Only God Can Make an Egg   Wednesday, June 26, 2013






The mix for this week, along with the regular brand of my own new poems and poets from my library, includes an anthology, The Devins Award Poetry Anthology.  The book was published in 1998 by the University of Missouri Press.

The Devins Award was established at the University of Missouri in 1965 by Dr. Edwin Devins, President of the Jewish Community Center and a patron of its reading series, a celebration new poets and fresh voices Devins sought to promote.

Over the course of the next thirty years, twenty-nine young poets were published as part of the Devins series.

The editor of the book, Gerald Constanzo, was himself a recipient of the Devins Award in 1974.




And, as usual, I also have some of my old poems; this batch selected from my first eBook, Pushing Clouds  Against the Wind. This was my first shot at eBook publishing and there was a lot for me to learn, primarily in formatting the book for publication, and it shows. Despite moments of evident amateurism in page lay-out, the poems are good. I also went cheap on the  cover so I ended up with a book with great art  on the cover, but no title. Another mistake I didn't make again.

And the usual  helpings of my new poems and poems from my library.


Me
a day when I miss my pigeons

John Calvin Rezmerrski
 Animism II
A Posteriori

Me
i swear

Pablo Neruda
Pact (Sonata)

Me
waiting our time

Nancy Willard
Legend

Me
red grill

Marina Tsvetaeva
from Poem of the End

Me
every poet should find his groupie

Janet Beeler
Dowry

Me
weather report

Richard Wilbur
Stop

Me
a gathering of crows

Wesley McNair
Small Towns Are Passing

Me
a writerly moment

Ryokan
Dawn

Me
only God can make an egg

Gerald Constanzo
At Irony's Picnic
The Bigamist    

Me
the girl with a small mouth and long brown hair

Campbell McGrath
The Manatee
Trouble with Miami   

Me
thinking of  dead people this morning

John Repp
Elegy for Esposito

Me
sun after rain

Audre Lorde
Party Time
Prism

Me
a few birds call

Nancy Sullivan
Prehistoric Cave  Painting of a Bison

Me
poor little Pumpkin

Me
sweat equity      









Here's my first new poem of the week.






a day when I miss my pigeons

this is a day
not to get involved
with; a day to set aside,
like bossy women
and rank smelling old men
with handlebar mustaches,
until something better comes
along...

it is not a day that offers me
immortality
or  even a life past
the next half-moon...

it's a bad day
when I wear a black heart
& drab perspectives
despite
the green
and splendid colors
all around...

---

but that pigeon,
that pigeon pecking on the parking lot,
beautifully patterned black and
white, pecking on the parking lot,
alone
and happy with it

beautiful pigeon,
winged rats say some
who  cannot appreciate
their beauty...

I have kept pigeons,
not especially smart animals, but faithful
to he who feeds them, affectionate
even, perched on my shoulder
as we walk the path
from where to there,enjoying
the ride, and I don't mind
carrying him about,
for he is not heavy; he is my pigeon...

---

a bad day,
a bad day indeed,
when I miss my pigeon
and fear I'll never
fly
again






I have two short poems by John Calvin Rezmerski, from this weeks anthology of Devins Award winners. Rezmerski won the award in 1969. At the time of  publication of the anthology, he was writer-in-residence at Gustavus Adolphus College. He has worked as an editor, scriptwriter, political speechwriter, along with a number of other occupations from magician to cook and typesetter. He lived in Minnesota when the anthology was published.



Animism II

This bench is alive.
My father made it.
The table is dead;
we bought it that way
to put things on.
I have a candle.
It lives,
when somebody lights it.

Nobody lights the sun
but it is alive too,
because nobody buys it.

My father told me
some people buy other people.
Somebody should go light them.
People are not
to put things on.


A  Posteriori

Removing your ornaments
you make me predict things:
someday you will teach me concupiscence.
Then you will want
to carry my eyes around in your purse,
letting them out only behind doors.
Religion is mixed up with this,
you and your inquisition.
But the sin in only gluttony:
me demanding you demanding
the chance to be my widow.







This is my first old poem this week, taken from  my first ebook,  Pushing Clouds Against the Wind.

