Sketchpad   Wednesday, July 24, 2013







I'm doing the same stuff this week as I always new, new poems, old poems, anthology poems and library poems.



 The anthology poems are from Paper Dance,  a collection of 55 Latino poets selected and edited by three of my favorite Latino poets, Victor Hernandez Cruz, Leroy V. Quintana, and  Virgil Suarez.

The book was published by Persea Books in 1995.







My fourth eBook, Places and Spaces, is a collection of five very long travel poems, and my most  recent eBook, Sonyador,  the Dreamer, is a collection of short stories. Though I've tried before, neither are conducive to being excerpted here.

So, for old poems this week, I'm back to my first book, an actual print and paper book, Seven Beats a Second, my poetry, fully illustrated with art by Vincent Martinez. I think I published it in 2006 or so.

Carrying over from I was a kid, I have an affinity for science. Not actual science where you have to know stuff, but the science of science fiction where you can get away with being ignorant but imaginative. I have a number of poems in the book coming from that history, poems that take real science from the New York Times Thursday science section and imagine it from my old scifi perspective. These are the poem I'll concentrate on this week.

There is, by the way, a story about the book's title. My son mentioned that he had read that the sound of the big bang continues to reverberate through the universe at the tempo of seven beats a second. For some reason, inattention, I suppose, I translated that to seven beats a minute. it was that slow and stately tempo I was thinking of when I titled the book, not the fast dit-dit-dit of seven beats a second. It was also that I was thinking of when I wrote the  last poem in the book, showing how it is possible to think one thing even when seeing and writing something else.

seven beats a second

the universe pulses
seven beats a second
laying down the backbeat
to the rhythm
of all that is and ever was
from the birth of stars
to the spreading of a smile
on the fresh lips of a child

we're born we love
we hurt
and we die
all of our days
measured in multiples
of seven beats a second

I sometimes think these might be some of my best work; I know they are my favorites.

Here's the week's whole  caboodle (great word but I never actually knew what it meant so had to look up it up - a group or bunch or, secondarily a crowd or collection of people). In this case, it would be a bunch of poems by a collection of people.

And the people are:

Me 
thoughts upon reading today's obituaries

Jimmy Santiago Baca
from Poem VI

Me
red planet rebirth
star bright

Me
morning romance

Victor Martinez
The Sierras
The Chase

Me
our place in the story of space and time

Wendy Barker
Listen, Wind

Me
my simple poems

Julia Alvarez
Storm Windows

Me
meanwhile, in the Hydra Constellation
brotherhood of the forever spreading stars

Anyssa Kim
pretense

Me
the squirrel in the parking lot

Leroy V.  Quintana
Poem Written During One of My Yearly Visits from California

Me
the magnetosphere is running down
before you were flesh

Cynthia J. Harper
Lost Maples
Dia de Los Muertos  

Me
rise and shine

Julio Marzan
Ethnic Poetry

Me
through the hundred meter lens

John Kinsella 
Solitary Activities
Wild  Radishes  

Me
 accidents happen

Magdalena Gomez
Mestiza Legacy

Me
fleshware

Catherine MacDonald
Grace

Me
the beat-up guy and his friend

Elias Miguel Munoz
Summer of the Body

Me
how it all comes about
hymnal

Kristen Henderson
Heavy Spring
On the Anniversary of Nothing - August 28, 2004

 Me
a shy Mexican girl








Here's my first new poem for the week.

I admit I read the obituaries every day. Not so much to see if anyone I know is there,  but to make  sure I'm not, and if I'm not, I take a gauge of those unfortunates who are. If they're mostly older than me, then that's a good sign. Too bad, lately the number younger than me grows, not a good sign.

There's nothing like a daily reading of the obituaries to instill a more realistic appreciation of time and its passing.




thoughts upon reading today's obituaries

more than half
the dearly departed
in the obit pages today
were younger than me

not that I'm afraid of
dying

I have a splendid vision
of my grand moment of departure
when I return to from whence
I came, that universal cup of all possible,
overflowing
with the everywhere and everything
that surrounds us,
the all-ness
that makes us
and breaks us when the inexorable clock hands
move
from our time
to the times we will never know

a grand vision
not to be feared, but I do  hate the idea
of having my face in the paper
just for the carelessness of dying

and then there's my bowling
night,
the idea of leaving before I've bowled
the perfect game I know
is waiting for
me
in destiny's scudding, swirling
clouds...

it just nags at me,
the idea of
leaving life  behind while it's still
incomplete








This first poem from Paper Dance, this week's anthology is by Jimmy Santiago  Baca.

Baca was born in New Mexico in 1952 of Chicano and Apache descent. He was abandoned by his parents and at 13 ran away from the orphanage where his grandmother had placed him.

