On Such a Winters Day   Wednesday, November 13, 2013





Trying to get back to normal this week, with standard library, anthology and my own poems, new  and old.

The photos I intended to use this week are in my camera which was stolen last week. So, California dreaming, I dug out some old pics from a trip we made up the west coast several years ago and did what I could to put a new shine on them.

Here's line-up:


Me
passage

Aimee Nezhukumatathil
By the Light of a Single Worm

Me
to be a country boy again

 Hashan
Poems 100 - 106

Me
I am chastised

Marilyn Chan 
Tonight While the Stars Are Shimmering  

Me
tides
the last
the best of intentions

Keith Flynn
A Poem in the Shape of Tulsa

Me
planner learns his lessons

Al-saddid Al-raddi
Song

Me
talent

Virgil Suarez
Wind Rustles

Me
death with dinner

A. K. Ramauujan
The Black Hen

Montri Umavijani
A Revisit

Me
s*x

Philip Nikolayev
Nothing
Lights Out

Me
falling back

Sylva Gaboudikian
What I Notice

Me
leaving
it's a zero-sum world 
country time

Lesley Clark
Brown

Me
best ever

Jessica Hagedon
Motown/Smokey Robinson

Me
a little night music
turning point
tote dat barge

Jorge Teillier
The Last Island

Me
prelude to the day  

Saud al-Kawari
Comfort for a Lonely Woman

Me
while  the youngest children play  








             


Here's my first poem for this week.






passage

I like having breakfast
in the dark
watching the day wake,
night passing,
dark handing off the baton
in an endless relay, a  circling cycle of
universal goings-on
forever before and forever  after
dark
becoming light
until it becomes dark again

the mysteries of early morning,
movement in the dim light,
wind stirring trees,
cats  passing from shadow
to shadow

but not this morning...

as the hand-off is made
from dark-time
to light-time
there is no wind
stirring the trees, no cats
meandering

instead there is an  absolute
stillness,
the
still
before the storm
that I know will not come

nothing moves...

but in the trees
as the orange disc
pushes past the day-light line
at the  edge of the world,
birds, hundreds,
birds of many kinds
call,
sing bright  morning  songs,
and I've not heard this
like this
before, all these birds together
singing,
and I  wonder why
I have not  heard this before -
have  I not been listening -
all the dark to dawn moments,
why have I not heard this before...

or is this gathering of  singing birds
a new thing,  a special gathering, all together
for me, telling me something
about
the day just  breaking across the horizon...

such noisy babble;
such shrill
cacophony on this  still
morning...

who are they all here for
if not for me?

what are they saying?

perhaps
I should not question
the "is"of the moment,perhaps
I should just
listen









First from this week's anthology, Language for a New Century, I have this poem by Aimee Nezhukumatathil, associate professor of English at State University of New York - Fredonia where she is the recipient of the Hagan  Young Scholar Award and the Chancellor's Medal for Scholarship and Creativity activities. She is author of two books, At the Drive-In Volcano and Miracle Fruit.






By the Light of a Single Worm

                                             Kerala, India

Land snails the size of hockey pucks
slime a shimmer  along craggy roots, A mantis
wipes its eyes with her forelegs like she's taking

off a new sweater. A certain earthworm
luminesces so strongly here, a zoology professor
once wrote a whole lecture by the light

of a single worm. My hand washes blue
& tiny hairs above the knuckle look electric.
Soil becomes glitter, even the flattest stone

turns into cabochon. When I bathe, a lizard
shaped like a cassava root with blue eyes
spies on me from the corner of the ceiling. I've seen

them fall on dinner tables, into noodle  puddings,
the cold ceramic of the kitchen sink, & I just know
I will be next. I turn off the light, knowing that

in darkness they run along the baseboards, savoring
picture frames until sunrise. I finish my bath
in darkness with only the glow from the garden

            listen for any evidence of a tell-tale splash.








This next little bucolic frolic was written in 2007. By 2009 it had become not such a happy story. Our dream tenant, left the property and her boyfriend behind, the boyfriend who didn't believe in making rent payments and who, when evicted, kicked holes in all the walls and left behind a mess that it took several thousand dollars and six months work (I did most of it myself) to fix.

The happy end to the story is that we were finally able to sell the place and have nothing further to do with but accept the monthly payment check from the buyers.