Still available just about everywhere eBooks are sold.



i swear

business suit,
charcoal  gray,
pin
striped,
red necktie
on pristine white shirt
whispers to himself
as he picks
at his Blackberry
with his plastic stylus

I read his lips,
"beam me up, Scottie"

i swear





First from my library this week, I  have the great Pablo Neruda, with a poem from his book, Neruda, the Selected Poems. The book was published in 1970 by Houghton Mifflin.

Born in 1904 in the south of Chile, Neruda enjoyed attention as a poet from an early age. At the same time he pursued a life-long career as a diplomat, serving in a series of consular posts in the Far East  and Europe. It was in 1971, while serving as Chilean ambassador to France, that he was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature. He was a close advisor to Chilean socialist president Salvador Allende and was in the hospital with cancer in 1973 when Allende was overthrown and murdered by a rightist coup. Neruda died shortly   thereafter

The book's notes report that the poems in the book were selected by Neruda himself. It is a bilingual book, with a number of prominent poets contributing to the translation of the various poems in the collection. The poem  I selected was translated by W.S. Merwin.



Pact (Sonata)

Neither the heart cut by a piece  of glass
in a wasteland of thorns
nor the atrocious waters seen in the corners
of certain  houses, waters like eyelids and eyes
can capture your waist in my hands
when my heat lifts its oaks
towards your unbreakable thread of snow.

Nocturnal sugar, spirit
of the crowns,
                        ransomed
human blood your kisses
send me into exile
and a stroke of water, with remnants of the sea,
beats on the silences that  wait for you
surrounding the worn chairs,  wearing out doors.

Nights  with bright spindles,
divided, material, nothing
but voice, nothing but
naked every day.

Over your breasts of motionless current,
over your legs of firmness and water,
over the permanence and the pride
of your naked hair
I want to  be, my love, not that  the tears are thrown
into the raucous basket where they accumulate,
I want to be, my love, alone with a  syllable
of mangled  silver, alone with a tip
of your breasts of snow.

But now sometimes it is not  possible
to win except by falling,
but now it is not possible to tremble between
two beings to touch the flower of the  river:
fibres of man come like needle3s,
procedures, fragments,
families of repulsive coral,  torments
and hard steps for winter
carpets.

Between lips  and lips there  are cities
of  great ash and moist summit,
drops of  when and how, vague
comings and goings:
between lips and lips as along a shore
of sand and glass  the wind  passes.

Therefore you are endless; gather me as though  you were
all solemnity, all made of night
like a zone,  until you are indistinguishable
from the lines of  time.
                                       Advance into sweetness,
come to my side until the fingers
leaves of the violins
have gone  silent, until the mosses
take root in the thunder, until  from  the  pulse
of hand and hand the roots descend.






  


Next, new from last week.





waiting our time

opportunistic moon
does not plan its time to shine
but given a chance
it will

so me
so you
so like the boy on the corner,
uniformed for school,
backpack in tow

waiting our time












Nancy Willard, resident of Poughkeepsie, New York, at the time the anthology was published, was Devins  Award winner in 1967.

This is her poem from the anthology of Devins winners.




Legend

There's a forest in Sweden that flowers
pm Christmas night. You'll find berries,
same as in ours, says the farmer who hasn't
seen it but  whose mother saw it once.

That was in Smaland. Fifty miles north
and old man who paints churches saw
the same forest, though he never walks
farther than his farthest field,.

where the wood  starts again, everywhere silent.
It was all blossoms and strange birds, he says.
He didn't remember their names though he knew
they'd met before, perhaps at midsummer

in sight of his own  pasture, over the ashes
where his neighbor's children danced
the whole light long. To enter you own life
as if  you knew nothing is the root

of miracles; to be walking among the dead
farms hunched in snow, the sheds and extinct
gardens and glancing up, to see in a far
window flowers hung like desire

on the dark, where the farmer's wife
and her  cats are eating a lonely supper.
Then - not to know this place but the legend,
breaking the snow with ferns  and dogwood and wild
               scent.

The messengers of grace are ignorant.






 Another poem from Pushing Clouds Against the Wind. I  suppose I don't  need to  tell anyone who was the inspiration for this one.