He was convicted of drug charges in 1973 and spent five years in prison where he learned to read and began to write. His semi-autobiographical novel in verse, Martin and Meditations on the South Valley received the 1988 Before Columbus Foundation's American Book Award. In addition to over a dozen books of poetry, he has published memoirs, essays, stories, and a screenplay which was made into a feature film in 1993.



from Poem  VI

Cruising back from 7-11
esta manana
in my '56 Chevy truckita,
beat up and rankled
farm truck,
clanking between rows
of new shinny cars -

                            "Hey, fella! Trees need pruning
                             and the grass needs  trimming!"
A man yelled down to me
from his 3rd-floor balcony.

                               "Sorry, I'm not the gardener,"
                                I yelled up to him.

Funny how in the Valley
an old truck symbolizes prestige
and in the Heights, poverty.

Worth is determined in the Valley
by age and durability,
and the Heights, by newness
and impression.

In the Valley,
the atmosphere is soft and worn,
things are shared and passed down.
In the Heights,
the air is blistered with the glaze
of new cars and new homes.

How many days of my life
I have spent fixing up
rusty broken things,
charging up old batteries,
wiring pieces of  odds and ends together!
Ah, those lovely bricks
and sticks I found in fields
and took home with me
to make flower boxes!
Te old cars I've worked on
endlessly giving them tun-ups,
changing tires, tracing
electrical shorts,
cursing when I've been stranded
between Laguna pueblo and Burque.
It's the process of making-do,
of the life I've lived between
breakdowns and break-ups, that has made life
worth living.

I could not bear a life
with everything perfect.









 These are the first old poem for the week from my first book, Seven  Beats a Second, available at IAMA coffee house and on Amazon, as well as other on-line booksellers outside the United States I just found out about.

I wrote the first piece upon the success of our first mobile lander on Mars. The second piece I wrote on top of Mesa Verde at night, imagining what it might have been like for the old ones.

Some many things to learn, mysteries to untangle, hard not to imagine what might come next.

 



red planet rebirth

oxidized remains of cathedrals and commerce
brought to dust by the savage rub of time

red dust so fine  it spreads like a cloud
across the plains and hills all around

virgin bride again

ready for life again after millennia
alone in the cold, dark crypt of space


star bright

imagine the stars
on cold desert nights,
spread across the wide black sky,
beyond the desert and high mesas,
past prairies where the trickster coyote calls,
past the land of mortal men
to the place where no man goes,
the place where spirits hunt
ghosts of buffalo

imagine sleeping
with this blaze of night around you,
black stars bright
with cold unchallenged light

imagine
how you must fear the starless night,
when clouds close the sky around you
and bind you prisoner to the dark








I wrote a poem  several years ago after I learned that small frogs have the ability to imitate the low, low, bass voices of big frogs, which they do to scare off some of the bigger frogs in the pond so as to limit the competition for available lady frogs.

This is a new poem from last week, not as interesting as the other frog poem, but it does have frogs.





morning romance

crossing the creek...

the sound of water
bubbling, frothing, rolling
over dark rocks

pale moon
broken into shards
of light
reflected tn the ripples

---

frogs, fresh emerged
from their muddy sleep,
call to each other
in a passionate symphony...

sex
sex
sex

ribbet-watching
the clock
as day approaches

time is short
and the instinctual need is great

the only reason
this wet morning
calls them to
wake...

 romance
among the amphibian kind









The next  poet from this week's anthology is Victor Martinez, one of the three editors of the book.

Martinez, a former farmworker from California's Central Valley,  described himself as a  worker's writer. Though a poet and a  novelist, he is best known for his first, semi-autobiographical novel, Parrot in the Oven: Mi Vida. Centered on the life of a 14-year old boy from the projects, dealing with gangs, an alcoholic father and racist classmates, the book was  initially banned for its violent scenes by some schools, it  is now a staple on many school reading lists.

The poet and novelist,  possibly the finest I'll feature this week, died last year at the age of 56 from a cancer that spread from his throat to his lungs.





The Sierras

I came down the slate hills of the sierras, past tin barns
scabbing with rust and tractors stiffening
after their last bite.

Crowds unraveled against the onrush of traffic,
sparrows nibbled the clouds gray from tree
to tree, and in a puddle of rain, breaths of wind made
jellies of buildings and lampposts.

Autumn, sucking back what was never given,
and the city, that great tumor among
greater tumors, was sweating through its pores
all the small miseries and joys from the same salt.

In a room,  slanting on its shadows, overgrown with a quiet
seeping like dust form the ceiling, a woman I knew
numbing the aloneness of her vision,fluttered her fingers
     along her dress -
a  word unsaid, budding in the hollow of her mouth.


The Chase

They say the chase ends where the earth is put together
by two halves, but no matter - because that is you
at thirty, perhaps forty:
corpus callosum of the brain,
two loves opening and closing like a book.

