Texas Tourning V, East Texas Woodlands and Upper Gulf Coast   Monday, December 23, 2013







Being mostly oblivious to  things like holidays, it very late occurred to me that this will be a Christmas post. Not wanting to work on Christmas Day, I decided I'd post a day early, Christmas Eve. But now I discover I don't want to work on Christmas Eve either. So I'm posting tonight, the night before the night before Christmas. And with all that unnecessary information in mind,  wish Happy Holidays to All and to All Merry Munchkins on Parade.

There are beautiful woodlands in east Texas, but, there are only some many ways to take pictures of a forest, which is, after all, just a bunch of trees that  look very much alike. The same with the beach, which is just the composite of a bunch of sand. And Galveston, I remember Galveston when it seemed like a little piece of New Orleans. Now it's more like South Padre Island on spring break, all  identity submerged in more of the same. Plus, I have to admit, it was a three-day drive around when I was tired and mostly not motivated to take pictures. Which is another way to say my  photos this week are from east Texas and the upper  gulf coast, mostly. I had to  do some fudging to get the number of pictures  I needed for the post.

This will be  the last of my "Texas Touring" for  a while. There is only one more area of the state I'd  like to  cover, the Rio  Grande Valley and South Padre Island, but need to  replace my stolen camera before I can do that. Houston and Dallas are soul-dead urban wastelands, so have no interest there and the Panhandle area of the state is just Oklahoma without a  sense of humor, so  absolutely no interest there.

Thinking I'll probably do some black and white cityscapes next week. I've used them before, but I'll think of something to make them look different.

My anthology for the week s German Poetry in Transition, 1945-1990. It was published in 1999 by the University Press of New England. It is a bilingual (German/English) book,  with English translation by Charlotte Melin.

I have a only one poem from my library this week, but instead  poems by what  I had decided to call The Baltimore Quartet, four poets from Baltimore who I've come to  know  on-line. Two of the four have appeared here a number of times, one, only once  before, and the last, making his first  experience.

But, best laid plans forfeited to the issue of time, I have instead a Baltimore Triptych.The fourth leg of my Baltimorean will appear at some time in the future. Instead, of the fourth this week, I well have yet another old poem from December, 2009, poem  unfortunately timely, if you read the foreign news.

Also this  week, I  have a special feature about another poet-friend whose work appeared here early on, but not in a long time since.

Then, as  usual, my poems, new and old.

 Here's who's in the sandbox this week.


Me
two mornings in a row

Gottfried Benn
can be no mourning

Me
watching through the window at the drift of  morning

Constantine Pantazonis
hollywood
the unfortunate land of tirol

Me
protecting our constitutional rights

Stephan Hermlin
The Birds and the Bomb

Karl Krolow
history

Christa Reinig
Robinson

Me
pretty girls dancing

Something different
Photos from Dave Rushlander

Me
out of thin air

Yaak Karsunke 
Kilroy was here  

Me
my cat looks like Charles Laughton

David Eberhardt
18 Wing Chun Poems

Me
good stories

Peter-Paul Zahl
on traveling into exile

Me
i don't like old men
    
 Dan Cuddy
On the Moon: A Litany of Minor Revelations
Random Morning Images  

Me
when I was  13  worked in a grocery store

Hertha Kraftner 
On the Death of a Poet

Me
spiders dancing

Me
hoping we will be true

Me
Christmas Eve at the NCO club

Wolfgang Hilbig
absence

Me
I'm not watching it snow

John Ashbery
Tension in the Rocks

Me
a winter day on Grapecreek Road

Me
a night person 

 








 First for the week, a reminder of why I get up so early in the morning.









two mornings in a row

two mornings
in a row,
moon above the mist
on Apache Creek,
a button
bright as a baby sun,
surfing
the stream on the vapor
above it...

two
December mornings
in a row,
Christmas moon
bright
as the star
atop the tree,
watching
over the pale drifting shadows
of  slow winter
night








The editor divided the anthology's 1945-1990 focus into smaller periods. My first poet from the anthology, Gottfried Benn, is from the books initial  section, 1945 to 1955.

Benn,  a  medical  doctor, was born in 1886 and died in West Berlin in 1956. A novelist, essayist and expressionist poet, he initially welcomed the rise of  the National Socialist, but began  to criticize them soon thereafter. Because of that early, but short-term support, his work was initially banned by the Allies after the end of World War II.