Too bad I lacked the confidence to quit the poem where he would  have.




red grill

red grill
 on a field
of brown leaves

autumn  come
and almost gone with summer

red
grill
begins
the long wait
for spring






The next piece is taken from a longer poem,  Poem of the End from the book of the same name by Marina Tsvetaeva.

 Born in 1892, Tsvetaeva, like many of the poets and other artists who gained fame and success before the Russian Revolution, faced many difficult years in the revolution's communist aftermath. In exile in Paris after the revolution, she became one of the leading writers of the Emigre community. She returned to the Soviet Union in 1939 and shortly thereafter her husband was arrested and executed. She committed suicide in 1941 in Elabuba, a small town to which she had been evacuated with the onset of World War II.

My edition of the book was published in 2004 by Ardis Publishers. It is a bilingual, Russian/English book, with translation by Nina Kossman.



from Poem of the End

11

Losing everything at once -
There's nothing neater.
Suburbs, outskirts:
End to our days.

End to our joys (read "burdens"),
The days,  houses,  us.

Empty dachas: I revere them
As I would an aged mother.
There is an action, after all, - to vacate:
What's empty can't be emptied.

(Dachas, one-third empty,
You'd do better to burn!)

Just don't wince,
When the wound is open.
To the outskirts,  way out of town,
To rip out the stitches.

For, to say it plainly, simply:
Love is a seam.

A seam, not a sling, a stitch, not a shield.
Oh, don't ask to be shielded!
The stitch by which the dead are sewn to the earth,
By which I'm stitched to you.

(Time will prove what kind of seam:
Single or  reinforced.)

Either way, friend, rip out the stitches!
Shreds and  Fragments!
It's good it  ripped by itself -
Better to  rip than unravel.

And under the basting - a live red
Vein, and not decay.

Oh, he who rips and tears
Knows no loss!
To the outskirts, way out of town:
Foreheads' divorce.

A draft in the brain:
an execution on the outskirts today.

Oh, he who leaves  knows no loss
When the dawn is breaking.
I have sewn your entire life in one nigh,
Perfectly, without basting.

So don't reproach me if it's crooked.
Outskirts: ripping out the stitches.

Untidy souls,
Covered with welts!...
To the outskirts, way out of town...
Violent the sweep

Of  the suburbs.  Fate's a heel
On the wet clay - you hear it?
...Blame my hurried hand,
My friend, and the live clinging

Thread - however tangled.
The last street lamp.

                 __________

Here? Like in a conspiracy -
A look.From an inferior race -
A look. Can  we  climb the mountain?
For the last time.







  


New from last week.



every poet should find his groupie

there 
was a beat poet,
dead now as are most
of the early days beats (and considering
how they lived, the wonder
that so many lived
so long)

this now-dead poet
never wrote his poems down,
performed them extemporaneously
at the clubs where dark-eyed poets hung out
drinking
thick coffee and existential dread,
his poetry known now
only  because of his friends who went
to listen to his poems
and transcribed them as he made them up...

now
consider Homer
by fire light, telling his epic stories
of heroes and monsters,
while in the flickering
shadows, acolytes wrote them down
for us to read today

---

how fortunate for Homer
and for us
to read him now
only because of his 
sharp-eared, quick-writing
groupies

perhaps,
for the sake of immortality I should
recruit
a groupie of my 
own








    

Janet Beeler (who also publishes under the names Janet  Shaw and Janet Beeler Shaw) was the Devins Award winner in 1978. At the time the anthology was published, the poet was living in Asheville, North Carolina.





Dowry

The pelt of old snow still stays
on the field,
a tattered sheepskin,
but there's a thin stain of sun.

Time to take out
these lengths of cloth
I wove in the dark seasons,
time to bring kettles to the barn lot
and boil my dyes -
yellowweed,
red form the madder toot,
woodwaxen as green as winter wheat,
the orange of bittersweet.

I'll stretch these new colors
up to dry on the frames you've made,
a bride making her first bed.
Barefoot, we'll strip off our winter clothes
and wash each other free
in this bright thaw.
they wrap up in our dazzling sheets.

Your name like chrism on my lips,
let clear light rise in me.







Here's another  from my first  eBook, Pushing Clouds Against the Wind.

