Art Part by Vince   Thursday, August 15, 2013

I'm doing art this week, along with poetry, featuring paintings from my book, Seven Beats a Second, a collaborative enterprise, poetry by me and art by Vincent Martinez.

Each painting has a full page in the book (and there are more than I could  use here), then was cannibalized by to provide a full-color illustration for every poem. It was  a fun thing to  do, but I'm not ready to do it again.

And in  addition to the art from the book, I'm turning to the book for old poems this week.

I've featured both the art and the poetry before, but, I  still have a few books to sell. In addition to my remaining copies, my publisher has the books available on a print to  sale basis on Amazon, U.S. India & Great Britain, as well as some other places I never heard of until doing  a Google search of myself.

If you think you might want to buy direct from me, email me at Minimal cost (I need room in my closet) plus shipping. If you want, I'll include a copy of the music CD originally sold  with the book (which is not available from the publisher) for a very small additional charge. Mostly electronic improvisations - pretty good stuff.

My anthology this week is Waiting  for the Unicorn - Poems and Lyrics of  China's Last Dynasty, 1644-1911. The book is a First Midland Book Edition published in 1990. The books publication was with the assistance of a grant from the Pacific Cultural Foundation of Taiwan.

The Ch'ing dynasty was the last in China, ending in October, 1911, when, following an uprising of the "New Army."  Despite the declaration of the Republic of China, the
generals of the New Army continued to fight among themselves for some decades which came to be called the "Warlord Era." The dynasty was briefly restored by the Japanese during their occupation until their defeat in 1945.

My new poems for the week and the poems from my library are standard issue, excitement limited to the discover of maybe some fine poets and poetry you haven't bumped into before.

Here they are:

into  every life some  storms must blow - and for others some welcome rain as well

Wu Wei-Yeh
 Leaving T'u-sung at Dawn
Blocked by Snow

rethinking the probabilities of  God

Czeslaw Milosz

curmudgeon  log: star date 16-8 of 2013

Chu Yi-tsun
Crossing Ta-yu Mountain Ridge 
Mallard Lake Boating Song: Two Selections

photo album

Dilruba Ahmed
Picasso's Self-Portrait  in Blue Period - 1901  


Yuan Mei 
Willow Flowers
Rain Passes

let's go shoot a big fat capitalist (it'll  improve the breed) 

James Welch
Magic Fox
Verifying the Dead

the rose

Ho Shao-chi
Morning Rain
 A Contrary Wind

the woman at the checkout

Paul  Monette

warning label

Wang  Kuo-wei
Tune Tieh lien hua 

when nighthawks fly in memories dark

Elizabeth Seydel Morgan
Beyond Recognition
All My Friends Pets Are Growing Old

try not to dream

git along little dogie

pirate  faces  

Here's my first new poem this week.

It's true, how every much we may sympathize with someone who  meets with undeserved misfortune, we enjoy an equal amount of satisfaction that we will probably benefit,  even  if only indirectly, because for every one who loses, someone else will win. And we, being not so good as we like to tell ourselves we are, are  not loath to take our pleasure with our pity.

in every life some storms must blow  - and for others, some welcome rain as well

and summer, smelling still
like an over-heated goat, but beginning
to lose its grip,
its strangle-hold on life

sunrise comes later,
mornings, even at mid-day
when the sun peaks its burning way,
still hot, but dry, a breeze
that cools shadows and shade where you can find it

the dog,
willing to leave the air-conditioned house
for a lay-down in high grass,
sleeping under the afternoon sun...

very soon,  the first swirling
currents of storms,
hot gulf water
building power to blow

a season of heartache
for some...

but rain for us...

we say our fervent prayers
for a benevolent god's comfort
to all who suffer
the terrible effects of wind
and surging tides...

rain for us,
as is
our due

The first two poems from Waiting for the Unicorn, this week's anthology are by Wu Wei-Yeh.

Considered the greatest poet  of is time, Wu lived from 1609 to 1672.

I couldn't find any kind of illustration to use that might suggest Wu, but I did find an interesting Wikipedia entry that says that the words "wu wei" describe a Taoist concept literally translated as "non-action" or "non-doing" - the idea that, for example,that a tree doesn't decide to grow,  then takes a "growing" action,  it just grows.

