Short Stop on the Way   Wednesday, October 30, 2013





I have a very short post this week. The space time continuum has not been helpful to me the past couple of weeks, several types of minor illness, nothing serious, just time-thieves, plus other non-health related irritants that have kept me pushing constantly against looming schedules (and I'm a strong believer in schedules), always rushing to complete things at the very last minute. The short post also allows me to carve out time to finish the final edit on my next book, New Days, New Ways, currently about a year behind my original schedule for publication.

So, in short, I'll  be keeping it short for the next  several weeks so that I can catch up. Also hope to have time  to think of a little new  spice to add to "Here and Now." The only thing I've come up with so far is the addition of author photos. As I like to think of  poems as a conversation, it  seems nice to be able to see who I'm  talking to.

So, for this week at  least, I'll be putting aside anthologies  and concentrate on, in addition to  fewer  of  my own  new and old poems, poems from my library.

Also, this week, instead of looking for  old  photos that you would probably have forgotten you ever saw before, I decided to play with photos you saw just two weeks ago.

Here's the short-list for this  week's short post:

 Me
there he goes again

Li Po
Impromptu Chant
War South of the Great Wall
 Farewell to Yen Shu
Ching T'ing Mountain, Sitting Alone

Me
tra la  la (etc.)

Michael Earl Craig
Bear Photo

Me
a new moon last night

Wesley K. Mather
Train Station Blues

Me
Christmas miracles

Pamela Kircher
We Love the Moon So  It Shines

Me
family ties

Alice Walker
Exercises on Themes from Life

Me
about wahoos, wazoos, and the decline of Western Civilization

Joyce Carol Oates
Undefeated Heavyweight, 20 Years Old
How Delicately...

Me
pretty ironic
figs  








         

This is a new poem from last  week, an trying week when many thing, large and small, went askew, including my back.






 there he goes again

the start of a  beautiful morning,
bright and clear,
about fifty degrees or so
with a north wind, our morning walk
a run, as Bella says, yes,
with her long golden air blowing  in the breeze,
she's even  happier than me
to see the back end of summer
as it passes...

then a message from God
to stay home today...

(as a typical non-believing former-Christian
I only accept the God-concept
when
things get really screwed up and I need someone
to blame - some people might call it
karma, or some such, not nearly as satisfying
as imaging an old man with a long white beard
sticking his finger into my business
and making a bit mess of it)

anyway,
the one who I call God
when things get screwed up,
the white-bearded fella
who claims omniscience, who  hears
every little sparrow's call from every little tree
it must be, if it's true, as he claims,
to have his own personal hand on all  the gears
and levers of all the passages of the universe,
it  must also  be that he is personally
responsible
for causing mechanical malfunctions
on both of our cars this
bright morning








Next from my library I have several short pieces by T'ang Dynasty poet, Li Po, to  me, the most human and approachable of the Chinese masters. Born in 701, Li died in 762, his work and his life were suffused with Taoism and Zen Buddhism. Thought by many to be, with his friend Tu Fu, the two greatest poets in the Chinese canon.

These pieces are from the collection, The Selected Poems of Li Po, with especially vivid and straight-forward translation by David Hinton. It  is a New Directions book, published in 1996.





Impromptu Chant

Dinner brings the savor of county fields,
and serving wine, we pour distant waters.

Watching the river flow east inexhaustibly
here, we can see how this farewell feels.


War South of the Great Wall

Delirium, battlefields all dark and delirium,
convulsions of men swarm like armies of ants.

A red wheel is thickened air, the sun hangs
above bramble and weed blood's dyed purple,

and crows, their beaks clutching warrior guts,
struggle at flight, grief-glutted, earthbound.

Those on guard atop the Great Wall yesterday
became ghosts in its shadow today. And still,

flags bright everywhere like scattered stars,
the slaughter keeps on. War-drums throbbing:

my husband, my sons - you'll find the all
there, out where war-drums keep throbbing.


Farewell to Yin Shu

We drink deeply beneath dragon bamboo,
our lamp faint, the moon cold again.

On the sandbar, startled by drunken song,
a snowy egret lifts away past midnight


Ching-T'ing Mountain, Sitting Alone

The birds have all vanished into deep
skies. The last cloud drifts away, aimless.

In exhaustible, Ching-t'ing Mountain andI
gaze at each other, it alone remaining.








This is a little early, season-wise, but hell the stores are putting up Christmas stuff next to the Halloween stuff, so why not.

The poem was written in December, 2010, recalling in part a Christmas I spent in Germany 40-plus years earlier.





tra la la (etc)

Christmas carols
sung
with the sincerity
of a suppository commercial

chill-perked girls
wrapped in furry coats,
hair blown,
noses nipped in a frigid wind;

Christmas  elves
poised to pounce on
unsupervised children

(is that a gun in Santa's pocket
or is he just glad to see
them)

fist fights
in the parking lot,
wife
docks husband
with a right to the jaw
a kick
to the cojones...

I went Christmas caroling
once,
in Darmstadt, a smallish city
between Frankfurt and Heidelberg,
drunk
at a Christmas party,
our voices
raised
in praise to the birth
of our Lord and Savior
and a drunken hope
he will find suppositories
in Bethlehem should the Wise Men
have a need after their
ever so long
camel ride)
Irish bar singing 
not welcomed 
by our host's German  neighbors
at  3 a.m...

then
as now
tra la la la
la







 
First from my library this week, I have a poem by Michael Earl Craig, from his book, Thin Kimono. The book was  published in 2010 by Wave Books.