Can Be No Mourning

In that tiny bed, a child's bed almost,  Droste died
(on view in her museum in Meersburg),
on this sofa Holderlin in a cabinetmaker's tower,
Rilke, George, it is true, in Swiss  hospital beds,
in Wiemar the large  dark eyes
of Nietzsche rested on a white pillow
till his last glance -
all of it rubbish or no longer around,
indeterminable, insubstantial
in painless, permanent decay.

we bear  within us seeds of all gods,
the gene of death, the gene of lust -
who sundered them the words,  the objects,
who mixed them; the pains and the place
where they end, wood with streams of tears,
for a few short hours  a miserable home.

Can be no mourning. Too far, too vast,
too far removed now bed and tears,
no No, no  Yes,
birth and bodily pain and faith
a welling, nameless, a flicker,
something unearthly stirring in its sleep
moved bed and tears -
go  to sleep!












From December, 2009.










watching through the  window at the drift of morning

watching
through the window
at the drift of morning fog
i'm
reminded
of  days twenty-five
years ago, driving to
early meetings at the university,
slowly, carefully,
on the narrow road that separates
Corpus Christi Bay on one side

and Oso Bay on the other,
a  swirling, shifting
gray cocoon of gulf coast fog
hiding everything
but the patch of
yellow light
i cast ahead of me as i drive

near isolation
from the world of the new  day,
nothing to see,
the only sounds breaking
through the gray mist, the faint call
of a gull, the slap  of  jumping fish
breaking the water on either side,
until,
finally,
the lights of the university
like small lace curtains
show alongside the road,
so  close, unseen until
i'm nearly passed

outside, today,
i see  little  lights passing
on the interstate, like lightning bugs
flickering in the gray -
if i was outside
i could probably hear a dove
coo
from a tree
i  could not see...

like this,
each day brings
memories off days
long gone
and not to return, only remembered
on new days
that will pass as well,
leaving us,
eventually,  with only memories
of memories remembered








Constantine Pantazonis is a native Baltimorean  and a recent graduate of the University of Cincinnati. One of several Baltimore poets I have come to  meet  online and use in "Here  and Now," he is a  poet and satirist who  work has  been  published in a number of journals and anthologies.

This is the first  time Constantine's work has appeared here.




hollywood

my women of the silver screen
don't know what  it is, but
i love them  so
i really do
not just the stars, but
the extras and walk ons
the incidentals
they drive me nuts
i try to figure them out
what brought them to that particular point
you know - their story
story within  a story within a story
i try to catch them in revealing moments
when  they break the illusion
when they're out of character
it happens you know
it really does
if you look  hard enough
you can see through anything
and time loses itself within the focus
and they could be sitting right next to you
for all that it would matter
no difference,  same deal
for  all i know they may be looking  at me


the unfortunate land off tirol

never has there been a land so unfortunate
chinese boxes of despair, nestled
in descending order,a spiral
staircase  into  darkness
each boon,each invention
the latest  edict and proclamation
that promised  this thing and that
a stone tossed in the pond
the clock bears witness to our sorrow

yesterday the pipes were installed
life would be made  simple
water  at our fingertips, the women
no longer took laundry to the river
the donkey not needed to haul  water back
he has lost his  place, the children
who followed and learned each other's way
have become a nuisance
they are left to piss and  scribble on walls

horses wander the alley to graze in shadows
the elders live within  a deck of cards
the tree is a pole dressed up in wire
locks  grow like fungus upon  the doors
we wash our hands each and every hour
the village path is paved and leads nowhere
never has there been a land so unfortunate











Our constitutional rights are important. All of them, even this one, irritating  as it can be to innocent bystanders.








protecting our constitutional rights

I believe
every American
has certain inalienable  rights,
among them, the constitutional right
to complain often
and vigorously about whatever
peeves their  goat

and I further believe
that every constitutional right
must be regularly exercised if it is to be
retained

thus
I believe that Americans
not only have a right
to complain,
but a patriotic obligation
to be unreasonably obnoxiously
about something trivial  to the rest of the world
at least once a day

this is an obligation

I address seriously every day, at least  once,
finding at least one thing about which hell
must be raised.

this morning, though,
this bright sunny day,  blue cloudless sky day
smiling for love of all creatures
below, a light breeze whispering
welcome to this day, the orange morning light
casting cool orange shadows beneath
oak trees' wide arching limbs,, grass at their base
calling,  sit here, sit here, join the happy
squirrels who  live here, share an acorn as you wait
for the wonders coming of this wonderful
day...

patriot that I am, it is hard
on such a day to do my constitutional duty,
but,  as I prepare to drive downtown
on the expressway in morning commute traffic,
I am confident that something
will come
up
to inspire me








Next from the anthology, I have two poets from the 1955-1965 era.



