Gone and Back Again   Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Back again from my temporary sick leave. And, again, I thank Susan McDonough for her great work last week.

My anthology this week is The Norton Anthology of Modern and Contemporary Poetry published by W.W. Norton in 2003.

My photos are from several winter trips to the southwest. I used a process on them that worked very well on some pictures, making them seem almost three dimensional. Unfortunately, it made many of the rest a little blurry.

We learn as we screw up, which is why I know so much.

Here's who's who this week.

breakfast with Peter Lorre
Amiri Baraka
A Poem for Speculative Hipsters
in the dark
I watched the stars
rain at night
slow dawn
Boris Pasternak
Sparrow Hills
I cannot not speak
Norman Dubie
The Funeral
I wish I could remember those good old days of yore
George Santayana
On a Volume of  Scholastic Philosophy
On the Death of a Metaphsician
Dylan Thomas
With All My five and Country Senses
Twenty-Four Years
linear girl
Kevin Prufer
The Afterlife
I totally forgive
A.R. Ammons
Love Song
Small Song
stranger in the night
Luci Tapahonso
What Danger we Court
I've seen the sea
after the very high tide
the man on the moon
so  special
Mary Swander
Frog Gig
the gift

I love my breakfasts.

breakfast with  Peter Lorre

Peter Lorre
look-alike at the table
next to me
and there goes
the romantic, deeply
philosophical  poem I had planned
for this morning

1931- the movie "M" -
the serial killer who preyed
on little girls

his career  set,
but probably not the one he,
a serious actor,
would have preferred,

joining distinguished company,
Vincent Price, Boris  Karloff, et. al


I worry about this
in regards to my own reputation
as a poet

who  will recognize
or remember the serious,
romantic, deeply
philosophical  poet I am
if all they know
is me in the minor key
that is my most often poetic milieu

(and that's the second time
in a week I've used the "milieu" word
which I'm hoping will add a high-toned silver  star
to my resume - but let's be honest
every time I've tried to type the word
it has initially appeared on the paper (figurative)
as Miley, as in Miley Cyrus,  probably
and indicator of my truer, less exalted interest lie)

but due to my deep  philosophical  nature,
I can be  philosophical about this
for I am not  the first to  suffer this fate
of  misunderstanding

(Lautrec, after  all,
made the name he's remembered for  today
painting posters for dancehalls and whore
houses,  making a hell'uv a lot more money than
Van Gogh and his starry starry nights,
and met  a lot more interesting  people
in the process, including pretty girls who danced the can-can
without their underwear on, and though I'm sure
he painted his portion of  saints and virgins and Jesuses
on crosses, I doubt  he would  be too concerned
about how it  turned out)


some and Lautrec,
we bare our cross of mis-directed fame,
prospective in my case,
cause, I  mean,
if you keep  seeing Peter Lorre
across the breakfast 
what the hell  else  are you supposed to  do?

First from this week's anthology, here are two poems by Amiri Baraka (previously LeRoi Jones).

A Poem for Speculative Hipsters

He had got, finally,
to the forest
of motives.  There were no
owls, or hunters. No Connie Chatterleys
resting beautifully
on their backs, having casually
brought socialism
to England.
                  Only ideas
and their  opposites.
                     he  was really


(For Blues People)

In the south,sleeping against
the drugstore, growling under
the trucks and stoves, stumbling
through and over the cluttered eyes
of early mysterious night. Frowning
drunk waving moving a hand or lash.
Dancing kneeling reaching out, letting
a hand rest in shadows. Squatting
to drink or  pee.Stretching to  climb
pulling themselves onto horses near
where there was a sea (the old songs
lead you to believe). Eisinf our
from this town, to another, where
it is also lack. Down  a road
where people are  asleep.Towards
the moon or the shadows of houses.
Towards the songs' pretended sea.