Craig biography,  as he presents it, says that he was born in Dayton, Ohio in 1979. He earned degrees from The University of Montana and the University of Massachusetts. Author of two previous books, he is a certified journeyman farrier and lives near Livingston, Montana, where he shoes horses for a living.




Bear Photo

Taken in Livingston,  Montana
sometime around 1900,
this bear stands up perfectly straight
on hind  legs, with his paws
together, up over his head
like maybe he's clapping
like maybe he's praying
or pretending to pray,
really hamming it up,
but I'd say probably praying
probably praying directly to God.
Yes, praying hard, direct to God.
It is a sunny day.

The photo is grainy
The bear is shuffling about in the dirt street.
Dragging his hundred pound chain.
Squinting into the sun.
Acting quite naturally.
Totally clueless as  to how a man might pray.







         


It's true it's always hard to find dark in the city, but it would be easier if my neighbor didn't like his place up like a maximum security prison.







a new moon last night

a new moon last night
round and bright on the dark  sky

oh, how I wish for a blackout
on nights like this,
when the moon and stars
would be laid out above me,
undiminished by my neighbor's fear of the dark,
lights everywhere, keeping the devil work
at bay...

they are the devils
it seems
to me,
stealing  the dark,
so fearful,
building their little sanctuaries of light, 
hiding he stars
that call me,
all the little so-far-away stars
I presume to call
my own







Here's a poem from my library by Wesley K. Mather. The poem is from his book, Into Pieces, published by i Universe Inc in 2003.

According to the author's bio, he lived in Denver at the time of publication, received his education at Metropolitan State College. Having written for a number of publications, this was his first book.

I couldn't find a picture of the poet,  so had  to settle for a picture of his  book.





Train Station Blues

They all sit on long oak benches
Waiting for their trains to come in
They all smoke too many cigarettes,
And drink from secret bottles.

One man in the corner  scratches
at spider bites allover  his legs.
He thinks, "I would explode if the itch would stop."
One man up front scratches at his chest.
He is trying to get at his heart.
He  thinks, "I would die if the itch ever stopped."

There is a man sitting a stool
with a bottle of lotion; he smells  it
when he thinks no one is looking.
He hates the smell of the lotion;
it reminds him of  his former  love; he is crazy for her.
There is a woman in the crowd
with a bottle of bleach for her hair.
She is wanting to get on the  train to us it.
She wants to start a new life. She is very much sane.

All the people in the station smoke too much.
They are all sad and lacking love.
Every one of them thinks at the same time,
"Where am I, where am I going? Stupid life."








 


Here, another Christmas poem from 2010, with actual Christmas miracles.







Christmas miracles

writing a poem
on Christmas Eve
reminds me that I was

a practicing  Christian once;
practicing and practicing
and practicing

but never getting it right,
so I cut back
and became, like many

of the Christians I know,
a non-practicing Christian,
and I non-practiced and non-

practiced and never  got that
right either
so I quit all together

leaving behind nothing I miss
but Christmas joy, which
is hard to sustain when all it's

about is picking non-religions
Christmas cards
and the most colorful wrapping

paper
and listening politely
to Christmas songs for three

months, mostly sung by over-the-hill,
sometimes dead, gents in sweaters
roasting their moldy chestnuts,etc...

I mean,
 there is something truly uplifting
about the whole Baby Jesus thing,

which is about all the non-practicing
non-Christian can say about
that.

which leads me to thinking about
my clothes...

despite the supposed peace of the season
I'm wearing
my macho-man shirt this morning,
the let's-go-out-and-shoot-Bambi
I bought at Walmart
last year,
it and another just like it except in a different color,
evidence that even I, the complete rationalist, am prone
to occasional lapses
of what-the-hell-was-I-thinking...

the bright-colored hunting motif,
dogs and guns and woodsy images,
embarrasses me;
to be seen in it makes me feel
like a fraud
since I haven't shot  anything of an
animal nature
since I was ten years old, killing
a sparrow with my BB gun,
leaving a tiny, neatly-ringed  BB-sized hole
right through the bird's head,
a bright blaze of blood
trickling from the side of the hole,
a crimson trail
brilliant in the summer sun
and in my memory...

it's just not me,
this shirt,
just not in my nature,
but it's cold outside
and it is the warmest shirt
in my closet already ironed this morning
and I  promise
that's all there is to it,
no subliminal pulse of murderous rage
barely contained
beneath this calm and pleasant countenance.
this peaceable exterior,
I promise...

the question left unanswered,
i iron my own shirts,
so how did this shirt get to be
the only ironed shirt
in my closet...

a miracle, possibly...

it's possible another miracle
has occurred,
another Christmas miracle...

maybe not up there with Baby Jesus,
but us non-practicing non-Christians
have to take what we
can get








Another from my library, Pamela Kircher holds a Bachelor's degree from Ohio University, a Master of Library Science from Kent State University, and a Master of  Fine Arts from Warren Wilson College's MFA Program for Writers. Recipient of various awards and honors, including three Ohio Arts Council Individual  Artist Fellowships, she is a resident fellow at the MacDowell Colony.

 The poem this week is from her book Whole Sky, published in 1996 by Four Way Books.