         


The first of the two poets is Stephan Hermlin, real name Rudolf Leder, was born in 1915. He wrote, among other things novels, essays, translations and lyric poetry. One of the best known authors in the former East Germany, he died in 1997.






The Birds and the Bomb

            Newspapers report that hydrogen bomb  tests have caused migratory birds to change
            their accustomed routes over the South Pacific Ocean.

From savannas across the tropical sea
As if blind and deaf over distance and time
Driven by winds  and physical necessity
They flew in search of food and better clime.

No thunder could divert them, no typhoon
Nor net when they were called to great migrations,
Strove toward their goal, a screaming,  smoking plume
Along the same paths, in congregations.

Those undeterred by water, storm or night
Saw  one day in the highest midday light
A greater light. That awesome sight

Compelled them from then on to change their chart
To seek a new and more tranquil flight.
Let this grave change be pondered in your heart...




   


The second of the poets from the 55-65 time  frame is Karl Krolow, a poet and translator awarded the Georg  Buchner Prize in 1956. Born in Hanover in 1915 and died in Darmstadt (flash of recognition, spent a year there in the sixties) in 1999.







History

Men carried a flag across the square
then the centaurs broke out of the bushes
And trampled on the cloth
And history could begin.
Melancholy states
Crumbled at street corners.
Orators stood ready
With bulldogs
and the younger women
Made up their faces for the stronger party.
Ceaselessly voices argued
In the air, even though
The mythological creatures
Had long since returned.

What remains in the end is a hand
Closing around a throat.



I had not intended to use this poem, but read it and like it, and, like the first two, is short.

The poet is Christa Reinig, a poet,  fiction and nonfiction author and a dramatist, was born in Berlin in 1926 and died in Munich in 2008. She began her career in Soviet occupied East Berlin. She moved to the West in 1964 and settled in Munich after being banned in East Germany after publishing in West Berlin.

It's interesting to speculate about these poets and these poems written during some of the coldest days of the Cold War from a country that would be the first to see the Soviet tanks if they ever started rolling west. It was the nuclear issue that animated many of the poets in this country during those years, a far, yet psychologically near thing. Germans would have a slightly different perspective, I would think, being so close to the lines of the "enemy that they could see them, not just psychologically near, but actually near."




Robinson

Sometimes he cries when the words
Stand still in his throat,
But he learns in his place
To occupy himself in silence.

And invents old things,
Half  out of need and half in play,
Splinters stones into knife blades,
Ties the ax to a handle

Scratches with a mussel's edge
His name on the wall,
And that name, too often mentioned,
Slowly grows strange to him.










 From December, 2009. The girls, at dawn, polishing off with breakfast what must have been a great all night. They were happy when they came in and happy when they left, one of the girls mooning the rest of us in the restaurant when they got back to their car. And a very large moon it was indeed I must say.









pretty girls dancing

pretty girls
prancing

coming in
dancing

dark hair
bouncing

to a
jingle bell

beat -
dancing  and prancing -

having their breakfast
to a

jingle bell
beat








Here's something a little  different for here and now.

I preface by saying I haven't been on a horse in decades, and  when I did ride,  I rode mostly over-the-hill nags. But there was a time nearly fifty years ago when I had an opportunity for a couple of weeks to ride a horse,  a much better horse than I was a rider, who was all that a horse could be, a horse that demonstrated to me once and for all the grace and beauty and intelligence of horse-kind. Despite the fact that, barrel racing, I spent  more time on the ground than on the horse, I still remember  the horse and the devilish look in her eye when she saw me coming.

This is all to introduce my poet-friend and long time horseman,  Dave Rushlander, whose poetry has appeared here.

Dave just a couple of weeks ago had to put down his last horse, Bing, and for the first  time in 35 years has no horse in his backyard. As a tribute to Dave and his horses and especially Bing, here are a few pictures of Dave's farm and his horses, beginning with a picture of Dave with Bing.