Need I say again that it and all my other eBooks are available just about wherever eBooks are sold. And in case  you don't know where that is, there's a list at the end of  this  post.


weather report

i have
a local weather site
bookmarked
on my computer
where I can check
during the course of the day
and i  was about to do just that
when i remembered i was sitting
by a big window
so  i looked out this big window
and saw a soft blue sky
and little wispy hints of clouds

mostly fair
with a when-pigs-fly chance of rain
in the lingo
of my weather
site









Next from my library, I have a poem by Pulitzer Prize winner, Richard Wilbur. The poem  is from his book, Collected Poems 1943-2004, published by Harcourt in 2004.




Stop

In grimy winter dusk
We slowed for a concrete platform;
The pillars passed more slowly;
A paper bag leapt up.

The train banged to a standstill.
Brake-steam rose and parted.
Three chipped-at blocks of ice
Sprawled on a baggage-truck.

Out in that glum, cold air
The broken ice lay glintless,
But the truck was painted blue
On side, wheels, and tongue,

A purple, glowering blue
Like the phosphorus of Lethe
Or Queen Persephone's gaze
In the numb fields of the dark







   
   

Here's another from last week.





a gathering of crows

a gang of crows
gather
in the trees along the street

hackle cackle
squawk as if demented
by the new-risen 
sun

ignore me,
my dog,
chase my cat who walks
with us
in the morning

ancestral animosities,
memories of cats lurking
over nests
inculcated in the  
egg

for me,
the past couple of days
like a gathering
of crows
hanging over my ever hour

a life interrupted
by dark shadows crying
from every tree

but a better day
today,
crow-complaints muffled
by the morning sighs
of doves





   

The 1984 winner of the Devins Award was Wesley McNair, recipient of two grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and grants from the Rockefeller, Fulbright and Guggenheim Foundations. At the time of publican he lived in Maine.





Small Towns Are Passing

small towns  are passing
into the rearview
mirrors of our cars.
The white houses
are moving away,
wrapping trees
around themselves,
and stores  are taking
their gas pumps
down the street
backwards. Just like that
whole families picnicking
on their lawns tilt
over the hill,
and kids on bikes
ride toward us
off the horizon,
leaving no trace
of where they have gone.
Signs turn back and start
after them. Packs of mailboxes,
like dogs, chase them
around corner after corner.






 Another old poem from Pushing Clouds Against the Wind.

This  one bemoaning,  as I often  do, the  rigors of daily poem writing.




a writerly moment

i have read
everything i have to read

the entire Sunday Ties
including the magazine

and book reviews
and four days

of funnies
i didn't have time

to read 
during the week

and though i know 
the new Rolling Stone

and a new  collection
of  "Zits" comics

are on the racks
i'm pretending they're not

trying to convince myself
that there is nothing

to read
and if i really want to read

something
i'm going  to have to write  it

myself
but there's a problem

el problemo
you might say

the rub
the obstacle

to such writing
is that i'm stuck

for something
to say

............

excuse me
while i try to slip into
something more creative
while i study this white page
while  i modulate my brain waves
into non-concentration so that the
floodgates
of creativity will open and engulf me
in wonderful ideas
or even just a trickle
of an idea

...................

oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooommmmmmm
oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooommmmmmm
oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooommmmmmmmmm
mmmmmmmmmmm
ooooooooooooooooooshitnothingthereeither

............................................

look
lets us make a deal

i'll just
come up

with something terrific
later tonight

and we'll just pretend this never
happened
o
o
o
o
o
ooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooommmmmmmmmmmmmm
mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm






The hermit-monk Ryokan, born in the eighteenth century, is long beloved in his native Japan both for his poetry and his character. In the tradition of the great Zen eccentrics of China and Japan, his reclusive life and celebration of nature and the natural life bring to mind Thoreau. Like all the great Zen masters, the elegance and simplicity of his work reveals a sensibility and an art that sets aside artifice.

The poem is from the collection, One Robe, One Bowl, published by Shambhala Publications in its eighteenth edition in 2005. John Stevens was the translator for the book.