We Love the Moon So It  Shines

There are things seen only
when the lights are off.
Like nigh shifting its ashes
through the house almost soundlessly
except for a sudden  crack then later
a soft thud for all the world
like a shovel breaking a root and a clump of dirt
dropped in a whole. Being buried alive.
How simple.She touches the floor
with one foot, the edge of the bed
with one hand. There she is
in the mirror, hardly a woman at all:
crooked at the waits, one arm long,
one bent. She picks up her dress
from the floor and lays it over the man
in the bed. Let him wake
in the hours that  come and fine
what his lies have done. The body
of the blue dress is empty
as the lover she has become.
All the rest of her ugly and dumb
as the moon's far face waiting night
after night to turn to the earth
and shine.









As everyone knows who's ever read Here and Now, I  post  a poem every day on a "poem a day poetry forum." At this point I'm over 2.600 consecutive days of poetry (with a couple of days off due to illness). The forum is designed to provide incentive for writers to do every day what writers  are supposed to do - write. The incentive is the encouragement one gets from one's fellow poem-a-day poets. One of the extra benefits of posting is that  every day one has an opportunity to read others' work and possibly get inspired on those  days when one's  on muse is running on empty.

A case in point, this next poem.




family ties

a poet today
reminds me of the  proto-me
I  visit often to find  my way in this life,
so much more complicated than his, simple questions
that face him as every day begins,
do I eat today, or does my belly tighten
further around the emptiness of a failed hunt,
do I  fight today, or do I run,
do I die today, my short life ended
even sooner than its normal course allows,
do I speak to  a god  today,
to gods of  rocks and rivers and mountains
and the sky,  gods of my kind
who walks the same dust as I, gods
who will help  me if they want,
or not, all I am or can  be
subject to their whim or whimsy,
gods  not to worship,
for what use worship to the earth
and trees and mountains and sky, gods
to beseech, gods to entangle
in all your  wordly
strategies,
gods to direct you to where
the fresh waters run and the bison graze,
gods to  direct your spear
so that you and yours
may eat,
gods to keep the fires burning at  night
so that you may sleep
in peace, to prepare yourself  for the next day's
race for survival...

we talk,  this proto-me
and me, in languages neither  of us have
in the realities off our lives,
he understands from me all the reasons he must
live his full span, procreate, and maybe, before the span ends,
learn to make  sharper more durable spear  points,
or learn to  sing, learn to draw pictures on rock,
to scratch the stories your life on walls
that will last as long  as rock
might lasts, stories
that one of my kind will find
in your unimaginable future,and tell your
anew, for me to see, for  me to know
you, my cousin, as I have never known you
before, family ties we have, my
rough and dirty proto-me, connections
through thousands upon thousands
of time, eternities to  you and me, as well,
but still,  through all those years
we talk  and celebrate
our family
ties








          

Next, I have a really wonderful series of short poems by Alice Walker, from her book Her Blue Body Everything We Know - Earthling Poems 1965-1990  Complete. A terrific book, it  was published by Harcourt Brace Jovanovich,  Publishers in 1991.






Exercises on Themes from Life

i

Speaking of death
and decay
hardly matters
Which
Since both are on the
way, maybe -
to being daffodils.

ii

it is not about that
as a poet I knew used
to say
speaking with haunted eyes
of liking and disliking -
Now I think
uncannily
of life.

iii

my nausea has nothing
to do
With the fact that
you love me
It is probably just
something I ate
at your mother's.

iv

To keep up
passionate courtship
with a tree
one must be
completely mad
In the forest
in the dark one night
I lost my way.

v

If I were a patriot
I would kiss the flag
As it is,
Let us just go.

vi

 My father  liked very much
the hymns
in church in the amen corner,
on rainy days
he would wake
himself up
to hear them.

vii

I like to see you try
to worm yourself
away from me
first you  plead
your age
as if my young heart
felt and of the tiredness
of your bones...

viii

Making our bodies touch
across your breezy bed
how warm you are...
cannot we save our little
quarrel
until tomorrow?

ix

My fear of burial
is all tied up  with
how used I am
to the spring...!








 

 I've abused Christmas enough this week, so here's a poem from 2010 that abuses just about everything else.







about wahoos & wazoos and the decline of Western Civilization

it's a damp
foggy morning
which reminds  me of
stupid sleepy people

- and how,you ask,
does a damp
foggy
morning
remind me of stupid
sleepy people, and I would  answer
I don't know, it's just an example
of the curious paths
a brain
might journey
down
in the early morn, and if we knew
how that kind of thing works
we could fix brains so that there
would be many fewer
stupid
sleepy people in the world -

but the point is not
an investigation of the vagaries
of the human
noggin,
but the fact that
at my age
I'm tired of being polite
to stupid sleepy people, want
to wake them up
instead,
do some wahoos
up their wazoos so maybe
they
'd
shake themselves out of it
and become
alert
not-so-stupid
people
and the obvious place to start
if I could do that
would be right-wing politicians,
wahoo
you tea-party poops,
I'd say,
how's your wazoos hanging...

maybe
go back in time, investigate
how the industrial revolution prompted
the onset of our stupid sleepy
people plague ..