Your arms spring out and lungs push and pull
rinsing the midnight air -
but no matter, because you are there, chasing
the child of wonder and hope
through cities coffined in smog.

Your missile through firs, through mouths dusted
with mathematical  chalk.
You follow the muddy-water spillways peppered with
bacterial   spore.
Now the shadow that greets itself in the dark
but the utter collision of evaporating rain
     leads you on.
Not the lightning's sketch but the black puzzles of night,
as you appear and disappear among people,
chasing he who knows your name
but won't tell.








Here's another from Seven Beats a Second.

Who needs a god, when this grander vision is available to us, the vision of our constituent parts drifting through the vast everything-ness for as  long as there is anything.








our place in the story of space and time

we are of the same stuff as stars,
made in the spasm of creation
that began all space and time,
electrical  impulses,
static of the expanding universe,
positive and negative influences
that form a thing call matter
arranged in a manner we call me

our birthing
not the arrival of something new,
but reincarnation,
rearrangement of the elements present
since the first day, sparks
thrown off by the day's conception

our death not the end,
but another reformation,
a recycling of the stuff that made us
so that we might become again
a star or a tree or another babe in arms
or just a speck of universal element
drifting for as long as there is time

until it will finally come
that all the  pieces come to rest
and slowly fall away in the darkness
of never-light, never-time, never-space
never was and never will be again

from nothing came all
and to nothing  it will all return








My first library poem this  week is by Wendy Barker, from her book, Winter Chickens and Other Poems. The book was published Corona Publishing of San Antonio in 1990.

Born in 1942 in New Jersey, Barker earned her BA and MA at Arizona State University and her Ph.D at the University of California - Davis. Since 1982 she has taught English at The University of Texas at San Antonio.






Listen,  Wind

Of course some people hate wind.
Rattles  windows, reminds them
of the glass  between their eyes and trees,
that the rhododendrons are framed


by slicing aluminum squares.
Makes  eerie noises in the chimney,
doors suddenly slam for no  reason,
you remember another room you had forgotten.

The same people who hate wind
won't drink
the water in France,
insist on eggs for breakfast in Vernice,

won't run on the beach at Morrow Bay,
sand irritates their feet,
don't  like tracking bits
into the house. You remind us

how  easily we're blown over,
how eyes  can learn to  look inside
through to the cure of the skull,
read messages written in the middle of the night,

secrets of darkness, waking our dreams
to  wanderings of night clouds
veiling and unveiling the moon,
calling to those  who belong to the breeze.








Here's another new poem written last week.

I like to imagine there are deeper meanings to my poem than what might be obvious on the service. But then, I imagine a lot of things.






my simple poems

my simple poems
are seldom as simple as they seem

dark thoughts, deep messages
hidden withing their sunny, unadorned shell

that's what I tell myself
anyway

even though I often, myself,
have difficulty

identifying
precisely the treasure within

but you, dear reader,
I have great confidence in you

you will see, I know
all that is hidden

the intricately colored egg
so carefully

and mysteriously placed
where only the most discriminating vision

will see,
you, I know, will find it

will see beneath the surface
past all the everyday brush

the truth of things
screened from lesser eyes

you will see what I mean
by this or that line, even though

I most often
don't

but you, I know,
are smarter, more discerning than me

in fact,
I'm counting on it









Next from the anthology,  this poem by Julia Alvarez.

Alvarez, born in New York City, raised for a while in the Dominican Republic, is a writer of novels, essays books for young readers and poetry. Her best known novels include How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents and In the Time of the Butterflies which was made into a movie produced by and starring Salma Hayek, with Marc Anthony and Edward James Olmos.






Storm Windows

She climbed toward the sky
when we did windows,
while I stood by, her helper,
doing the humdrum groundwork,
carrying her sloppy buckets
back and forth to the spigot,
hosing the glasses down
under her supervision
up there on a ladder
she had forbidden me.

I wanted to mount that ladder,
rung by rung, look down
into the gaping mouths of buckets,
the part in her  graying hair.
I wanted to rise, polishing into each pane
another section of the sky.
Then give a kick, unbuckling
her hands clasped around my ankles,
and sail up,  beyond her reach,
her house, her  grounds, her mothering.