Dawn

I have returned to my native village after twenty years;
No sign of old friends or relatives - they have all died
     or gone away.
My dreams are shattered by the sound of the temple bell
    struck at sunrise.
an empty floor, no shadows; the light has long been
    extinguished.

---

Who  says my poems are poems?
My poems are not poems,
After you know my poems are not poems,
Then we can begin to discuss poetry1

---

Intermittent rain - in my hermitage
A solitary light flickers as dreams return.
Outside, the sound of falling raindrops.
My black, gnarled staff leans against the wall.
The fireplace is cold, no charcoal awaits my
     imagined visitors.
I reach for a volume of poems.
Tonight, in solitude, deep emotion.
How can I explain it the following day?

---

In front of my window there is a towering banana tree,
So high it seems to sweep away the clouds.
Its shade keeps my hut cool.
As I read waka, write poems, and
Sit quietly, the day passes serenely.

---

Illusion and enlightenment? Two sides of a coin.
Universals and particulars? No difference.
All day I read the wordless sutra;
All night not a thought of Zen practice.
An uguisu sings in the willow along the river bank,
Dogs in the village bay at the moon.
There are no obstacles in my heart,
But still I lack a true companion.

The uguisu is the so called Japanese nightingale.

---

My gate has been unbolted for many days,
Yet no sign of anyone entering the peaceful garden.
The rainy season is over, green moss is all around;
Slowly the oak leaves float to earth.

---

Staff in hand, I walk along the river bank toward the village.
Snow  lingers on the fence, but the east wind brings the first
     news of spring.
The voice of an uguisu drifts from tree to tree;
The grass has begun to show a touch of dark green.
Unexpectedly, I meet and old friend.
We converse together sitting on a hill overlooking the
     river valley.
Later, at his cottage we open many books  and drink tea.
Tonight I am translating the evening scene into verse -
Plum blossoms and poetry, how wonderful together!

---

Lying ill again, for the third  spring in a row.
How I would like just one poem left by a visitor.
Last year I played with the children all day at Hachiaman Shrine.
Will they be waiting for me this year?

---

A lonely four-mat hut -
All day no one in sight.
Alone, sitting beneath the window,
Only the continual sound of falling leaves.

---

First days of spring - blue sky, bright sun.
Everything is gradually becoming fresh and green .
Carrying my bowl,  I walk  slowly to the village.
The children, surprised to see me,
Joyfully crowd about, bringing
My begging trip to an end at the temple gate.
I place my bowl on top of a white rock and
Hang my sack from the branch of a tree.
Here we  play with the wild grasses and throw a ball.
For a time, I play catch while he children sing;
Then it is my turn.
Playing like this, here and there, I have forgotten the time.
Passers-by point and laugh at me asking,
"What is the reason for such foolishness?"
No answer I give, only a deep bow;
Even if I replied, they would not understand.
Look around! There is nothing besides this.

---

On the way to  visit a famous villa several ri distant,
I unexpectedly meet a wood gatherer.
Together we walk along the narrow path hemmed in by
     green pines.
The fragrance  of plum blossoms drifts from the field
     opposite the valley.
Seeking a quiet place, I have come here.
Large carp frolic in the ancient pond,
Sunlight fills the calm forest.
what is this room?
Nothing but several volumes of poetry lying on the floor.
Feeling at home, I loosen my robe
And gather a few verses from the books.
Later, at twilight, I walk along the eastern corridor as
     spring birds soar overhead.
As a boy I studied the Chinese classics but soon
     grew weary of their content.
As a young man I learned zen but failed  to transmit it.
Now living next door to a shrine,
Half Shinto priest, half Buddhist monk.

---

My hut lies in the middle of a dense forest;
Every year the green ivy grows longer.
No news of the affairs of men,
Only the occasional song of a woodcutter.
The sun shines and I mend my robe;
When the moon comes out I read Buddhist poems.
I have nothing to report, my friends.
If  you want to find the meaning,  stop  chasing after
     so many things.

---

A cold night - sitting alone in my empty room
Filled only with incense smoke.
Outside, a bamboo grove of a hundred trees;
On the bed,  several volumes of poetry.
The moon shines through the top of the window,
And the entire neighborhood is still except for the cry
     of insects.
Looking at this scene, limitless emotion,
But not one word.