Despite all that, I do sometimes still drift into the country boy dream, though I do always come awake in time to avoid the dream's end.



to be a country boy again

we have a little rental property
outside of San Marcos,
a mobile home on three-quarters
of an acre, set high among rolling hills
on the edge of the Edwards Escarpment,
that geological uplift
marking the end of the Texas
hill country and the beginning
of the Texas coastal plains -
and just a mile away, the
San Marcos River,
cold and clear even
in the hottest
days of summer
because of it's proximity
to its head water springs...

we bought the place
for our son to live in while in school
and when that purpose expired
we kept it to rent because
that seemed easier
than trying to sell it...

now we have a good tenant,
the kind of golden tenant
landlords dream of
and selling it now would
seem like a betrayal...

even so, every now and then,
caught here in city traffic
or tossing in restless sleep
as the fourth ambulance
of the night passes just a block
away, I think of those rolling hills
and the river and country quiet
nights in country fresh air
and decide, maybe,
just maybe,
I could learn to be
a country boy
again








My first  library poems this week are from a book I just bought last week. Poems of Hanshan is a collection of 106 pieces by the legendary figure, Hanshan, associated with a collection of poems from the Tang Dynasty in the Taoist and Chan tradition. No one knows who he was or when he lived or died in the Buddhist tradition. In the Chinese and Japanese tradition, he is often depicted with his sidekick Shide,  both usually lost in gales of great laughter.

The book was published by Altamira Press in 2003. The books poems were translated by Peter Hobson. I expect to come back to the book often, starting this week with the last six poems.





100

Whether there is
                          or is not
an individual subject,
and whether this
                           is I or not I?
and  so on and so  forth...
                                         I sink
into speculative reverie
                                      almost
out of time
                 as I sit
leaning against the  crag
until the green grass
sprouts between my feet,
and on my head
the red dust settles;
suddenly I perceive
the village people come
and offer wind and cakes
to my departed ghost

'101

How pleasant is Kazan's path!
with no track of horse or  carriage
over linked valleys
with unremembered passes,
peak upon peak
off unknowable heights
where the dew
weeps on a thousand grasses
and the wind
moans to a single pine;
now at the point
where I falter in the way
my form asks my shadow:
Whence came we?


102

Men  ask about Kanzan's path
but Kanzan says his road
is inaccessible,
summer skies
where the  ice has not melted
and sunshine
where the mist hangs thick;
how will you draw close
to one like me when your heart
is not as my heart? If only
your heart were as my heart
you would reach the center.


103

The people of our times
are trying to track out
a path to the clouds
but the cloud-path is trackless -
high mountains
with many an abyss,
broad valleys
with little enough light,
blue peaks
with neither near nor far,
white clouds
of neither east nor  west.
You wish to know
where the pathway lies?
It lies in utter emptiness.


104

My heart is like the autumn
moon melting its silver in
the limpid lake - what else
should I compare it to?
- declare it to me!


105

A third rate simpleton
who reads my verse
will fail to understand
and bluster his dissent;
a second-rate or
average man
will ponder it, and then
pronounce it excellent;
a first-rate sage
will laugh out loud
as soon as  it is
put into his hand,
like Yoshu in the ageless
tale, cracking the cipher on an ancient
tomb, and laying bare the wonderment
that hides behind the meaningless.


This is the last poem in the anthology, but not the last poem in the Hanshan collection which includes many more than 106 poems. It is however, the poem I am considering as my poetic motto.


106

a house
            that has my poems
has better reading
                            than the
scriptures;
                  write them out in style
on paper screens,
                             and read them
once
        in a while.








          


 Another new poem from last  week.






I am chastised

I am chastised
for writing  too  many poems
about the difficulty of writing a poem...

since the second largest  section in my next book
is a collection of just such poems,
I can hardly disagree with the hard fact
that I write a bunch of them...

it's only the "too many" I object to
since that breed of lost in the woods poem
is the kind  of poem I most enjoy
writing...

for it  is only by being lost
that I can  find my
way
back  to the open  sky and welcoming meadows, sampling
as I find them,
every woodsy tree, every rook, every rill,
every creature that hides quaking
in its
burrow...

knowing  what I'm  going to do
before I do  it,
knowing what I'll find
before I
find it,
how tedious a morning
that would
be







      
Next from the anthology, Marilyn Chin, co-director of the MFA program at San Diego State University  and a Radcliffe Institute Fellow at Harvard, is author of several books,  including Dwarf Bamboo and The Phoenix Game, The Terrace Empty, and The Ballad of the Plain Yellow Girl.