June 12, 1966,
that's when it began
and I saw it happen,
Indianapolis, Indiana, downtown,
a "fast-food restaurant is what it called itself,
might have been a McDonald's
and I haven't been in  a McDonald's since
just in case,  a hamburger bun
made its way via a conveyor  belt
until it was positioned  beneath
a large overhead tube out of which plopped
a hamburger patty which landed
precisely
on the bun, which moved onto another
overhead tube (smaller nozzle this time) 
out of which spurted a plop of ketchup
right
precisely
on the greasy gray patty which had earlier
plopped out of an overhead
tube, all of the above,
bun, patty,  ketchup  plop
continuing down the conveyor to where
another bun (top  this time)
plopped down on the previously assembled
mess, continuing then down the line
until picked up by a young man
with dirty fingernails and a very large
pimple on the end of his nose
who wrapped the concoction
and put it
proudly
in a box, 39 cents, he said -

this  initial assault on the not-yet-sleepy,
not-yet-stupid populace
of this great country was  originally
exposed
by documentary filmmaker George Romero
but no one could believe
first,
that anyone would make a hamburger this way,
and,second,
that anyone would so  proudly show an un-sleepy, unstupid  populace
that they were making a hamburger this way
so Romero's documentary
about the zombie-making effect of eating
such factory-burgers
was dismissed a a pulp  fiction
"b" movie
and so we  were led  to  where we  are today,
adrift
in a rising sea of wazoos
in desperate need of vigorously,
but lovingly, applied
wahoos








         

Last this week from my library, this poem by Joyce Carol Oates is from her book, The Time Traveler, published by E.P. Dutton in 1989.









Undefeated Heavyweight, 20 Years Old

I
Never been hurt! never
knocked down! or  staggered or
stunned or made to know there's a blow
to  kill  not his own! - therefore the soul
glittering like jewels worn
on the outside of the body.

II
A boy with a death's-head mask dealing hurt
in of arc of six short inches. Unlike ours
his flesh recalls its godhead, if  dimly. Unlike
us he knows he will live forever.

The walloping sounds of his body blows are iron
striking bone.
The joy he promises is of a fist breaking bone.
For whose soul is so bright,  so burnished,
so naked in display?

All  insult, says this death's-head - ancient,tribal,
last week's on the street - in redeemed in the taste
of another's blood.

You don't know. But you know.


Since this is such a short  post,  here's an Oates bonus, such wonderful, precise  writing.


How Delicately...

How delicately the fish's
     backbone is being
lifted out of its
     cooked flesh -
the sinewy spine, near-

translucent bones
     gently detached from
the pink flesh -
     how delicately, with
what  love,  there can be no hurt. 









I finish this short post, with two short poems. Both throwaways, I admit, but the second one I'm kind of proud of. On a day spent in bed, with back pain  so intense I could hardly stand to sit, I managed  to write a poem about a back ache with a sly nod to William Carlos Williams, one of my poet-heroes. 







pretty ironic

a reviewer once  complimented
my work
for my sense of irony

I never have figured out exactly
what that means when
appearing in any particular
situation

the word,  used in so many ways
seems a bundle and a jumble
of meaning, essentially meaning
whatever you want it to mean,
making the compliment  according some of the
meanings I've seen, pretty ironic
that the only thing I know about  irony
is that  I ironed my own shirts  beginning
when I was about fifteen

there are a lot of words like that, it seems,
that lots of people use
without being able to tell you
precisely
what they mean...

so I  figure,
hell,
if they can make it up as they go along
so can I

pretty ironic
if you think about it

or, perhaps, moronic,
depending
on  your sense off irony


figs

extremely painful
back spasms

enshrouded
in drugs  of many
and unpronounceable
names

no walking,
less  sitting

let's pretend
i ate
the  figs

and call this
my poem
of  the
day








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Back to Work   Wednesday, October 23, 2013







A short post this week, which would have been as I planned, even if I hadn't lost two days to illness.

My photos this week are a random sampling of photos last randomly sampled from older files in 2010.

My anthropology is In These Latitudes, a small collection of ten contemporary poets published by Wings Press of San Antonio in 2009.

My new poems are new and my old poems are from November, 2010. Not much more to say but that.

Except,  here's what  I have for you this week.


From:

Me
how to  make friends in Texas

Wong  Sui-Yung (aka  Susanna Wong)
A Snapshot
A Magical Moment

Me
a good way to start is all I'm saying

Catherine Bowman
Pot Roast

Me
The Shining

Laura Quinn  Guidry
Angel Story
Old  Song
Love Poem

Me
finding my place in line

Sheila Ortiz  Taylor
Certifiable
35MM

Me
damn lefties

Marian Haddad
Driving from El  Paso  to San Antonio

Me
Zulabula land

Marina Tsvetaeva
Poems for  Akhmatova

Me
universal constant

Tony Zurlo
The Mind Dancing
Dao: The Eternal One

Me
naked rolling,  parts rubbing

Langston Hughes
African Dance
Snail
Stars

Me
why not

Robert  Pinsky
If the Dead Came Back

Me
rain-slick
new moon tonight
illuminant      









Here's my first new  poem of the week.

Lots of people moving to  San Antonio from all over the place. Was thinking a little advice might be helpful to them.





how to make friends in Texas

if it's a man,
admire his dog

if he doesn't have a dog
congratulate him on his choice
of firearm

if it's a woman
tell her you  like what she did
to her hair

if she has no hair, tell her you think she has great
boots and you're thinking
of getting a pair
for your
wife

(being careful to enunciate
clearly)

---

possibly this advice is pertinent
elsewhere,
but Texas is where I have the most
direct experience
and it is with that stipulation
I offer it










First from my brief anthology of ten poets, I have two short poems by Wong Siu-yung (aka Susanna Wong). Wong directs the technology enhanced  learning development and support at the University of Texas, Austin, where she had been on the adjunct faculty since 1998. Born in Hong Kong, she arrived in Austin in 1973. Widely honored and widely called up internationally as a guest speaker, she is a pioneer in the field of desktop publishing.

