My photos this week are from a trip we took to Santa Fe and on into Colorado in 2011.
We're going back next week for a little more of that peaceful mountain air. I will not publish another post of Here and Now for at least a week, maybe two
I will be writing and taking pictures so will have lots to post when we come back.
I picked up a couple of new anthologies last week and decided to use this week The Oxford Anthology of Modern Indian Poetry
, published in 1994 by the Oxford University Press.
I goggled the book to get a copy of the cover and though I found a number of different versions of the book, I didn't find any with the cover of the book I bought. The cover I ended up using is the cover that most often appeared.
My new poems, as usual,will be what ever I came up with in the week just past. I've mined so pretty good poems from 2007, 2008, 2009, so I'll continue digging there for my old stuff this week.
Here we go -
near-dark of early morning
a map for those of us who may someday go
Shiv K. Kumar
Days in New York
astonished by the cold
Kissing in Vietnamese
Cynthia Ruth Lewis
To Daddy's Perfect Little Angel
it is hard
New Delhi, 1974
Back to Heaven
The City, Evening, and an Old Man: Me
Here's my first new poem for the week. Got myself into short poem mode. Wanted to do that, now worried about ever writing a long poem again.
near-dark of early morning
of early morning
first leaves dropping
from behind dark corners
and dreadful tune
waiting for the sun's rising,
round and red
to chase away the gloom
As explained above, my anthology this week is The Oxford Anthology of Modern Indian Poetry
. My first poet from the book is Anuradha Mahapatra
Born in 1956 into a rural working-class family in West Bengal, Mahapatra received an M.A. in Bengali literature from Calcutta University, and has served as an editorial assistant for Kolkata 2000
. Her collection of poems Chaiphulstup
appeared in 1983.
It's a little confusing, but I'm pretty sure the image on the left is of the poet.
Under the easy glide of water
lies more water, concealed within oneself,
oneself, unconditional melancholy's magnet.
With a magic spell she imprisons
in the dead lamp's hollow
the blind muse of desire.
Whichever way life flows, so floats
the sacred banyan leaf.
(Translated from Bengali by Jotirmoy Dutta and Carolyne Wright )
Here's my first old poem of the week. I sneaked into 2010 for it.
have a hitch
in my get-a-long
this morning, a vintage mid-fifties
phrase, probably planted
in my young brain by
Tennessee Ernie Ford
or some such,
meaning i'm limping around
like an old man
because of a pain in my hip,
the result of my cheapness
in refusing to pay $200
to have someone remove
a fallen tree from my
backyard resulting in
$400 worth of personal
pain and suffering after
trying to do it myself,
plus paying 200 to someone
to do the job i couldn't finish
but that's another story
it's the phrase
i'm interested in this morning,
the phrase that slipped
directly from my brain
like a quarter
passing, unhindered, through
the guts and gears of a malfunctioning
in what secret fold of our brain
do things like this abide, a homely phrase,
a word you forgot you knew, an ugliness,
deep buried, you think, never to see again
the light of day - and suddenly there
they are again, the good and the bad
and the merely embarrassing, jumping
right out, throwing themselves
at the world like a giggle at your mother's
funeral, a subversive fart
while having tea with
not really yourself, you explain,
but little pieces of our earlier self
you thought long left behind,
long banished or
would sometimes call window shades
an embarrassment to her
because she though it revealed
her country-poor upbringing
stuttered when excited,
like all of us
My first poem from my library this week is by my friend, Gary Blankenship
, Washington state poet and faithful fan of 8th grade football.
Graceful people wear their grace like
a robe that isn't there.
Those without grace trip over the
pattern in a plain brown carpet.
I meet a man who eats salal berries.
I meet a man who redrafts his poems 137.
I meet an angry Indian.
I meet a man who cackles to himself.
I meet a natural blonde
I meet a woman whose wine remembers poems.
I meet moths and a June bug.
I meet a man who speaks in smoke, saxophones and colored cigarettes.
I meet a lost American dash Chinese.
I meet a woman who knows how to carry a bagpipe.
I meet a tree.
I meet a woman whose laughter made me cry.
I meet an artist who mislaid canvas, brush and palette
I meet a man who holds hands to let go.
I meet an angry white woman.
I meet a vegetarian who slices ham.
I meet a damaged harmonica in the dark of dusk.
I meet a man with a book bag attached to his shoulder.
I meet a dog leading a woman across a Chinese Garden.
I meet a woman at the Marine Science Center who did not know.
I meet a heron.
I meet a woman with no lipstick who paints her toes.
I meet Karen who did not want to.
I meet a man who leaves salmon where he walks.