How wonderful it must have been to live among these lovely creatures.



















This also gives me an opportunity to pass on from Dave a request for assistance with the cover of a book  he's working on. He says he found a cool graphic in Scientific American that spells out "COLOR." He hopes to find someone who can convert that graphic to say "The Bipolar Rainbow." He'd like to use the new graphic for the cover of  his book. He can't pay for the help, but will  give credit in his book for  the cover.








  


 Shhhhh....







out of thin air
stray dog
sniffing at a
hypothetical 
bone

doesn't  know
where
it came from

doesn't know
why
it's there

not sure how
to chew
on a hypothetical
bone
but
knows
it's better
than chewing on
noting 
at all

```

shhhh....

hypothetical poet
at 
              work








    

From the 1965-75 section of the anthology, here's a poem by Yaak Karsunke. Born in 1934, Karsunke, is a poet, novelist and actor.






Kilroy was here

when i was 11
"Kilroy is here"
was written on busted walls
on toppled columns
on bar room tables in johns
the yanks wrote it
everywhere

when i was 11
my sisters wore red skirts
the white circle with the four times
broken cross
had been taken off
by my mother & burned
Kilroy was here now

when i was 11 the war
was over & "Hitler kaput"
so were the houses the windows the jews
& germany (what was that?)
that's why Kilroy had come
taught us about basketball
& chewing gum & coca cola

when i was 11 Kilroy
taught me words like fairness
& democracy
slogans like no more war
taught the jitterbug
& even with Shakespeare sonnets
the brooklyn accent

when i was 11
those were three golden words
"Kilroy is here"
almost as good  as the three
from the french revolution
that he told us about
freedom & equality & fraternity

when i was11
my parents had
raised me wrong
Kilroy tried hard
explained the rights of men to  me
& the u.n. charter
reeducated me

when i was 11  Kilroy
was the best
friend i had
his house was open to me
in his clubs
i heard jazz & Stravinsky
& no  sirens

much of that was still with me
- years later -
when Kilroy climbed into his plane
loaded it with napalm & disappeared
now it's written on pagodas
& and the smoke black remains of villages
"Kilroy is here"

it's over
between us











Once again, from December, 2009.

Gone now to kitty heaven, the old cat was a comfort when she was around.










my cat looks like Charles Laughton

my old cat
looks like Charles  Laughton
in that Witness for the Prosecution

movie, especially
during her dramatic
protestations

when she wakes up
enough
to discover

her food dish
is empty -
same quivering

jowls
same fierce glare
from beneath stormy

brow -
though it is true
that cat has only one

eye
and one eye can glare
much more fiercely

than two,
giving her dramatic advantage
over Laughton,

an advantage
undone by her willingness
to forgive

and forget
all when allowed
to curl up on my lap,

something
which Laughton
would never do -

but
still she
does pretty darn good for a

cat








            

David Eberhardt is another Baltimore poet I've become acquainted with on-line. I have this series of short poems from David, including an introduction to the poems that explains the martial art, Wing Chun, a branch of Kung Fu.

As you might guess from David's picture, he is proud to  call himself a radical activist in addition to poet.








18 Wing Chun Poems 

      Dedicated to the Japanese  Director Ozu

The figure on Ozu's tombstone ='s Nothing


Our martial arts Kung Fu branch of Wing Chun is special in that it is never  used. Its 
reputation always precedes it and is so puissant that negotiation always ensues. It begins in
conflict, but is only about deflection and non violence so the opponent is never hurt.

It is more an art form, like ballet. It is really rarely employed.  Guns and swords and knives are
anathema. Diplomacy is the end.

The grand master,  besides demonstrating martial arts forms - is also a landscape gardener and
contemplative monk who spends as much time tending to and raking the white pebbles of the
lawn and contemplating the temple's  miniature bonsai  Korean elm. Especially in fall when the
leaves turn into yellow and roan.

The best religion pins nothing down - refers to our limited understanding of what it is, in my
opinion-or-combines that sense  with a way of improving matters as in "Blessed are the 
peacemakers." The master  always taught us to make peace first.

It could be an impossible teaching - like forgiveness. Our martial art is based on forgiveness. We
forgive the first blow - a teaching of Buddha. Our martial art  is based on causing no harm,
never initiating,  and strict postures - as in ballet, stand on your  toes.

We asked the master about politics. What side should we  take?  "In this regard, we do not
