Raise the Colors   Wednesday, February 06, 2013





Photos last  week from  Colorado, this week  from  the Blueridge  Parkway - mid-winter in Colorado, early winter on the blueridge.

The anthology this week, Atomic Ghost, most poems from the 1950s when nuclear war seemed almost inevitable to many.

My stuff, as usual.

 
Me
Sheriff Jake Kane
 
Benjamine Alire Saenz
Creation
 
Me
about the straight and narrow
 
Cambell  McGrath
Neruda
 
Me
it will get better
 
Adrian C. Louis
Nevada Red Blues
 
Me
fulcrum
communion
 
Maxine Kumin
Taking the Lambs to  Market
 
Me
why, she asks
 
W.D. Ehrbart
The Way Light Bends
 
Jane Hirshfield
Noon Bells, Lake Como
Changing Everything
Bees
The In-turning Flow of the Fig
 
Me
once is good enough for me
 
Shinkichi Takahashi
Destruction
 
Me
the fish who seeks the sea
 
a selection of Bengali poets
Kajal Chakaborty
Tarun Sankayal
Kalikrishna Guha
 
Sharon Olds
When
 
Me
Chekhov's 8 qualities of cultured people - #1
 
Jack Marshal
In the Shadow of the Poisoned Wind
 
Me
in the time of emergence
 
Andre Codrescu
The Introduction
 
Me
Chekhov's 8 qualities of cultured people - #2









I start this week with the story of a man who came to mind, after many years, while I was falling asleep.

He was sheriff of the little town where I grew up. I was just a kid and he seemed to me to be a living legend. He never said a word to me and, being a kid, never said a word to him, but still, I felt like Matt Dillon lived in my small bump of a town and it made me feel safe.



Sheriff Jake Kane

long-legged
and Gary Cooper  lean,
crag-face  like Randolph Scott,
white Stetson,
plain khaki uniform
and boots that made him even taller
than he was flat-footed

kept the peace

broke up bar fights
when he had to, stepped in when martial disagreements
got out of hand,
counseled young men
fringing on the bad side of life,
introduced them to the army recruiter
if the thought they had promise,
made sure they understood
their options
weren't so good if they stayed in town...

but mostly he just made himself seen,
law enforcement by being around,

he was the law in my little town

pulled a rabid dog
from under Wilma Maynes
falling-down
house

died of it









The first poem from this week's anthology, Atomic Ghost, begins at the beginning.

The poet is Benjamin Alire Saenz, American Book Award winner in 1991 for his first book of poems, Calendar of Dust. At the time the anthology was published, he taught Creative Writing at the University of Texas, El Paso.



Creation

     Trinity Site, New Mexico
     5:30 A.M., July 16, 1945

     "Let there be light"
     And there was light

    The sun was slow in arriving that morning
though it was no longer dark, was  light enough,
and having been born with good eyes, we could see.
We stood on the cool cactus sand which was once
an ocean with a patience we rarely practiced.
It  was hard to imagine so much water in this place
of permanent  thirst. Motionless, we stood
just as we once waited for our sons to struggle
out of our wives. The labor wasn't long,
but the longest ten seconds of our lives. Ten
seconds, that was all -
    And then the man-made flash -
twice  as  large as the sun -  photographed the moment
in fire. Flames burning the sands,
slashing the face off the calm.
    The ball of thunder strangled
the sky. Reached, blasted, bounced on rocks,
became a perfect tower - taller, wider, whiter
than the Aztecs ever dreamed or desired.
All  the gilded temples where we crossed ourselves
and worshipped perished in the smoke. Everything
surpassed in the new incense.  Falling.
On our knees. It  seemed to reach for us.
We prayed for it to stop, yet urged it on.
The air exploded hot,  grew cold, then hot  again
invoking Indian winds to  rise, to  blow,
to  break the earth  in half.
    Then it was silent.
Motionless, we stood - the air throwing us
back, and remembered our selves, our past,
the boyhood houses filled with women's  singing.
We rose, surveyed the aftermath of our great
experiment. There  was not much damage:
rearranged sand,  uprooted bushes, a few dead
rabbits. This was, after all, already a desert,
already named Jornada del Muerto, plain
of the no-personed God.
    We had seen. And lived.
We  blessed ourselves, smelling the victory.
We put on jubilant smiles in the face
of the outcome. But the smiles fell off
unable to withstand the great success.