I read about this on-going inter-galactic disaster, going on for millions of years, continuing for millions more, all to finally come to the end in massive destruction. It is not possible for me to think about this without thinking of our own eventual fate. And related to this, think of the universality of life, how impossible it is to imagine that it would only exist on this one tiny, beyond-minuscule place that we call home.







meanwhile, in the Hydra Constellation

a storm of stars
passes soundless through the void,
crossing unimaginable distances
to meet, to crash in a flash
of exploding suns and primordial fire
stretching across  a billion years,
a furnace unlike  any
since the first great eruption
that came from less than nothing
to blast a cosmos into being

and around these speeding suns,
orbiters  like our own earth home,
and on some of them, creatures
like ourselves, products of an evolutionary
trail from muck to self-discovered glory,
inventions of their own histories, periods dark
and light, times of cruelty, death and genius flowering,
people like we are people, struggling through life,
seeking grace, forgiveness, the  salvation of love,
seeking honorable life and an honorable end

that end comes for them now, across the void
in a storm of stars colliding, and end ablaze
with the light of creation deconstructing


brotherhood of the forever spreading stars

a million billion
you's and me's
in never ending
varieties of
size and shape
and unimagined
chemistries
scattered in places
we can never be,
places so far,
so  strange,
so contrary
to  all we know
that only minds
free of all vanities
and welcoming
impenetrable mysteries
can ever chance
to see the possibilities
of all our fellow
you's and me's







My next library book is actually one of several I just picked up this afternoon at the half price book store. The title of the book, published by Fly By Night Press in 2003, is Ovarian Twists. The poet is Anyssa Kim.

Kim, born in Seoul, Korea, was  adopted and raised by a family in Westbury, Long Island. Living now in New York City, she is a poet, writer,  self-taught visual artist and performance artist, and classically trained violinist, playing regularly with the New York Repertory Orchestra. She has read her poetry and short stories at a number of venues in New York and a number of universities.

Picking up her book this afternoon, I learned two things. First, I discovered that used books that I used to be able to buy for $5 to $6 are fast becoming a rarity. Second I discovered two copies of my own book, Seven Beats a Second on the store's shelves. This happens more  often now, always leaving me with mixed feelings. First I'm glad someone bought the book, second I'm disappointed that they obviously didn't care enough for the book to hold it in a trunk for future generations to read, then, finally, I'm pleased they resold the book to the half price book store for future readers to possibly store in the trunk in their attic. But, bottom line, I'm happy someone  bought my book.





pretense

some days I pretend
I'm a superstar
in jeans
a cap
old t-shirt
as if it were choice
to grunge around
walk my island of
pretend
I am        Incognito

yesterday I
played this

charade
me, attentive
audience

of Eyes!
try not to see
it is a game

of no-show-tell
              of       who gives a flying
Eyes averted
                               in this city of
                               home sweet
Don't look at  me
               please        Look at me
Don't  look  at  me
               unless I want you
to see me
in Central Park
drowning in green

in Washington Square
gagging at Disney
cursing Giuliani      what he did

I huff like a 212-er
pissed to have
to add 4 more digits
for local calls

angry    angled
elbow    of hand
on hip

dammit!
why didn't anyone
let me know
              my fly was open









Another new poem for last week - I wrote it for my daily poetry blog, Blueline's House of 30, was just ready to post it when I read a housemate's morning poem that led me in whole new directions and connections to what I had already written. So I  re-wrote what I had  trying to make the connection in a way that would make sense to someone beside me.

I had one of these cars, a 1952 Cadillac, except I had it in 1967 and for only three months before I had to ship out to Europe. Lovely, beautiful car. I left it on a back road  near San Angelo, Texas, with a broken steering rod. Turned the keys over to a fella I owed money to and called us even.





the squirrel in the parking  lot

writing about
a squirrel
in the parking lot

standing at  full height
beside 
the left  rear wheel

of a 1952 Cadillac
the big one hardtop
long as a bus

the squirrel
basking in the glory
of the vehicle

and the good time
the discreet fins
the big round steering wheel

the soft fabric seats
that enfolded us
lush plush symbol of plenty

fewer and fewer of us
left to remember
and even now

my reverie
interrupted 
by thoughts of baby turtles

 tiny creatures struggling
slow and clumsy
these moonless  nights

across a dark expanse of sand
as they make their 
way

from the nest
where their mother laid
them

back to the sea
a lonely voyage
to the distant sea from where

their mother brought them
as eggs
needing a warm place to hatch

a long voyage full of danger
to be repeated
years hence

when they will return
to bring their own eggs
to where their mother first left them...

---

the squirrel
at attention, honoring
the car

and our own lost  days
as I am reminded
too honor

the cycles
which produce us
and beautiful  automobiles

and tiny turtles
struggling to reach
their home in the sea







The next poet from the anthology Paper Dance is Leroy V. Quintana. Born in Albuquerque, in 1944, he was raised in small towns in northern New Mexico. He was  drafted in 1967 and served in the 101st Airborne Division. He graduated from the University of New Mexico and received an MA from New Mexico  State in 1974. He teaches now at San Diego Mesa College.






Poem Written  During One of My Yearly Visits from California

There is an old song about the river

I first heard long ago,

that I've carried inside me every since:

"I was born by the river

and just like the river

I've been running  ever since."


There is another song,

about a man whose life, like the river

continually runs away from him:

"Soy como el agua del rio,

todo se me va  en correr."

Perhaps my life ran counter to my shadow.

