From the Files    Wednesday, May 29, 2013

photo by Dora Itz (1985-1986)


Mostly standard stuff this week. New  poems from me, as usual; poems from my anthology for the week, Twentieth-Century Latin American Poetry. a very large bilingual collection of poems published in 1996 by the University of Texas Press; and poems from my library, as  well as from a couple of my poet-friends.

Plus the photos - old poems "from the files" - stuff I  like because I like it and stuff I like because it has special meaning to me. Those last were mostly taken by others and I expect will be easy to recognize.

And my old poem. This week, having referred to my first and second ebook  in the previous two issues, this week I pull the poem from my third ebook, Always to  the Light.




Here are the particulars and the peculiars of what' up this week from here:


Me
geezer charm

Julio Herrera y Reissig 
The Return

Me
scattered in the wide night sky

Michael Van Walleghen
Sneaky

Me
it may all end well after all
oh, Shostakovitch

Owald de Andrade
Portuguese Mistake    
Frontier
Hierofant

Me
stringbean

Deborah Digges  
My Phantom Escort, the Milkweed
Christmas Rain

Me
a good day promise

Nicanor  Parra 
Piano Solo
I Move the Meeting Be Adjourned
Roller Coaster

Me
red balloon

Alex Stolis
from What makes the dawn come up  like thunder

Me
coddling eggs

Octavio Paz
Here
Certainty
Village    

Me
peas in our time

Joanna M. Weston
Connections
Passport Control
The Other
The Phone

Me
a deep dunk in a shallow pool

Pablo Antonio Cuadra 
The Birth of the Sun 

Me
cash crop

James Laughlin
 Motet:  Ave Verum Corpus
The New Young Doctor
The Daze of Love
Some People Think
The Voyeur
Passport Size Will Do
At the Post Office
For the Finders Within

 Me
an accretion of cat

Alfonsina Storni
Ancestral Burden
The White Claw

Me
who knew

Jose Felipe  Herrera
Monday: nothing
Monday: I am
Monday: (PRI jet)

Me
a counter-intuitive proposal

Gabriel Mistral
Close to me

Me
as the cookie crumbles

Gregory Corso
Notes After Blacking Out

Me
a natural right        
    
   











Here's my first new poem for this week. 



geezer-charm

I'm usually able
in most situations
to turn on my geezer-charm
at stores and restaurants and make friends
with all around, little jokes told
that allow us to share a chuckle,  a friendly
smile, an open face and attitude...

but my breakfast restaurant
has a new cashier,
a young woman, who does not appear
to have a personality, or, maybe
she saves her personality for other places
 or other people than me, or maybe she just
doesn't sleep well and is in no mood
for charm and chuckles
when she gets to work in the morning, or
maybe she's an alien, a recent arrival
from  parts way the hell and gone
who hasn't had an opportunity
to completely absorb the intricacies
of geezer interaction,  or maybe she's a robot
programmed by a CPA, or maybe
a geezer-stalking zombie, setting me  up
for a quick grab at my brain some morning
as I'm leaving,  left by her lack of discernible
personality to disregard her existence
and thus easy prey...

lots of possibilities that may be hidden
behind her blank  facade that leave me,
despite my best effort at geezer-charm,
feeling old and alone and facing a cold,
cold world...

funny, if they installed
an  automated teller,  all metal and plastic
it wouldn't bother 
me, but
this automaton in human for,  this
flesh and blood replicant,
makes me think
of good movies of bad days,
makes me fear,
most of all, that my geezer-charm is failing.

a sign of the end coming
since it's really all I've  got left
going for me









The first  poet this week from Twentieth-Century Latin American Poetry, is Julio Herrera y Reissig. Born in 1875, Reissig, who died in 1910, was from Uruguay. 

His poem was translated by Andrew Rosing.



The Return

Earth offers its greetings, with a paternal kiss...
A mule grazes m the meager vegetation,
and in the late winter sun the mountain displays
her snowy apron,like  a village matron.

A kindly sky, a gentle zephyr...
As shepherd-girl rests under a pine in the hollow
and in thick rows,  with gradual steps, the cattle
come, obeying the priestly music of the horn.

Carrying wood to cook the evening meal,
the shepherd,who has been absent from his  home
only all  day,  walks slowly toward the farm.

His family hurries to see him, and welcome...
even the dog,  who wags his lively tail,
inscribing fast circles of joy in the air.








As promised above, here's my first poem this week from my third ebook, Always to the Light.



scattered in the wide night sky

scattered
in the wide night sky
are pinpoints of light
bringing star-heat
to worlds like our own

biological stews
pining the universal spark
on some
and on others
life at its most simple
is cradled,
protected from the cosmic
storms,
and on a relative few
creatures who strive
and dream
like you and
I

I
know this
like some people
know God, such knowledge
a product of longing
in the lonely bright
for a companion
worthy
of our own best nature









My first poem this week, this by Michael Van Walleghen. The poem is from his book Blue Tango, published by University of Illinois Press in 1989.



