I have a short post this week and will probably have no post at all for two weeks after this one. I'll be off for a mountain and forest fix beginning next Friday. Doubt I'll have time to do anything post-wise.
I'm featuring an anthology this week that I didn't even know I had. It's Crossing the River
, with poets of the western United States. Edited by Ray Gonzalez, it was published in 1987 by The Permanent Press of Sag Harbor, New York.
My photos are more of the "color splash" process at Photobucket.com, featuring this week, various animals of the four and two-legged kind.
I'm looking forward to having actual new pictures from my trip for my next post.
Here's who I have this week:
The Ten Yen Coin
Twenty Million Light Years of Loneliness
my patient blond friend
Alan Chong Lau
Brother Antonius/William Everson
The Impossible Choices
sometimes my guardian
jimmy crack corn
Crow on the Beach
What It's Like in Wyoming
on a scale of sliced bread, Cuban cigars and horseshoes
Gyrdoir EliassonUnder a Spring Sun
fixing the language
The Backwater Poets
The Yellow Point
Here's my first new piece for the week.
I am of the pagan belief
that life is a dance,
joy and pleasure a gift
to the dancers
take a more sober view,
life as a test,
life as an earthly passage
earning, in the end, a seat
in the gold and silver
his heavenly abode...
these are the trudgers,
women of high-topped
the squawking ravens
that line the
of the world's every delight,
the dance for some uncertain
where their sublimated
will finally be released
in heavenly clouds of properly modulated
but I prefer my ecstasy
my seat at the feasting table
the soft beds of love
for I expect my afterlife
will not be
i some grand sky-palace
but as the questing part
of some grub.cleansing the earth,
preparing it for the
that I will flow into,
breaking through this earth
to reach for the clouds above,
my essence still questing
for the stars
and my place in them,
with the ecstasy of life
dancing among the flames
of atomic life, questing,
the next dance, anticipating...
another life will always be,
that life will always be,
that life does not end
with me on this earth, that life
does not end in imaginary
gold and silver
palaces, that another
dance will always be there
form the immortal
flowing essences of me
My first poem from this week's anthology, Crossing the River
, is by Jack Heflin
Heflin graduated from the writing program at the University of Montana in Missoula. At the time the anthology was published, he was teaching at a small college in Monroe, Louisiana.
Near the tobacco barns
and red-graveled roads
where my father grew up
in western Kentucky
the mules begin to lose their teeth
and they gather around the rusted plows
and wait unharnessed. This morning
someone points at them from a car window
down a country road
that leads to the trellised porches
where old relatives
squint across their jonquilled yards.
I am a long way from home.
I think I may be the man
who tugged at their halters
each morning before dawn.
If I call their names
they will know.
This is a poem for last year. Threats don't always come in big packages. Sometimes fierceness is enough.
she is one angry
this mama mockingbird
scaring the bejeezus
out of grouchy old mama cat
on the front porch
where the winged terror
cannot quite reach
this old cat,
boss of the porch and the yard
and the neighborhood
cowers behind the rocking chair
the inmates made for Dee
the first time she
the bird perches on the mail box
out front and watches,
(yes, this bird growls -
I heard her do it),
and swoops like a dive bomber
at the cat
whenever she leaves the porch
for other shelter
such tiny little birds,
mockingbirds,with their white-striped
wings and gray torso, pretty
even, in their shades
and fierce, too
when they spy a threat
to their offspring...
I could probably grab and crush it
with one hand when it swoops past me -
but I don't, thinking
I could draw back a nub...
I duck and run with the cat
Here are three short poems from another anthology. This one, Pierced by a Ray of the Sun
, was published by HarperCollins in 1995. The book is subtitled "Poems About the Times We Feel Alone."
The first two poems are by Shuntaro Tanikaway
. The only biographical information on the poets in the book is their birth date, in this case, 1931.
Both poems was translated from the Japanese by Harold Wright
Ten Yen Coin
With his last ten yen coin
the boy wanted to make a phone call.
He wanted to talk to someone close
in a rowdy language,
but none of his friends had telephones.
The ten yen coin was wet in his palm
and smelled of metal.
(Why should I buy gum?
This ten yen coin will be used
for something more important.)
The the boy saw the car,
a haughty car like a beautiful woman,
a fierce car like an unreachable happiness...
and before he knew it himself,
the boy, taking the ten yen coin in his hand,
cut into the beautiful finish,
a long deep gash -
Then the boy threw the ten yen coin,
with all his might,
into the city's congestion.