I won't bore with the details, but the only picture photo related to her work was a picture of a man reading her work on youtube. So I settled for a picture of one off her books, I think.




A Snapshot

White mountains reflect green pine.

Sheets of clouds,
            Drifting powder,
                         Quicksilver on the ground,
                                        Sparrows bathe in snow.

Travelers by the fireplace looking out.


A Magical Moment

Clouds gather, rain drizzles, water pearls drop.

Framed by the windshield
                                          egrets hop in and out of green pastures.

A trace of red wine, warm breaths and the sound of Tennyson
                                                                                        fill the air.

One glance locks the heart.

                  A sigh, a giggle, a burst of laughter -
                                 echoes of the sparks in two little people
                                    without suspicion.









 
Here's an old poem from November, 2010. Chilly days beginning here, I figured  it was a good poem for the times.








a good way to start is all I'm saying

it's chill
that's what I'm saying -

went out  to feed the critters
and froze my jelly-belly

near
fa-telly

but the sun's
arising

like
and old man's hoosit

when  memories strike
with tent-pole-city

dreams off that pretty girl
from 1954, all bobby-

socked and whooshy skirted
rising all the way to her holymoses

when
she twirled

to the beat of her rocker-roll feet

like Hermione Gingold
peddling her  pettifogs

through the roses of  the
Sangre  de Chevalier...

but
I  was saying

it's a chill-bill day
but the sun's arising

an all-together encouraging
way

I'm saying
to  kick-off the day








First  from my library  this week is this poem by Catherine Bowman. The poem is from her  book, 1-800-Hot-Ribs, published in 1993 by Gibbs-Smith Publishers of Salt  Lake City.

Born in El Paso,  Bowman has received  many honors and  awards for her  poetry. She is the director of  creative writing at Indiana University in Bloomington and teaches at the Fine Arts Works Center in Provincetown.






Pot Roast

Uncle Bubba's joke hardly ever bombs. He knows
to  wait until after supper, till all our buttocks
start  to roost or waltz or rub around, till  all
our Bordeaux-stained incisors have ground away
all that's left  off Great Aunt Jane's pot roast.

That's when he gets up from the table and drops
his gigantic drawers and just below the waistband
of his boxers he presses parts of his belly  together
and makes a series off smiley faces out of the pink
incision he earned in the last  World War.

He just loves to jaw about the war. The strategies,
the table wine, the Atomic Bomb, Little Boy and Fat
Men, funny names, he says, for the 40,000 tons of TNT
dropped over Hiroshima and Nagasaki (Nag-a-sack-ee,
he says) a flash of boiling light, birds ignited
in mid-air. He dramatizes the whole  event in farts.

Marilyn  Monroe, now there's a piece of engineering,
he likes to say. America's Blonde Bombshell, she blew
herself away almost seventeen years to the day they dropped
those bit  ones. I stood right  next to her  once.
I was certain she was all light and curves until I saw
a tiny drop of water hanging from her left earlobe.








         

I am at my best early in  the morning, before  all the stuff that bombards us every day muffles creativity. Even better than an early morning is an early morning with rain  falling.







the shining

drip
from the patio roof

stepping stones
shine
in the dark night

I stand
under the hidden moon,
presenting
my bare body to the
cool north
wind,
dripping,
like the patio,
from tiny raindrops
widely scattered,
the gathered
wet
dripping
from my shoulders
and down my
back...

rain,
not much,
but it's nice
to hear the drip,
to feel the drip;
nice to see the  shining stones,
to stand on the shining
stones,
feeling the shine
welcoming it into my body
so that I might
shine
too








Here's another poet from this week's anthology, In These Latitudes.

The poet is Laura Quinn Guidry. Born in Baton Rough, the poet grew up in New Orleans. Since 1980 she has lived and and near Houston.

Guidry began writing poetry after the death of her son and published her first poem at the age of 52. She has been published in several anthologies and a number of literary magazines since.





Angel Story

Don't talk to me about angels guarding
their earthly charges -
how they swoop down to intercept
Destiny, how their great wings enfold
the chosen and whisk them to safety.

Angel stories are all the rage now.
I'll tell another, about the one
who hovered over the bed where
my child slept and, this time, to placate
Fate, folded his wings and walked away.


Old Song

A song on the radio,
and old, dreamy-sweet song,
serenades the girl I was.

Tonight in words and melody
the woman I am
grieves for that girl

who sang along with the radio
whose dreams were sweet
and all happy possibility.


Love Poem

My husband is driving
his tractor on the side of the hill.
Only his head and shoulders are visible,

his wide-brimmed hat.
He is fifty-four
and the sun has become unfriendly.

He cuts the wheel sharply.
The tractor bumps along the ridge.
He is the boy

 in the photograph on the bookshelf
standing tall
on the pedals of his bike.

My husband disappears
down the hill.
The boy pups the pedals hard.