Sneaky

Someone doesn't like cats -
he thinks they're "sneaky"

so cats start disappearing
all over the neighborhood.

Even our own cat disappears
and then, some weeks later

her mutilated body turns up
in an abandoned farmhouse -

because that's what she gets.
Someone doesn't like cats

so he stabs their eyes out
and cuts them to pieces.

Maniacs behind every tree.
Maniacs, child molesters...

But Emily, my five-year-old
has different notions entirely.

She  thinks her cat's in Florida
on vacation - because  it's  winter

and "hat's where the birds go."
It's winter, it's after supper

and a small moon,  a cat's eye
follows us down our dark street

all the way to the liquor store -
then dimly, dimly back again...

Nevertheless,  because she's eaten
so many raw carrots lately

my daughter informs me
she can see in the dark now

like the animals - whereupon
she leaps unerringly, catlike

over an ice-filled gutter -
at which, even the trees

seem stirred, clattering
their sudden applause

all round us for a moment -
then falling still as trees

near a house without windows
in the middle of winter.







I wrote this at the beginning of last  week - a not-so-good week that ended well.



it may all end well after all

fella jobbing
down the sidewalk - I can  see him
through the coffeehouse
windows -
skinny guy, bare-chested,
orange shorts, and
dark hair, kind of poofy hair,
bouncing with every jog - running
in South Texas in the summertime - you see it
all the time, more evidence,
if such is needed,
of how our mental health resources
are so under-sourced
and insufficient
to meet the obvious need
for professional intervention
to assist those who in run in summer
in South Texas,
for crying out loud...

---

which reminds me,
for no particular reason
except that I don't yet have
the required feeling
of resolution regarding this poem,
of the knuckle-dragger
I saw crossing he parking lot
at my supermarket this
morning when I stopped for money
and a banana and by calling him a
"knuckle-dragger"
I didn't mean to be disparaging, but that's
what he looked like, heavy set, sloping shoulders,
arms limp at his sides, knuckles
almost literally
dragging
the asphalt  - poof possibly of the new theory
among the geneticists regarding
the inter-breeding of Neanderthal and modern  man
(or woman) in the bygone days when they
shared a little patch of the planet
in Europe , and, in fact, the continuing presence
of Neanderthal DNA in our modern
biological make-up...

or he might have just been,
in his baby clothes, an escapee
from the nearby zoo - I'm not saying one way or the other
but I did hide my banana behind my back
when we passed

---

and then there was the young (well, she was at one time)
woman I saw out on the sidewalk
when I drove up, red dress, 27-inch heels,
and the droopy, besmeared look of a working girl
putting a cap on another night shift
on the corner of AnyWayYouWant &
vine...

but maybe it was just a helluva a party - to  which
I'm pretty sure I'm glad to be not
invited

---

and then  there's the very tall, very skinny,
antique shop fell from right
down the street, sticking his little
"going out of business" signs
at the corner...

I'm watching the outcome
of his closing with plans of my own
to win the lottery this week if not next
so that I can buy his building
and open an art gallery
for young artists who haven't achieved
the recognition they deserve

(a lot like me in my own estimable
estimate)

a bad outcome for poor mr. tall, skinny
antique purveyor,
but a good resolution for me
as I become the Warren Buffet
of art and poetry

but...

---

enough of that - resolution be damned...
it's been an awful week, and so far this morning
it doesn't  seem to be over yet

though still I maintain my faith
in the inevitability
of positive endings to all life's
travails, thinking
of tonight,
everybody goes home
and we're left alone with our tickets
to the symphony
Shostakovitch featured, a dash of Mozart
and several other musical
worthies...

it all may end well
after all


And speaking of the symphony, here's a next-day follow-up to that poem. The music for the evening was the Mozart Concerto N. 22 in E-flat Major for Piano and Orchestra and the Shostakovitch was Symphony No.8 in C-Minor, Op. 65.


oh, Shostakovitch

The Majestic,
grand old 1930s vintage
movie theater in the middle of the bustle
of early-evening  downtown,
vast blue ceiling
high above us, with lights
that twinkle like stars in the night sky,
the theater a Cecile B.  DeMille epic
inside if he had made
theaters
instead of the movies
that filled the seats,
steps to the mezzanine
and balconies so steep, suggesting
need for an Everest-qualified Sherpa
on the way up and maybe a rope
rappelling down at the end of each
performance,
and god-awful, tiny seats made for butts smaller
than ours, barely room
for a child's knee between rows and how
those little boys must have loved
the statue of a nude in  goddess-mode high
over the stage,  looking down, guarding
the art of make-believer from critics
and for those whose depression-smothered
spirit pined fora wizard to revive
their hearts and souls...