Twenty Billion Light Years of Loneliness
Mankind on a little globe
Sleeps, awakes and works
Wishing at times to be friends with Mars.
Martians on a little globe
Are probably doing something; I don't know what
(Maybe sleep-sleeping, wear-wearing,
While wishing at times to be friends with Earth
This thing is called universal gravitation
Is the power of loneliness pulling together.
The universe is distorted
So all join in desire.
The universe goes on expanding
So all feel uneasy.
At the loneliness of twenty billion light years
Without thinking, I sneezed.
The next little piece is by Rumi
(1207-1273) and was translated from the Persian by Andrew Harvey
I lost my world, my fame, my mind -
The Sun appeared, and all the shadows ran.
I ran after them, but vanished as I ran -
Light ran after me and hunted me down.
I did a couple of "best friend" poems last week, here's the first one.
my patient blond friend
I have had my breakfast
and looking out the wide windows
of my restaurant
I can see my little SUV
in the parking lot and I can see
the back window of my
SUV and I can see
looking through the back window
my dog watching me
and I can see that she,
being more of a squirrel-chasing
dog than a literary lion,
what this what-ever-I'm-dong
has to do with squirrel
and though she is a most polite dog,
forgiving of my past
inattention to the finer squirrel arts,
not to mention, of course,
her and the fine blond
on the top of head that begs
to be scratched
and the long blond fur
on her back that begs to be stroked
and the fine little hairs
on her belly
to be tickled...
she wants to pee
Next from this week's anthology, I have this poem by Alan Chong Lau
. At the time the anthology was published, Lau lived in Seattle.
by the river
they built huts
faces caked with mud
walking on hands and knees
pictures drawn in the earth
with fingers and toes
and the words were never wrong
they would nod by the fire
cracking branches like music
tunes the mountain sent them
the eyes of wanderers
ears hung flappy
as fat mushrooms
in just one place
would begin moving
seeds spread to wind
one morning nothing
only pieces of fingers lips
soft chunks of lobes
threads of hair in the water
mere crumbs of ash
sprinkle the sand with birthmarks
snakes of smoke slither
thru tufts of grass
for the first time on looks at sky
dotting the shore
with slivers of noise
boys with slingshots
come down and kill
every single one
the water is bitter
clouds sour at the touch
barely scratching the mud
it runs in one thin trickle
the bodies of crows
where it stops
making a pile of feathery flowers
This is another old poem from last year, considering the question - why do i do this? Because whatever the fun, it really is work.
people die all around you
and one day realize
that most of the people
important to you in life
have passed on
and more pass every day
and you realize
death is not an aberration
but the natural terminus of life,
where we go
when we finally grow up,
when, unlike the young
who believe death
is a dark-robed creature
that jumps out of your closet
that all roads you might have traveled
proceed to the same destination,
of all that passes
where dust meets dust,
where the great democracy
where we learn that
high or low
it is the same dust that made us all
and it is the same dust
to which we will return,
to this place
where final payment
and passed on to the next
in this muddle
of creation and disengagement,
why do young poets
nothing yet to write about
and no need to leave
my mark on the world -
time for that,I thought,
in the years ahead
I think of Baudelaire,
all this important work complete
while he was in his twenties,
the rest of his life
an exercise in routine,
then died in middle age, poor
how sad to be remembered
only for what you were in your twenties,
so like an early death
to be encased forever in your young
and most callow years
life as an anti-climax
I'm an old man now, not as old
as I hope to be someday, but
old enough to look back and realize
that none of the great things
I did left a mark, that nothing I did
for three quarters of my life amounts
to any more than dust, sand
from the Sahara, blown by the wind
but one routine day
a hundred thousand years ago
a human, a creature of our kind,
painted a hunting trophy
on the wall of his cave, this I hunted,
the painted says, this I killed, and
now I live another day...
we do not know this creature
but we know he was
so now in my later years
I write poems, and with those poems
I make books, my treasures, my drawings on the walls
of my cave, I was here, I say,
and my treasures are here, lying beneath
the sands that blow and both cover
and uncover treasure
The next poem is by Brother Antoninus
, born William Everson
. I've told the poet's story several times in the past when using his work. This time, I'll let readers do their own Google search.
The poem is from The Residual Years, Poems 1934-1948
. The book was published by New Directions, first in 1948, with a number of reissues with additional poems since.
The Impossible Choices
No, not ever, in no time,
In none of the brooding age of the breed,
Have the wings of salvation
Enfolded in triumph the living self.