At times my shadow fled from me.

Strange how you look around one day

and you're home again, for a while,

never more than a while, and you realize

that somehow you made your way to the sea

and that you had come home to understand

how your life ran and the river runs.











Here, from Seven Beats a Second, is a natural Thursday morning disaster movie from the Times science section. I guess you could call the second poem a science nerd's love song.








the magnetosphere is running down

magma flow
curling, coiling
through red hot embers
thrashing, flashing
sparks of elemental essence
dancing to the tune
of gravity's fandangos,
turning within turning,
the one driving the other
driving the other,
influence on influence
until the machinery of dependence
becomes worn from the friction
of turning on turning
and the clockwork stops
and stasis slowly settles,
then quickly collapses
upon itself, becoming
something else,
another kind of turning,
new imperatives,
new times,
new dance starting


before  you were flesh

before you were flesh
you were a spring blossom,
an amalgam of sun
and nurturing rain come softly
in the grace of night

before you were a blossom,
you were a fascination,
a free-floating design
in the all-reaching universe
of god's creative passion

before you were real
you were eternal

before you were one
you were all









The next poem is from another book  I bought for  my library just  last week. The book is Snow in South Texas and it  is by a local poet, Cynthia J. Harper. In addition to being a librarian for the U.S. Court  of  Appeals in San Antonio at the time her book was published,  Harper taught English  and creative  writing at  Palo Alto College, one of the campuses of the San Antonio Community College System.

In looking for  information on the poet on the web, I found a tribute by her friend and editor at  Pecan Grove Press, noting her  death in 2009. I  could not find her picture, but I do have an image of the cover of her book, one of several she authored.

The book was published by Pecan Grove Press in 1994.

Regarding the first poem, Lost Maples is a canyon about fifty miles from San Antonio, a heavily wooded area where a large strand of maple trees, protected deep in the canyon, survived the maple cataclysm that killed all the other maple  trees in the area. Supposed to be beautiful in the fall when the leaves change. I have never been there. The beauty is very short-lived, so it draws a crowd. The last time I tried to visit, there was a line of cars at least a half a mile long trying to get into the parking area. The canyon is then a mile or two from the parking area. We gave up  and found other trees to look at.




Lost Maples

We went to
find them
up that mountain
in twilight
thick as wool.

Forms  appeared
rustled the shrubs
fuzzy lumps,
armadillos or
wolves,twigs or
snakes, night
closed in.
They know
we're here,
you said.

Walking far ahead
you form became
invisible among
the silent cedar
trees; the moon's
pale light dusted
empty caverns.

It was the promise
of  maple trees,
warm food, rest
that put one foot
before the other
longing to catch
the vanished you.

It's only a mile,
said your voice,
faint and faraway,
your form invisible
now between the trees.


Dia de Los Muertos
(the day of the dead)

It is today you will come,
press your ancient bones
against my back, whisper in
my ear, Mija, I love you.

In my dreams you will be
young again and strong.
We will swim naked at
sunrise, giggle over
pan dulce and coffee.

My skeleton will cry out
to you, Be patient
I will come to you
when she is through
with this living.

We will dance again
on the flat earth
at Market Square,
our bleached bones
glistening in the
moonlight.








It was a truly incredible sunrise this morning, the disc of the sun distinct, then split into two.

A note regarding the picture on the left: taken per-laptop, still writing  pen and paper the poems that would be the first book, featured this week, Seven Beats a Second. Probably about 2004-2005, taken on the porch at Casa Caiaphas, one of a number of coffeehouses I have shut down by my continued presence.

The picture has nothing to do with the poem below, which might make you wonder why I mentioned it. Me too.





rise and shine

sunrise
on Sunday

the sun
already above the horizon

big  as  a harvest moon
in October

lightly veiled
by think clouds

passing
behind a glass tower

doubling,
two distinct fire  discs so bright

I have to blink away my blindness
even now in the restaurant

sparkles
in my eyes

from the double-sun
rising

on this  double-sun
Sunday

rise and shine
morning








So far this week I've selected poets from the anthology that I was already familiar with.

Now here's a poet I've never read before - Julio Marzan, a poet and a novelist. As a poet,  he has published two collections, one in English, Translations Without Originals, and one in Spanish, Puerta de Tierra. He was selected and served as Poet Laureate of Queens from 2007 to 2010.

A bit of  a sly one  is this  poem. When Marzan was asked to name the ethnic poets he was referring to he said the only ethnic poet in the poem was Robert Frost.





Ethnic Poetry

The ethnic poet said: "The earth is maybe
a huge maraca/ and the sun a trombone/
and life/is to move your ass/to slow beats."
The ethnic audience roasted a suckling pig.

The ethnic poet said: "Oh thank Goody Goody/
I be me, my toenails curled downward/
deep, deep, deep into Mama earth."
The ethnic audience shook strands of sea shells.