I meet sand fleas.
I meet the key keeper.
I meet a man with canine eyes.
I meet a girl who touches spiders.
I meet a woman who could save us, it time steps aside.
I meet a raccoon family, a doe, and a squirrel who knows Sam Hamill.
I meet a woman whose tongue dances to the drums of elephants and lotus.
I meet a man who is a boy inside a man who is a boy.
I meet a woman who agrees with me.
I meet a woman who is not here and will leave none too soon.
I meet a man who's boo does not.
I meet a woman who touches the past to find a future.
I meet a noxious weed and May' red bud in July.
I meet a woman who becomes a bobby-soxer.
I meet a woman who names.
I meet a future I cannot.
I meet people who treat houses as they treat their own.
I meet wife of, child of, infant, unknown.
I meet a woman who stops time with her breath.
I meet a hostile hostel resident, drunker than the harmonica.
I meet a woman who releases her toes.
I meet plate vultures.
I meet a boy in a metal cage.
I meet rose-colored glasses that smiles gray.
I meet a woman in the snow a grass harp between my fingers.
I meet a woman who cannot weather.
I meet a man who sings an ancient bamboo flute, made a year ago.
I meet singers on a Finnish banana boat.
I meet rose-colored glasses with a gray smile.
I meet the bus poet.
I meet snipe hunters.
I meet a woman who can kaddish too late to learn her dance.
I meet a woman who argues with me.
I meet the woman who starts the argument.
I meet a man who carries terse long packed from the mean streets
I meet a woman with socks in her pocket.
I meet a man whose past does.
I meet a man who cannot find the cherries.
I meet a man with blue paint on his everyday trousers.
I meet Blackberry.
I meet poets.
I meet a woman in a robe not there. She
strolls down broken sidewalks
Here's another new poem from last week. I love the early morning and early morning skies and watching the opening of a new day.
a map for those of us who may someday go
on a blue
rills and mountains
a blue-morning map
for those of us who may someday go
Here's another poet from my anthology, The Oxford Anthology of Modern Indian Poets
Born in Lahore, now in Pakistan, in 1921, Shiv K. Kumar
was educated there at Forman Christian College
and at Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge. He taught for many years at the
University of Delhi and the University of Hyderabad, and was visiting
professor at various British and American universities and colleges in
the 1970s and 1980s. He has published scholarly criticism, prose
fiction, a play as well as poetry in English. He was elected as a fellow
of the Royal Society of Literature in 1974.
Days in New York
Here I live in a garbage can.
The pile grows bigger each week
with the broken homes
splintered all around.
A black cat chases a shadow
down the passageway:
its whiskers presage another snowstorm.
The white of the negro maid's eyeballs
is the only clean thing here,
besides, of course, the quart gallon of milk
squatting at my door.
They won't believe it here
that Ganges water can work miracles:
in spite off the cartloads
of dead men's ashes and bones -
I open each morning my neighbor's Times,
whisked away from his door
before he stirs.
Gloved hands leave no fingerprints.
And a brisk review of the our yesterdays is no sin.
En route to perdition
I sometimes stop at Grand Central to piss.
Where else can one ease one's nerves
when the bladder fills up
like a child's balloon?
In the Gents, each in his stall,
we stand reduced to the thing itself.
Questions catapulted in the air:
"Are you a Puerto Rican"
A Jamaican? A Red Indian?"
I look for the feathers on my skull,
a band around my forehead.
And mumble, "No, a brown Indian,
from the land off Gandhi."
The strange briskly zips his soul
and vanishes past the shoeblack,
who turns to shine a lanky New Yorker
swaddled in the high chair like Lincoln.
Incidentally, there are not beggars in Grand Central.
Only eyes, eyes, eyes,
staring at lamp-posts.
Back in my den after dusk
I band-aid the day's bruises.
Outside the window perches the grey sky,
an ominous bird wrapped in nuclear fog.
At night the Voices of America
break in upon my tenuous frequency,
intoning the same fact three times,
till the sediment grips the Hudson's soul.
But my soul is still my own.
For, every Sunday morning, I descend
the basement where the laundromats
gulp down nickles,
to wash all our sins.
But the brown of my skin defies
How long will this eclipse last?