I have no  idea if that has any relevance to the poet or not, but it's interesting.

Both poems were translated by Marie Chan.

Leaving T'u-sung at Dawn

A lonely moon beside the village,
The chilly tide comes and goes.
Voices emerge  from the low-awnings,
Ropes sink by the creek's bridge and trees.
Braving the  frost, I leave in my light skift,
Donning my clothes, I hear the cock at dawn.
Bamboo weirs sound like roaring rapids,
rushes on islets seem like precipitous rain.
Fishermen call as they enter the estuary,
Farmers in fear shout from their gates.
Unexpected is the sight of torch fires,
Market sounds: voices of sires and dames.
The tide turns, village shops move,
A single sail have I seen so far.
Livelihood is asking about sedges and  rushes,
Worldly affairs are cut off by the marshland.
'Tis fitting at last to part from friend and kin,
To pole my boat and live here evermore.

Blocked by Snow

The mountain pass is magnificent, yet the road is arduous.
The team of horses harnessed and just as soon unharnessed.
Yellow dust fills a hundred feet, snow a thousand,
And you know that this is not south of the river

Here's my first old poem this week, from Seven Beats a Second, my first book, available through the various Amazons or directly from me (for a little while - don't have that many left).

rethinking the probabilities of God

I approach the
conversion age,
when old atheists
begin to peek
around the corners
of their lives thinking
maybe they'll find God
hanging out on the
doorstep after all,
when memories
are friends
more dead than alive

alas poor Orrick,
not to mention
Bob and Ted and
Fred and Nancy
and Molly with the
long blond hair
and Rennie
whose breasts
I touched in the
back of the bus
and Rennie's 
boyfriend Larry
who claimed her
breasts as his own
and beat the
crap out of me the
next day and damn
thinking about it
makes my fingers
tingle even now

it's not the foxholes
that persuade us

we were all immortal
then and dumb
as the dirt
that grew wet with the
surprise of our blood

 it's driving past
the old folks' home,
they're making
a bed up for you

First from my library this week, I have three short poems by Polish poet Czeslaw Milosz from his book Road-side Dog, published in 1998 by Ferrar,  Straus and Giroux. The poems were  translated from Polish by the author and Robert Hass.

Born in 1911, Milosz won the Neustadt International Prize in  Literature in 1978 and then the 1980 Nobel Prize in Literature. Until his death in 2004, he was Professor Emeritus of Slavic Languages and Literature at the University of California,  Berkeley, where he taught from 1961 to 1998.


Writing poetry is considered an unmanly occupation. Practicing
music and painting is not so burdened. As if poetry were taking
on itself the blemish accompanying all the arts, which are co-
vertly branded effeminate.

In a tribe busy with serious occupations - i.e., war and getting
food - a poet secured a place for himself as a witch-doctor,
shaman, a possessor of  incantations which protect,  cure, or


A parrot  screeches.Ventilators turn.  An iguana walks  vertically
up a palm trunk, a shining ocean wave puts foam on a beach.
When I was young, I was  driven to despair during vacations
by the boredom of obvious things. In my old age, finding my-
self in the tropics. I already knew that I had always searched
for medicine against this horror,  which lasts because it means
nothing. to give a meaning, any, only to get out of this bovine,
firmation, negation, like  and incarnated nothingness. Religions!
Ideologies! Desires! Hatreds! come to cover with your multi-
colored fabric this blind thing, deprived even of  a name.


I marvel at the incessant labor  of pelicans.
Their low flights over the surface of the sea,
Poising in one place, suddenly diving
For a singled-out fish, the white splash -

All  day, from six in the morning.  What are views
For them,what is blue ocean, a palm tree, the horizon
(Where, at the ebb, like distant ships,
Rocks crop  out and blaze,
Yellow, red, and purple)?
Don't come too close to the truth. Live with a representation
Of invisible beings who dwell above the sun,
Free, indifferent to necessity and hunger.