The ethnic poet said: "The sun was created black/
so we should imagine light/ and also dream/
a w walrus emerging from the broken ice."
the ethnic audience beat on seal skin drums.

The ethnic poet said: "Reproductive organs/
Eagles nesting California  redwoods/
Shut up and listen to my ancestors."
The ethnic audience ate fried read and honey.

The ethnic poet said: "Something there is that
doesn't  love a wall/That sends
the frozen ground-swell under it."
 The ethnic audience deeply understood humanity.








 Again, from Seven Beats a Second, a speculation on the continually increasing power and range of the telescopes we build on earth and up in space. This poem came after reading a story of a massive new telescope being built on some mountain top in South America. Also, maybe a hint of Seuss' Yertle the Turtle, who raised himself so high he could see all the way around the world and back to where he started








through the 100 meter lens

we will  see it all

the beginning
and the end before
the beginning
and beyond
to all beginnings
and all endings
until finally
we will see it,
the face of it/who/what
started all the dominoes falling,
the god of all
maybe/maybe not
for it is what it is unchanging
until before the greedy eyes
of man it will be seen and known
no longer a question
for philosophers and mystics
but a paragraph in a middle school textbook,
a thrill ride in a theme park,
a comic illustration
of the side
of a second grader's lunch box







These poems are from another book I bought last week for my library.

The book, published by W.W. Norton in 2004, is  Peripheral Light, and the poet is John Kinsella.

A native of  Western Australia (as are several of my poet friends), Kinsella is the author of more than twenty books of poetry and prose. He is an editor for the international poetry publisher, Salt, and international editor of the American journal, The Kenyon Review. He is a Fellow of Churchill College, Cambridge University, and teaches at Kenyon College in Ohio.





Solitary Activities

"He spent his  working hours  deflating words
and every Saturday he spied on birds"
          Mars Sonnet  No  5 - Peter Porter


Poetry is not the only thing
That you can "do" alone in a room;
You could,like Andrew Crosse,
Imagine  living creatures
Created by electrical currents
                                                 passing
Through brilliant chemical mixtures
The color of tropical birds.
                                                 Or believe
That Morley Martin, alone in his room,
Produced "primordial protoplasm"
From fossil-free Azoic rock;
                                                  but that's what
Comes with reading dictionaries
Of Common Fallacies and being alone
Yourself - the weekday air thick with words,
The weekend call of birds a long way off.


Wild Radishes

Across the dark fields the family is spread
While overhead the sky is haunted,
In the dull light they scour the crop
Never looking up as the day seems to stop.
Wild  radishes missed will destroy the yield -
Bills to be paid, deals to be sealed.
Bu the plover's refusal to lift and drop,

And the absence of crow and parrot talk,
And the immense racket as  stalk rubs on stalk,
Registers somewhere deep in the soul,
And as the sun begins to uncoil -
The deep green of the wheat uneasy with light -
The golden flowers of wild radishes bite
Just before they are ripped from the soil.









This poem from Seven Beats a Second continues on a thought that I guess I might admit is almost religious. Being not a believer in gods in any form, I do not believe in any grand universal plan of anything. Instead, I think it is chance and the natural outcomes of chance that determine destinies. And, as I said earlier, how much more amazing than any god is the products of chance we see within us and all around us.








 accidents happen

how can a thing be
suddenly
where before
there  was no
thing

because
there never really is
no thing

thing is eternal

changing shape and form
but always there
in an eternal loop
of forever is

reborn in every circuit
to something new

I am me in this circuit
and you are you

in the next
we might be mice
in the stucco cottage walls
of a bookish, pipe-smoking
pachycephalosaurus

in another
we might be kings
of even gods

but in most
we are not at all

there is no us
in those circuits
and there is no here
because of the trillion
billion trillion accidents
that led to here and to us
the greatest number
turned another way
and where we might have been
is a thing so no-here and not-us
as to be inexplicable
even if there was an us
to try to understand

until the next circuit
of the loop brings another
permutation of the endless
possibilities of chance








The next poet from the Paper Dance  anthology is Magdalena Gomez, another I have never read before.

She is a performance poet, inspirational speaker, playwright, arts education, columnist, and and founder and artistic director of teatrovida.com.








Mestiza Legacy

The ships have left the harbor
            the ghosts remain.
Whips, leather long ago,
             crafted now in silence
absent looks.

The ships have left the harbor,
              the ghosts remain.
The child looks to her mother for strength;
               Mother has no time.

                                                    Mother is cleaning
                                                    always cleaning,

                                                    with water,
                                                    with spit,
                                                    with blood;

cleaning
always cleaning

                                                     this is a ceremony
                                                     which is no ceremony;

                                                     it is meaning without healing,
                                                     it is death without joy,
                                                     it is life without sorrow,
                                                     it is a dance without spirit

                                                     it is only clean.