           


Here's another old poem from 2010.








 finding my place in line

looking at pictures
from a 50-year high school
reunion
I didn't get to go  to,
recognizing hardly
anyone,
and the ones I did know
were mostly men
who looked like their fathers
looked like 50 years ago

left me thinking how,
after 50 years
of looking at myself in the mirror
every day, I never really
saw the person I was becoming,
until referenced
by the sight of others,
worn  through years unseen
by the eroding winds of time
and circumstance, sharply contrasted
to the fresh and shining
faces
holding fast among my memory's
comfortably assuring
lies -

it's not about them,
of  course,
but about me - it's old folks day
at the rodeo
and I'm surprised
to see I have a place
in line

sun sneaking
up
on a damp day -
like a coastal morning,
birds flying like pasted-on
cut -outs
against the wet sky, low fog,
warm
from a southerly breeze
blown across the coastal plains
from the rolling gulf,
streets
glistening with morning dew -

a thousand thousand
mornings
like this from all the years
living on the coast,
my escape 16 years ago
to  dry winter hills
of cactus, oak and mesquite,
yellow-blossomed huisache
grown stubborn between granite rocks,
bluebonnets, cardinals,jays
woodpeckers and coyotes,
cedar on hillsides, and
Indian paintbrush fields and
clear-running creeks

stymied
by this pre-Thanksgiving
blanket
of coastal miasma,
preparing me, maybe,
for the trip back to the coast
later in the
week,
a fast -n-and-out, fade-away
dodge'm drive,
5 hours down, kiss the babies,
eat the turkey,
8 hours sleep, the 5 hours
back
pushing all the way
against the arctic front
that will meet me at the door -

30 degrees
crisp and clear,
ice in the birdbath,
time to sleep
under a warm blanket
in a flickering orange
fireplace glow,
dog by my side, cat in my lap...

home








Here from my library is Shiela Ortiz Taylor, with two poems. The poems are from her book, Slow Dancing at Miss  Polly's. The book was published by The Naiad Press in 1989.

Born in 1939, Taylor earned her M.A. in 1964 and her Ph.D. in 1973. Initially interested in American literary realism and 20th century American literature, as a teacher she developed an interest in Women's Studies, 18 century English literature and contemporary Chicano literature and creative writing.

She continued to work for women's and gay causes and 1990, when she and her partner were refused housing in a Florida retirement community, she fought back and set precedents against such discrimination.





Certifiable

Now I know
I am crazy.
Sliding a blind hand down
this dark hall
moon in Capricorn
3 AM
feeling my way
around the queen size
sofa bed
plump with sleeping guests
past the puzzled dog
one eye open
in my study
where
without spectacles
without light
I write
this poem.


35MM

This poem is a camera.
Pick it up
and fit it to
your face.
Let your eye
walk through
the view
finder
and frame
your scene.

Check for light.
Verify distance.,
Focus with are.
Press the button.
I am the film.







  
                

Not much here, just a funny scene from our stay in Santa Fe.








damn lefties

old man
with shorts, and old-man shirt,
and sandals, gnarly toes
exposed too the fresh mountain air...

small bistro,
sandwiches and coffee and wine
for those who imbibe,
corner of  Old Santa Fe Trail
and something else,
across from one of the churches,
two blocks from the plaza...

on the patio with Dee and Bella
under a yellow umbrella,
enjoying lunch and the sun and the air
and just about every other damn thing
within sight, smell and hearing...

old man with knobby
knees and gnarly toes stops
by our table to chat...

I'm from Fort Worth,
he says, come here four or five times a year

I'd move here, he said, but if I did
I'd have to go to Fort Worth
on vacation...

n o fun in that,  he said,
and having  been to Fort Worth,
I laugh...

really like this place,
he said,
but there's too damn many lefties...

and he moves on to another table...

I'm from Fort Worth, he says,
and so  on, ending
again
with his observation regarding  excessive
lefties...

and so on...

watching him, I think what a perfect example
he  is of the  successes  of leftie
politics,
walking around in his  shorts and old-man shirt,
and sandals  and knobby knees and ugly toes,
in his eighties, I think, taking four or five vacations a year,
forgetting it seems,as so many do,
where his social security and medicare came  from...

damn lefties...








Next, I have a poem by Marian Haddad. The poem is from this week's anthology In These Latitudes."

As an MFA and manuscript consultant, Haddad has worked with award-winning poets and writers; often judging writing contests nationally. She has lectured widely and taught creative writing at Our Lady of the Lake University, Northwest Vista College, as well as literature at St. Mary's University, all in San Antonio.



Driving from El Paso to San  Antonio

There's a sad part
of the afternoon.

I love the first
light - and the whiteness
of the desert then.

And I love
the high noon
hour - and the sun
that beams.

Intensity
and becoming.
Even the few 
hours after that
are livable

I am in the stream
of the given day,
somewhere-in-between
between.

But then
it comes -
the hour
after that -
before the darkness -
the end of day -
the end of light -

It says something
about
the sadness
of endings.
Things that leave us,
the lost beginning.

And when that yellow
hue has trailed
its final sad note -
there is still
light -

a post-light
not yet sunset -
light outside
light - sadness
past - and me
in the middle
of that short hour.

And now
in my rearview,
a strong white sheath
spreads itself out
across the sky
- white again -
no sadness here.

I ride alongside
a semi  -
following the same
blue sky
that leads  us
shortly
into the night.

This cool 
evening -
and the windmills
blow - just past
Monahans.

The sun behind me -
easting its orange,
its lavender light.

And I wait
the evening
sky - 
coming closer
to home.








             

 An old one, 2010, late fall, on my way to my favorite coffeehouse, since closed.