Next, here are four of my shorter poems from early last year. I have come to love the night and have been  writing often  of  it.

in the dark

I savour the dark
and I've learned the best way to do that
is to sit quietly in it
until you can see the shadows
cast by pale moonlight

when you can differentiate
between the dark of night
and the darker moon shadow,
the night opens to you
and you to it
and you have become a true creature
of the unlit hours,
by the stars filtering through high clouds
and tree branches
where  doves break their sleep
and stir in the mysterious breeze of Luna's tide

but always know
that light
is the greatest enemy of the night
and your place in it

so do not fear the dark
or fight it
with light of your making,
make your place in the world
as it naturally is -
let the day be light;
let the night be dark,
as the rotation of the planet
and it's satellites

I  watched the stars
watched the stars
last  night,
in the black and bottomless sky;
below  them
the moon,
silver bright
through the hours
of deepest night
fell asleep last  night
beneath a canopy of sprinkled stars
rain at night
cuddles the night
falls soft
and slow like  a  lover
slipping quietly  into bed with you
at midnight -
from the pale night air,
and cold,
craving the warmth
of your sleeping body
the dog
in her little night  tent
with a very small  cry
of pleasure
back to  sleep
to the steady breath of trees
slow dawn
slow dawn
hanging on
its black grip
tight and unyielding
on the interstate
don't notice
or high water
coming or not
their day will  begin
with or without
the light
judgement day
and no on notices
but me

Here are two poems from the great Russian novelist and poet, Boris Pasternak, from the collection, Selected Poems, a Penguin Book published in 1983. Born in 1890, Pasternak died in 1960, living and writing, despite all obstacles, during the most turbulent period of Russia's history.

The poems  were translated from Russian Jon Stallworthy and Peter France.

Sparrow Hills

Put your breast under kisses, as under a tap!
For summer will  not  always bubble up,
And we cannot pump our the accordion's roar
Night after night round the dusty floor.

I've heard tell of old age. Terrible prophecies!
No breaker will throw up its hands to the stars.
They say things you can't believe. No face in the grass,
No heart in the ponds, no God in the trees.

Stir up your soul then! Make it all foam today.
Where are your eyes? This is the world's high noon.
Up there, thoughts cluster in a fleecy spray
Of cloud, heat, and woodpeckers, pine-needle and cone.

At this point the tr4amlines of town break off.
Beyond, the pines serve. Beyond, rails cannot pass.
Beyond, it  is Sunday. Breaking off branches,
The glade runs for cover, slipping on grass.

Scattering noons and Trinity and country walks -
The world is always like this, the wood believes.
So the thicket devised it, so the clearing was told,
So it pours from the clouds - on us in our shirt-sleeves


Spring,  I  come in from the street, where the poplar  is shaken,
Where distance is frightened, the house afraid it will fall,
Where the air is blue as the laundry bag
Of a patient released from hospital.
Where evening is empty, an unfinished tale
Left in the air by a star with no sequel,
Bewildering thousands of noisy eyes,
Expressionless unfathomable

It surprises me often  how much inspiration I can  get out of  a 45  minute walk in  early morning  dark.

I cannot not speak
not speak
of this moon
so  full
and bright
in the cold-early morning
in the wash
of its  light

Next from the anthology, this poem by Norman Dubie.

The Funeral

It felt like the zero in brook ice.
She was my youngest aunt, the summer before
We had  stood naked
While she stiffened and giggled, letting the minnows
Nibble  at her toes. I was almost  four -
That evening she took me
To the springhouse where on the scoured planks
There were rows of butter in small bricks, a mold
Like  ermine on the cheese,
And cut onions to rinse the air
Of the black,  sickly-sweet meats of rotting pecans.

She said butter was colored with marigolds
Plucked down by the marsh
With its tall grass and miner's-candles.
We once carried the offal's pail beyond the barn
To where the fox could be caught in meditation/
Her bed linen smelled of camphor.We went

In late March for her  burial. I heard  the men talk.
I saw the minnows  nibble at her  toe.
And Uncle  Peter, in a low voice, said
The cancer ate her like horse piss eats deep snow.