Tonight While the Stars are Shimmering
(New  World Duet)

A burst of red hibiscus on the hill
                                                     A dahlia-blue silence chills the path
Compassion falters on highway 8
                                                     Between La Jolla and Julian you are sad
Across the Del  Mar shores I ponder  my dead mother
                                                                     Between heaven and earth, a pesky
                                                                         brown gull
The sky is green where it meets the ocean
                                                                   You're the master of subterfuge,
                                                                        my love
 A plum of foul orange from a duster plane
                                                       I wonder  what poison he is releasing you
                                                              say
A steep wall of wildflowers, perhaps verbena
                                                                    Purple so bright they mock the robes of
                                                                        God
 In Feudal  China you would've been drowned at birth
                                                                      In India charred for a better dowry
How was I saved on that boat of freedom
                                                             To be anointed here on the prayer
                                                                  mat of your  love
High humidity, humiliation on the terrain
                                                                Oi, you can't describe the ocean to
                                                                     the wall frog
I call you racist, you call me racist
                                                       Now, we're entering forbidden territory
I call you sexist, you call me a fool
                                                       And compare the canyons to breasts,
                                                             anyway
I pull your hair, you bite my nape
                                                     We make mad love until birdsong
                                                           morning
 You tear off your shirt, you cry out to the moon
                                                                       In the avocado grove you
                                                                           find peaches
You curse the precipice, I weep near the sea
                                                        The tribune says NOBODY WILL
                                                               MARRY YOU
YOU'RE ALREADY FORTY
                                               My mother followed a cockcrow, my granny
                                                     a dog
Their palms arranged my destiny
                                                   Look there's Orion, look, the Dog  Star
Sorry, your majesty, your poetry has lost it's duende
                                                                         Look baby, baby, stop the car
A mouse and a kitty hawk, they are dancing

Yellow-mauve marguerites close their faces at dusk
                                                                                   Behind he iron gate, a
                                                                                        jasmine breeze
In life we share a pink quilt, in death a blue vault
                                                                               Shall we cease this redress,
                                                                                    this wasteful ransom?
Your coffee is bitter, your spaghetti is sad
                                                                   Is there no ending to this colloquy?
Ms. Lookeast,  Ms. Lookwest
                                              What have we accomplished this century?
I take your olive branch deep within me
                                                               A white man's guilt, a white
                                                                      man's love
Tonight while the stars are shimmering               








         


Here are three short pieces from November, 2007.







tides

October blue
gives way
to November
gray

and you can
feel
the tides
of an old
year
turning


the last

fog on Apache
Creek
moon
lost in overcast
sky
streetlights like
liquid
splash and pool
on the path
we 
walk along
as if always
before 
and forever
hence

we are the
last


the best of intentions

I was going
to write a poem
today about the beautiful
morning
that began it

but 
everything
I write
sounds like a 
parody of the poem
I would write
if I could write
a poem 
today

so I
won't








Next from my library, another book I just bought last  week - a rarity for me, an actual new book just published by Wings Press here  in San Antonio in 2013.

The book is Colony Collapse Disorder and the poet is Keith Flynn, author of six books, including five collections of poetry. From 1984 to 1999, Flynn was lyricist and lead singer for the rock band, "The Crystal Zoo." He is founder and managing editor of The Ashville  Poetry Review, which began publishing in 1994.

From the tone of this poem we might suspect the poet doesn't like Oklahoma. That's okay, I don't  either. I drove across the state once, enough Oklahoma  for  me to last a lifetime.




A Poem in the Shape of Tulsa

(for Ron Padgett)

Reading these remarkable
Translations of Reverdy
And stuck for
Two weeks in stinking Oklahoma
Her panhandle a paradox acrostic
Like a handshake turned into a karate chop
Oklahoma still likes Ike
Still makes rooms big enough
To house a horse
Accidents here are emulsions
Negotiating the
Stairways of desire
Second generation parachutes
Rally round the family
In the middle of the road
In the matrix of America's 
Bizarre cultural breakdowns
And nothing is lost
things are more like they are now
Than they ever were
Like  poor Tulsa long  dead
Choked on oil cash and gun flow
The ghosts  from 1921
Sliding  through the streets
Like greased mannequins
Mocha babies in their arms
Moaning no









I used to have control  issues. One of the things I've done most successfully in retired life is put that need for control  behind  me.