 Here's another new  piece  from last week.

curmudgeon log: star  date 16-08 of 2013

to  see winter  soon
when all these gnarly feet
flippity flopping around will be back
in real shoes
I hate those flippity flops
who  wants to see some ancient codger's  creakity old  yellow toes
of some  young man's asphalt-black feet

(but Jesus wore sandals they say, yes, I say,
but it says right there in the bible that
he washed his feet every days,  too)

women are better
at least  they color their toenails up
in hues of red and pink and yellow and blue and green and black
and purple and....enough

as occasionally pleasing as those toes might be,
something about spending enough money on toe-jam maintenance
to support a  family of twelve in Indonesia
for six months
just doesn't sit  well with me

that's the way I see it...

it's  like the fall of the Roman Empire,
all  about tattoos
and dirty
flippity flopping around in the all-together

Chu Yi-tsun was born in 1629 and died in 1709. Although his family,  affiliated with the previous Ming dynasty, lost much of their influence when that dynasty fell to be replaced by the Ch'ing dynasty, Chu was able to overcome difficulties and become one of the first eminent poets and scholars of the new order.

Here are two of Chu's pieces, translated by Irving Lo.

Crossing Ta-yu Mountain Ridge

Straight  up against the clouds above the ridge, stands the awesome
    pass alone;
Along the post  road, plum blossoms tell of months  and years  long

A temple to the Prime Minister keeps  company wit solitude;
The palace of the King of Yueh is forever rank with weeds.
From days of yore , no  wild geese from the north ever come  here;
From this time forth, flying south,only the cuckoo birds.
I turn away in sorrow from a second look at my native land;
Jumbled hills and a setting sun obscure my long way home.

Mallard Lake Boating Songs: Two Selections


Sandbar egrets,sleeping,nestle  close to my boar;
Startled crows, beyond willows, cry from the other shore.
Because I love autumn, I've come to admire the bright moon,
I no longer live east of the lake but have moved to the west.


The wind above Long River spreads the scent of lotus,  leaf after
Accustomed to spending the night at  Crooked Pond  are the
    untamed mallards.
"Your boat just loves to head for Crooked Pond;
But,for me, how I pit that Long River is so long!"

Here's another from Seven Beats a Second.

I think one of the worst things, maybe the worst thing, about getting old is thinking of all the great things you didn't pay enough attention to when you had the chance you'll never have again.

photo  album

I'd give a year of my life to have that day again

not that last awful year we all face,
5h3 e4oolint-in-your-oatmeal year, not that
mind-blank-body-broke-spirit-gone year

I'll give that year away for free

no, I'm talking about next year,
while I still have prospects,
next year, when there might still be time
for a little more rock and roll
under a summer moon,
a little more time for snuggling
on the back porch, watching a winter storm
blow through leafless trees, listening
to the clickity clatter of dry branches,
time for a weekend at the beach,
time to read, time to write,
time for all those things I know
will some day slip away

that's the year I would give up
to live that day again

My next library poem is by Dilruba Ahmed, taken from her book Dhaka Dust, winner  of the 2010 Bread Loaf Writer's conference Bakeless Prize. The book was published Graywolf Press in 2011,  with support from the Minnesota State Arts Board, the National Endowment for the Arts, and private funders, including Target and the McKnight Foundation.

A writer with roots in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Bangladesh, Ahmed earned an MFA from Warren Wilson College and has taught at Chatham University low-residency MFA program.


At the field's perimeter
            frog eggs churned

to tadpoles. Grass
             stained our jeans

while wood-scents rose
              among rocks

and trees. We found

nectar-threads, morning
             glory and mint.

Honeysuckle grew suddenly
             in pares of  barrettes

when girls emerged
             from hedges

wearing cotton skirts
             and flowered dresses.

Picasso's Self-Portrait in Blue Period, 1901

At twenty, haggard,
lean as  a  stray,  someone
I cross the street to avoid at night
even as I notice

                              pink lips, blue
hollowed cheeks. By now, we've  both lost  
friends we won't recover. Huddled
in his navy coat, he watches from
room to room. His grief, mine -
eyes two sunken tombs.