Retired  three times, the last  time four years ago when I turned 65, I live for the most part a life, though not without its challenges, over all enviable. I know some younger people who  are jealous of that life  and can't imagine why I  should be able to enjoy it and they can't. I tell them I had my first job when I was ten years old and I'll be happy to welcome them to the lawn chair beside me when they've done their own 55 years behind the plow.

I wish I could remember  those good old days of yore

I'm talking to this person
who thinks he invented work

a  younger fella

like the woman I talked to
who thinks she invented

what a wonderful time
it  must have been,
those year
when I was young
and nobody
had to work and nobody
was ever  tired
and everyone lazed in
a friendly sun
and drank pink pina coladas
and talked
of deep and relevant matters
while the sun dipped east
and the moon rose
like they used to
in the good  old days

and never  stressed
by the ways of a world
so much less harsh and demanding
and crazy and unfair
than this awful
of today...

creatures of leisure
and fine taste and culture
I guess
we were...

I just  wish I could  remember
it all
the way it must have been

(at  least  as reported to me
by these younger
who invented work
and tired)

Here are two poems by George  Santayana, from Poems of George Santayana, published by Dover Publications in 1970.

Santayana, 1863-1952, was a formal, highly polished poet. Not to my taste, usually, but these two poems are masterful, enough that I might be ready to expand my taste spectrum.

On a Volume of Scholastic Philosophy

What chilly cloister or what lattice dime
Cast painted light upon this  careful page?
What thought compulsive held the patient sage
Till sound of matin bell or evening  hymn?
Did visions of the Heavenly Lover  swim
Before his eyes in youth, or did stern rage
Against trash heresy keep green his age?
Had he seen God,to  write so much  of Him?
Gone is the irrecoverable mind
With all  its phantoms, senseless to mankind
As a dream's  trouble or the  speech of birds.
The breath that stirred his lips he soon resigned
To  windy chaos, and we only find
The garnered husks of his disused words.

On the Death of a Metaphysician

Unhappy dreamer, who outwinged in flight
The pleasant region of things I love,
And soared beyond the sunshine, and above
The golden cornfields and the dear and  bright
Warmth of the hearth, - blasphemer  of  delight,
Was your  proud bosom  not at peace with Jove,
That you sought, thankless for this guarded grove,
The empty horror of abysmal  night?
Ah, the thin air is cold above the moon!
I stood and saw you fall, befooled in death,
As, in your numbed spirit's fatal swoon,
You cried you were a god, or were  to be;
I heard with feeble moan  your boastful breath
Bubble from depths of the Icarian sea.

I wrote this next thing after being sidelined for several days with food poisoning,  working on getting my poet legs  back.


walking, over head
the moon
still nearly full and bright,
seen on this morning
after three  days
confined weak and puny
to  my sick bed

we walk
in the familiar shadows
of  familiar trees
as the weeger bird
its farewell,
"wee-ger, wee-ger,"
to the night
to flee the morning  light

across the  foot  bridge
and I stop,  "perhaps we shouldn't
push our luck," I tell
my morning companion
and  she agrees
and she and cat  turn,
trot back across
the bridge,cat's little
racing to keep up
with my friends longer
four-footed stride

I  notice for the first  time
how cold it  is,  morning frost,
my hands cold,  fingers
like ice

Here are two more poems from this week's anthology. They are by Dylan Thomas.

When All My Five and Country Senses See

When all my five and country senses see,
The fingers will forget green thumbs and mark
How, through the halfmoon's vegetable eye,
Host of young stars and handful zodiac,
Love n the frost is pared and wintered by,
The whispering ears Will watch love drummed away
Down breeze and shell to a discordant beach,
And, lashed to syllables, the lynx tongue cry
That her found wounds are mended bitterly.
My nostrils see her  breath burned like a bush.

My one and noble heart has witnesses
In all love's countries, that will grope awake;
And when blind sleep drops on the spying senses,
The heart is sensual, though five eyes break.