Here's another old poem. People from further north just don't understand the truth of cold. They just live too close to it, like you don't see ugly in a camel when you need one to cross the desert.
astonished by the cold
those of us
born and raised
in lands were days are hot
and nights are warm
astonished by the year's first winter cold,
stepping out our front door
into the dark
of an early winter morning,
stepping into a cold
that seems universal,
cold that stretches from the dirt
beneath our feet
to the furthest star
we can see -
universe we see,
cold as the meat locker
at the grocery store
where we earned
our first wages -
it just doesn't seem
that the world all around
could ever be as cold
as that locker,
with beef quarters
hanging on hooks
in the ceiling, chicken
frozen in boxes
on icy shelves
in a world were
cold has a cost per
kilowatt hour, we
can't help wondering
who's paying the bill
for all this cold
Next is a poem by a new book in my library, Burning
, a book of poems by Ocean Vuong
Born in Saigon, Vietnam, Vuong is a student at Brooklyn College and, even so young, author of several books and recipient of many honors, including four Pushcart Prize nominations.
Kissing in Vietnamese
My grandmother kisses
as if bombs are bursting in the backyard.
where mint and jasmine lace their perfumes
through the kitchen window,
as if somewhere, a body is falling apart
and flames are making their way back
through the vessels in a young man's thigh,
as if to walk out the door, your torso
would dance with exit wounds.
When my grandmother kisses, there would be
no flashy smooching, no western music
of pursed lips, she kisses as if to breathe
you inside her, nose pressed to cheek
so that your scent pearls into drops of gold
inside her lungs, as if while she holds you,
death also, is clutching your wrist.
My grandmother kisses as if history
never ended, as if somewhere,
a body is still
are two short poems I wrote on consecutive days last week. They fall
into the category of poems written because I had to write something.
Sorry, but that's what I've got.
I know many things about
but don't know bullcorn about
a lot more
often I can't
tell the difference
so be careful
what you ask me
born to be a
exiled to the flatlands
most of my life
living in the hills now,
breaking the endless horizons,
but poor substitutes for majestic
I've trod the valleys dreary, even floor,
and so crave a mountain's
summit, high against the sky,
a peak, waiting
for a man like me to climb
Next, I have two poets from the anthology.
The first is by Hira Bansode
The poet was born in 1939 and has a master's degree in Marathi. She is one of the new Dalit women poets who became prominent in Maharashtra in the 1980s. She has been active in the subaltern women's movement for a number of years.
She, the river,
said to him, the sea:
All my life
I've been dissolving myself
and flowing towards you
for your sake
in the end it was I
who turned into the sea
a woman's gift
is as large as the sky
but you went on
you never thought
of becoming a river
(Translated from Marathi by Vinay Dhqarwadker)
The second poet is Archana Varma
, born in 1946, is a poet and writer. An MA in Hindi from Allahabad University, she teaches Hindi at Miranda College (Delhi University).
Water on a slope
will run downhill, they said
with an air of finality..
That is, if water is water.
They didn't say that soil on a slope
if it's really soil
will soak up water.
That a green carpet of grass
will sprout, covering the slope.
It may lie covering the slope
but it will turn its face skywards.
That is, if grass is really grass.
We're all standing on a slope.
This was the topic of discussion
that evening. Water
can only flow downwards.
This was the conclusion.
Trees were not discussed at all.
They may spring up
at the bottom of the slope
but they grow upwards.
They bigger they grow
the easier they're uprooted.
That is, if trees are really trees.
But the water
wasn't water. And the grass
wasn't grass. Or the trees,
trees. But the topic
wasn't water, or grass, or trees.
It was man, and about him
no one said a word.
(Translated from Hindi byAruna Sitesh and Arlene Zide)
Next from my library I have a poem by Cynthia Ruth Lewis
, from the book Sirens - Five Femme Fatale Poets
, a collection, as the title suggests of five women poets who are not so much interested in taking prisoners. The book was published in 2008 by Sisyphus Press.
Lewis, at the time of publication, was 42 and was living in Chicago. Her self-written bio says, "She finds great comfort in her bitterness and rage and doesn't hesitate to let it out on paper. She does have a soft side and unfailing rubs lotion into it several times daily to help balance things out." She has published in numerous journals and has published one chapbook, Piss on Your Parade.
To demonstrate my concern for the delicate sensibilities of my readers, please note the poet's picture on the left is cropped. The original in book is a full frontal nude. You're welcome.
To Daddy's Perfect Little Angels
My father never called me "princess."
He never called me "pumpkin"
or "peaches" or any of those other
he never even knew I was there
Am I bitter?
I used to be.
I learned to deal with it;
it's taught me to be strong
and fight for what I want out of life
and not expect everything to be handed
to me on a silver fucking platter
because daddy said I'm his angel
Do I hate men?