Mostly.





a planner learns his lessons

back in the real world
I used to make plans,  schedules for the day,
expectations for the month,  five and ten year goals,
not so much personal plans, but plans
for the part of the world it was my ambition
to control, figuring that  if  I got that  world
where I  wanted it,
my place in that world would  be also what I wanted...

these days,
older and better educated by life
as to the realities
of life,
I recognize that all my past victories
were temporary,

that in the end
there  is no  part  of the world
that  any of us control for long,
that in the end
we are fallen leaves, drifting
with the  tides  the ebb and rage,
always going  where the  river takes us
no  matter how hard  we try to swim against  the flow...

so,
having that hard lesson of reality
learned  in these  later years,
today I may plan dinner, but nothing beyond that,
happy that when even that little plan cannot be sustained.
three blocks away, there is a Popeye's Fried  Chicken
on one corner
and Red Lobster on the other,
content
that as this river,  untamed, like a horse that will not be ridden,
deposits me  in uncharted territory,spicy chicken
and crispy fried shrimp will be there
to sustain
me









 Next from the anthology, a poem by Al-saddid Al-raddi, a Sudanese poet and writer. Born in 1969, he has been publishing his poetry since he was 15  years old. Since then, he has won  numerous prizes and has worked as an editor at many newspapers. Currently he works in Al-sudani newspaper as head of cultural editor department.



Song

Facing down wind in a dust storm,
wrapped in his cloak
and wearing a hat that can't make him vanish -

this skinny ma
scans the horizon
gathering - but not quite yet - flowers
until the moment you meet

     (...but stuck in this narrow alleyway
     among mountains of rubbish
     he longs to lift up his beak
     unfurl his wings
     and take flight...)

(Translated from the Arabic by Hafiz Kheir and Sara Maguire)








             

Another poem from November, 2007. I don't know how this situation turned out. I know the actor did visit the coffeehouse across the street where I found my writing niche for a couple of years, but the coffeehouse closed about a year after this poem and I don't know what happened after that.





talent

I can see
workers
in the loft
across the street
remodeling
for a new owner

I've heard
it's for that
actor guy,
the one
who had some
success
on TV
then decided
he was God's
gift
to the movies
only to discover
after a string of
really bad movies
that he heard wrong,
that he was really
God's gift to TV
so he's back now
in a third-rate
series
that's a rip-off
of a second-rate
series
that's a rip-off
of the series
he thought he
was too good for

I wonder
how it will be
to sit here on the
porch
drinking my coffee
right across the street
from such an all-around
talent
for downward
mobility








Another book from  my library, this one I've had for a while.

The poet is Virgil Suarez, and the poem is from his book Palm Crows,  published in 2001 by the University of Arizona Press.

Suarez, born in Havana in 1962, is a novelist and poet. A professor of English at Florida State University he is one of the leading writers of the Cuban-American community.





Wind Rustles

the dead leaves
cross the lawn

tongue twisters
in Spanish & English

hojas muertos
it is spring

new leaves
poke through 

on the dogwood
& maple

branches
birds perch

sing / cantan
love calls

mockingbirds
cardinals wrens robins

all  asunder
here in Tallahassee

land of kudzu
Spanish moss pollen

casa / home
wind rustles

soft its blessing
the kiss of sky

sifts anew
everything









This next poem is a couple of weeks old, written back one of those weeks when I was keeping my posts short.

Another of my dining adventures.






death with dinner

I figure there are at least 75,000
Mexican restaurants
in San Antonio

and only about 5 or 6 that distinguish themselves
from all the rest
and it takes eating a lot
of lousy Mexican food to find them...

catching up with them
are Chinese, Thai, Korean, and Vietnamese,
plus restaurant from the Indian sub-continent
and the desert sheiks of the culinary
field, probably numbering, at the most, about
50,000, but I only go to two, the one
with the best warm nan in San Antonio
and the one with the great pad Thai...

meanwhile
I have found only three German restaurants,
two closed  recently and the survivor is downtown
where parking cost  as much as a meal...

(it may seem strange
that in the most German part of Texas
there would be only three German restaurants,
but, in fact, when I was a child
visiting
my father's German hometown in the hills,
the most pervasive German food
that I ever  saw there  was
brisket
and you can buy brisket all over the place
around here these days)

anyway,
of the two authentic German (not Texas-German) restaurants that closed,
one was my favorite source of bratwurst
with red cabbage and the best oven fries in the western hemisphere

it was owned and run by a woman
who always sat up front
smoking cigarette after cigarette,
a GI bride, I always assumed
because
it was just the way I always saw her,
reminding me of some of the older German women
I saw in the year I was there...

a nice woman,
she always said hello -
killed by the cigarettes is my guess
because she always had that
look
of an older cigarette-smoking-person,
gaunt and shrouded
in smoke,
death always looking over her shoulder...


```

which
reminds me -
the booth in front of me, a kid ,
maybe 4, maybe 5,
going pecheuw, pecheuw,
as he points his finger like a gun
at his big sister...

the question -
how do boys seem to know at birth
that finger guns
go
pecheuw, pecheuw?

is it perhaps
genetic?

born to finger-shoot
big sisters
and other interlopers
into the joys of boy-morning?