    The sun was slow  in arriving that morning.
Those of us who bore witness saw it rise
in the new sky, motionless, but it no longer
gave enough light. Now, after many years,
our eyes have grown accustomed to the dark.








Here's my first poem this week from my next book, New Days and New Ways, due for  release sometime this summer.



about the straight and narrow

there's nothing wrong
with considering alternative possibilities -

doesn't necessarily mean
dissatisfaction
with your current state of affairs -

(I say that to avoid
any marital tension that might
arise
over this  little
exercise in creatively imagining
alternatives
to the present what is and the past what was
and the perfect future what will  always be,
I promise)

it's just a natural curiosity
about the life that might come
from stepping off the path

nothing radical,
not like buying a red convertible
sports car, or running off to Acapulco
with the blonde at the cofffeeshop

just a little step this way,
a step or two that way,
and all the things that are
your life, might not be
anymore, might be something
entirely
or  maybe  slightly
or maybe not  at all  different

that's a question
for the philosophers -
how much of what is was
always to be, how much different
can a life be from what it was  set  out to be
at its beginning,
how many of the decisions
we make from cradle to grave
were made for us before we ever
even groped for the first time
for mother's  nipple

but
such questions are for deeper thinkers
than this minor poet,
tickling, at  best little ideas
from smaller questions than
deep-thinking thinkers
will  ever spend their thinking on

like  I just want to know
about small  results for minor forays
off the mostly boring  straight and narrow
my life is,
with minimal  attention,
is lumbering along

like
what if  I took a bit of  exercise
daily, would I become grossly healthy,
with low blood  sugar and cholesterol,
and mean and lean
and tanned and lovely and able to  eat
coconut cream pie whenever  I  felt like it;
or what if I completely shaved my head and
presented my body to  skin  artists
of the highest quality for their most
beautiful work, would I  immediately attract
the carnal  attentions  of long-legged,
similarly inked motorcycle
mamas with large breasts and dainty
ears that listen to my every word,
attendant to my ever  perverted 
desire, like (don't tell anyone) midnight
fantasies
of acrobatic sexual antics  atop
the Germanish studly roof
of a '49 Volkswagen
Rabbit

with just a little exercise
every day
would Nobel-Prize-winning-professors
from all the major centers of learning
throughout the world friend me
on Facebook and contact me  regularly
for up-to-the-minute updates on how
the cow
ate the cabbage;
would I win the lottery,would my local bank
contact me,  apologizing  for all  the mistakes made
in my checking account with the millions
upon millions of  dollars mistakenly deducted
because of the checks  I wrote for the purchase
of stupid things that broke  upon expiration
of warranty or made me fat
and old?

I should get some  money back
on that kind of stuff - you too,
I'm thinking...

but
to the point,
would any of that
happen if I were to  take one tiny step
off the pathway of my life
and do something entirely different
slightly that didn't require
any great effort
on my part?

if not,
just forget it









From my library, I have a poem by Campbell McGrath, from his book, Seven  Notebooks. The book was  published in 2008 by ecco, a HarperCollins  imprint.

About the best summary of Pablo Neruda  I've ever read.



Neruda

A materialist.
A collector and a collective.
A national museum.

Curator of wordplay and world ego,
luxurious seashells and Guamanian coconut stamps,
bells, figureheads, ships in bottles,
roots and smooth stones.

Nature, but not raw,
nature humanized and ameliorated,
as if  he would  inhabit  it
eye to eye,
erotically coequal  to its hand-worked figurations  -
driftwood snakes, fruit flies in amber,
horses in snowy show ring.