Twenty-Four Years

Twenty-four years remind me the tears of my eyes.
(Bury the dead for fear that they walk to the grave in labour.)
In the groin of the natural doorway I crouched like a  tailor
Sewing a shroud for a journey
By the light of the meat-eating sun.
Dressed to die, the sensual  strut begun,
With my red veins full of money,
In the final direction of the elementary town
I advance for a as long as forever is.

People-watching - wouldn't  have any think to write about if I  didn't. A good dose of eavesdropping  helps too, but not for this poem from 2012.

a young woman
and slender,
long hair
to  the middle
of her back,
long legs,
long arms,
long feet,
slim fingers
pencil  sketch,
soft, thin
an  incomplete
of the clock,
then  gone
in a flash of summer

My next poem is by Kevin  Prufer.  The poem is from his book  National  Anthem, published by Four Way Books in 2008.

The Afterlife

Here are boys, still week. When they speak
                                                                       snow falls from their lips.
Pale of hand and cheek, the motors that whirred n their chests
have failed.


Their new city - buildings like a scrim
                                                              a god unfurled for them
so it waves in the wind.


Pallid, strange, and chill.
The boys are laughing weakly in the street


so the snow banks build and stir.
                                                   It  is a city of lost children,
of failures, the weakhearted, pigeon-toed, transparent lispers,
the recently dead who have o name for it
                                                                   or do not care


to name it.  an empty time they had, coming here -
                                                                                   a long ride
on a quiet  train, and now,  on the moonlit avenue,
they talk among themselves
                                               A boredom, one says, over the rails.
Someone nods.  I was thinking of good things,candy
when at  last the coughing stopped.


For my part - I have grown
My window that  overlooks more buildings and the bay,
                                                                                           the voices
and the endless  snow. Like anyone, of course,


I expected a better landscape - a warmer breeze,
                                                                              a breath, a relaxation
of senses. Canceled,canceled. A passage like  moving 
from one  town to  another, warmer town,
                                                                    but the city is new,
the population pale, unsteady. When at last  they covered me up -
the coughing stopped.
                                    I counted on god  and,  thus,


judgement - a smile from above,  a You have passed or not. A hand
from the clouds to lift me up,
                                                a gentle voice to  call me
                  The boys in the  street below
search for their wallets. The city squats on the bay, and I,
who am one of them
                                 smile at the squalls from their mouths


as, from far away, another train pulls into the  station,
sighs,  and with a shutter

To make  a long  story short, I didn't.

Not my way.

I totally forgive
dinner  at
La Fonda on Main,
my favorite restaurant
big deal
our anniversary,
number 36
big deal
the best fillet medallions
I've ever had
cooked to a perfect
over au gratin
under a stir-fried
of avocado and bell pepper
strips and thin sliced
(not a drinker now)
iced tea
lush food
leisurely consumed
big deal
to bed
fast  asleep
at midnight
when the first
a truck is parked
in your driveway
lights on
it was parked in front
of our
house for almost an hour,
motor running,
lights on,
neighbor said,
before it moved
to your driveway
I  looked out  my front
door, truck
in my driveway
it had jumped the curb,
crossed the front
and was parked,
lights on,
motor running,
a white pick-up, Dodge,
it's big ram hood ornament
about a foot from the
bedroom window
that used to be
my son's
looking out the door,
I can't see anyone
in the driver's
neighbor says,
he was trying to look
in your windows
so I called 911
I called 911
police arrived,
two at first in the new Ford Explorers
that have come to replace the traditional
Crown Vic police
they looked inside the truck,
killed the engine,
turned off the
didn't see the driver
huddled on the floorboard,
saw him on second
look, cuffed hi,
took him to one of the Explorers,
began a more  thorough search
of the truck
drunk? I asked the nearest officer
doesn't look it, he replied, said he
was coming home  from work
and was very tired
maybe so
but 30 to 45 minutes later
something happened  to him that caused
the officers to call EMT
a supervisor arrives
then a fire truck with the
for about an hour
I had three police vehicles
and a fir truck parked
in front of my house
big deal
I got to bed about 3 a.m.
only one police car
and the truck still
to the side of my house
I woke at 4 a.m.
police gone;
gone, all is peaceful
in early morning
then woke again at 5 a.m.
in a raging
of  food poisoning
very big
I refuse to blame
my favorite restaurant
and the best beef fillets
I've ever had
for this
it was the guy
in the white truck
that did it,
I maintain, the
one that almost
ran over my house
and if he felt as bad
when he almost ran  over my house
as I did for the next
several days,
then I totally forgive him
for almost running over my

Two  more short poems from the anthology, these by A.R. Ammons.