praise the zero  or nothing - we  chose democratic socialism.

We do this as an approach to that which we fear most - death.  We teach you to accept death. You
really have no choice. It is as if snow  were melting in a pot holding wintry branches stripped of
leaves.

The way we rake our yard/lawn of white pebbles!!"



 1 The wonder -
an orange slice?
one is enough

2 You searched inward
and found nothing...
wasn't kung fu enough?

3 Ozu on  kung fu:
"Sometimes things are
better  left unsaid."

4 Fall, a leaf
could mean one thousand things?
How about nothing?

5 Why fill it up with Meaning?
O go ahead.
Fillerup.

6 Dr. at bedside..
"Of what are you afraid?" Patient
"I take it back - it's nothing."

 7 The best reason
for gun control?
We fight with our hands.

8 The leaves may fall
while the roots flourish.
Wing Chun is the trunk.

9 Two Wing Chun masters:

Calligraphy in two hands:
one female, one male,
both perfect orgasms!

10 Endorsements:

International film star  Bruce Lee...
Cathy dim sum girl...
Both Wing Chun students.

11 Kung fu is not about
picking fights...choose
wooden practice dummy!

12 True Wing Chun?
A pregnant woman
will  beat your butt!!

 13 Summer goes, then fall;
the cicadas do not care.
There is no end to
the study of kung fu.

14 My mother before she had me
and then after, still
the study of kung fu continues.

15Thank you for letting me win.

Thank you for letting me lose.

Modesty, dignity, respect.

16 Strictures of Wing Chun fighting
are not what you think.
It is better NOT to fight.

17 "Gone with the wind"!
But the wind comes back...
Oops there it goes again...

18 You cannot exhaust
the well
of mindfulness.

Pay attention.








  


 Believing what it feels good to believe, it's what we  do best.









good stories

on this day
in 1777, George  Washington
led his ragtag troops
to  Valley Forge, a cold and hungry
respite from the battles

family lore has it
that with the general that winter
was one of my ancestors,
the general's  trusted courier,
carrying messages between
his commanders...

one of the black Irish,
I presume,
who came to  the colonies just in time
to fight for the revolution,
descendant of a Spanish sailor,
his ship sunk, along
with the rest of the Armada,
and he, washed ashore
on the Irish
coast

thus
my mother's maiden name,
"Spain"...

I
have no certain knowledge
that this is true,
but I choose to believe it
anyway
because it is a good story
(which gets better
every time I tell it),
and all good stories,
even the most made-up
and outlandish,
deserve
a presumption of truth
until demonstrated
to be
otherwise

(...as in the story in the news today
of the toe of a Neanderthal,
from which the creature's?/beast's?/man's?
entire genome has been
extracted

and from this fortuitous toe
a full story will be told,
a real story,
as usual, better and more interesting
than all the made up stories
of beetle-browned
bridge trolls
and stupid, brutish
evolutionary
losers...)

we love stories -
it is how we  define ourselves,
and if we don't know the real story
we'll always make one
up
like I make up  stories  every day
and sometimes they're true
and sometimes they're
not and I'll never
tell which is which because
I believe them either
way and want you to believe
too...

campfires...

stories...

whether told first by the beetle-browed or their cousins,
the more like us,
it  makes no difference,
because whatever the stories made us,
that's where the making
began...

meanwhile,
I will continue to hold  close
my story of an Irishman
on a bitter cold  night
huddled around a campfire
with the "Father of Our Country"
because,
hell,
it's too good a story
to  let go until a real
and better story emerges, a story
to hold on to through telling
and retelling,
a story just as good
as any story
told
in the bones of a prehistoric
toe








   

From the last section of the anthropology, 1975-1990, here's poet Peter-Paul Zahl. From a not very good translation, I have this on Zahl. Born in 1944 in Germany, he died in 2011 in Jamaica. A member of the radical left in Germany, he, at some point, became afoul of the law and spent ten years in prison (1972-1982).







on  traveling into exile

           wealth I neither have nor expect
                               Johann Georg  Elser  

I

lao tse fastened his shoe
when they made him leave
his companions:
an ox and a boy

II

brecht let his cigar
go cold between his lips
when he was made to leave
here and there accompanied him
his son the women
also friends and always
the rolled pictures of the doubter

III

i on the other hand travel comfortably
and never alone
when I am made to leave
back and forth
travel in hand - also leg-irons
by helicopter  or bus
in convoy
for my safety
the guards
of the state provide with radio
special training and sub-machine guns

IV

never
was the poet
as valuable
as today












December, 2009. Are you sensing a trend.