Ringmaster,
wielder  of  the whip

And, concomitant, essential human forms
and artifacts: carnelian broach,
giant  shoe from the village cobbler in Temuo -
but not the vast forests  of childhood,
not the cordilleras at dawn.

Not  a fact-checker,  not a scrupler.

A maestro, an  impresario,
president of Pablo   Neruda Enterprises,
director of the great public works project: Pablo Neruda.

Always Neruda, never Reyes or Basoalto.
Neruda,Neruda.

Raices y piedras: Neruda.









I do hope it works out like this because I really do  feel crappy today.




it will  get better

trying to think
on this bright and sunny day
how anyone
ever has blues

a glorious
and beneficent world,
even  to these tired and droopy eyes,
not always easy
but what of any worth is

so I struggle
to understand those
who see this same world
with eyes so dark and frightened
they never see a silver 
lining,
only the clouds, those who so expect
the clouds
that the clouds they make cloud
their eyes to any bright,
make invisible and impossible
any better world
than the one they create for themselves

I believe
we make the world we live in
through our own attitude and expectations,
we make the choice to live in the dark or the light
so,  when asked  how I am
I always answer with conviction,
"Outstanding,"
because, I  say, "Outstanding is what I don!"

even on days
like today
when I feel like some old dirty sock
left, ripening,
under the bed for a  week and a half

it will get better,
I'm sure








The next poem from the Atomic Ghost anthology is by Adrian C. Louis,  an enrolled member of the Lovelock Paiute Indian Tribe.



Nevada Red Blues
 
Where live fire began to inhabit you
-  Pablo  Neruda
 
We live  under
slot machine
stars
that jackpot
into the black
velvet
backdrop
and
mirror the greed
of the creatures who stole our land
 
Numa,
it was
not
enough
for  Taibo
to make
our sacred land
a living
though 
pustulous
whore.
 
He
had
to drop
hydrogen bombs
where
thousands
of years
of  our blood
spirits lie
´╗┐








Here's a couple of  pieces  from the next book.



fulcrum

birds
gather in the trees
at  twilight
knowing all the secrets
of night,
drawing together
as  dark draws them in,
settles  them into the soft cradle of
a crescent
moon

I feel twilight
and shadows approaching

cannot  find the fulcrum
that is my own
ascendant
moon
 
 
communion
 
a
congregation
of pigeons flies in
lands in the parking lot
putters
mutters
peck
peck
pecks
at the asphalt
eating
I don't know
what
 
 








Next, I have a piece from Looking for Luck, a book of poems by Maxine Kumin. The book  was published by W.W. Norton in 1992.



Taking the  Lambs to Market

All due  respect to the blood  on his  bandsaw,
table,  hands  and  smock, Amos is an  artist.

We bring  him something living,breathed,furred
and meet it next in a bloodless sagittal section.

No matter  how we deplore his profession
all of  us  are  eating, even  Keats

who  said, If a Sparrow come before my Window
I take part in its existence and pick
about the Gravel, but dined  on mutton.

Amos, who  custom cuts and double wraps
in white butcher paper whatever we  named,
fed, scratched behind the ear, deserves our  praise:

a decent man who  blurs the line of  sight
between our conscience and our appetite.








True story.



why, she asks

under yellow  streetlights
moths  circle
with an  occasional nighthawk
flit-by

and a grocery cart
overturned under the light, aluminum cans
scattered across the road,  a ragged man
lying dead in the left
lane

merchants around
knew him,
harmless guy, they said,
friendly, collected his cans,
did chores now and again
for meals, drank some sometimes,
they said, sometimes  didn't

little girl
in a car passing slowly,
presses her  face to  the window,
why is the man sleeping on the road, Daddy,
she asks

father doesn't  answer

doesn't
know








The next poem from the anthology is by much-published author W. D. Ehrhart.