Love Song

Like the hills under dusk you
fall  away from the light:
you deepen: the green
light darkens
and you are nearly lost:
only so much light  as
stars keep
manifests your face:
the total night in
myself raves
for the light  along your lips.

                     Small  Song
                     The reeds give
                     way to the

                     wind and give
                     the wind away

Here's a poem from last year about the other side of night.

stranger in the night

up at 5 a.m.
to enjoy the early morning
study the stars,
inhale the fresh
unsullied taste of night air

under a large tree
in the far corner of my backyard
when a sudden flapping
and swirling of wings makes me jump,
not the flapping and swirling
of a bunch of small wings, but the
mega-flapping and swirling
of a single pair of very large wings...

I feel the night air
blown from the flapping wings
as the circle me in the dark,
the rush of air brushing my face
in the dark,
the back of my head,
a cold wind on the back of my neck

then gone...

like me,
gone back into the house
to  think
in the light
abound the blind encounter,
to think about what it was in the tree
I must have frightened, to think about
what it might have been
that frightened me...

(the dark, such a friend, until it moves
against us with a sound or a touch
we can hear or feel but cannot see;
the dark, then, the sum
of all our fears)...

could it be
the snowy white egret
that sometimes stays in our creek,
or the great hawk,  hooded eyes always
watching from our trees in early
spring, wide-reaching wings
like thunder in the afternoon
when it spots prey and swoops
to feed, or an owl (could we have an owl
to join our feathered menagerie her
by our ever-flowing waters - how
wonderful an owl would be) - which of these
might it have been,  or might it  be something new
that's joined us,
a new denizen of the dark  at rest
in the shadows of  my backyard night...

I will investigate tomorrow,  look into this
mystery, search for sign, feathers  or
some talon-torn prey half-eaten on the ground,
the meal I interrupted
with my insomniac wandering

I  will do this,
in the full, bright light of day

The next  poem is  by Luci Tapahonso. It's from  her book, Saanii Dahataat: The Women Are Singing, published by the University of Arizona Press in 1993.

What  Danger We Court

for Marie

Sister, sister,
what danger we court
without even knowing  it.
It's as simple as meeting a handsome man for lunch at midnight.

Last Friday night
at the only stop sign for miles around,
your pickup  was hit from behind.
That noise of shattering glass behind your head,
whirl of lights and metal as two cars hit your pickup -
that silent frenzy by tons of metal spinning you
echoes the desert left voiceless.

Sister, sister,
what promises they must be for you
when you walk  the edges of cliffs -
sheer  drops like 400 feet -
vacuums of nothing we know here.
You turn and step out of the crushed car  dazed
and walk to help  small crying children from another car
and you come home,  sister,
                                    your breath intact,
                                    heart pounding
                                    and the night is still the same.
Your children cry and cry to see you.
Walking and speaking gently,
                                     your voices gathers the in
                                     what danger we court.

It is the thin border of a miracle,, sister, that you  live.
The desert surrounding your home is witness
to the danger we court and

                                       sister,we have so much faith.

This is a little thing, no basis in anything but the refrain "I've seen the sea" that kept rolling around in my brain for several days.