This poem is from last week, a morning  I was feeling  a little more ambitious than usual. Probably should have ignored the impulse.


the boredom  of obvious things
             Czeslaw Milosz

to the Beatles at my coffeehouse
the excitement of listening to Sgt. Pepper
for the first  time,
the music, a revelation of new and modern
and unexpected and young
as  I  was young...

in the same year
of that first listening, touring
little towns and old castles
in Germany,
everything so old, so long established,
seeing Schloss Heidelberg high
above the Necker River,
imaging the old village below,
the massive  structure, its stones looking organic,
as if grown out of the  hilltop
like the trees
around it,

and east of Heidelberg,
the exterior walls,
the only things still standing at Frankenstein Castle,
as if its stones,
the rule of all organics,
were  sinking back into the forest,
back into  the black earth from which they grew,
all so old,  remnants, curiosities, obvious
in the irrelevance to the now
of  that  time

my time...

my time

passing a store window,
seeing for the first  time the album,
then listening to it for the first time, so new,
so different,
so of the new time,
my time,
shaking  loose a generation
from the boredom  of the obvious, the oppression
of how it's always been
and will be
& again,
shaking loose a generation
on the cusp of making the same
obvious mistakes
but in new ways,
making them their own mistakes,
the same as made by every new generation, finding
the arrogance of new and untried, screwing up,
all  the same, in the same old obvious  ways...

setting the stage for the

except the old revolutionaries
won't go away,
won't fade...

it is only the listeners
who have become the new boring and obvious,
not the music,
still new and exciting
as is all great art...

it is the listeners,
the discoverers whose discoveries out last them,
who charted new ways to new days
now past,
the revolutionaries
who won't leave their moribund revolution behind,
who have fallen in love with easy, comforting memories
of when they were sure
they were the thing that was
to be the future,
not content to have become the past,
not  content to become
the crumbling stones of a structure
no longer having purpose
beyond being the place where casual passers-by can gawk,
boringly obvious in their settled place,
a line or two in a book
no one  cares to
a special on public TV
no one cares to

Yuan Mei, born in 1716, is considered the Ch'ing dynasty poet best known in the west.

Born into genteel poverty, Yuan was an early prodigy, achieving his first degree at the age of twelve. Assigned to study the Manchu language, he, more interested in writing poetry, did not  study and failed the exam. Unable to be assigned to a more  prominent position in Manchu, he was appointed to a succession of minor district magistateships. Though very well liked by the common people in all the districts to which he was assigned, he did not receive a promotion he had expected in 1749 and chose to retire instead, a retirement that lasted nearly fifty years, until his death in 1798.

Here are several of his very short poems, all translated by J.P. Seaton.

Willow Flowers

Willow flowers,snowflakes
The same; they're feckless -
No matter whose garden they fall in,
They'll always follow the wind away.


There's something to love in each thing in the world
Except money: that most insipid of  all things:
In life, you can't get it;
In death, you can't take it.

Rain Passes

Rain passes, washing the face of the mountain;
Clouds come, the mountain's in a dream.
Clouds, rain, come and go as they please.
The green mountain, as always, is unmoved.


One rain, and all the  flowers  done!
Third watch, and all the music still.
Except what strikes my ear and stays my sleep:
From windy branches the last  drops fall.

This is another old poem from Seven Beats a Second.

I should say in posting this that I own no guns or explosive devices and have no plans for a terroristic assault on the First Nation Take You Money Bank and Distrust, right across the street from We-Pay-Peanuts-and-You-Provide-the-Food Stamps Mart.

let's go shoot a big fat capitalist (it'll improve the breed)

the flack for the Safari Club
defends the sporting ways
of his wealthy employers
     look, he begins
     with a nod that says
listen up!!!
there are
and thousands
of elephants in Africa
so shooting a few
is no threat to the species
in fact, he adds
shooting elephants
is good for elephants
thins the herd, you know
reduces overgrazing
insures sufficient resources
for those that remain
we  love these elephants
you see
and only do what we must
for the good of the herd
I say, of course
all for the good of the herd

James Welch is considered by many to be the founding author of the Native American Renaissance. He was born in 1940 of Blackfoot, Gros Ventre, and Irish heritage. A graduate of the University of Montana, he taught at the University of Washington and Cornell. He also served on the Parole Board of the Montana Prison System.