```

and why such a deep philosophical
and mystical query
in the middle of a Sunday morning
breakfast...

because the kid in no pointing his finger at me
and going
pecheuw,  pecheuw
and I haven't done a damn
thing to deserve it,
nothing
at least as bad
as his big sister does
every day








Here from the anthology now, short poems by two poets.



The first  poet is A. K. Ramanujan.

Born in 1929, Ramanujan was an Indian poet, scholar and author, a philologist, folklorist, translator and playwright, writing in both Kannada  and English. He died in 1993.





The Black Hen

It must come as  leaves
to a tree
or  not at all
yet it comes sometimes
as the black hen
with the  red round eye

on the embroidery
stitch by stitch
dropped and found again

and when it's all there
the black hen stares
with its round red eye

and you're afraid


The second poet is Montri Umavijani. Born in 1941 and described before his death in 2006  by Kenneth Rexroth as the greatest living Thai writer, author of twenty-seven books in English, several in Thai and numerous translations from half a dozen languages, and twice nominated for the Nobel  Prize in Literature and I can't find a picture of him anywhere on the web. Very curious.

So, finding no picture, I illustrate his poem with a picture of the cover of one of his books, 163 poems of Emily Dickinson translated into Thai.




A Revisit

Revisited:
less the shadow of a thing
than  shapeless;
and entirely is
a net cast to
the flown bird










            

It's just one of things that, once  you start thinking about it, it just unravels years of assumptions. In this case unraveled during November, 2007.








 s*x

I was thinking
about sex, maybe
a weird thing
to be thinking
about at 4 pm
on a Sunday
afternoon
but it's not
as bad as it
might seem
since it was
just a piddly
little
non-prurient
internal
discussion
of a
philosophical
nature
concerning the
onset of sexual
maturity, attitudinal
that is, not hormonal,
arising from the viewing
of a movie trailer
for one of those
teenage
grope a dope
movies
it just got me
thinking about
how some kids
grow out of their
natural fifth grade
obsession with sex
early, while others
of great age and ex-
perience
die with that
obsession still
driving
their
lives...


having considered
this question
I have concluded
sexual maturity
arrives at that
moment
you realize sex
is not something
done in the dark
that nobody else knows
about, that, in face
everybody
not only knows about
it, they do it,
everybody
you see on the
sidewalk
at the supermarket
at work
at the park
wherever you are
does it or did it
or wants like crazy
to do it, that presidents
and prime ministers
do it, that ship
captains do it, that
lawyers and judges
do it,
that the barber
who cuts your hair
does it, that the
prim and proper
lady at the library
and the people
on Fox News,
for crying out
loud, do it and
that your preacher
does it and your
Sunday School teacher
and even some priests
do it, though they're
not supposed to tell,
that your mother
and your father did
it or maybe even still
do it, that
their mothers
and fathers
and their mothers'
and fathers'
mothers and fathers
did it, back
10,000 generations
to two monkeys
humping in a tree,
all of that doing
and doing
and thank God for
it or you wouldn't
be here to do it
today...

what's the point
of all this,  I can't
say, it's just once
you start thinking
about all these people
doing it,  doing  it,
doing it
everywhere
you turn, you have
to wonder how
the earth doesn't
just get knocked
to a wobbling
right
off its
axis








Philip Nikolayev was born in Moscow in 1966 and was raised in Russia and Moldova. He came to the United States in 1990. Growing up  fluent in both Russian and English, he writes in English though his poetry is published and read internationally.

My poems this week are from his book, Monkey Time, winner of 2001 Verse Prize, was published Verse Press.





Nothing

I never tried it with a whore
(tho done sick shit with
a cooperating partner
and seen whorenography and hornography)
but here I am
at 36 on the Single Canal
in Amsterdam,
under the influencing on foot
down the straat-
and you will  please excuse me.
but I am intoxicated.
Beautiful & exposed
professionally
she is seventeen y.o.
or so, equivalent in Euros. I
am looking for a bathroom,
have nothing to say to her
except sorry.