---

the grand old theater,
home of the symphony now,
and Broadway
roadshows, and comedians, and
songsters, still  reviving
hearts and souls

and
last night
Mozart and Shostakovitch...

and Mozart, let's face it, is a bit over-exposed
these days, selling everything from cars
to hair gel, Eine kleine nachtmusik accompanying
your classical suppository purchases,
plus, of course, everything
Mozart ever wrote includes extensions and extrapolations
and variations on every other thing he ever wrote
so that everything is easily mistaken
for something  else  so  that if he ever
rose from the grave to spite Salieri and wrote a new serenade
many would claim they head it  before, I know that piece
they might say, but I can't remember what it's
called...

but, Shostakovitch, oh my, Shostakovitch,
less often heard, not  so familiar,
but who better than a Russian
composing in Russia in the winter
of  1943 to sell you on a dream, then
shred it, mocking the dream he sold you, making
a nightmare of all the  promises, who but a
Russian swimming in the blood of millions of his countrymen,
so many dead, almost as many killed by his won government
as by the invading Nazis, who but such a Russian
could so roil your guts and rend your heart...

such power and agony, such rage and beauty
as has ever been heard in
one piece of music...

oh, Shostakovitch, we listen to your and feel the power, and the rage,
within you and the agony of beauty lost - such pain to midwife
such wondrous music,

oh, Shostakovitch...










The next poet from this week's anthology is Oswald de Andrade. A Brazilian poet, Andrade was born in 1890 and died in 1954.

His poems were translated by Flavia Vidal.



Portuguese Mistake

When the Portuguese arrived
It was raining like crazy 
He dressed the Indian in clothes
What a shame?
If only it had been a sunny day
The Indian would have undressed
The Portuguese.


Frontier

I ant  to study philosophy in Paris
That can't happen
Only if your godfather Antnes pays your way
But life is good anyhow
Godfather Antunes went bankrupt
Life is good
Godfather Antunes diet
Mute old  church-bell,
you slow your rhythm in a panic
and speed up your ringing
in a rebellion

The seed spouts with no announcement
The man in the mask will fill your table with joys
That's not  going to happen
But life is  good  anyhow

Poet, you were born destined for liberty;
what a waste to meet the Shepherds' Christmas star.


Hierofant

It's impossible to live
with these people
or with anyone at all
Suspicion surrounds you like an escutcheon
Dye the scarab
red
and paint the dawn's directions
Sighing multitudes will come from far away
to attend the plangent calf









Here's poem number two from Always to the Light.



stringbean

string
bean
looking fella
in a cowboy
hat
and shit
kicker  boots
sitting 
across
from me
drinking
from a quart
carton
of 2% milk
reading some
kind of
technical looking
book with
graphs
and shit
and one hand
looking
paralyzed fingers
tight 
against his palm
like Bob Dole
'cept this
fella
isn't holding
a pen
in his clinched
fingers
like Bob Dole
always 
did
good ol'
guy
that Bob
Dole
might'a been
a fine presi
dent
if he hadn't  
been a Republican
and 143 years
old 
probably
wouldn't
a'been fucking
around with no
chubby
interns any
way
what is it
with politicians
and their dicks
anyway
like just another
one this
week
screwing around
love me
love
me
love  me
they're all
saying
all the time
waving their
dicks
around
starting wars
or  
screwing
women either
too young
or too 
married
for any man
with good
sense
to mess with
I mean
put your dicks
back
in your pants
and
grow up
for christ's
sake
you're supposed
to be 
running the country
fool
not running 
around
on your dearly
beloved
who ought to be
whopping
you
across the head
three or 
four 
times a day
till
you get it on
straight

fool












Next from my library, I have two short poems by Deborah Digges, from her  book Rough Music. The book was published in 1996 by Alfred A Knopf.



My Phantom Escort,  the Milkweed

My phantom escort, the milkweed,
blown across the asphalt -
that hopeless, but of itself undaunted -
said there was some way,  some possibility
in loving your against history,
who ushered me doorway by doorway
inside my skin inside another hotel room.
There we were nothing blessed with
and without honor, liars
as we came. No one  we'd  want to know
might understand all  too  well
how  afterward we weren't changed,
even dressed, and on the street again, original.
We'd ride a few  blocks together in  a taxi.


Christmas Rain

Here is the tree
whose topmost branches will not  again green.
This evening the crows gather
merely to watch a sparrow

with a bit of Christmas rain in its beak fly
into the hard pine.

Now over the backyards
of the rich, sparrow attacks crow -
chases it down toward its own miserable death,
the nest,  of course, abandoned.

Now the crows fly as one,
perhaps toward the  ocean trees.

Well, it's justice this year to live without hope.