I've seen the sea
I've seen the sea
when it was angry
and rash
I've seen the sea
when it was docile
and sweet
I've seen Mary Blu
who lived by
the sea,
rage like
oceans afire
and I've seen
Mary Blu,
passion's soft and silken
like an incoming tide,
the beach clean
under a rising moon's light

Here are three more short pieces from early last year.

after the very high tide
it feels  like the day
the very high tide
deck chairs
all topsy-turvy
sand castles
on beaches swept
the puzzle
that is the past
to be recovered, or
as we choose

the man on the moon
the man on the moon
was full of himself last night,
but for a shadow
on the edge
of his left cheek
a lipstick bruise,
perhaps of a
by a bare-bottomed
star nymph
just passing by,
marking the path
of her lonely orbit,
of  his shining, silver face,
so  bright and welcoming
in the dark
I wish I was a moon in the sky,
bright and  silver
by a passing star nymph,
and lonely
charmed by my
crisply luminant

so special
cotton candy cloud
alone on a sky-scape of  fluff bed sheet white brethren
pink as  a plastic front-yard
cotton candy cloud
such good fortune to be so special
on this plain
and every-day morning

My last  library poem this week  is by Mary Swander, from her book, Heaven-and-Earth House, published by Alfred A. Knopf,  in 1994.

When  I was a kid, we went frog gigging alongside the arroyo  near  out house,   except instead of gigging, we used a swatter my father made, much  less skill required than gigging. We'd cut off the  legs  and my mother would fry them up  and they were delicious. Never had any of the restaurant variety that was as good.

Frog Gig

It took a whole plateful to  make a meal -
food #7 I could eat without blacking out -
those little white  pairs of pantaloons.

Oh, I'd pitied Kermit - needle from the tray,
lab partner, scholarshipped  wrestler,locking
thumb and index finger around the squirmer's neck.

No, it was the pileup of those limbs, steamed and soggy
like wet laundry, that made me pick the tendons
from my teeth with special care, and know

those  doctors lied who said it'd taste like chicken.
These were  no white feathers beside a red wheelbarrow
glazed with rain,  no  Sunday dinners, the whole family

gathered in the kitchen,  home from ten o'clock Mass,
still singing hymns, pressure cooker on the stove
so my grandmother could gum her  portion.

Once, due to expense,I  went out with friends
to Corker's Pond, the water quiet, clear.
Tiny piece of bandanna dangling from the  end

of a fishing line,  we groped through  the dark,
sun going down, and followed the croaks and plops,
our hooks dangling in the cattails.We lay on the bank

for hours and held our rods just above their  heads,
but not one hopped  at the cloth, not one crooned
so much depends upon, nor shot  out its forked tongue.

My last poem of the week, again from a morning walk.

the gift

it is that exact
before sunrise,
no glow yet in the east,
but the sky in anticipation
is more gray than black

the exact
moment when the birds
begin to call to the new day,
the exact moment
before the sun
begins to creep through the crack
at the bottom of horizon's door

the call of a hundred birds,
not just the weeger bird, earliest
bird of them all, but hundreds of  songs,
each sung, full-throated,
calling for the light

I had be walking this morning
in a  dull and dreary daze, awake  before
quite finished with sleep,
still, late, overslept, in a mental rush
to catch up,
thought my feet refused to join in,
nor is the dog ready
to  relinquish
any hard-earned sniffs,
will not  rush

until the birds,
making the new day official,
bring me to the
slowing my mental rush
lighting the weight of my heavy
reluctant feet

the birds
bring the day,
and bring me to the day,
and I,  relieved of the burden
of the dark, settle in
to the pleasures of the morning

and this gift of another day,
my two companions assume it
will happen,
but I am always a  little

That's it for the week.

All the usual cautions apply. All  material included in  the post remains the property of those who created it. My stuff, though mine, is available for your use if you want it. My only stipulation, please give proper credit to me and to Here and Now.

My next book, New Days and New Ways, is being edited and proofed with an expected publication date of mid-summer. Thinking about an audiobook after that.

In the meantime, I still have these books to sell.

And here's where I sell them:

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


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
Mindfire Renewed
Holy Groove Records
Poems Niederngasse
Michaela Gabriel's In.Visible.Ink
The Blogging Poet
Wild Poetry Forum
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Desert Moon Review
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Camroc Press Review
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