Lights Out

I have nothing really to confess
How can you disbelieve me on this one
The lights are almost out no one waits
For  me now even you sleep
Why come home at all
I should have stayed
Macking on ghosts on the sidewalk
Under bolts of lightning but no rain
The meaning of life is empty
Our words are how we fill time
I stumble on a whirring fan in the dark
Grab by the throat
The bottleneck of my drear








         


From last week, or  week before last, when we fell back.






falling back

the dark mysteries of the day shortened,
for me, the best part,
the quiet hour
when all others sleep
and dog and cat and I
have the dim  streets all to ourselves...

that part lost...

eating breakfast
under bright sun, what a waste,
the mystery of unsolved
shadows
that brighten my mind
lost...

my muse blinded
by this early, implacable sun,
I hope I don't have to wait until the leap forward into Spring
for her recovery









         


Next from the anthology, a poem by Sylva Gaboudikian, a prominent Armenian poet, academician and public activist. She was born in 1919 and died in 2006.







What I Notice

You ignite
it, hold it
lightly
as if to
show
something
about us
you want
me to know.
You exhale
warmth
that would
burn me,
flicking
ash,
breathing
slowly,
out of habit,
just to
pass
time,
alleviating
boredom.
You don't
inhale
but put it
down
to forget
and fail
to  finish,

smoking
only part
of each
cigarette.

(Translated from the Armenian by Diane Der-Hovanessian)








          


Here are three more shorts from November, 2007.








leaving

from the 
porch
on South Alamo
I can hear the trains
passing
through the soft
shades of night,
crying
at every crossing

crying,
I'm leavinnnnng
I'm leavinnnnng

the sound
of a 
lover
leaving
at every crossing


it's  a zero-sum world

when I was
young,
I celebrated

each new thing

now
I know that
for each new thing

one 
long-treasured memory 
is lost


country time

was listening
to a country station
on the radio
driving down,
heard a guy singing
a sad song, pretty
good song, in fact,
but the cello solo
surprised me a bit

guy's a good singer
though don't know
his name, sure'n
hell
weren't
Gene Autry








 Lesley Clark was born in Big Spring, Texas and grew up  in San Antonio  and in Aldeburgh, England. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Social Psychology and, at the time of  publication, was working on her masters degree. At  the time of publication  she had appeared in literary journals and three anthologies and was working on a novel.

Her poem is from her book,  The Absence of Colour, published in 2000, by Orchard Press a division of Pecan Grove Press of St. Mary's University, San Antonio.

Clark is of  mixed heritage, her father French and black and her  mother French and Norwegian, which, though not lingered on in her  poems, adds background to this one.  




Brown

I am brown, he tells me,  brown
it  is my brown skin that covers me
from rampant waters,
it is my skin that defines me
carries me to you,
and I tell him, I, too, am brown
but he does not  agree
he tells me I am between colors
between black and white
between negative space
& shades of gray
I am the absence of color
no terms to define me
my spectrum is wide
from two distant ends
papa on one
mama on the other
I am blended
a color to be measured and mixed
becoming  brown
I tell him that it is my skin
that  protects me from the sun
that carries me across the sand
and to the sea
it is my color that blends
the land to the sea,
the earth to the sky,
the sun to the moon
I surface in my perfect shade of blended brown
through rain weather and sunlight
through murk and flower gardens
he and I are one in the same
varying shades of thick, brown, blended skin








       

Here's a middling rant from last week, feeding off, though not related to,  the theft  of my camera.






best ever

ripped-off...

yesterday, while walking Bella
after breakfast, car  parked right in front of the restaurant,
pretty secure, I think, or I would have thought
if I had thought, in close and clear view
from the restaurant where all the servers know me
and know my car and know my breakfast
and dog-walking routine

ripped-off,
who'd ah thought it,
I certainly didn't, or
wouldn't
had I  thought about it at all,
false security, our perpetual 21st century
condition, assuming,
because great buildings have already fallen once,
it can't possibly happen again,
odds certainly against it,
so we  fuss
about killing bad guys, well,
not so much about killing bad guys but about
how  we kill them, with drones,
instead of the more civilized
way of killing ours
as we kill theirs...

maybe we could do old-fashioned
duels like the certainly more morally and properly
civilized guys from the old days -
of we could just find the right bad guy
to slap with our soft, fox leather gloves -
so much better -
we could sleep at night secure in our propriety,
and of course, if we can't kill them
properly,we certainly shouldn't be listening in
on their telephone calls,  as proper  fellow said way back
in the more civilized days,
gentlemen,
he said, don't read others' mail,
and, of course, it's all unnecessary
anyway,
since all the bad guys have come to  Jesus,
and spend most of their time now
at covered dish dinners
at the South Weegagastan Baptist Church
on the corner of Whistleblower
and Quisling Way...