i don't like old men

i don't like
old men so much -

not much
to talk about

after the first
couple of jokes

with these old guys
who

haven't learned anything new
since their  37th

birthday
or the day they lost

their virginity,
whichever came

first, what response
can you make

when they say stuff like
the country's really

 gone to hell
since the liberals

kicked out
ol' Richard Nixon...

i'm not at all
like them -

i make a point
of learning something new

every day -
course that don't  mean

i
remember any of

it










Also trending this week are Baltimore poets. Here's my third for the week, Dan Cuddy. If you're a regular "Here and Now" visitor, you've read a number of Dan's poems, though not recently. It is good to have him back.






On the Moon: A Litany of Minor Revelations

on the moon the days can be almost a month long

on the moon wine is non-existent;  song  is  a  cappella

on the moon the earth peeks out o its shadow

on the moon the history of mankind is a paragraph

on the moon all real estate is barren
no lunatic will give you a loan

on the moon, if you move in,
you are the lone tick of the cosmic clock

on the moon you are obsessed with space
because it is so dark without atmosphere

on the moon light is stark naked
revealing deep  masking shadow

on the moon Adam and Eve suit up for a cold  eternity

on the moon romantic love  shines  bright
the earth a fertile  crescent of dream

on the moon the idealist  jumps high
because there is little weight for the ideal



Random Morning Images

dawn a cold washcloth
the breath of chimneys

feathered warriors attack
scraps of bread

machines grumble
half-asleep drivers

last  night's lights beacon still
but fade like the moon  enlightened

how non-uniform the color of sidewalks
undeciphered history adheres like cement

neighbors that never  greet n the winter
thaw out of their houses

depressing mist
evaporates with sizzling eggs, bacon

soon morning will be an office of gray faces
in chairs,looking at  screens, conversing in sign on language

soon egotists demand loyalty
darkness becomes metaphorical, seeps into brains

outside trash trucks grind
yesterday compacted

few newspapers  to spread
still fewer trees to grow
circumstances are bound to a power-grid
yesterday's  sci-fi arrives at breakfast







   

I wrote this for my morning one day last week. There are those who will huff and puff that it is not a poem. I huff and puff back and say, creators have naming rights and I name it "poem."







when I was 13 I worked in a grocery store

once
when I was 13
I had a job in a grocery store

after school,
dust all the shelves, unpack,
price and put up
new stock

cull the potato bin,
dig through the potatoes,
pull out all the soft, rotten potatoes
that stunk like rot
at the bottom of the bin

spread oiled sawdust
on the wooden floor, then
sweep it up,
leaving behind the sweet
scent of
it...

potato stink forgotten...

but remembering
the sweet woodsy scent
of oiled sawdust
I am 13 again

the whole year
in my memory, enveloped
int the sweet scent
of oiled saw-
dust








   

Going backwards now to the anthology's 1945-55 period, here's a poem by Hertha Kraftner. Kraftner was an Austrian poet, born in Vienna in 1928. She died in 1951 at an early age mostly unknown. Despite several attempts in the years after her death, her work was largely unknown until 1977 and again in 1981 when her audience found her.





On the Death of a Poet

My friend the poet is dead.
We buried him under an acacia tree.
His companion - a real shrew -
scrubbed the restaurant soup out of his tuxedo
(he wore it for the funeral)
because all his life, she said,
he had longed for purity.
She also though the acacia tree smelled too strong,
he had always complained privately
about her heavy perfume.
She in turn had suffered, o, suffered she had
from his smell
of ink remover and state dust
and cut-open paper and sometimes
- unfortunately - sometimes of a kind of powder
that she never used.
That's what his companion said
on the way home from the grave.
and that was all that could be said about his life.

Meanwhile he lay quietly under the sweet acacia tree.
If he had known it, he would have stayed up nights
and tortured himself over some verses,
verses about white acacia blossoms
and a gray, moist morning
and bones bleaching under the grass.









 



December, 2009, and trending.











spiders dancing

the tree,
its  bare
wind-dancer limbs
black
against the new-day sun,
like a spider
on its back
waving spindly legs
at the rush
of warming light

it's that kind of day,
so  fine
spiders lie
on their  backs
to bask...

today
i,
too,
will  do
unexpected things








This is the old poem replacement mentioned in the introduction.