Zulabula land

9 a.m.
and i'm heading

for my new coffee
shop

hangout/hideout/den
occasional creations

of a poetic nature,
one of those  Presbotarianist

palaces
where you get a blessing

with each cup of coffee
and an  invitation

to donate 
to  their mission 

in Zulabula land,
and nice art on the walls

and old furniture
and chairs

upon which a person
of my substantial substance

can find adventure
in intermittent

creaks and groans -

and
i  was driving

to this place of occasional
poetic creation

when two yuppie-puppie
vans

raced right through
a red light

right in front of me
and if i hadn't slowed down

two blocks  earlier
to get  a better look at a house

i'm going to buy
after  i win the lottery tonight

they'd have creamed me,
as we used to say,

having  nothing to do with
cows or milking machines

or haystacks
on Sylvan pastures of green,

just plain old run right into me,
leaving me in a bloody twist

of metal
and flesh formerly known

as me,
pretty bad for the flesh

formerly known as
me

but not so bad
for the wife of the flesh

known as me,
said flesh,  worth more

in such mangled an dead
condition

then unmangled
and alive

making it possible
she can move into that house

i was looking at without
counting on lottery winnings,

such are the economics
of  life and death

```

another sign
of the craziness

all about
these yuppie-puppie

moms
in their yuppie-puppie vans

driving  around like Bonnie and Clyde
running from the

poooooolice
after a bank job

i'm telling you
there is no  safe place

for us sane people
when  yuppie-puppie moms

are driving yuppie-puppie vans
through yuppie-puppie neighborhoods

like Steve McQueen
chasing bad guys

through the hills
of San Francisco

too damn many people
seeing too many movies

they're not psychologically
prepared for

is what I think
is going on








                             


Next from my library, I have a poem by Marina Tsvetaeva, from the collection  Maria Tsvetaeva, Selected  Poems.  Born in 1892, Tsvetaeva lived through and wrote about the 1917 Revolution and the harsh life afterward, including the death of her  child by hunger and the execution of her  husband. Considered one of the greatest of the poets of her time and place, she committed suicide in 1941.

Tsvetaeva wrote no short poems, so what I'm using this week are the first and last parts of an homage to Anna Akhmatova, one of my personal favorites among the Russian poets who lived through the difficult period and beyond.

All the poems in the book  were translated by Elaine Feinstein.



Poems for Akhmatova

1

Muse of lament, you are the most beautiful of
    all muses, a crazy emanation of white  night:
and you have sent a black snow storm over all Russia.
     We are pierced with the arrows of your cries

so that we shy like horses at the muffled
     many times uttered pledge - Ah - Anna
Akhmatova - the name is  a vast sigh
and it falls into depths without name

and we  wear, crowns only through stamping
     the same earth as you, with the same sky over us.
Whoever  stats the pain of your deathly power will
     lie down immortal - upon his death bed.

In my melodious town the domes are burning
     and the blind wanderer praises our shining Lord.
I give you my town of many bells,
     Akhmatova, and with the gift: my heart.

4

You block out everything, even the sun
     at its highest, hold  all the stars in your hand!
If only through - some  wide open door, I
     could low  the wind to where you are,

and starting to stammer, suddenly blushing,
     could lower my eyes before you
and fall quiet, in tears, as
     a child sobs to receive forgiveness.











Sometimes, I fall into the trap of thinking, looking for a rational  orientation to  a seemingly irrational universe.






universal  constant

thinking
about the  here and now,
the universal
constant, everywhere where
there is a here there is a now and across all reaches
of the universe they are the same; "there
only a here we  haven't been to yet
and "now" - well it's  true, though the stars
we see, so bright across  the midnight sky, lie not in our present now
but in a "now" way back when, it is,like the "heres"
we cannot see, just another "now," a party
we missed  in the "now" of our most ancient "whens"

---

I apologize for this digression
but do hope this clarifies
the complexity of here and now, so that when
you have occasion to consider
your own place and time, you will also
consider the magnitude
of all the other "heres" and "nows" that swirl around
our own little here and now
island
adrift an oh so much wider
sea







               
          
The last poet this week from the week's anthology, In These Latitudes is Tony Zurlo. A fiction,  non-fiction and poetry writer, Zurlo has traveled extensively, beginning with the Peace Corps in Nigeria. He has taught literature and composition in China and in Arlington, Texas,where he teaches English.





The Mind Dancing

To love China is to love not
     the thing itself,
     but the idea of loving,
     and never knowing.

Lover will be charred
     by the Dragon -
     ashes into dust,
     the  yellow earth.

Born in turmoil and nurtured
     by mystery, China
     is the vapor trail
     of newborn stars.

China reveals itself
     to no one -
     China is the
     mind dancing.


Dao: The Eternal One

Dawn shed her night clothes
and bathes in a snow-melt brook.
Blossoms perfume the air.

Buttered layers of sun
glaze fields with jellied primrose.
Sun sets, exhausted.

Frost paints meadows
with afterthoughts of summer.
Winter's sleep descends.








                   


Here's another from 2010, late in the year.








naked rolling, parts rubbing

a slow Sunday
afternoon
and we were trying
to decide what do do

and I suggested we get
naked
and roll around on the grass
in the backyard,
rubbing
body parts together
fiercely

but there's a bit off a chill
in the air,
probably too much chill
to be rolling around outside
naked
no matter how fiercely we
rubbed together

so
I was thinking
well we could go down to
the art museum
and take a look at the
impressionist
exhibition,
settle down naked
in front of the Monet
and give him an impression -
rolling around
on the carpet rubbing
body parts together
impressionistically -