Quite the contrary
In fact I enjoy thinking of how many
men I stole from all you stuck-up prima donnas,
if only for the sex -
you know, that "'thing" you won't give them
because you still believe your twats are
made out of gold?
but this hard-hearted whore is a lot more
than just a hole with legs, honey,
and she's got many a tale to tell -
from the bed sheets to the pages
my life is an open book of hard-core poems
that you could never understand from
the plateau you're on:
your prim and proper Barbies wouldn't know how
to relax and have a good time if it bit you
right in your stick-filled ass,
and your idea of a "poem" is a
shopping spree at the mall
You frigid pitches need to unwind a bit
and really get a bite out of life;
you have no idea what you're missing
behind your manicured nails and
an unsullied reputation sure 'ain't no fun,
and who the hell wants to die with a
block of ice wedged up her cunt anyway?
Most of the time when I start a poem I have no idea what it's going to be about or how it will end. Often, like here, I look at the end of a finished poem and wonder how the hell did I get here. I think it's a process of letting my subconscious out the gate and following where it goes. I like it when that happens.
thinking of a story
too long to lay down here...
my father's roots
passed on to me, diluted
as are all such stories
of tough me and strong women,
by time and the ease of our life, the ease itself
requiring a different kind of tough,
a different kind of strength,
lest we become the kind of people
our father's father's father
faith, hope, charity,
these virtues,second nature
to those from whom we came,.
dismissed as cliches now
by us, pampered and self-obsessed, us
who seek a life in reality TV
as if they were real...
watch the new,see what we have become,
chickens, barnyard fowl descended
from eagles whose heights we threaten...
a poor substitute for the people
who bred us,
finding no road
they are not afraid
Here are two more poets from the anthology of modern Indian poetry.
The first of the two is Kunwar Narain
Born in 1927, Narain is a large presence in Indian literature, often regarded the greatest living poet writing in Hindi.
I've seen him many times before
go dragging along in the direction
in which the horsemen are headed.
Both hands tied, in helplessness, once more
who was he? I can't say
because only two tied hands
(Translated from Hindi by Vinay Dharwadker and Aparna Dharwadker)
The next poet, Narayan Surve
, was born in 1926.
Orphaned and abandon at a very early age, he grew up on the streets of Mumbai. He taught himself to read and write and published his first collection of poetry in 1962. Supporting himself as a school teacher, he was active in his support of the workers' union movement. Also a supporter of the the Soviet Union, he was championed there as well as in other Eastern Bloc countries as well and his home country. H died of advanced age in 2010.
A whole lifetime assigned to me:
even the light when I was born
was assigned to me;
I said the things I was assigned to say.
Cursing under my breath,
I walked the street assigned to me;
I came back to the room
assigned to me;
I lived the life I was assigned to live.
They say we go to heaven
if we follow the path assigned to us.
Between the four pillars assigned to us
I spent the morning with my editor who turned over to me the edited and proofed manuscript for my next book. I hadn't planned this, but it turns out the next poem, written in 2011, is included in the book.
So here it is, a sneak preview of New Days and New Ways
, due out sometime before the end of the year. It's not the best I got, but it's pretty okay.
it is hard
slept all day,
dreams of when
I made things happen
it was in my
the blind cat
like a pin ball
from wall to wall
until she finds her way;
her pink nose against the wall,
a turn into a bedroom
that goes nowhere,
in the dark
beyond her personal dark
until I find her
waiting for the world
to make sense again, then
I take her
where I think she wants to go
doctor appointment today,
five and a half minutes, she will give me
and four and a half minutes
of advice -
I will take the first
young and pretty
when does she know
about getting old
in my regular place
around my regular people
do I ever think
I need more
in thinking off other places,
where I can be
the mysterious stranger
in the back of the
I might not ever see before
who know even less about me
than I know about
to be happy
or old, it is hard
the true nature
to live in a world
where nothing happens
unless you make it
This poem from the week's anthology is by Vinay Dharwadker
, born in 1954.
With a PhD. earned at the University of Chicago, the poet is an Associate Professor at the the University of Wisconsin (Madison) where he teaches Indian languages and literature at the South Asia Center. In addition to collections of his own poetry, he has published translations in various languages of South Asia.
New Delhi, 1974
The city has spread quietly, suddenly. Everywhere
it springs up, this futile architecture, its garish forms
shuffled and heaped, its grass sprouting sparse
and indifferent, its women brittle with paint,
it wrists young and hairless, dipped into the pool
where gold reflections rise, quiver at the rims of its eyes.
The old scalps are dry, each hair has lost its root,
and the mouth that rehearsed its verses in these streets
now is elsewhere. The monuments are black, rain black
and shoulderless, and the plains that once stretched
green towards the south are grey with dust and grime.
The old have nowhere to go now, in this new
city they haven't built, and the impatient young
are idle, and don't know where to turn.