The Way Light Bends

A kind of blindness, that's what's needed now.
Better not to  know.Better to notice
the way light bends through trees in winter dusk.

What,  after all, does knowledge bring? Cold rage,
the magnitude of history, despair.
A kind of blindness,  that's what's needed now

because it's  hard enough to pay the bills.
So long  as you can still appreciate
the way light bends through trees in winter dusk,

what's possible, what is, what can't be changed
is better left to dreamers,  fools and God.
A kind of blindness,  that's what's  needed now,

the wisdom not to think about what  waits
in dark  holes beneath the earth.  Marvel at
the way light bends through trees in winter dusk

and don't imagine how the light will  bend
the way light bends through trees in winter dusk
and burst forever when the missiles fly.
A kind of blindness, that's what's needed now.








From my library, here's  Jane Hirshfield with several poems from her  book,  The Lives of the Heart, published in 1997 by Harper  Perennial, an imprint of HarperCollins.



Noon Bells, Lake Como

Minutes apart,
from every side of the lake
they name  the hour,
as if time
here were many, not one -

A story told this  way
in Menaggiom but in Cadenabbia,
different -
"A cow? It was a goat,
with my own eyes I saw it."


Changing Everything

I was walking again
in the woods,
a yellow light
was sifting all I saw.

Willfully,
with a  cold heart,
I  took a stick,
lifted it to  the opposite side
of the path.

There, I said to myself,
that's done now.
Brushing one hand against the other,
to  clean them
of the tiny fragment of bark.


Bees

In every instant, two gates.
One opens to  fragrant paradise,  one to hell.
Mostly we go  through  neither.

Mostly we  nod to our neighbor,
lean down to pick up the paper,
go back into the house.

But the faint cries - ecstasy? horror?
Or did you think it the sound
of distant bees,
making only the thick honey of this good  life?


The In-turning Flow of the Fig

Within  her dark robes
the nun is silent,
passion kept
between herself
and the largeness.
She moves
no  differently
down granite stairs,
continues  to sew poorly.
Questioned,
she  would deny it all.









A seasoned traveller knows that each bit of beauty only shows itself once. To see it requires the traveler to be receptive and alert.



once is good enough for me

I know
a volcanic crater
left from ancient days of thunder and fire
that is a meadow now,
broad across, covered in high
yellow grasses
that blow in golden waves under
midday mountain sun

I know a beach covered in stones
rubbed smooth and round
by the rough caress
of rolling tides, ten thousand years
polished, the glow off moonlight,
beacons of passing years

---

I know these  places
and many more because I've seen them,
but I know I'll never see them again
because, like most travellers
who prefer the small and uncharted roads,
I find many beautiful places
I'll never find again

you
who travel the main roads
never suffer this loss of beauty
for you always know where you're going
and where you've been,
it's the in-between you lose, a wind-streaked blur
passing

but I've seen these things,
found  these other places once,
places you'll never see,
and once for me, to remember
and cherish
is  good enough for me









This poem from Atomic Ghost is by Shinkichi Takahashi, thought by the Japanese to be their greatest Zen poet. The poet lived from1901 to 1987.

His poem was translated by Takashi Ikemoto



Destruction

The universe is forever falling apart -
No need to  push the button.
It collapses at a finger's touch.
Why it barely hangs on the tail of  a  sparrow's  eye

The universe is so much eye secretion,
Hordes leap from the tips
Of your nostril hairs. Lift your right hand:
It's  in your palm. There's room enough
On the sparrow's eyelash for the whole.

A paltry thing, the universe:
Here is all strength, here the greatest strength.
You and the sparrow are one
And, should he wish,  he can crush you.
The universe trembles before him.












Here's another poem from 2011 that will  be  in my next book, New Days and New Ways.



the  fish who seeks  his sea

Rumi
tells of the fish
who  vainly sought the sea
while the great ocean
was all around and
within him...