---

I have returned to Itoigawa, my former village.
Falling ill, I rest at an inn
And listen to the sound of rain.
One robe, one bowl, are all I have.
Becoming a little stronger, I lift my weak body,
Burn some incense, and sit in zazen.
All night rain falls sadly, and
I dream of my pilgrimage these past  ten years.

I read this for the first time as I transcribed it. And it transported me to another time and another place. Whitman does that to me, but this is the first time this kind of poetry, though I like it very much, has ever provided me with such a Whitman experience.





  

Sunday morning in San Antonio, new from last  week.






only God can make an egg

Sunday morning in San Antonio...

church is out
and the prospectively saved
invade my pagan
space

time for me to
go back to my dark
corner
of iniquity, the light of the righteous
is blinding
my disbelieving
eyes

but I am not forever
vanquished for,
even if it's
true
only God can make an egg,
he can't enjoy it
on wheat toast with strawberry jam
and super-extra-crispy bacon

so
I win








Gerald Constanzo,  not only edited the anthology of Devins Award winners, he is one, collecting the prize for 1974.

In addition to his own collections of poetry, he was, at the time of publication, poetry editor for Carnegie Mellon University Press and, for twenty years, editor of Three Rivers Poetry Journal.





At Irony's Picnic

Silence is sight-reading
Swahili. Sin lumbers by on

stilts. Where did he get
that Hawaiian shirt? those

rose-colored glasses? Down
by the lake Desire is fondling

Regret's mother, Jealousy
and Happiness dance the mazurka.

Justice, wearing the same
old swimsuit, is cutting the

ballyhoo. Irony himself
isn't even here.


The Bigamist

He lives to learn
the loopholes in his
speech,
the way the easy journey
from Memphis to Mobile
makes him forget
one-half of everything.
Darlings, as sure
as there are two of
you there are two of him
walking among us
somewhere, disguised
in his accustomed
civilian clothes.








 The next poem from Pushing Clouds Against the Wind is about a young girl (maybe 15, or so) I  saw in the coffee shop at Borders Books and Music before they crashed and burned.



the girl with a small mouth and long brown hair...

threw back her hair
with a flip of her head

and smiled

little mouth a bow
drawn tight like a knot
on a pink and white tie
or a kitten
that curls like a ball
when you tickle
its belly







 Next, I have two short poems by Campbell McGrath from his book, Florida Poems. The book was published by HarperCollins in 2002.

McGrath, author of several  previous collections of poetry, has received numerous awards and fellowships, including from the Guggenheim and MacArthur Foundations.

At the time his book was published, he taught in the creative writing program at Florida International University in Miami.



The Manatee

Deep  sunk in the dreamtime of his terminal coma,
the manatee persists like a vegetative outpatient,
victim of the whirling propellers of impatience
and a buoyantly bovine quiescence gone nova.

Dream deep, brother. Dream long and deep,  sister sea-cow.
May millennia of soft tides and seagrass  sustain they sleep
across the dark ages of extinction. May your memory keep
heavy the hearts and hulls of your inheritors. Us, for now.


Trouble with Miami

is the lack of significant galleries & serious theater,
the absence of museums, operas, ballets, symphonies,
a dearth of cultural infrastructure so profound

that the only local institution worth its salt is the ocean,

that watching the beautiful women on the beach
with bodies cast from bronze & soft lobed chrome
may be out best shot at real enlightenment,

their formal aspects comprise our artistic endowment,
their lubricity constitutes our aesthetic nourishment,

hard candy loaves & fishes,

a sculpture garden of erotic possibility
displayed in postures of wicked amusement
like wild palms abandoned to wind and solar decay,

and I am a happily married man
who sunburns easily.