Another short piece from last week.
I had some wild days
until I married
and my wife 'splained
like they never been
my only vices are coffee
I think I've got the coffee
still working on the poetry
Last from my library, here are two poems by Tom Kimmel
, from his book, The Sweetest and the Meanest
, published 1n 2006 by Point Clear Press.
Kimmel, born in 1953 in Memphis, is a singer/songwriter and poet. A 1975 graduate of the University of Alabama, his songs have been recorded by singers from Johnny Cash and Joe Cocker to Lind Ronstadt, and have been featured in a number of TV series and movies.
I watch the construction workers in my neighborhood
disembark from their vehicles,
long hair beneath ball caps
streaming ponytails down their backs.
They sport scraggly, untrimmed beards
below sunburned faces,
looking for all the world like the most radical,
dope-smoking, acid dropping
back-to-the-earth hippies of my youth.
As I drive past I imagine them saying,
We are bound in many ways.
Here are ways we are free.
Back to Heaven
I love you like rain loves
a summer sidewalk.
I cannot stay here
but the warmth of
your rough surface,
as I embrace you
momentarily - even
as I begin to move
toward more welcoming,
familiar ground -
changes me in the
warming, sending a
part of me back
This is an old piece I wrote July, 2007. It's in a form I called "post-it notes." And that's how they were written, on postage notes while at work on scoring state assessment tests.
this is like
I would pass
when I was
in fits of
in a large room
if you find this
The last poet from this week's anthology is Sudama Panday, more commonly known as Dhoomil
, was born in 1935. Known as the angry young man of Hindi poetry because of his protest poetry and revolutionary writings. He published only one collection of his poetry before his death in 1975. A second collection was published posthumously in 1979 to great acclaim and honors.
The City, Evening, and an Old Man: Me
I've taken the last drag
and stubbed out my cigarette in the ashtray,
and now I'm a respectable man
with all the trappings of civility.
When I'm on vacation
I don't hate anyone.
I don't have any protest march to join.
I've drunk all the liquor
in the bottle marked
FOR DEFENCE SERVICES ONLY
and thrown it away in the bathroom.
That's the sum total of my life.
(Like every good citizen
I draw the curtains across my windows
the moment I hear the air-raid siren.
These days it isn't the light outside
but the light inside that's dangerous.)
I haven't done a thing to deserve
a statue whos unveiling
would make the wise men of this city
waste a whole busy day.
I've been sitting in a corner of my dinner plate
and leading a very ordinary life.
What I inherited citizenship
in the neighborhood of a jail
in front of a slaughter-house.
I've tied them both to my convenience
and taken them two steps forward.
The municipal government has taught me
to stay on the left side of the road.
(To succeed in life you don't need
to read Dale Carnegie's book
but to understand traffic signs.)
Other than petty lies
I don't know the weight of a gun.
On the face of the traffic policeman
doing his drill in the square
I've always seen the map of democracy.
And now I don't have a single worry,
I don't have to do a thing.
I've reached the stage in life
when files begin to close.
I'm sitting in my own chair on the veranda
without any qualms.
The sun's setting on the toe of my shoe.
A bugle's blowing in the distance.
This is the time when the soldiers come back,
and the possessed city
is now slowly turning its madness
into windowpanes and lights.
(Translated from Hindi by Vinay Dharwadker)
are two poems from very early 2008. The poems feature our best furry
friends, Reba, the border collie, and Kitty Pride, the calico. Both had
to be put down earlier this year as age and illness overtook them. They
were with us for many years, Reba for about 20 years and Kitty about 15,
and will be remember for just as long.
it's 35 degrees
with a fine mist
blown in lateral
by a brisk north
it's not the coldest
night this year
but it is cold
to keep me inside
I try to break the news
that she won't get
her walk tonight
and I can tell
she's not understanding
it at all
unlike Kitty Pride
who's been hiding
under the bed
since I got home
lest I grab her
and fling her into
has no thought
in her canine way
she knows only
day and night
and each one
with no relation
to the ones
that came before
is just stuff that
of no interest
in the dog-view
of the universe
but she accepts
as she always
quietly to her bed
head and tail
hung low to the floor
then denied the grace
of a last
woe is me
her body cries
with each mournful step
I will make it up
to her tomorrow
with a slow pace
a double sniff
I just let
the cat out
to do her morning
it's 20 degrees
she was back
at the door
I could leave
she is a master
in the winter
Check back in a couple of weeks, I'm taking a vacation.
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
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Places and Spaces
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coffeehouses in San Antonio
Seven Beats a Second
Sonyador - The Dreamer