He died in Missoula, Montana in 2004.

The following poems are from his book  Riding  the Earthboy 40, published in several editions, the last  in 1990, by Confluence Press of Lewiston,  Idaho,

Magic Fox

They shook the greet leaves down,
those men that rattled
in their sleep. Truth became
a nightmare to their  fox.
He turned their horses into fish,
or was it horses strung
like fish, or fish like fish
hung naked in the wind?

Stars fell upon their  catch.
A girl, not yet twenty-four
but blonde as morning birds, began
a dance that drew the men in
green around her skirts.
In dust her  magic jangled memories
of dawn, till fox and grief
turned nightmare in their sleep.

And this:fish not fish but stars
that fell  into their dreams.

Verifying the Dead

We  tore the green tree down
searching for my bones.
A coyote drove the day back
half a step until we killed
both him and it. Our knives
became a ed for quick things.
It's him all right
I heard old Nine Pipe say.
As we turned away,
a woman blue as night
stepped from my bundle,
rubbed her hips and sang
of a country like this far off.

This is another poem from last week - a strange beginning to what turned out to be a  very nice day,  as foretold.

the rose

I saw  the sun
this morning...

half of a rose-colored disc
resting on the horizon, clear in  the soft morning light,
the contradiction
of cold flames roiling its pastel surface,
no suggestion
of heat, not like the burning orange-red
of most morning's rising,
like the petals of a rose
rising round
to  take the sky...

a sun
for a soft and easy
a good day for garden

Next from the Waiting for the Unicorn anthology, I have this poem by early 19th century poet, Ho Shao-chi.

During his lifetime (1799-1873) and today, Ho was better known as a calligrapher than a poet. After receiving the required degree in 1836, he served as a member of the Hanlin Academy and in numerous local government positions, until he was removed from his post in Szechuan province in 1852 for criticizing the central government. For the rest of his life he taught in local academies, supervised a publishing firm and edited the Thirteen Classics.

Both of his poems below were translated by J.D. Schmidt.

Morning Rain

In my bamboo rainhat,  I avoid tree branches dripping with dew,
the first cool weather, just right for a  country excursion.
Mountain torrent clouds gather everywhere by themselves,
and mountain rain arrives suddenly before you know it.
Riding on horseback, I let my hat and robe get drenched;
Melons and beans by the village side are scattered, scraggly.
The weather clears, peaks and crags emerge;
Myriad waterfalls fly in unison, just one more miracle!

A Contrary Wind

A cold rain beats the river, the wind's contrary,too;
the boatmen get  mad  at me for constantly opening the door:
"Listen,  if it weren't for the green mountain hues,
why would I be bouncing around midst the white waves!"

 From Seven Beats a Second, a sight in line at the grocery checkout guaranteed to make you think.

Me anyway.

the woman at the checkout

pleasant looking woman
at the grocery checkout,
suburban type, blue pantsuit,
middle-aged, hair a little gray,
normal in every way, except
for her fingernails, yellow
like a dog's tooth, so long
they've begun to curl
like that illustration
I saw in Ripley's years ago
of the Hindu mystic,
black hair hanging wild
across his shoulders, hands
crossed in front of him,
fingers splayed,
nails like the bent and twisted
tines  of an old leaf rake, and the
illustration beside his, another
Hindu holy man, blind, eyes
black smudges on the cheap
paperback page, eyes burned
away from looking at the sun,
seeing virtue in the light,
finding the truth of dark forever
and this woman, so normal
in appearance, koffee klatch
woman, garden club woman,
PTA woman, supermarket woman,
don't squeeze the Charmin' woman,
connected, somehow, to the
 mystic search of holy men
in post-colonial India
a butterfly raises its
iridescent wings in the warm
breeze of a far Asian shore
and in a supermarket in Texas
I feel the earth shift
in its orbit

Teacher, poet, author, and activist, Paul Monette was best known for his poems and essays about gay relationships. Born in 1945, he wrote of the struggle and eventual death from AIDS in 1992, followed by his own death in 1995 of the same cause.