Nothing made of fear alone can last
like nothing made exclusively of happiness.




photo by Nina Itz (1977-78)



Thursday, looks like a really good day coming.



a good day promise

missing 
this morning,
the harsh cough
of  crows,
like drunks hacking up
last  night's cigarettes, instead
the silky coo of
doves
spreading butter on the rising sun,
and the moon too,
bright and round, and  a cool breeze
blowing down the wide  length
of the creek and its small pastures
on either side...

and  it's like maybe
the earth
has slowed down
for today
so that I might catch
up...

a good day promise,
early













My next poet from the Twentieth Century Latin American Poets anthology is Nicanor Parra. A Chilean poet, Parra was born in 1914 and was still living when the anthology was published.



Piano Solo

Since man's life is nothing but a bit of action at a distance,
A bit of foam shining inside a glass;
Since trees are nothing but moving trees;
Nothing but chairs and tables in perpetual motion;
Since  we ourselves are nothing but beings
( As the godhead is nothing but God);
Now that we do not speak solely to be heard
But so that others my speak
And the echo precede the voice that produces it;
Since we do not  even have the consolation of chaos
In the garden that yawns and fills with air,
A puzzle that  we must solve before our death
So that we may nonchalantly resuscitate later on
When we gave led woman to excess;
Since there is also a heaven in hell,
Permit me to propose a few things:
I wish to make noise wit my feet
I want my soul to find its proper body.

          (Translated by William Carlos Williams)


I Move the Meeting Be Adjourned

Ladies and gentlemen
I have only one question:
Are we children of the Sun or the Earth?
I see no reason
To continue shooting this picture!
I move the meeting be adjourned.

          (Translated by Allen Ginsberg)


Roller Coaster

For  half  a century
Poetry was the paradise
Of the solemn fool.
Until I came
And built my roller coaster.

Go up, if you feel like it.
I'm not responsible if you come down
Bleeding from your mouth and nose.

          (Translated by Miller Williams) 
 






Here's one from my ebook pulled directly from a supermarket parking lot.



red balloon

little boy
in a shopping cart
says to his mother
as she pushes

he's 
still my dad, right?
so I still love him,
right?

my mind 
is a-crush
with sad stories

none sadder,
than this, 
I think,
and I imagine pain
radiating
from this cart,
across  time,
across  generations,
the world's pain
that is a red balloon
filling a little more,
the world's pain
an angry balloon
near to bursting








Next, I have several selections from a chapbook in progress by my friend Alex Stolis. These poems are from the first part of what will be three parts in the chapbook, to be titled, What makes the dawn come up like thunder.

Regular readers of "Here and Now" will recognize Alex from the many times his work has appeared he. In addition to being a very good poet, he is very prolific, putting out chapbooks like Ronald McDonald puts out hamburgers. 

(Jeez, did I just compare Alex to McDonald's? This comparison works  only if you imagine my reference to be to McDonald's new gourmet burger division.)



from What makes the dawn come up like thunder


from Kansas (Part I)

If we walk far enough, says Dorothy,
we shall sometime come to someplace
- L. Frank Baum, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz


A Landscape  in Plain View

It is between the blink of an eye
and Apollo; a winged messenger-god
her veil lifted
by a cold-blooded moon.

There is a palette, voices long and golden
a scarecrow missing a leg
arms akimbo.
What's that bird? What's that wing?


She dreams of straight lines, houses
storefront glass and a murder
of crows dipping in
and out of view.

She's in plain sight, the good witch
of the world pouring in rain;
there's the wind, there's 
that wind: north/south/east/west.

I've never told anyone she said
to everyone; Auntie M. Uncle H,
a tin-horned ranch handed
Mr. Bones, cowardly bent.


We have flat-lands and we have fields and we have

fleeting thoughts; Mott the Hoople's Sweet Jane. How ice feels smooth
even with jagged edges. They way yellow turns to ochre turns to orange.
How dandelions can grow in cracks of sidewalks. The sound of a pop-top
ring on a can of beer; faux wood paneling and shag carpet. James Joyce
and Ulysses. How we've everything we need to twist and turn ourselves
around and down and into the very hole we crawled out of.


Dorothy's  last time at the Scarecrow  Bar & Grill with Tin Man

First time she noticed: faded black and white tiles, how the smell of beer
& whiskey stuck to the floor. Unfiltered cigarettes balanced on the edge
of ashtray-weapons. The whir & click as vinyl dropped, a short stuttered
needle-groove the CCR's Suzie Q. She has a Plan A, B and C, her own
Plan 9. She'll cut her hair all the East Coast fuck-the-yokels sexy/edgy/cool.
It doesn't matter where she's been or ever who she's going to be next.
She knows the taste of poor. It's heavy and think. It's unsalted, slightly
bitter, it's sweat and tears and dirt and fire. She gets the scissors, closes
her eyes, triesto imagine bright leaves and ripe fruit on the ground.