There are those who cough up the rot of their lungs;
There are those strengthless divers of the sea,
Their bleeding ears in the pressure;
Those leaned to the lash;
Women split by the butting heads of their sons -
And all those webbed in their own desire,
Dragged through the bleaches of ever sensation,
Who never attain, and who die forsaken.
Against the outer extreme or the inner compulsion
The flesh crumbles and breaks.
The bone is not strong.
The riotous nerves drink their own death in the roiling air;
Or the endless North grins against them its ready muzzle,
And reaps what it can.
One seeing his shadow
Thrown on the shape of that double doom
Looks to his method,
Sorting the chaos of all endeavor
For the narrow moment between the acts.
Fronting lust and revulsion
He painfully fashions the mode of survival'
Between the intolerable climaxes
The blossom flowers before you.
He turns in the end to a mean, a measure,
The impossible choices hung at his hands,
And he leans between them,
Breathing an equinoctial air,
And lives in the weather at last.
Here's the other dog poem from last week.
sometimes my guardian
she wakes me up
a coupled of times a night,
stands by the recliner
where I often sleep, stares
until the weight
of her eyes, watching
I think, she just wants to check
on things, make sure I'm
and that everything is alright
she wants to go outside
I never know which
until I get to the back door
and turn to find her
not behind me,
but retired to her bed in my office
already back to sleep,
the soft, innocent sleep
of a dog, her duty to see to things
in the dark of night done
my guardian, night and day,
a pat on her head for
just needs to
Next from the Crossing the River
anthology, I have this poem by Sandra Cisneros
Your wives left
without a trace
both of them
their long hair
from the kitchen sink
did not forget the ring
nor the domestic combs
nor the stray stocking
did they leave
not a fingerprint nor a subscription
to a favorite magazine
gathered their feathers
and bobby pins and string
left nothing took their towels
and their initials
without a clue
you must've said
you must've done
for women to gather
all their things
It's hot as hell here in the summer. I dress for it.
jimmy crack corn
out in the backyard
in my Tarzan pants
where city zoning requirements
prohibit immodest exposure of certain
while I partake of all
the cool spring breeze
I can, I must do so without
too much of my business,
well, hell, tell it to Tarzan
the backyard ape man
who will take every damn bit
of this cool breeze that the law
allows, and jimmy crack corn
and I don't care if the sheriff's
on the way...
seriously though, you know
I just may have to build a higher
fence before my nosey neighbor
next door has cardiac arrest
with her eye glued to knothole
and her tongue hanging
like an old hound dog eyeing
prime rib on a platter
the reason I was out
enjoying he sunny-breeze day
was to straighten
some pots that had got
all cock-eyed, tilting from one side,
following the tilt of the yard
as it gets even steeper
with each heavy rain,
and picking up dead branches
blown down by the week's
heavy wind, and, doing so,
I was careful to observe city zoning
requirements, careful to bend
with my knees and not at
my waist so as to insure
my Tarzan pants
don't ride up too far
in the posterior, presenting
a wide-load view to the
who probably just couldn't
take the excitement
in good health
and I do care about my neighbours
I mean I'll kill to enjoy
these fine spring
but only if I have to...
I'll get another nasty note
from her tomorrow
but I put that down to
a kind of demented
jimmy crack corn
and I don't care
This poem continues the story of "Crow," the hero created by Ted Hughes
, in his book, Crow, the Life and Times of the Crow
. The book was published in 1972 by Faber and Faber.
Crow on the Beach
Hearing shingle explode, seeing it skip,
Crow sucked his tongue.
Seeing sea-green mash a mountain of itself
Crow tightened his goose-pimples.
Crow's toes gripped the wet pebbles.
When the smell of the whale's den, the gulping of the
crab's last prayer.
Gimleted in his nostril
He grasped he was on earth.
He knew he grasped
Of the sea's ogreish outcry and confusion.
He knew he was the wrong listener unwanted
To understand or help -
His utmost gaping of brain in his tiny skull
Was just enough to wonder, about the sea.
What could be hurting so much.
From last week, my first memory.
on a red tricycle
on an uneven
like her trike
my earliest memory
the red and yellow shadows
of the day
The next anthology poet is Patricia Dubrava
. She has been a contributing editor of The Small Press Review
since 1976 and has had several plays produced in Denver where she lives.
What It's Like in Wyoming
The meadow lark sings in fenced pastures.
In the creek, three large brown trout
hold against the current,contemplating.
When a shadow touches the bank,
they double and disappear.
Mule deer scatter among the cottonwoods,
ford the confluence of creeks
in three easy leaps,
gray coats melting into sage.