His poem this week is from his book, West of Yesterday,  East of Summer, published by St.  Martin's Press in 1994.


everything extraneous has burned away
this is how burning feels in the fall
of the final year not like leaves in a blue
October but as if the skin were a paper lantern
full of trapped moths beating their fired wings
and yet I can lie on this hill just above you
a foot beside where I  will lie myself
soon soon and for all the wrack and blubber
feel still how we were warriors when the
merest morning sun in the garden was a
kingdom after Room 1010 war is not all
death it turns out war is what little
thing you can hold on to refugeed and far from home
oh sweetie will you please forgive me this
that every time I opened a box of anything
Glad Bags One-A-Days KINGSIZE was
the worst I'd think will you still be here
when the box is empty Rog Rog who  will
play  boy with me now that I bucket with tears
through it all when I'd cling beside you sobbing
you'd shrug it off  with the quietest I'm still
here I have your watch in the top drawer
which I don't dare wear yet help me please
the boxes grocery home day after day
the junk that keeps men spotless but it doesn't
matter now how long they last or I
the day has taken you with it and all
there is now is burning dark the only green
is up  by the grave and this little thing
or telling the hill  I'm here oh I'm here

I didn't intend to put an old poem here, but something happened this morning, leaving a restaurant where smoking customers congregate outside the front door to smoke. I walked out that door and smack into a stink of years of someone else's stale smoke.

I smoked for 40 years, from age 12 to 52, and it is only now, nearly 20 years after I quit, that I'm coming to appreciate what a god-awful stench I left behind wherever I went during my smoking years.

In defense of people my age, we at least had the excuse of ignorance when we began to smoke. In 1956, when I smoked my first cigarette, a brand from Mexico, its paper soaked in sugar cane water, we didn't know what we know now about its effects. Scientists and doctors were warning us, but nobody we looked up to paid attention, so neither did we. Not only that, but everybody did it and they did it just about everywhere. Thinking back, I can only remember one place where neither I nor anyone else I never saw smoked, a church.

Young people today don't have that excuse. It requires a state of oblivion unimaginable to me for them to not know what they're doing to themselves when they light up. I saw a young woman several days ago, pregnant, the size of the Goodyear blimp, standing outside, smoking a cigarette.  I felt like making a citizen's arrest for attempted murder. But I was too polite - the source of much evil in our world; too many of us are just too damn polite.

The piece is from my first book, Seven Beats a Second, published in 2006.

warning label

cigarette smoke
makes you smell like a bar in the morning

the stale stink of a butt-littered floor
    and spilled beer
and piss from the overflowed urinal in the john

all overlaid by a reek of desperation

the desperation of limp cocks lost in lust-dreaming
      losers lost in their own lies
redemption-dreams fading as the sun rises

to the squalor of crud-crusted eyes
and a lingering vomit-bile breath

The poet in the anthology closest to our own time is Wang Kuo-wei.

Born in 1877, Wang died in 1927. He was a poet and writer and is known as an influential scholar of China and its history. In 1924 he was appointed professor at Tsinghua University. A supporter of the overthrown  Manchu emperor, he drowned himself in 1927 as the revolutionary army was about to enter Beijing.

His poem was translated by Irving Lo. As with many poems of the dynasties, the poem was written to a popular tune of music.

Tune: Tieh lien hua


How much has the light thickened outside the window, under the
  green bough?
            Only the bright red cherries remain,
    Still enticing he faded red petals to linger

All the fledgling orioles have grown old,  in silence;
They come flying to pick the cherries before  they fly away.

I sit and watch a pair of nursling swallows on the painted beam.
              The swallows twitter softly
      As if chiding someone for being tardy -
Surely a kind of longing. But how much do they know?
In the human world, only longing could have caused so much


Who says that in the human world autumn has already gone?
              Pale willows, strand upon strand,
      Still  play with their shadows of gosling yellow.
The setting  sun upon a grove of thinning trees gleams brightly;
Never pass up the sight of dusk from a western window.