Dorothy buys a new pair of shoes

She wants to get to someplace. It doesn't matter where
or what color the sky. She's tired of half-finished thoughts
and the feeling she belong to whatever emptiness  comes
along. Right now, she lives with the jagged sound of tees
banging against wind. The rough, even rows of corn stalks
and the smell of kerosene. The hand-me-down back stories
jealously guarded and passed on and on and on. She wants 
some time to get somewhere, anywhere; anywhere thunder
rolls and coughs. Anywhere that glistens and shines.






photographer unknown (1964)



Here's a little story of breakfast with a friend last  week.



coddling eggs

I am having  breakfast
later this week
with a  friend at an Italian Restaurant
that  promises entrees like "coddled eggs"
and I don't know about that
at all, being
too much like my father
who wasn't in favor of coddling anything,
children, dogs, eggs, whatever -

shouldn't be coddling those  eggs,
he'd  say,
if a damn egg can't stand up on its own two feet
what damn good is it?

next
we'll probably have coddled bacon
and coddled toast and coddled
coffee and then every damn thing
in the restaurant will have to be coddled
and the poor damn customers
will be so busy coddling their eggs
and their toast and their bacon and their coffee
they won't have time to enjoy
any bit of their breakfast

---

but I enjoy having breakfast
with my friend
so I guess I'll go and coddle
right along with everyone else,
though I probably will  ask if they
have any less-wussy,  un-coddled eggs
that can  take care of themselves
and not require any tender coddling
from me...

I'm just not sure
I'm up to coddling at seven-thirty in the
morning - the responsibility
may just be too much
for me








Next from the anthology, I have three short poems by probably the best known Mexican poet, Octavio Paz. Born in 1914, Paz died in 1998.  All three of the poems were translated by Charles Tomlinson.


Here

 My steps along this street
resound
              in another street
in which
              I hear my steps
passing along this street
in which

Only the mist is real


Certainty 

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

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


Village

The stones are time
                                 The wind
Centuries of wind
                                  The trees are time
The people are stone
                                   The wind 
turns upon itself and sinks
Into the stone day

There is no water here for all the luster of its eyes.








I  decry the world's decline - from  Always to the Light.



peas in our time

dinner
last night
at Grissinis'

Italian
penne  pasta
with some kind
of orangish sauce

tiny pieces of ham
mushrooms 
peas

&
the peas
did it for me
since peas are
my second favorite
vegetable -
peas and corn
being my first favorite

someone mentioned
it was strange, my
liking peas so much,
since no on was
eating
peas
anymore

&
that's hardly
a surprise to me
since the world slips
further
into decline
with every passing day










Like Alex Stolis, regular "Here and Now" readers will recognize my next poet, my friend Joanna M. Weston, who has appeared here many times.

Joanna describes herself as married and minder of two cats, multiple spiders, a herd of deer, and two derelict hen houses. Her books include her middle-reader, Those Blue Shoes, published by Clarity House Press; and a book of poetry, A Summer Father. She also has an ebook, The Willow Tree Girl, at her blog, www.1960willowtree.wordpress.com.



Connections

the whisper of keys
on business letters
disgorged by the printer
signed    sealed    mailed
adding to the flood
of paper white ink-scribbles
and the secretary files
nails      letters in grey boxes
for future security
under flickering bulbs
knowing her boss dreams
through open windows
expecting the advent
of further memos
from connections made
at cocktail parties
to which his assistant
is never invited.


Passport Control

I droop
    against the concrete wall
others slump
between waist-high dividers
lean on posts
faces drudged
under neon light
    nudge luggage forward
line beside line
                  winding through

murmurs press
on exhaustion
while officialese urges
the scuff of feet


The Other

long after moonrise
a voice
burned me
into wakefulness
was it you? 

did you conjure my name
into yourself
call me
from your reality?

did you dream me
in the grey of dawn
catch my hand
wrench me
howling
into morning
alone?


The Phone

incoming  calls
swirl down the line
and break the rock
of my refusal to pickup

so I miss the sales-person
survey or politician

interruptions that transform
my communication skills
into "no dammit"
 








Sometimes, I really have a yen  to write  something deep and worthwhile.  

But it makes my brain  hurt.



a deep dunk in a shallow  pool

deep think,
that's what  I need

a philosophical
exegesis of the text
of  daily life

that is all around me, that 
which I am subject  to
and that  which is subject to me

I used to do that sort of thing

swim up  the river
of intellectual
exploration

but now I'm more like the child
splashing in  puddles
along the way
to  tinker toy
park

leaving me to  fear
sometimes
that I have forgotten
how to think
beyond the cliches
that wrap themselves
like thought-choking vines
around 
daily
life, all the obscurities
of little think,
the irrelevancies
that  preoccupy
the culture
I fear to drown in...