The ships have left the harbor,
             the ghosts remain.

The child looks to her father for love,
             he is hunting
             always hunting
                             with hands
                             with feet
                             his body
                             exposed

to the elements.

The hunter tangled in the net he never saw,
wounded by the bullet
he cannot find,
chocked by the tears
that will not come
he hunts.

There is not time for love;
a liquid fire dance burns.

This is a dance
which is no dance

                                                        it is meaning without healing,
                                                        it is death without joy,
                                                        it is life without sorrow,
                                                        it is dance without spirit;

it is only ceremony.

the ships have left the harbor
           the ghosts remain.

The child looks to herself for healing,
finds meaning in
dances, ceremonies.

She finds not life,
she finds no death.

she must go to the harbor
where the ghosts remain.










This is another take on creation and the essence of what we are. Also, of course, from Seven Beats a Second.








fleshware

blood and gristle
forged from trash
of exploding stars,
fragile, short-lived,
prone to sag
and corruption,
helpless at birth,
pitiful
in unremitting decay

such poor use
our body seems
for the eternal elements
of creation

but lightning strikes within

tiny electrical jabs that ump
from receptor to receptor
creating art,
imagining love,
finding courage, honor,
theories of our own origin,
joy and laughter
to mock the truth
of our condition

so much more
than we appear to be

star dust

offspring of unimaginable light
seeking an antidote to dark







Here's another new book from last week, Rousing the Machinery, by Catherine MacDonald.

The book, the 2012 Miller Williams Arkansas Poetry Prize, was published by the University of Arkansas Press - Fayetteville.

The poet, frequently published in major poetry journals lives in Richmond, Virginia, and  teaches writing at Virginia Commonwealth University.





Grace

In this raw corner of a no-rank town,  rusting
swing sets wobble under the weight of fierce

children as thunderstorm torrents ride pin-
straight alleys down the backsides

of backyards. When they think no one
is looking, my brothers pee in the alley

storm-grates. This is my footpath to Grace,
seventh house on the left. An air-conditioner,

the only one for blocks, sweats and sighs
in her jammed-open front window as August

simmers. Grace is abandoned. A monkey balances
on  her bare right shoulder, simpers and shrieks,

grips her dull blond hair with an infant's avid
hands. It is a gift from her ex, an airman late

of Saigon. Outside her door frothy mimosas
waft scent over the dying lawn as she ties one on.

Don't bother with her, my mother scolds.
She's a drunk. But I knock anyway, every day.

Drawn by the monkey's cry and the air conditioner's
cold invitation, I face Grace on her front stoop.

As soaring jets rope the morning sky, Grace
raises her lass and invites me inside.










Thinking back to my cab-driving  days with this next new poem from last week. Didn't do it for very long back in 1965, just a few months, but driving a cab on the 2 to 2 shift 7 days a week, it doesn't take long to see some things.






the beat-up guy and his friend

courtesy
of a night in a Mexican jail
he was
about the most beat-up guy
I've ever seen walking, except
he wasn't really walking,
just hanging on to his friend
as he shuffled him across
the Brownsville-Matamoros bridge

his friend had crossed the river
to get him out off jail
and back on American soil,
and now,
"hospital," he said, "nearest, quickest,
wherever it is"

so I put the yellow Chevy
in high gear
and we headed down the road,
the two of them in the back of
my cab, the friend holding the beat-up fella
from falling over in the seat,
both eyes swollen shut, his face a bloody pulp
his hands swollen like they had been broken,
a mumbling wreck
as close to dying as anyone
I ever carried...

I dropped them off at the hospital
then went for my next call,
a couple of little old  ladies from out on West Monroe
who needed to  go to the supermarket
for their weekly $15 worth o grocery shopping...

got 35 cents from the old ladies, plus a nickel tip...

a buck seventy-five from the beat-up man
and his friend, not tip...

don't know what the beat-up man did
to  get so beat up, pissed someone off really bad
for sure, but I think he deserved it

probably didn't tip them
either











I am sorry I did not  use this week the anthology's third editor, Victor Hernandez Cruz. I am familiar with his work and like it and  have used it in Here and Now before. But everything he included in the anthology is too long to use here.

So instead, for my last poem this week from the anthology I have another poet I have not read before, Elias Miguel Munoz, a Cuban-American poetry and prose writer. He has a Ph.D in Spanish from the University of California and has  taught at the university level. In addition to three books in McGraw-Hill's Storyteller Series, his books include five novel, two poetry collections and two books of criticism.

I was unable to find a photo of him anywhere on the web. In fact, considering his literary output, information on the web beyond book titles seems unusually limited.