It is about some history we have with the country of Afghanistan. Having deserted them once, we are, though not our fault this time, leaving once again prematurely. I hope our sacrifices of blood and treasure will not have been in vain, I am fearful if not doubtful.

Certainly I was more  optimistic when I wrote the poem than I am today, back when I was hopeful we would be faithful to the promises we made. Today, though the outcome is in doubt, there is no question in my mind that we have been more than faithful, with, this time, the end not in our hands.



hoping we will be true

in 1968, flying in
from Peshawar
in a DC-3
that struggled to top
the peaks off the Hindu Kush

I remember
my first sight off Kabul,
a green oasis
in the middle of brown, dirt
mountains

traveling through the city
to our temporary AID
residence
was like we had
jumped ahead

several centuries
during  out flight from
Pakistan's
Northwest Frontier,
a mixed jump it was, true

to a city with poets
and intellectuals and bookstores
downtown and a zoo
and museum, while camels
rested on the roadside

a city center of low-rise
mostly wooden structures,
except for th Spirazan Hotel,
where westerners could go
to the top floor where

whiskey was serrved and
Hank Williams was played
by a traveling band
of booted Filipino cowboys -
a gathering place

for Americans and other westerners,
Russians, UN aid workers and anyone
else with a thirst and non-critical love
of cowboy music

on the mountain side
surrounding the city anotherr
city of terrraced mud homes
where keepers of tradition
lived, where a thousand years

of Afghan history still lived
and was sustained, a benevolent
king governing loosely
through a system of consensus
and widely dispersed power

a pleasant place to be
where foreigners could walk
the streets under tall leafy trees,
eating from round loaves of
sweet nan bought from street

corner vendors, could  listen to children
in their uniforms as they walked
to and from their schools,
Singing in high sweet voices,
Amerricans

greeted everywhere by smiles
and friendly, open faces -
those were the good days
before wars and occupation
by foreign forces, before

the murderous rule of warlords
before free thought and centuries
of culture were earased by
the religion of fanatics
and evil, twisted minds -

the good days before
hell on earth descended
on people who,
from the time of Alexander's passage,
had outlived their conquerers

I remembered all this
last night
while listening to the President speak,
knowing that twice in the past 30 years
we have deserted these good people

having first encouraged them to believe in us,
then leaving hem behind without a thought
when some misadventure or other
came to obsess us,
hoping

as i listen,
hoping that this time
we will be true to them
and to our
word









    


Christmas with no kids  around is  more like a long drive  on bad  roads than a holiday. But even if we're not making new memories, we still have the old ones.








Christmas Eve at the NCO club

Christmas Eve
at the NCO club

dancing like I  was drunk
which, no  doubt,

I was, a pretty girl
my date for the night

some one's cousin
on a Europe tour, never

saw her before
never  saw her again

not like later Christmas
Eves to come

with wife and son
Christmas  wrapping flying

ribbon
and bows flying

first bicycle, training wheels
still  to  be attached

waiting in the garage
for Christmas Day unveiling

Christmas Eve at the NCO
club, nothing what would come

later, but still  a helluva a good time
was had

by
all








      


And now, here last for the week from the German anthology, this poem by Wolfgang Hilbig, taken from the 1975-1990 section of the book. He was a poet and novelist, born in 1941. He died in Berlin in 2007.







absence

how much longer will our absence be tolerated
no one notices how  we are filled up with black
how we have crawled inside ourselves
into our blackness

no we are not missed
we have severely broken hands stiff necks -
that is the pride of things dead and destroyed
looking upon us, things bored to death - there is
destruction such has never been before

and we  are not missed our words are
frozen scraps and fall in the meager snow
where trees stand ripe with white hoar-frost - yes and
ripe to break into pieces

all the last things are destroyed for us our hands
at last broken our words broken: just come
go away stay here - a completely broken language
mixed together and all the same in every way
and which we chase after and our absence

chase after just like at evening
dogs driven away chase after us with sick
uncomprehending eyes.








             



December, '09, three coffeehouse ago, this one putting out a good lunch as well as good coffee.










I am not watching it snow

so
the plan was

i'd be sitting
here

near downtown
San Antonio

on the corner
of San Pedro

& Mistletoe
looking out the great

windows
at Timo's Coffeehouse

watching it snow