I  wouldn't mind
being
a smart-ass if it meant
I could be more than just an
everyday
ass -

like I thought
when  I started that this was going to be
a funny poem,
a smart-ass critique
of modern life

but it  seems even that
is beyond my
reach...










Here is a poem from this week's anthology by Pablo Antonio Cuadra. Born in Nicaragua in 1912, the poet was still alive when the anthology was published.

The poem was translated by Thomas Merton.



The Birth of the Sun

I have invented new  worlds. I have dreamed
Nights built out of ineffable substances.
I have made burning stars, subtle lights
Next to half-closed eyes.

                                            Yet never
Can I recover that first day when our fathers
Emerged, with their tribes, from the humid jungle
And looked to the East. They listened to the roar
Of the jaguar, the song of the birds; and they saw
Rise up a man with a burning face,
Whose looks, full of light, dried up the marshes,
A tall, burning youth whose face was aflame:
Whose face lit up the whole world!




photo by Bob Anderson (1966)



I think I remember a fairly wet summer, but it seems so  long  ago. Seems instead that we've been in Stage I (or worse) for about as long as I can remember.

It encourages one to write a lot of  drought poems. This one is from the ebook, Always to the Light.



cash crop

I see a row
of townhouses
across the street,
smothered in green,
spring-looks exploding
all over after  just three  days
of  rain - even the desert that is
my yard I refuse to water through
the drought is showing little green sprigs

poking through the dust - but it won't
last, three days is three days and
there's a whole dry spring and
summer ahead, so while the
folks across the way will
suck water from the
falling aquifer, my
yard will return
to it's natural
semi-arid
state

and I will make
a virtue of it,
xeroscape-
ing they
might
call
it
but
I know 
surrender  
to the inevitable
is what it is
like who
needs 
trees

we
grow
rocks
here better  than
anything else,
surely
it must
be a
ma-
jor 
cash
crop judg
ing by the 
quarries all around

I'm putting a new crop
in myself, as soon
as the rain
stops

if
they
don't grow
I'll apply for a
subs-
idy










Here are two short poems by James Laughlin, from his book, The Secret  Room, a New Direction book published in 1997.

I had my doubts about this book when I bought it, mainly because the cover suggest a dry and formal book. Turned out after I got into it, that I love the book. Laughlin, an old man in this books, is delightful, seeing himself and the world with a clear eye and good humor, a man unreservedly human.



Motet: Ave Verum Corpus

My mother could not wait to go
To  Jesus. Her poor, sad life
(Though she was money-rich)
Was made for that, to go to
Waiting Jesus.

Jesus loved her that she knew,
There was no doubt about it.
Up there above, somewhere among
The twinkling stars, there was
A place of no tears where
He was waiting for her, blood-
Stained in palms and side, he
Was waiting.


The New Young Doctor

at the clinic is fresh
out of medical school
and hospital internship.
He's up to date on all
the new cures he reads
about in the journals.
Some of the old fogies
here in the village
won't go to  him, but
I think he's great. At 
my last check-up he
told me I'd probably
live to be a hundred
because I have such a 
strong pulse in my feet.


The Daze of Love

Comes sometimes
the blaze of light
when an asteroid
passes us too near.

There is also
the softer radiance
when we are separated
and sink into sleep
thinking of each other.


Some People Think

that poetry should be a-
dorned or complicated      I'm

not  so sure      I think I'll
take the simple statement

in plain speech compress-
ed  to brevity      I think that

will do all I want to do


The Voyeur

Pull up your skirt
just an inch or  two

above your knees
sit quietly where

I may watch you
from across the

room      I am old and
impotent but such

small pleasures can
still give me delight


Passport Size Will Do

I beg you send me your picture
For my album of imaginary conquests
You will be in excellent company
I am not (even in my imagination)
Promiscuous and invite only the best


At the Post Office

It makes his day when
by happy chance he en-

counters her on his morn-
ing visit to the post office

it's as if a rose had
opened to greet him.


For the Finders Within

I cannot name them nor
tell from whence they

come      I cannot summon
them nor make them lin-

ger      they come when they
wish (and are least ex-
pected) and in a moment
they are gone leaving

their burst of words
which become my song. 
     








We had a temporary addition to our parade. Wasn't sure when I wrote this whether  it  was going to stay temporary or  become permanent. Apparently it was  temporary since, after a week and a half of following us every morning,  she hasn't been back in several days.



an accretion of cat

our regular tri-
species, can't-we-all-
just-get-along Clearview Circle parade
grew by one this
morning

our normal marching crew,
(being me, sometimes referred to as "Master,"
but not always, and Bella, the golden-haired
doofus-dog, and Mama, the charcoal  gray
shadow-dancer cat)
following our normal marching
order, Bella on a leash, followed by me and
Mama, sometimes behind,  sometimes waiting ahead
if Bella's sniffing and peeing routine
causes a longer delay in the march than
a self-possessed cat is prone
to accept,
and this morning, someone new,
another  cat, a juvenile kitten, solid white
but for her  black tail ad black spot
on her  side ad a black
half-mask around her right eye,
walking with  great purpose
behind Mama...