 Summer of the Body

When the Filipino doctor,
soft-spoken and fatherly,
inquires,
Are you close to your grandfather?
(Or did he say were you close?)
And he tells me of the necessary end.
(Perhaps he said "inevitable.")
The NO CODE.
The usual resuscitation that
the almost-dead man will not  receive.
There's no point, says the doctor.
Because sooner or later
(any second now)
we all must endure
the summer of the body.
No one is exempt.

We are prepared,
I guess.
We have already bought
the burial plot and
we have chosen the lettering
for his tombstone.
(We were so pleased
to see the graveyard,
the tombs were hidden
under welcoming grass.)
We'll offer him a wake,
his velorio.
And we will dress him in a guayabera.
I guess we'll do
What has to be done.

Abuelo's hands,
his massive fingers,
still warm.
His skin cannot bear another shot.
That's whey we have this perfumed cream,
clean sheets an feather pillows,
this cool air
for him.

Summers of the body can be merciless.









I finish this week's old poems with two from Seven Beats a Second, illustrating the point of how I come to legitimate scientific wonder through  the medium of science fiction.

The first poem is from a story on string-theory; the second from Captain Kirk (the third, I think, of the Star Trek movies)







how it all comes about

out there sometime
is the mother of all,
the prime,
the matriverse,
defying all vocabularies
of science and faith,
existing
in some indefinable dimension
of simultaneous is and is not,
mother-of-all-gods,
creator-of-all-creators,
spewing from her womb
all that is that is not her,
creating a cosmos
of time and space and energy
and matter such as you and I,
multiplied a million billionfold,
always creating, brewing elements
for new-born stars,
grains of sand in a desert ever growing,
from the essences of nothing
making all


hymnal

from somewhere in the very deep
a great blue sang today, a song
of salty tides and bright mornings
fresh with sun and ocean air

a love  song
among the giants

from somewhere in the other deep,
a growing choir responds, sings
of star-blinks and novas flashing,
songs of creation, songs of  despair,
songs of spinning little worlds
that come and go and leave behind
the poetry of their time in passing

each,
another song
recorded for time never-ending









This is my last library book for the week, another just bought at the half-price book store..

The poet is Kristen Henderson, and her book is Drum Machine, published 2010 by Alva Press of Ploughkeepsie.

Frequently published and winner of numerous honors and awards, Henderson received her MFA in poetry from the University of Arizona and her MSW at SUNY Albany in 2008. She lives in Cherry Hill, New  York, and works there as Director of the Cherry Branch Gallery.






Heavy Spring

The onslaught of bloom and birdsong
carries the same weight as any major  holiday: a pressure
to make pies, emanate joy, only it hangs around
for months on the lips of every home - clapboard, brick,
aluminum siding, stone. Each of us feels the beating
of the sun differently, some consider smiling back
at the void that was winter.
Come spring

We are certain the lilacs will split in all directions
for daylight, contuse the garden, and the geese
will come tumbling back, buckling the sky
with their shrill navigation. It has been so dark here,
even a child's broken bone, certain to set and grow,
rivals the rose in its hope.


On the Anniversary of Nothing, August 28, 2004

For  the wedding and the baby
that never happened,
the lacy dress
that did not materialize,
the skin that never swirled inside,
for the heart that never beat
for mine; this bottle
of warm wine: cheers. I
am free
to celebrate this date,
this unremarkable time.








 Here's another "cabbie  days"  poem I wrote last week.









a shy Mexican girl

I would get the call
to pick her up several times a week

always behind Chacho's Bar
on Harrison Street

a beautiful ebony-eyed girl
all done up, didn't look like a whore

at all,  always a 75 cent fare
to the Valley Hi Motel where she worked

in small one-room cottages
beneath high palm trees

blowing
in wet coastal  winds

by a twisting, turning driveway
of circles and switchbacks

and small pebble gravel
crunching indiscreetly beneath my tires...

a 75-cent ride from Chacho's with a dime for me,
 then a  call back 45 minutes later, for pick-up

and the drive back to the alley behind the bar
where I picked her up, a shy Mexican girl

in a town not that large, protecting her reputation
even though I'm sure everyone

in the bar knew
what she did for a living...

and so it went
until one night the alley behind the bar

wasn't deserted as usual
butt crowded with men, drive on, she said

as I slowed down,
but it was too  late, all the men's eyes

were on me and the cab, and especially her,
not looking like a whore at all

as she stepped out of the cab
and walked between them

as the crowd parted
to let her pass

knowing as she walked that what is known quietly
changes everything when it is known out loud...

---

the last I saw -
her walking through Chacho's back door

hips swing in her tight dress
like they never did before

looking like a whore
advertising...

maybe she started doing tricks at the bar
with no longer a need to be discreet

maybe she went home and quit the business,
found a job slinging  hash at a local beanery

maybe one, maybe
the other, I don't know -

she never called for me again








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 (and booksellers in Europe, New Zealand, Australia that I just discovered and didn't know  about)





´╗┐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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