   

And here's another of my poems, new from last week.





 thinking of dead people this morning

I let my brain  out to  roam
in the morning,
usually take for the day  whatever it digs up
and brings home...

this morning it left me
thinking about
dead people,  not  any particular
dead person, but dead people in general

it's the thing about a life of moving
about a lot that you usually
end the day knowing more people
than  those  who  stay at home and become
big wheels in the town
you left when you eighteen years old
and never went back to

this logically leads to you knowing
more dead people
than the stay-at-homes

but
moving about a lot
and losing contact with all the extra people
you know means that even though
you may remember them well, even fondly,
you don't know now,  one way or another, if they're dead
or alive,, meaning you can't know
which mental file you should list them in -
the alive file or the dead
file

some you know have to be dead
because they were old
when you were
young,
the teachers and preachers
and firemen and police chiefs and bank  presidents
and the drunk who always slept under the street  light on the corner
of Whiskey and Rye - all those who were  old
when you were young - you can  be pretty confident
that they should be on the dead  list...

but what about the cheerleader in high school,
four years older than you, whose supple thighs under
her short cheerleader skirt fed your imagination
during steamy nights on the southern gulf coast...

how terrible it is to think of those legs
thin and vein encrusted in saggy stockings,
but how much worse to think of them
dead...

and all  those who over the years were
your friends or work mates, the secrets you shared
with some, the intensity of success
and sometimes failure
you shared with others, these,
most vital in your memories, what can they be
but alive...

for you are alive and if you, so must they be...

---

so much of  life it  seems, an unconscious
anticipation of mourning - how
good that  we don't  know that in the beginning,
but knowing now,  how dismayed I am
that I do not know who to mourn and who's
continuing life to celebrate


lying in bed this early morning,
thinking of people  dead or  alive,
wondering if any of them know
I'm  still alive
or
if any of them  care 






The 1990 Devins Award went to  John Repp, at the time of publication, an assistant professor of English at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania. He has  also received a National Endowment  for the Arts Creative Writing Fellowship, as well as fellowships fro Yaddo and the Millay Colony for the Arts.




Elegy for Esposito

When cicadas cling
                             to screens in the night
                                                                 and ring the rapid
bell of heat,
                              when the time of ice
                                                                  and shadows seems
a blessed knife,
                               what better thing
                                                                  than Sam in the Spruce
preaching the gospel
                               of swift care, his shears tool
                                                                   of green elegance?
Praise great, guttural
                                 Sammy Espo, mower supreme,
                                                                     stringer of lights,
Samuel Salvatore Esposito,
                                 who raced home on break
                                                                        to lift his wife
from bed to toilet and back
                                   who sponged and fed her
                                                                        who piled the dead
of Iwo in sandpits, who ate
                                   his ration, threw the can
                                                                         in the hole, dug
in wet heat for days
                                    who said Dead is dead.
                                                                         Do what you can. 
      





Another poem from Pushing Clouds Against the Wind,  my first eBook,  with four more since, all listed  at the end of this post. Not listed is my next one, New Days and New Ways, which I'll  have out as  soon as I  get  it back from my  editor/proofer and make the necessary corrections (of which I expect there will be more than several).



sun after rain

blue sky
reflected
in puddles
on fresh-washed
sidewalks

summer's
dry heat broken

sun after rain

like a smile on the day

 








Last from my library this week, I have two poems by Audre Lorde. The poems are from Lorde's book The Marvelous Arithmetics of Distance, published in 1993 by W.W. Norton, include poems from 1987 to 1992. The book was nominated for a National Book critics circle Award in 1994.

The poet, born in 1934 and died in 1992, was the author of ten volumes of poetry and five works of prose.


Party Time

Newspapers  printed in secret report
bent needles under the child's  fingernail
barbed stitches through the bleeding scalp
grandchildren playing hide and seek
riddled with bullets behind a silk-cotton tree
just two more funerals in Soweto
behind the small coffins
Lillian's son-in-law drags his feet
achilles tendons shredded by police dogs
festering      in their eyes
each memory of home
poised over potshards in the dawn.

But who sings the song
of my mothers' muscled beauty
these large sore-bodied women
with nimble tongues      gnarled ankles
stepping to an elegant rhythm
arms akimbo on quick march time
rocking with laughter      and the young ones
strut      without illusion
weather extreme bodies
blossom       in  the singing night
Lillian's hooded eyes invite me
into the circle      a strum of voices
weaving an intricate drum.

Over grape juice in south Provence
the women from South Africa
lower their voices      discussing rents
and who has not  yet paid      a protest
punishable by death
burning through the Mofolo night.