right here in near downtown

San Antonio
but it is not to be

for
Houston

New Orleans
on the bayous

but with no soul
and no music

and too many
people

too many
rich people

in $10,000 suits
and $5,000 boots

and too many poor
people

living three blocks
on the wrong side

of the edge of
desperation

Houston
the city of the big

suck
has sucked up all my snow

and how like them
that is

(and lest you
be suspicious

Mistletoe
is the true name

of the cross street
upon the corner of which

today's drama
did not transpire


promise...)








       


This is my first and last library poem for the week. It's by John Ashbery, and it 's from his book, Where Shall I Wander. The book was published in 2005 by HarperCollins.









Tension in the Rocks

They changed for dinner. In those  days
no one was in a hurry, it was real time
every time. Usually the streets were paled with fog
at night. In the daytime it mostly blew away.
We kept on living because we know how.
Maple seeds like paperclips skittered in the alees.
We knew not how many enthusiasts climbed the slope,
nor how long they took. It was, in the words of one,
"beholding" not to know. We  eased by.

You can see how the past has come to past
in the ferns and sweepings of ore and text
that shadowed such narratives as had been scratched,
as though any hotel guest could wipe the blight away
and in so doing, be redeemed for the moment.
I tell you it was not unseemly.
Little girls gathered in groves to see the wish spelled out,
yet under the hemlocks all was moulting, a fury
of notations, obliterated. We knew who to thank
for the postcard. It  was signed, "Love, Harold and Olive."










Finishing my old poems this week with, what else, December 2009.

A drive in the central hills I had pictures of last week.









a winter day on Grapecreek  Road

the  road
twists and winds

with the creek
through the hills

and across pastures
past ponds,

depressions  where water
collects,

past trickles
barely seen below

flat pasture grass,
past bubbles

and swirls
of  rushing flow

through deep cuts
in granite

and limestone,
past oak groves

crowded
thirstily

at water's edge,
all,

the hills
and trees

and pastures
brown and gray

on this clear
and crystal cold

winter day -
the dry canvas

of the season,
the stark truth

hidden elsewhere
beneath softly lying







  


I heard an interview on NPR with a author who wrote a book about "night people." Despite my daily schedule, I consider myself a night person.

 







a night person

I  go to bed
at sunset and rise
with the morning's  opening bid

still
I consider myself a night
person
because I wake often
and, standing in the midst of night,
suck in its dim mysteries, the night,
the moon, if there is one,
the stars, if there are some,
and the shifting shadows
of tree limbs flexing
in a passing
draft,
a possum clinging
with its pup
to our rickety fence, doves stirring
in their nests, softly whispering
beneath their wings,
bright cat eyes,
stalking,
reflecting even the slightest light,
the hard odor of a skunk
passing by the creek,
night creatures,
night life, night air
sweet with the enigma of barely
seen

I bed down with the sun
and rise again on the edge of the sun's
first orange light, taking in my nights
in increments through all the dark hours

making me a different kind of nigh
person,
the night still
stirring me like the moon stirs
the tides
as I rise and  fall
through all the shadow
hours









Happy holidays and triple Ho Ho's to all.
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.





I mention it every week and it's  still true, I'm Allen Itz owner and producer of this blog, and diligent seller of books, specifically these and specifically here:




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Places and Spaces





Always to the Light






Goes Around Comes Around





Pushing Clouds Against the Wind





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Seven Beats a Second






Short Stories



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3 Comments:
at 7:29 PM Blogger Alice Folkart said...

Good issue, Allen. Love all the pictures of ocean. Is it really gray-green? Love the photo of the donkey - I feel as if I've known him before. Your poems all engaging - worth reading over again. Like the Germans, especially the dead poet and his 'companion,' the shrew. And Dan Cuddy's - a pleasure. And especially liked the 1st German. Well done! Applause.

Alice

at 9:56 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great issue, Allen. Thanks for the snaps of the Gulf coast. My country. And so many of the poems are good. I will admit that long poems weary me but many of these are excellent. Thanks, Friend. Ava

at 6:24 AM Blogger Here and Now said...

thanks, alice and ava. pleased you enjoyed the post.

allen

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