A truck's changing gears carry
half a mile from the time it rounds
the mesa till it hits the fork
past the bridge.
The meadow lark stitches silence
back together under a sky heavy
with hope of rain.
Stone-ringed memories of encampment
fade on a high hilltop.
One could raise the rubbed hide flap
of a tee pee, look down
to box elder-fringed water,
up to the Big Horns, slate blue and white.
One would see the valley without fences,
that ranch house gone,
the occasional whisper of tires gone,
the golden eagle climbing a spiral
in primordial air.
It would be like that.
It is like that sometimes still.
Self-evaluation is an important part of the self-aware life. That's my opinion, from last year.
on a scale of sliced bread, Cuban cigars, and horseshoes
it's not that we,
our kind, that is,
not us, you and me
but the general
in our common
not, as i was saying
that the kind
that is us is the
since sliced bread
but we are,
ad we are what
we are and that's
in both the greater
and lesser scheme
in the high-stakes
now you and
are more than just
what we are
and if the
was more representative
of the kind
we all are, then,
sure we'd be right up
with sliced bread
in my mind about
it's everyone else
of the human
that needs to
and do better
as Grandpa said,
but no cigar
only counts in
Next, I have two poets from the Spring 1997 issue of Exchanges
. The journal was published by The Translation Laboratory at The University of Iowa.
The first poet is Zehra Cirak
. Born in Istanbul, the poet moved to Germany as an infant in 1963. She is widely published in her native German in her own country.
Her poem was translated from the German by Elizabeth Oehlkers
Is it true?
Can it be that in those years lived long ago
she had lips
that pressed like a hot iron
on Grandfather's mouth
till he glowed with her love?
Today Grandmother's face is lipless
since Grandfather's beatification
she's drawn them within like her soft word,
the folded slit
which once so flattened Grandfather
rarely opens now
Today Grandmother will be 99
and to all our begging and bothering
for her to tell stories from long ago
she nods without a word
sometimes she shakes her head
looks through us and smiles
as if she sees Grandfather
she blinks and still knows despite the distance
his sore lips
The next two short poems from Exchanges
are by Gyrdir Eliasson.
One of the best know contemporary Icelandic poets, he has published twenty books since his 1983 debut at the age of 22.
His poems were translated from the Icelandic by Asradkur Eysteinsson
and Christopher Mattison
Under a Spring Sun
I think I hear
of a scythe
Even so, the steel
the blue house
The dark horses in the field
tonight where are they
rushing? The gate is open
and I can see them from the bed-
room window upstairs
heading south over the marsh -
so dark that, for a moment,
I think I am dreaming
But I am not dreaming
The dark horses
sink and vanish
into the marsh
this late summer
over the marsh
It's a dirty job, but some one's got to do it
fixing the language
my monthly quota
on the English
to my aspirational urges
to the other native
of this region
"Hola, que tal?"
I say, "como estas tu?"
respond to my-
self, thinking as I did...
is as in need
of pepping up
what these Spanish
need is some imagination,
some better sense
of how things
ought to be instead
on what the Spanish
Book of How By God
Things Must Be Said
if your head is your
why shouldn't you
butt be your
and most of all,
a gringo like me
have to think about
Borges when this kind
of stuff needs
to be done,
Paz, where was
(for this after all
not a new issue
to be resolved)
no wonder they lost
The last poem this week from the Crossing the River
anthology is by Frank Stewart
. He co-edited Poetry Hawaii: A Contemporary Anthology
published by the University of Hawaii and lives in Honolulu.
The Backwater Poets
for us all
Some look out and see only fire trails disappearing,
ragged forests, broken plains, a watery horizon.
Or flights of lonely mammals, the waterfowl
headed south, arctic plover on the summer trades.
And this Book of Nature almost speaks aloud:
"You're a long ways from New York, aren't you,
Certainly there are no cities to speak of. Forget opera.
The Met, a decent Braque,a single Turner, a Bonnard.
But there are letters. Poems stuffed inside only a dozen
will ever read,the description of an icy lake,
perhaps,ecstatic winter rain, a sad-eyed waitress
in upper Michigan a poet could love, heartbreak
and darkness that link us better than print.
Only watercolor: forget ambition. Some lines
like deer holding for a moment in the headlights
befoer she dives away, a needle in the memory
miles later. And no commerce. No commerce. Just say
an accord, and a certain severity worn lightly.
Names writ in water - and bourbon and red wine.