Eleanor Bumpurs,grandmother,
shotgunned
against  her kitchen wall
by rent marshals in the Bronx
moves among us      humming
her bat is  sweet acacia
in this stone yard at sunset
rhythms quicken
and I come next      behind her
in our dance

Potshards left on a woman's hearthstone are a sign one of her sons
did not survive an initiation rite.


Prism
      For  Joyce Serote 

There are no frogs in Soweto
students croak
Amandia! through the tear gas.

Not true no frogs live in Soweto
only we are too  many
with no ears  left to hear them.

Who knows what frogs live in Soweto
who has time to listen
stroll along a moonlit gutter
beyond the flames of evening
rising      falling
the thin high screams
of skewered children.

In the bruising fist of challenge
the future does not tarry.

Take our words to bed with you
dream upon them
choose any ones you wish
write us a poem





   
   

Here's another piece from last week, another early morning walk inspired poem.





a few birds  call

dog  
and cat
do  their secret dance
beneath the sun-splashed moon
so bright
so full
canyons and  high mountains
enigmatically shadowed face

into  fresh breeze we walk
cool in this first  hour
of summer
day

a few  birds call
softly break  the quiet

crows
darkly silent
do
not
follow






   

Last this week from the Devins Award anthology is this poem by Nancy Sullivan, recipient of the award in 1965.

Sullivan, who lived in Rhode Island at the time of publication, had edited three anthologies for Doubleday, in addition to publishing collections of her own poems. The three anthologies she edited were The Treasuries of American Poetry, American Short Stories, and English Short Stories.







Prehistoric Cave Painting of a Bison

Perhaps it was being inside of something
That caused them to render it outside
By scrawling great beasts in screams
Of rust and black over the walls of the cave.
Perhaps it was the visitation of an idea,
An  event so powerful
As to turn them into men.

The bison is taut inside  the readiness
Of its fur. It has no dimensions
because it is already huge. Miniature
Black men resembling the matches
No  one yet knows about cast needles
At the beast that is  as large as Africa.
What it must have been like to scramble
In out of a rain to discover not only
The sensation of dryness, but a place
That had been visited by a god.






Now, last this week, from Pushing Clouds Against the Wind, a little poem about a very little town I passed through one day while traveling (I think - I lose track) in east Texas.



poor little Pumpkin

  little 
Pumpkin,
Texas,
hiding out
amongst the trees

KoKo's 
Gas-Grub

Faith
Evergreen
Baptist  Church

poor  little
Pumpkin

population
45




   


And now,  my last new  poem from last week for this  week.






sweat-equity

a suspicious wet spot
up against  the side of my house
to  be  investigated this  afternoon, proof,
it could be, of a leak under
the foundation,
big-bucks worth of
leaky pipe if so, enough to make Daddy Warbucks
cut Annie's allowance by half

either way
I will  be  digging this afternoon,
shovel in hand, hoping for the best
when the best  doesn't seem
like one of the likely possibilities

shit happens, as they say,
to forty-year old-houses, decrepitude,
things that break  just from
the experience
of being around  past their use-by date,
just as  similar  shit
happens
to seventy-year-old men,
so I suppose I should not blame
the house
just  as I should not allow myself
to be blamed
when I forget where I left my keys
or I drop and break
that plate
I wasn't  supposed to use
because, after several generations
of  clumsy old men, it had
survived
intact,
definitely past its used-by date
is my excuse
for the plate,  for me,  and for
my house...

sweat-equity
it  is  sometimes called
and I will be thinking of that
this afternoon as I shovel in the mud,
hoping to build up some sweat-equity
for a more hopeful  poem
tomorrow







As usual, everything belongs to who made it. You're welcome to use my stuff, just, if you do, give appropriate credit to "Here and Now" and me.
 

And I haven't mentioned it lately, but I'm allen itz owner and producer of this blog, and diligent seller of books, specifically these and specifically here:












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





´╗┐Poetry




Places and Spaces





Always to the Light






Goes Around Comes Around





Pushing Clouds Against the Wind


And, for those print-bent, available at Amazon and select coffeehouses in San Antonio



Seven Beats a Second



Short Stories


Sonyador - The Dreamer



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