Bella
welcomes the newcomer
with appropriate
butt-sniffing, but Mama is not pleased,
saying, with fierce hiss and arcing
back, "this is  my dog," she says
"keep your kitten nose away from my dog"

now Mama, who loves  Bella,
tolerates me only as long as I feed her,
while the no-name newcomer
is a cuddly, natural-born
lap cat who rolled over for a tummy scratch
the first minute we met

leaving me with a question
and a dilemma

will the newcomer be back to walk with us
tomorrow, or will she continue her
journey on to whoever
scratches
her tummy next

and if  she does come back,
will Mama be content to share her dog
and her space on the front porch
(separate food bowls, of course) and,
I'm thinking even now,
what would  be a good name for such a pretty cat...

but best I not get ahead of myself
in case we're just ships passing in the night,
just another one-night stand...

(Snow Puff,  that might be a good name for a white cat, or maybe.,..)










Born in 1892 of Italian parents in Switzerland, Alfonsina Storni came to Argentina with her family when she was three years old. Trained and licensed in the field of rural education, she supported herself as a teacher and free-lance journalist from the age of eighteen. At twenty, she moved to Buenos Aires, where she spent the rest of her life. She died in 1938.

I have two short poems of hers from the anthology. Twentieth-Century Latin American Poets. The poems were translated by Andrew  Rosing



Ancestral Burden

Once you told me my father never wept;
Once you told me his father never wept;
The men of my line have never  wept;
They were made of steel.

As you were saying this you cried a tear
That dropped into my mouth...I have never
drunk more off poison than I did
from that little cup

Vulnerable woman, poor and comprehending woman,
When I tasted it I knew the pain of centuries.
Oh, my soul cannot endure
All of its burden.


The White Claw

In this splendor of white sky
I sink my eyes, and sinking them I weep.
The sky is covered with golden tears;
the clean sky.

And ah, it seems that a white claw
must swoop down and carry me
through the curving sky;
the white claw.









This is my last poem this week from my ebook, Always to the Light.



who knew

I know
what this poem means
and so do you

but it would be
so great
if we could get together
some rainy afternoon
in a coffeehouse
on a tree-lined boulevard
in a quiet neighborhood
and talk
and
talk
until you understood
what I wrote
and I knew what
you read






From my library, I have three short poems by Juan Felipe Herrera, from his book  Giraffe on Fire

The book, published in 2001 by The University of Arizona Press, is not a good book to use here in "Here and Now" because everything in it is either too long or too entwined in the context of everything else that it's hard to extract anything short enough to use here.

But I did pull three short poems, the first three in a series titled "Bull and Octopus (Adios, querido PRI)." These three poems can, at least, give the flavor of Herrera's extravagant and sometimes mystical style.



Monday nothing

nothing only nothing and fists -  full of veins
shawls in ambush delirious over your mask
your lie you (Yes) you Minotaur-boy tell us
of your towers Amerindian (only) you tell of us of this little
blind-eye dog battle that you leave us and now in this
lake of our own violet shadows you want
us to receive your guild your ribbon and dinner jacket
for a toast in a glass
on a plate architecturally yours yours
Amerinothing of your great lobster hands like this
you want us


Monday: I am

I am
bullet-riddled inside Shinnybone Martinez  the one with
                             overhauled rage  Chiclets Boy (pocket bloated
now, stretching) Yes
just like the gum stuff old man mandible sputum -
Cabeza de vaca Head of a woman weeping a desert of hands
bullet riddled and one thousand (5) thousand mothers of a dead boy, a girl
Lily flame (her name is Senorita Solitary Ash;
his name  is Fir  Without a Hungry Altar Without a Leaf) - fast flame,
tiny dagger, little wrist doll in the thick coffee barracks
crazy in the shrapnel sky shred


Monday (PRI jet)

(PRI jet) This is the string - this is the noose
this is the brown slashed head, the lost knot,  the holy twine,
twisted head,  headless - the dream _____________

the new dram of man-handkerchief artificial ice
iodine  tank Christmas: suppliant supplicant suppliant
positions  (he says)
     In the mass graves in the building with shoes and bandages and sweets,
coconut and carpets on sale and pumpkin seeds and confetti
in the stone rubble volcanic ash









Here's a poem  I wrote several weeks ago and somehow lost track of. Not written in response to anything  going on in Oklahoma, I don't know that it's all that counter-intuitive at all, thinking of all the cliche's like "when the going gets tough, the tough get going," etc.