I am the fish

seeking glory
beyond the glory
of my mere existence

seeking beauty
beyond the unmined beauty
of my heart
and in every other heart
that touches mine

seeking wealth
when no wealth can buy
the things I most desire
or the forgetfulness that is
my greatest need

I am the fish

seeking gods
when the only God  is within me,
within the cosmic speck
of myself  that is born of all selves
but like no other one,
master of my own universe,
a creature of all universes
but like no other one,
my own self that will  fade, with its universe
when the time
for a newer self,
a newer reality,
arrives

I am the fish
and I am the sea I seek
and hope  someday
to find












From Exchanges, Number 9, Fall 1997,  I  have this, translated by Carolyn Brown.



a selection of Bengali  poets


Woe

if the dark hours put life in our hands
then does  dawn lay death at our feet?

as a boy, Krishna had no desire  to  kill
nor did  he  aspire to heaven

dark hours are spun with delight
but sorrow returns  at dawn

- Samsal  Haque


Fatherhood

one wave  draws intricate designs
on the  sand,  the next wave washes
over them - it's the same every day

another life is going to wash over mine

- Kajal Chakraborty


Returning

maybe youth was a sapphire-blue feather that spun out of reach
someone fashioned it into a crown
I have no crown, no gold around my arms or waist
was I ever young? when? where has it gone?

the blue under my nails - it's dirt black now
grass has no  secrets, seeds have no hidden beds
from dust we return to dust - if I should come back as dust
will I remember all the silence and love and waist

is it shut behind a pane of glass, a bright yellow fence
barbed wire, electrified?
enter my heart, chafing insults, wretched torments - wreck me
on the horns of the crescent moon, as punishment rescue me

someone out of reach once fashioned
a feather  crown, then left
I will return as clay or cinders - in long violet evenings
women fling dust over  blood-red memories

- Tarun Sanyal


Distance

I compose distance

rain brings amnesia's altered perspective
rain brings  partial darkness, promised
rain brings obscured vision, long-lost childhood, sleep
rain brings menstruating women's songs, wigs
rain brings deranged compositions full of soliloquies
rain brings sheltering cedar along with blindness

where have I put my hands? let me see, behind the clouds...

- Kalikrishna  Guha







This poem from Atomic  Ghost is by Sharon Olds.



When

I wonder now  only when it will happen,
when the young mother will hear the
noise like somebody's pressure cooker
down the block, going off. She'll  go out in the yard,
holding her small daughter in her arms,
and there, above the end of the street, in the
gold ball,  large  as  a giant
planet starting to lift up over ours.
She will  stand  there in the yard holding her  daughter,
looking  at it rise and glow and blossom and rise,
and the child  will  open her arms to it,
it will look so beautiful.









I start this series this week; will complete it next week (assuming I complete it at ll)



Chekhov's 8 qualities of cultured people - #1
     Respectful of human personality, always kind,  gentle, polite, and ready to give in to others

(Facebook version)

retain always
a belief
in the possibility
that we
may be better than the creatures
of the forest and the field

tolerate
the fools who rebuke you
for your wit and sensibility;
inferior
they may be, but still human
as you, subject to the same fears
as you, though exaggerated to moronic  levels,
they are ass frightened
as you would be
if you shared in their delusions
of inadequacy
in the face of turmoil they do not understand

have pity;
allow them to rant on
as if they had something of value to  say

do not puncture
the balloon of their over-inflated self-esteem
for they can turn quite rabid
if faced with the collapse  of their irrational constructs

as of course would you be as well
if you suffered the same hallucinatory
visions of reality









My last piece this week from Atomic Ghost is Jack Marshal.



In the Shadow of the  Poisoned Wind

In Arctic  latitudes,almost  another
planet, Laplands  heard their  radiation  -
laden reindeer drawn from their mountain

feeding grounds. Without  a sound now
they glide like robes of royalty,billowing,  breathing
sleeves of vapor, tiara antlers, thick

fur glowing dark as mahogany
fattened on vegetation  watered by nuclear rains.
The slaughtered, and not eaten. So we

go  into what as been gliding
forward to meet  us from  so long ago
we have seen coming against the black

velvet of galactic space,
the many pouring down to the one
wave not yet broken. Shadow

of ice, here and gone.