A myriad dots, the roosting crow; a chaotic, unsettled mass;
                A glittering sea of golden waves
        Again shrouds the tops of blue pines.
Where south of the Yangtze  do you not find this scene? -
I'm distressed only because there's no one to savor it.

From Seven Beats  a Second, a memory poem, mixing old comic strip heroes of my youth and my father.

Although maybe not such an old comic strip. Seems I remember reading somewhere that a movie based on the old Blackhawks comics either being made or in the planning stage. That would be fun, at least for us old guys.

when nighthawks fly in memories dark

nighthawks glide through the dark,
shadows against the star-lit sky,
soaring between trees,
picking insects from the air
like outfielders
shagging high, easy flies

    nothing to it, with a shrug
    as they toss the ball in

the birds fly through the air
and I think of old heroes
jumping from their planes,
uniforms glistening black,
Blackhawk, the leader,
Chop Chop, the Chinaman,
Andre, the Frenchman
with glossy black hair
and  a pointy mustache,
and Olaf, the square head German

    that's what they called my father,
    third generation to  leave
    his central Texas enclave
    of square heads and krauts,
    always careful through two wars
    not to draw attention to themselves
    and their German ways, quietly
    keeping to themselves,
    raising their sheep and cattle
    on rocky hill country pastures,
    facing good times and bad
    with square head persistence

and before Blackhawk, Smiling Jack
with his movie star looks, and his friend,
Fatstuff, with a belly so large buttons
flew off his shirt like popcorn in a pan

    dad had a belly like that,
    from his emphysema
    ballooning his lungs,
   making them heavy with spit,
    swelling, degenerating tissue
    dragging his lungs down,
    collapsing his chest,
    pushing his belly out
    like he was pregnant with
    the fruit of his own death

those popping buttons are on my mind
as I gasp for breath after a flight of stairs
and I think of my own belly pushing
ahead of me and I wonder
what it felt like to die in pieces

Last  from my library this week are these two poems by Elizabeth Seydel Morgan, a Richmond-based poet who was born in Georgia in 1939. Recipient of numerous awards and honors, Morgan graduated from Hollins University in 1960 and taught English and Creative Writing at St.  Catherine's School, a preparatory school for girls for many years. She earned an MA degree from Virginia Commonwealth University in 1986 and has also taught poetry writing at the University or Richmond, Washington and Lee University, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, and at the Virginia Correctional Center for  Women.

The poems I selected are from her book, Parties, published in 1988 by the Louisiana State University Press.

Beyond Recognition

A lesion that destroys this area of the cerebral
cortex impairs the ability to identify a person by
facial features.
                           - Scientific American

And though there is no sudden face
in the doorway that makes you rush
to touch its familiar cheek,
neither is there the face
that causes you to cringe
or triggers the wish to smash it.

The leering face in the kitchen window
you couldn't erase from dreams
since you were eight,
the face you never could unmask
yet live with on a vow,
the wrinkled woman in your mirror

are innocent of history
as this problem child who comes to visit.

You ask me every time
in that same expectant voice

Now who are you?

All My Friend's Pets Are Growing Old

All my friends' pets are growing old.
Mike's clawless, scabby cat can't roam outside
for fear the bluejays she once mocked will strike
and peck  her sores. So Mike picks up the turds
from his prize rugs with only mild disgust
and smiles at Tiger sleeping in a shaft of sun.
Barbara said at lunch the other day she's lugging
her black Lab (with help  to push him  up
into the car) weekly to the vet's for shots
and every Tuesday he plays dead at two o'clock.
I though how much I'd hate  a week with such a time
tied to it. I didn't like her dog when
he was frisky. I did like Millie's Corgi
who looked  old when he was new, but I hate
the way she talks now of his cancer
as if he were a relative or friend.
Bob and Connie Kincaid are the worst
with their menagerie - a house that reeks of cat
piss, two huge wheezing dogs, and one with heart-
worm, a hamster  worn to lumpenness from running round
in circles, a toothless rabbit, Aphrodite,
they coax to suck a bottle. And talk,
that's all they do is talk of all the trouble
they go to, so smug the way they're trying to
suggest they'd do the same for anyone. And the part
I really cannot bear, they trick me
into talking about Whitlock Street,where
we couples stood around somebody's small backyard,
grilling sirloins, sipping beer, a nudge or hug
to go with matching Millie's puppy waddle
grass-high toward the plump legs of our diapered babies. 