And it is certainly true that none of us know what we are capable of until our best is called on to act.




a counter-intuitive proposal

thinking about this
after reading another's poem...

it seems that the only true
freedom
is the freedom one has
to run and hide when disaster
threatens;
the confusion of options
set aside
for the requirements
of survival

the superficiality
of material things
set aside,
the past set aside,
the future
open to freedom's improvisations

---

the hardest lessons
it  seems
might
produce the easiest answers

to fly if you can,
to walk, to run, with a satisfied
spirit
if you can't

to find a new home;
to find a new
life;
to find the center
that has eluded 
you in the routine
of life on the periphery

to  go like Kirk and Spock
and Bones and all 
the rest
where you have not gone
before







Last from the anthology I have poet Lucila Godoy-Alcayagal, who wrote and published under the pen name Gabriela Mistral. She was a Chilean educator, diplomat, feminist and poet who was born in Chile, lived in Brazil and, for the last years of her life, in the United States where she lived with her long-time companion and translator, Doris Dana, while representing Chile at the United Nations.

Born in 1889, she won the Nobel Prize in Literature  in 1945, and died in 1957.



Close  to Me

Little fleece of my flesh
that I wove in my womb,
little shivering fleece,
sleep close to me!

the partridge sleeps in the clover
hearing its heart beat.
My breathing will not wake you.
Sleep close to me!

Little trembling blade of grass
astonished to be alive,
don't leave my breast.
 Sleep close to me!

I who have lost everything
am now afraid to sleep.
Don't slip away from my arms.
Sleep close to me!








Here's an old poem, the last this week from my ebook, Always to the Light.



as the cookie crumbles

having a chocolate-chip cookie
with my latte  this morning,
leaving me 
aquiver with excitement
at such a foray
into the world of
wild and crazy guyhood

it's a sign,
these palpitations
of my normally serene
and laid-back heart, that

I'm on a tear for sure,
set to become the
adventurer
of my youth when
 bottle of Lone Star
for breakfast
followed by pancakes,
three eggs, sausage,
and a gallon of coffee
was the start of many a day

(I knew it was breakfast
because the sun hurt my eyes)

I'm ready

this getting old and cranky crap
has run its course

it's time to fight back
against the deprecations
of excessive birthdaying, smoke
inhalation 
from all those candles
a major source of deterioration
of elders respiratory
functions

.....

the cookie's finished,
every last crumb,
and, though dizzy now from the
big chocolate chunks,
I'm still up to the fight

but I'm going home first
to take a nap

after that...

those mattress tags
better beware
cause I'm on a
crazy
desperado
law-busting
tear









Last from my library this week, I have a poem by Gregory Corso, from his book of new  and selected poems, Mindfield, published in 1989 by Thunder's Mouth Press. Corso, born in 1930  in New York City in `1930, moved to the West Coast in 1955, where, as youngest of the Beat Generation writers, he became an important voice in the Beat Movement
 
Corso died in 2001



Notes After Blacking Out

Lady of the legless world I have
     refused to go beyond self-disappearance
I'm in the thin man's bed knowing my legs
     kept me to a cold fresh air
Useless and not useless this meaning
All is answerable I need not know the answer
Poetry is seeking the answer
Joy is knowing there is an answer
Death is knowing the answer
(That faint low in the belly of Enlightenment
     in the dead spouting their answers)

Queen of cripples the young no longer
     seem so necessary
The old are secretive about their Know
they are constant additions to this beg
     unauthorized lie
Yet Truth's author itself is nothingness
And though I make it vital that nothingness
     itself will collapse
There is nothing
Nothing ever was
Nothing is a house never bought
Nothing comes after this wildbright Joke
Nothing sits on nothing in a nothing of many nothings
     a nothing king








Last for the week, then nap time.



a natural right

over the past six months or  so
I have come, ever so cautiously, to the
realization
that persons of different  ages
are  allowed  different 
habits

that, for a person  approaching
his 70th birthday,
afternoon 
naps
are a natural right
that would have been enshrined
as such 
in the constitution
had that eloquent statement of the rights
accrued to us by our divine father
who art in Philadelphia
not been written by young,
hale and hearty guys,  children, almost
in their thirties and forties...

and that when such a person
in his seventieth year exercises
that natural right
it does not mean he is entrapped
in a decadent life of
swilling rot-gut tequila
in a border-town district
where red is the color of most illumination

perhaps even eating the worm
at sunrise

not a
all

though some of us may have some such
decadence
in our personal history,
such is a young man's obsession
having nothing to do with
the elder nap tradition, that would have been
enshrined
etc.
but for the callow youth of our founders

in fact in my most decadent
days I hardly slept at all,
which suggests the anti-decadent nature
of a good afternoon
nap

---

and there's a lot more to be said
for the nurturing  nature of an afternoon nap,
and I may get into the further
of it...

but first,
I really need a nap







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