but that's a rant too far, a beside-the-point
excursion into paranoia
and stuff nobody needs to think about anymore
since the rapture is coming
any day now
so who cares that this whole world
that the best of us will
shortly
exit
to a better place
is awash in stupidity, coming apart at the seams
in a crescendo of fiddling
by the fire...

no,
this poem is about something more important -
me getting ripped off, violated, my stuff stolen,
including
among other lesser important things,
my camera,
including 50 or so pictures from  last weekend,
the best pictures ever,
so good, that if not stolen,
they might  have been published in Facebook, thus
saving the world from the apocalypse
pending...

where are all the damn drones
when you need
one








        
From the anthology, the next poet is Jessica Hagedorn, author of Dream Jungle, The Gangster of Love and Beauty, and Dogeaters, a National Book Award finalist. She is the editor of Charlie Chan Is Dead: Anthology of Contemporary Asian American Fiction, vol. 1 & 2.






Motown/Smokey Robinson

hey girl, how long you been here?
did you come with yr daddy in 1959 on a second-class boat
crkyin' all the while cuz you didn't want to leave the barrio
the girls back there who wore their hair loose
lotsa orange lipstick and movies on Sundays
quiapo market in the morning, yr grandma chewin' red tobacco
roast  pig?... yeah, and it tasted good...
hey girl, did you have to live in stockton with yr daddy
and talk to old farmers who emigrated in 1941?
did yr daddy promise you to a fifty-eight-year-old-bachelor
who stank of cigars...and did you
run away to san francisco / go to poly high / rat your hair /
hang around woollworth's / chinatown at three in the morning
go to the cow palace and catch SMOKEY ROBINSON
cry and scream at his gold jacket
Dance every Friday night in the mission / go steady with ruben?
(yr daddy can't stand it cuz he's a spik)
and the sailors you dreamed of in manila with yellow hair
did they take you to the beach to ride the farris wheel?
Life's never been so fine!
you and camen harmonize "be my baby" by the ronettes
and 1965 you get laid at a party / carmen's house
and you get pregnant and ruben marries you
and you give up harmonizing...
hey girl, you sleep without dreams
and remember the barrios and how it's all the same:
manila / the mission / chinatown / east l.a. /harlem / filmore st.
and you're getting kinda fat and smokey robinson's getting old

     Ooh baby baby baby
     Ooh baby baby
     Ooh...

But he still looks good!!!

i love you
i need you
i need you
i want you
ooh ooh
baby baby
ooh








          

And again, three more short pieces from November, 6 years ago.

I think I've forgotten how to write short poems like these. I think I need to re-learn.





a little night music

damp night
mist
like cold
lace

like diamonds
hanging 
in moonlight

a night to walk
city streets
hat
low over lost
eyes

fading
into shadows
cold and
wet


turning point

going away
party

steaks
as big as
South Dakota

laughs
and family stories

a turning point
I know

we watch

hope for the
best

going now
further
than he's ever
been


 tote dat barge

i
have worked
hard
today, but
will get
no great reward
for it

i
will do it
again
tomorrow
because i am
an optimist
and have
nothing
better to do








 Chilean poet Jorge Teillier is the last poet from my library this week. Born in 1935 in the south of Chile in the same region where Pablo Neruda had spent his childhood a generation earlier.His parents came from France and his father was an agrarian reform activist and rural union organizer. Teillier attended the University of Chile  in Santiago and received a degree in history and education. He spent much of the rest of his life in Santiago, eventually becoming director of the Boletin de la Universidad de Chile.

Teillier began writing poetry at the age of twelve. His first book appeared in 1956 and others soon followed, In addition to his poetry, he wrote reviews and literary articles for Chile's leading magazines and newspapers. He died in 1996.

The poem I have this week is from  his book, In Order to Talk with the Dead, published by the University of Texas Press in 1993. It  is a bilingual book, with English translation by Carolyn Wright.




The Last Island

Once  again life and death get mixed up
like the rattle of oxcarts
coming into the courtyard
with the bucket's clank in the well.
Once again the sky recalls with hatred
the lightning's wound,
and the almond trees don't want to think
about their black roots.

Silence can't go on being my native tongue,
but I only find those unreal words
tat the dead address to stars and ants,
and love and joy disappear from my memory
like light from a water jar
flung vainly at the shadows.