I had a couple of near-sleepless nights last week. Finally gave up and took a pill, going from unable to sleep to unable to wake up. Sat  down  to write my daily poem and found chaos instead. Decided to  do  the only thing I could do. Gave up, produced one of those  "not-a-poem" poems that come often to us poem-a-day poets.

try not to dream

this morning
like an old haunted house,
spider webs
hanging everywhere in intricate patterns
of an arachnid's artistic passion,
creaky floors,
dust deep on covered furniture,
ghosts and ghostlings
peeking from
moaning and groaning
the afterlife's

a fire  flickers
in a fireplace
wide as midnight's darkest sky
beneath a mantle
of rattle-
about bones, musical bones dancing,
playing Danse Macabre
cha cha cha
as a conga-line of putrefying
sing happy
the wicked witch, arisen,
gonna party
in red ruby light,
gonna have some fun
cha cha cha...

and I'm thinking
how the
unholy hell am I supposed
to write the poem of the poetical epoch
in the midst
of all these dancing dead
clacking their bones on each other's whit shining head

I should go back to bed

try not to dream

And now  here's my last this week from Seven Beats a Second. Another memory poem, remembering a certain blond barmaid in a certain shitkicker bar.

git along little dogie

soft and blond
as sun-bleached tassels
of summer corn,
hanging all the way down
to a sassy little ass
snuggled up in blue denim
tight enough to send Mr. Rogers
through the  neighborhood
heidee ho heidee hee

that was Lily Dee, best thing
about a little shitkicker bar
on the south side of San Angelo
where me and Toby shot pool
when we ran short of cash

my oh my,
what a tread was Lily Dee

gave the cowboys
something to think about
on those July nights,
sweating alone
in their bunkhouse beds

git along little dogie...
goddamn it
git along

Elizabeth Morgan's poem above reminded me of an incident in my own life which led to thoughts about other things and the poem below, my last new poem for the week.

pirate faces

 The leering face in the kitchen window
you couldn't erase from your dreams
       from Beyond Recognition
            by Elizabeth Seydel Morgan  

does everyone have that face
lodged in their earliest memories,
reappearing with  every
on a window screen, the wind, no face,
just the wind
this time...

know the face...

from when I was about six years old,
peering through the window
in the living room
where I played with my toy cars
on the carpet with the design that looked  like roads,
alone, being watched over
by a teenage neighbor, in the kitchen
warming up two pieces of apple pie, one for her,
one for me...

the flash in the window,
a man,
a pirate  face
with pirates' eyes
then gone, except gone only
from the window,
not, more than sixty years later,
from my memory...

I keep thinking,  have for years,
I'll see that face, those pirate eyes, on the street some day,
wondering if I'll have the courage
not to run,  the courage
to  face him instead,
to ask  if he  remembers me, if he remembers watching me
playing with my cars on the road-patterned
carpet,  why was he watching me,
and what did he
I would like to ask

is he, his face in the window,
the reason I watch people
in restaurants,  on the street,
wherever I go  finding public faces,
trying to intrude myself
into the thoughts below
their  everyday thoughts,
looking for the faces
behind the faces
they show,
the secrets behind the face they show,
the secrets of their secret

and what do I learn
by watching
so close, and what stories
do the faces

and what story
did my face,
my half-formed, childish face
tell him, a face too young for a
what future did my small face

and, after wondering for so long,
could he tell me
about that
story - if it  is a past story
at this  late date,
or  was it a future face, with
a story still to be

Detail from "Jazz  Splice" (several image up) representing  my son, Chris, and his friend, Andres Londono who, as the Ray-Guhn Show Choir, produced and recorded  the CD, chimeras, ideal, errors!, originally included with the book, Seven Beats a Second

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, Copia, Garner's, Baker & Taylor, eSentral, Scribd, eBookPie, and Kobo (and, through Kobo,retail booksellers all across America and abroad)


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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