lonely
And so sad.

Who shall be a witness?
Bullfrogs, water fowl.

__________

When I was at John D. Long Lake
I had never felt so scared
And unsure

I've yet to be called.
Who will notice?
Moths,dragonflies,
Field Mice.

__________

I  wanted to end my life so ad
And was in my car ready to
Go down the ramp into
The water

My hand isn't her hand
Panicked on the
Emergency brake.

__________

And I did go  part way,
But I  stopped.

I am not Gravity,
The water lapping against
The gravel.

__________

I went again and stopped.
I then got out of the car.

Susan  stares at the sinking.
My muscles aren't her muscles,
burned from pushing.
The lake has no appetite,
But it takes the car slowly,
Swallow by swallow, like a snake.

__________

Why was I feeling this way?
Why was everything so bad
In my life?

Susan stares at the taillights
As they slide from here
To hidden

__________

I have no answers
to these questions.

She only has me,
After she removes our hands
from our ears.








Here's number six in the series on Chekhov's  8 qualities of cultured people.



Chekhov's 8 qualities of cultivated people - #6
     The have no shallow vanity.

(Facebook version)

it being rodeo  days,
I thought I'd  get
a new feather
for my cowboy hat,
a tail feather from a hawk,
I was thinking, or maybe emu
or peacock, or even some
of that Japanese  plastic
parrot plumage, but
the salesman  said none of that
would do any good unless
I did something about  my hair,
maybe some blond streaks,
moussed up a bit, with some
curls around my ears, and
that wouldn't do any good either
if I didn't do a little Botox
for those crow's feet and the
frownlines and maybe something
more serious for the double chin,
and a manicure, of course, and
a pedicure wouldn't  hurt around
the pool and of curse there's
the Speedo with the built-in
crotch enhancer that enhances
swimming pool experiences
immensely, immensely, of course
being the point of it all...

and i was think,
well hell,
all  I wanted was a new feather
for my hat, but if you think
the other will help, I'm willing
to give it  a try

cause
it's a whole new kind
of rodeo these 
days,
you know









Next from the anthology, Across  State Lines, a poem by Ron McFarland celebrating(?) the state of Idaho.



Idaho Requiem
for Robert Lowell

Out here,we don't talk  about culture,
we think we are. We nurtured Ezra Pound
who ran from us like hell
and never dame back. You
never came at all. You
will never  know how clever
we never are out here.
You never drank red beer.
You never popped a grouse
under a blue spruce just because it was there.

Tell  us about Schopenhauer  and your friends
and fine old family. We left ours
at the Mississippi, have no names left
to drop.  We spend our time
avoiding Californians and waiting
for the sage to  bloom,  and when  it does
we miss the damn things half the time.
When a stranger  comes in we smile
and say, "Tell us about yourself."
Then we  listen real close.

But you would say, "I've said what I have to say."
Too subtle, perhaps, for  a can of beer,
too Augustan  for the Snake River breaks.
But how do you know this wasn't just
the place to die?  Why not have those
kinfolk  ship your bones out here, just
for irony's sake? We keep things  plain
and clear because of the mountains.
Our mythology comes down to a logger
stirring his coffee with his thumb.








 
Here's my last from the next book, New Days and New Ways, written, as  were all the poems in the book in 2011, a very good year for me as a poet. This  one is from December that year.



a cold,  fishhook moon

a cold, fishhook moon
floating in a  black, star-specked sky...

the universal  pool of all
overhead
as I  walk the path
downhill in the goose-bump
cold of this post-midnight,
pre-dawn morning...

I wander
in the star-lit dark
searching, as I sometimes do
in the night while others sleep,
for the answers
that even in these late years
elude me, searching
through the mysteries of night,
whether in full-moon light or
dim, no-moon dark,
for the whys and whats
of  a day in the life
of the one among billions
that is me -

carbon-cluster me,
assuming,
with the arrogance
of my kind
that  there  are  answers that
are mine to know









Here's a poem by Fady Joudah, from  his book The Earth in the Attic, published by Yale University Press in 2008.

Joudah is a  Palestinian/American medical doctor and a field member of Doctors Without Borders since 2001.



Landscape

I am the distance from birds to Jerusalem
Is a metaphor I like, just because
It follows the laws of  calculus,
Much as how the chicken crossed the road:

Not why, but how -
a humility of science:
In the first instance,
There is  a point A, which is fixed,

And a point B, which is in flux
and I am the distance
Between them. In the second,
Two objects collapsing in on each other

In an oblique time,
The car pushing perpendicularly,
The chicken running hysterically
Across the long way out,

Children cheering on both sides
Of the upright road. Which goes along
With a story about my mother
When she was a newborn: They

Ran back to the tent
And found her cooing, next
To a bomb that didn't explode. And so
They named her the amusing one.

I do not say the shelling
Scattered them, I do not say
What Daniel my friend told me how
He fled across the borders,

And with each
A cerebral malaria that nearly killed him.
The ducks, however.
Get it right from the first.

The goats,  less so, run
Straight ahead of the car for a while,
Before they found their sidestep. The drivers
Slow down, or gun it, and grin.








I want to save my last two  poems in  the Chekhov series for  next  week. So,  having nothing else new  to offer, here's  one more old poem from the next book, New Days and New  Ways. To  read any more from  the  book you'll have to buy it when it comes out,  a plan I strongly endorse.


anthropocene

that's what  they are now calling
"the age of man"
meaning, I'm not sure, either
the time humans
begin to occupy the earth as
masters of the period  beginning
earlier when man existed primarily
as  small, scampering jungle
prey...

but I'm pretty sure "the age of man,"
however  defined, came after
the "age of dinosaurs"
about which I'm not sure, were
they reptiles or mammalian cousins
of man that just happened to lay eggs
or as I've begun to hear
somehow related to chickens and
I'm not sure if chickens are  reptiles
of mammals with wings
or something else entirely different
along with turkeys and hawks
and eagles and red red robins and even
carrion eating vultures

but I am delighted that there is a chance
that the "age of man" followed the "age
of chickens" and considering
how stupid chickens are
whether the "age of man"  would have ever
come about had  we  been competing
for an age of our won with something smarter,
a dog or a pig maybe, maybe leaving us,
had it been thus, sleeping
in a slop pen in  the "age of pig"

and putting all that ancient  history aside
one can't  help but wonder whose age
the next will be

considering our record so far during my particular part
in the "age of man"
the "age of ash and cinder"
might seem a fair  prospect  for the  next age,
or
maybe a
better  case scenario,  the "age
of  cockroach"

think of that next time you squash
a cockroach
with your pointy-toed cowboy boot -
it might be your heirs
you're squashing,
and, heaven  forbid
that  they have a long memory

plan for the future -
that's what you have to do
when you're responsible for a whole
age

^^^

meanwhile,
across the way,
a herd of deer graze across a  broad pasture,
except
not bunched like a herd,
but scattered individually
across the field,  as if
each deer walking  its own way
decided
on its own to stop for  a bite
at the pasture across the way

solitary deer, each at its own meal,
not Texas  deerr,
too much alone, New  York deer, maybe
commuters
at a  quick-stop  pasture,
adapting to the "age of man"

and my cockroach-meanmood
is lifted,
maybe there's  a chance for  an "age
of  deer" instead,
a  return to golden fields and forestds, a return to the
"age of first nature:
before the jealous god split time
and brought the misery of ages
to human and  all  the other creatures
alike

or
maybe
if I believe that hard enough
it will make,  at least,
a  better
day










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