Here's a final poem from last week.
it's 0-five hundred
and I went to bed at
and I had to take
the dog out to pee
three times between then
and now and I'm
and this sort of thing
always seems to happen
when I suffer insufficient
my normal snapcracklepop
by encounters of the very
third kind, strange folk,
green-skinned and scaly, smiling
with fearsome teeth,
twitchy orange eyes (all eight
of them flittering and jittering
like Mexican jumping beans
in a tea cup, tickling
the crawly backbone of the
great worm of tequila destiny)
and all I want is a cup of coffee,
a jack of joe-juice, and maybe
a danish, "Oh, I love the Danish,"
says my green friend, eyes
twittering and flittering, "they are
so tasty, with smoked eel on rye,
worth the trip," he says
as he smiles
with his sharp little fearsome teeth,
twinkling in the morning light
twitching and switching
through the kitchen window,
and I would be very frightened
if I wasn't sure I was still asleep
and dreaming and I swear I'm never
going to stay up past 0 ten hundred
and I hear, as the bedroom
earth creature, it has been tasty
meeting you this morning."
next comes the commentary:
though usually well hidden
my poems almost always have
some meaning, some message,
some selection of jams and jellies
of deep philosophy,
some lesson to the world
for better and more moral living...
but, of course,
that's bullshit, any lesson
or message of meaning in my poems
is completely inadvertent, this pitiful claim
of relevance merely an attempt
at this late moment
to obscure the fact that I can think
of no reason for this poem, can find
no message for anyone except maybe me,
a goad to myself
to recognize my limitations,
to swear a promise to myself
that I am never going
to stay up past 0 nine hundred
how great the promise
of a championship-level basketball game,
a big boy game,
Last from my library this week I have a poem from Dark Familiar
, a collection by Aleda Shirley
The Yellow Point
The floor's terrazzo, the store a deliberate maze;
after a while your eye seizes on sunlight
through distant doors, silver & unreal. First,
the sweaters, stacks of them, butter-yellow
& green & violet. I want them all, I want the scarves
twisted around fake trees & lipsticks lined up
in shining cases, the pale turquoise sheets
with their million thread counts,
the delicate glasses shaped for this year's drink.
At home violet fills the middle third of the mirror.
On the bed are jackets, arms askew,
that go well with violet or don't - I no longer care.
Soap shaped like shells, sandalwood & freesia,
tea bagged in delicate silk. The kettle shrills.
I want the sweater I put on hold & the one
I didn't find, black with long tight sleeves.
The one I wear drips with tags in three places. Outside
light rain, then sleet, clicking through the live oak.
I want to go home
is not what I'm thinking
but it is something like that. On television
there's a commercial about someone who managed -
a taxi in the snow, bells the perfect distance ringing,
faces in the doorway. Then a voice over, the soft sell.
is imprecise: eventually you're required to stop.
It is easier to want nothing. Easier to want everything
& keep going. If the doorbell rings it will be a delivery:
more to open. Knife through tape & on the bed
soft wads of tissue paper I make smaller with my fists.
The best thing about growing up in the 1950s was that nothing was complicated. Simple-mindedness was the national pass time and it was good enough.
it was a storm-waiting
still, not a twig
stirring, not a bird
singing in the trees,
damp in the air,
waiting for the thunderstorm
predicted for about now
that was leading me to think
it might be a good
for another weather-poem
but now, an hour and a half later,
the parking lot has a damp sheen
since early hours
and there is a flickering light,
either lightning in the east
or a soon-to-fail bulb
in the light hanging over my table
and either way
there is an aura of anticipation
to the hour, as if something,
maybe the predicted
is about to happen
and I don't want to jinx
by writing about it
so I'm going to write
about General Curtis LeMay
he's been on my mind a lot lately
he of the "defoliate and pave"
to the Vietnam quagmire,
not a real practical
but enticing then and
so much crap
we put up with today
truing to find complicated solutions
to complicated problems,
Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan,
the continuing Israeli-Palestinian
near-war, abortion,Tea Party numbnuts
and the whole crew
of mental defectives that are drawn to them,
the continued arming of the insane all
across America, the continuing
mis-education of our children
all across America, rewarding the slugs of wealth
and starving the worthy all across
America, all of it, the IRS, tax day, just too fucking
complicated and senseless, all of it
begging for the Curtis LeMay
defoliate and pave
all of it,
pave it over
|That's it for the
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
, 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
Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iBookstore, Sony eBookstore, Kobo,
Copia, Garner's, Baker & Taylor, eSentral, Scribd and
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
Sonyador - The Dreamer