that might make the old guy forget
all about water
lilies...

but they have these guards
down  there,
to follow us from room
to  room
and I don't  know why
except
maybe the can read minds
and don't abide
with
people rubbing naked parts
together
in front of the Monet -

maybe
if we moved over
in front of the
Duchamp,
he did a lot of his own
naked parts-rubbing, as I
understand it,  and what's
the nude  going to do after
descending the staircase
by some parts-rubbing, cause
why else go downstairs
naked as a jaybird
if there weren't some parts-
rubbing
intentions...

but the guards
are so guardedly attentive
the museum is out
and I was thinking we might take a drive
in the hill country - the way the leaves are changing
in our backyard, there must be piles
of red and orange and yellow and gold
leaves laying on the ground
under some of those big hill country
oak trees, ripe for some good old rustic naked parts
rubbing and rolling around, but it is even
colder in the hills  than it  is here
so there's the  chill factor to consider,
plus all those rattlesnakes
who  love to hide in leaf piles
on these chilly days, or maybe
up in the trees - they do like to climb
oak trees to sleep  through the  winter -
and I think they might not welcome
people waking them up, rolling around
naked in the leaves, rubbing parts
together with sylvan abandon, despite
the fact it was a snake in a tree
that started all this naked rolling arourn
and parts-rubbing in the first place

or,  we might just do what we always
do
on lazy Sunday afternoons, could
just take  a Sunday afternoon
nap
you in the easy chair
and me on the
couch

just
like we always
do








                   

I have three short poems by Langston Hughes. The poems are from his book, The Dream  Keeper and Other Poems,  first published in 1959, my edition by Alfred A. Knopf in 1994.





African Dance

The low  beating of the tom-toms,
the slow beating of the tom-toms,
   Low...slow
   Slow...low -
Stirs  your blood.

     Dance!
A night-veiled girl
   Whirls softly into a
   Circle of light.
   Whirls softly...slowly,
Like a wisp of smoke  around the fire -
   And the tom-toms beat,
   And the tom-toms beat,
And the low beating of the tom-toms
    Stirs your blood.


Snail

Little snail,
Dreaming you go.
Weather and rose
Is all you know.

Weather and rose
Is all you see,
Drinking
The dewdrop's
Mystery.


Stars

O, sweep of stars over Harlem  streets,
O, little breath of oblivion that is night
   A city building
   To a mother's song.
   A city dreaming
   To a lullaby.
Reach up your hand, dark boy, and take a star.
Out of the little breath of oblivion
   That is  night,
   Take just
   One star.










Here the last poem this week from 2010. For the curious, the black thumb was followed by a white which, in turn was followed by a black and white horizontally striped thumb. I had intended to do next a black thumb with a large white dot in the middle, but that turned out to be too difficult and that time I was bored with the whole exercise anyway.







why not?

I painted
one thumbnail black
as a kind of Halloween joke

but then,
after Halloween,
I decided
the Great Thumb of Blackness,
GTOB, as I named it,
both looked kind of cool
and served a community purpose -
an existential
manifestation of the universal
desire to explode
in cosmic swells and gravity wells,
a kind of tattoo, a totem
for those who wish to be
adorned
with the latest in skin art,
those who ride wild
in their daydreaming
day-slog
but hesitant
when the moment comes
for fear of needles

that was my socially acceptable reason
for having a black thumbnail, my duty
to serve
as surrogate
for the multitudes
pining to be painted but
hobbled
by fear
of sharp objects

less socially acceptable,
but in accordance
with my credo - first expressed
by Bobby Kennedy who said we should
quit asking "why"
and ask, instead, "why not?" -
the truth is
I have a black thumbnail
simply
for the reason
that I couldn't think of any reason
not to have a black thumbnail
and so now
I do








                   

The last piece from my library this week is by  Robert Pinsky. It's  taken from his  book Gulf Music, published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux.









If the Dead Came Back

What if the dead came back not only
In the shape of your skin your mouth your hands
The voice inside your mouth the voice inside
Your skull the words in your ears the work in your hands,
What if they came back not only in surnames
Nicknames, names of dead settlement shterl pueblo

Not only in cities fabled or condemned also countless dead
Peoples' languages pantheons stupidities arts,
As we too in turn come back not only occulted
In legends like the conquerors' guilty whispering about
Little People or Old Ones and not only in Indian Angles
Of the cowboy's eyes and cheeks the Dakota molecules

Of his body and acquired antibodies, and in the lymphatic
Marshes where your little reed boa floats inches
Above the mud of oblivion O foundling in legends
The dead who know the future require a  blood offering
Or your one hand accuses the other both lacking any
Sacrifice for the engendering appetites of the dead.











 I'm finishing up this short post with two new poems, early morning poems. Early morning  - prime poem time  for me.







rain-slick
  
rain-slick morning -
all that have life in them
raise their heads
to drink



new moon tonight

new moon  last night
round and bright on the dark sky

oh, how I wish for a blackout
on nights like this,
when the movie and stars
would be laid out above me,
undiminished by my neighbors' fear of the dark,
lights everywhere, keeping the devil's work
at bay...

they are the devils
it seems
to me,
stealing the dark,
so fearful,
building their little sanctuaries of light,
hiding the stars
that call me,
all the little so-far-away stars
I presume to call
my own


illuminants

large oak,
forked low, two long branches
reach to the sky

its back to the such,
from my view a green silhouette
against western-sky dark

a lesson, enlightenment
comes not to all at the same time,
patience  required
as even those in most-dark
will come into the light
of our ever-turning world
when their time
comes

if we are religious
we pray for
them










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