Another  from  the next book. I have to say, with no  false-modestly, that I'm reading  some of these poems for the first  time in a while and I'm impressed with myself.



in  the time of emergence

an old Navajo chant
speaks  of the "time  of emergence"
and I think
of  the all-there-is emerging,
not a product
created by the hand  of god,
but a creation
that emerges from the mind of
the all-mother/all-father,
creation not as a single event,
a job of work, completed
over the course of  a week of seven god-days
but a continuing  process
of never-ending creation, a creation-flow.
and emergence of ever-deepening truth,
like the night emerges
and from the night a day emerges
and from the day a night;
like the sea
emerges  from the deep, breaks
on shores far
from where it's water-essence
began,
the returns to the deep that sent it,
and back again to the same or different shores,
far-traveled, enriched by its journey;
like rain on hay
left in the field over night,
the fire  of creation
processing within,  its
musty odor rising again
with the fallen rain to become a cloud,
drifting over  continents,
over prairies and mountains and cities
and great forests, across  the oceans
bringing the musty smell of wet hay
with new-falling rain
around the world and back again
to mowed field where it began;
like we  begin,
in a moment of passion emerged
from one of us to another,
then the continued emergence
through a life of ins and outs,  comes
and goes, contributing,as we come and go
our own passions to  the universe
we are part of again,  flowing through our time
until our end in a moment of
death-ecstasy, souls singing
as we re-join the all-there-is
from whence we came

our part
of the great emergence
complete
until we,like the sea,
return again  to new and different
shores,
enriched
by our time  drifting
in the creator's
emerging conscious









Here's  a poem by Andrei Cadrescu, from his book Belligerence. The Romanian-born poet, Professor of English at Louisiana State University until 2009, is known for his own work as well as his frequent appearances on National Public Radio. Long associated with New Orleans, judging from the last I heard of him recently, he seems to have relocated to Arkansas.

It is amazing to me how much sense his eccentric poems make when read by him in his Romanian  accented English.



The Introduction

After the interminable play
the beautiful actress
landed on him, a balsa  plane
of starlight and  dust
& as led to be presented
to the famous director.
All cities are Paris.
He effects and introduction
in a language no one 
even pretends to understand,
Kuardish-Magyar, and night falls
about the yurts and colibas
as star & cast go off to the clubs.
He goes on & on explaining
why he is rooted to the spot,
an olive in the desert
but his listeners also
have their hands stuck
in front  of them like branches,
olives too.
They are in fact a grove
where the philosopher walked
one noon. They have since then
imagined themselves right into
our century, in Paris.
What was at first chasm
became mountain then Chaos-town.
Theatre will never  be the same
though the Japanese arrive in droves
to kill  themselves beneath their shade.








Here's the second in my Chekhov series. Numbers three through  eight next  week, maybe.



Chekhov's 8 qualities of cultured people - #2
     They have sympathy not for beggars and cats alone

(Facebook version)

unneutered cats
who pee on your front porch
and street corner bums
who scatter cardboard "will work for food" lies about
like feathers from a molting duck -

some people love these creatures,
those people whom we call Saints,
like St. Francis of Assisi, who
overcome by guilt after a wanton life
consuming blackbird pie daily,
sought to redeem himself in the eyes
of the Lord
by being  kindly to hungry birds, spiders,
fleas, and small children

not many of us can live up to the standards
of the saints, but Chekhov says we don't  have to -
non-saintly people  can  be  quite cultured simply
by being  kind to  regular people,
like bankers, barbers, bartenders,
basket weavers, boilermakers, emu breeders,
and insurance agents

being a cultured person is generally much easier
than being a saint









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.



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



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Loch Raven Review
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