Once again one hears only
the incessant spatter of rain
that falls and falls without knowing why,
like the lonely old crone who goes on
knitting and knitting;
and one wants to flee to a town
where a top won't stop spinning
till I pick it up;
but where one's feet step
the roads disappear,
and it's better to stay put in this room
for maybe the end of the the world has come,
and the rain is its barren echo,
a song that lips dissolving
under the earth try to remember.








 I do probably more  than my share of early morning poems, in part because I love to watch the sunrise and, more important, early morning is when my brain works best. Approaching brain dead as the sun rises higher and higher in the sky, if I don't get my poem-of-the-day done early, nothing good is  going to happen.

That's my excuse for yet another early morning poem (with more probably to follow).





prelude to the day

stormy night,
the dark awash, lightning,  thunder,
so loud and without the rolling echo
of distance,
like a bomb exploding right down the street

I watch from the patio, would like to go sit in the rain,
but the lightning and the thunder so close,
the gap between the light and the crash
almost instantaneous,
I worry about the lightning
that seems to be following the onrush of water in the creek,
so I sit, dry, etc.
stormy night,
the dark awash, lightning, thunder,
so loud and without the rolling and echo
of distance,
like a bomb exploding right down the street

I watch from the patio, would like to go sit in it,
but the lightning and the thunder so close,
the gap between light and crash
almost instantaneous,
I worry about the lightning
that seems to be following the onrush of water in the creek,
so I sit,, dry, except for the splash from the rain
as it hits the earth, an observer, I watch
imagining in my mind's ear, Wagner's Gotterdammerung
echoing from the sky...

then.
as the drama slackens, to bed,
to wake this morning
to a world washed clean and green
under a blue, open sky...

the fury passed, all survived,
working now
under the cool morning sun
of this  first November day

content that all is righted again,  like the dog
in the car  who waits
for me,
I welcome this new and beautiful
day








        
Next from the anthology - Saud al-Kawari, a Qatari poet born in 1965. She is currently working in a cultural agency in Qatar. Her poetry collections include Wrinkles, It was not my soul, and A New  Door to Enter.

I think I may have found a photo of the poet, but since it's  not labeled, I don't want to use  it. Instead, in what has become the usual photo space, an image of the cover of the anthology to help you look for it in the bookstore.

This is a very large book, and, losing track of where this poet was in the book,  I turned to the "Contents" pages. I'm feeling a lot better now about the proofing of my own books since discovering that the editors of this book neglected to put page numbers in contents pages, instead for each poet, the location is rendered as "000." And nobody caught it before publication. Ouch!




Comfort for  a  Lonely Woman

The woman who opens her home to the wind
is preparing a large feast
at the gate of an ancient graveyard
giving out bread to passersby
and their ghosts come forth like horses racing a cloud
The mercurial woman knows how to take wild flowers
and embalm birds with her tired eyes
I see her crouching at the window and she sees me not
I hear her and she hears me not

~~~

Let the wind be  the first to journey, I will not race after it
Let tonight be the last to melt upon my body
or quietly vanish
I shall wipe my face with a cold palm
and follow her slow movements
A woman of mercury stuck to my mirror
I see her and she sees me not
I hear her and she hears me not

~~~

to  day I saw her
she was throwing a metal spear at the stars
and muttering words I could not make out
but I did not see before her the long waiting line
that stretched along the road from end to end
I saw her, a solitary figure sweeping cat ones
I saw her weeping from afar
and I did not see her face suspended between us
I only saw the cat's crushed bones
and receding footprints

(Translated from the Arabic by Samira Kawar)







       


A few memories from Big Bend  National  Park, and the last poem for the week.







while the youngest children play

from our high place we can see to the west,
the river winding like a brown snake

between the green on either
side...

below us,
it flows into the high canyons

between sheer, sharp-cut
walls.

we hike from the top
down the rocky path,

a slow decline,
arms out for balance

as small rocks, like the razor-edged arrowheads
fro the elders' campfire stories,

slide beneath out feet...

at river level,
a think strand of cane,

a tunnel through the cane,
individual stalks ten to fifteen feet high on either side,

where we tread softly,
think of snakes, waiting for the baby rattle warning

that doesn't come, until finally, we are clear, in canyon shadows
that shade a small sandy beach

beside the river's flow, where we strip,
bath in the water, splashing the wet

still cold from the mountains
it passed through to get to this

high island in the desert and to this cut through dark rock,
water and wind, the sculptors

off a million millennia,
they still work

while we, the youngest children
of all those millennia,

play, admire the artists' work,
and play some more









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.




 
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Places and Spaces





Always to the Light






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