Second Month; Second Chance To Get It Right   Wednesday, February 05, 2014




Looked at some cameras yesterday; didn't find anything I liked for a price I'm willing to pay. So, until I get the deal I want to replace my stolen camera, I'm stuck with a random walk through my photo files, picking here and there stuff I like and think others might like, doing a little processing to give them a new look, and here they are.

Back to an anthology this week, this time Breaking Silence, an Anthology of Contemporary Asian-American Poets. The book was published in 1983 by the Greenfield Review Press, which also published a similar collection of contemporary Asian-American prose.

In addition to my standard library poems and my own stuff, I have a recently published long poem, cut into two parts to fit, by my poet friend Alex Stolis.


Here's the "who'dat" for the week.


Me
moonscape

Alex Stolis
from We're Accidents at the Scene of  the Crime

Me
interesting company

Gary Soto
Teeth Marks

Me
good old days

Alex Stolis
from We're Accidents at the Scene of the Crime

Me
cold  winds  strip the morning bare   

Osip Mandelstam
from Stone

Me
musical mystery tour

Al Robles
Manong Federico Delos Reyes and  His Golden Banjo

Me
a glad  poem

Nikki Giovanni
Winter Poem
Poem for Stacia
The World is Not a Pleasant Place To  Be

Me
history's young victims

Laureen Mar
Black Rocks

Me
where does justice draws the line?

Frances Trevino 
Observations On a Woman In Her Thirties Preparing For a Date
My Sister, She Dances
Southern and  in Detroit

Me
stalked

Luis Cabalquinto
The Big One

Me
Reba

Barbara Evans Stanush
Tortilla Leap

Me
dust to dust to dust

Geraldine Kudaka
Okinawa  Kanashii Monogatari  

John Engles
The 20th Century Limited

Me
hanging  on     
 








                         


A new one from last week, continuing with the memory series.








moonscape

mountains
high and bare

our small DC-3
struggles

as highest peaks
pass below within

arm's reach, it seems,
from my window seat

life below
if there is such

must be harsh
and hard

with hard people
harsh and unforgiving

to those who intrude
without invitation...

not to be
messed with

as centuries
of armies and great generals

have learned - from Alexander
to even now ourselves

ruing the lesson -

if you decide you must fight here

make sure first you have
the merciless moonscape mountains

on your side

(flying over the Hindu Kush, April, 1969








I have a long  piece this week from my poet friend from Minneapolis, Alex Stolis The piece is so long that  I'm breaking it into  two sections.

The poem was published in the on-line journal Otoliths -Issue 32, Southern Summer, 2014. You can go to this issue of the journal at

We're Accidents  at the Scene of the Crime (first half)

I

It's  first light. It's a bounced back e-mail; a shiny, spinning
lure avatar.Ask one question, I'll tell  you  no lies, bind  my
arms with the right words, back myself in the corner, fight
alone. Our hands are too full to begin with, grab the next
reasonable excuse, hold it close  to your breast. We will no
longer believe in  legends, myths, or fables of winged gods
or  heroes who hide in the belly of a wooden horse. A shot
glass is large enough to hold our past.  Drink it down, then
if I remember anything it will be your hair, jeans tucked
neat in boots, your fingers entwined with mine.


II

She knows. It starts with one honest mistake, tongue-tied
and bald faced. Here comes that sly smile on her unmade
mouth. I'm already guilty, stone cold and ready-made.


III

If I remember anything it will be your voice, how your scarf covered
your throat and the words;  words that turned and pivot, a pirouette
of vowels and consonants. It's just after dawn. We're golden hour-ed
and scripted,  we're the center of gravity of lust and desire and craving.
You ask for my back-story and wait for the punch line. Wait for it to be
punctuated and paragraphed. It fits, folded, in your back pocket, a mini
book of  prayers. I can't hear your answer, the wind has picked up and I
am static, froze in place.  Let's be silent, let's improvise. Let's be verbs.


IV

Skin, mouth,  lips, leg  across leg;  crush, moist,  hard lace
panties, expectant. Over and over and under and beyond
our little death becomes the first door we break down.


V

Let's be verbs. Let's torch the sky  and burn ourselves to  ashes,  dust
off  our intentions. Fuck the Phoenix,just lie down here and be my
right hand confidant in crime.Be my witness to murder. my woman
with an alibi  for every occasion. We'll be free before reality can sink
our escape. It's already too  cold. My hands are inadequate,  useless
appendages.  It's  a matter of time before it snows and the wind turns
on edge; matter of time and you stop  setting yourself on fire for me.


VI

We're accidents at  the scene of the crime holding our breath.
We're fragments of air, a  whisper. You cover yourself with my
multitude of  sin.  Leave me wondering who will love you next.








                         


Here's an old poem from January 2007.









interesting company

I know people
who believe that if
Saddam
had just whispered the
three
little words,
"Jesus
save me,"
as the noose
tightened
on his neck
he could have
spent eternity
strolling
in heavenly fields,
amidst all the popes
and preachers
and holy roller
derby servants
of the son

too
bad, he didn't

and Gandhi, too,
such a simple thing,
three
words
spoken  quickly
as the bullets
pierced his flesh
and he could have been
in the clover forever
and ever and even
evermore

but, he didn't
either
and it's too late  now,
for  both,  so
Saddam
and Gandhi,
brothers
of  the eternal fire,
are ever roasting
in hell, right now,
even as we  speak

now this doesn't
make any sense to me
but who am I to question
such holy folk
as claim it to be true
and,
anyway,
there is an upside
to the whole affair:

at least
I can count
on interesting
company
when the time
for my roasting
comes








                                


First from my library this week, I have a poem by Gary Soto, from his book a simple plan, published  by Chronicle Books in 2007. I've use Soto's poems many times, including his biography each time. This time I'm just going to let you look it up yourself.







Teeth Marks

I didn't  like my chances for success.
Stepfather was in the living room,
A shot  glass on the TV tray of dead
And live presidents, a shot glass positioned
On the face of Herbert Hoover. I asked
My hands, "Why this family?"
The girl I liked a lot had moved  away,
Taking with her the pencil I lent her for our history final.
The  pencil,, I remember was gnawed  by my teeth,
And the eraser was mostly gone. God, how I was forced
To  correct my mistakes - Spanish
Subjunctives the English ones -
And how pitifully I rendered one-cell organisms
On a piece of unlined paper. I knew then - the moon
Had shrugged itself from the branches - my sadness involved
This  girl. Where was she? Where was my pencil?
Clacking between her top and bottom front teeth?
Or maybe she was making loopy script
In her  diary and writing - my heart thumped - about me!

In my bedroom, I turned our glow-in-the-dark Christ
Toward the wall, unbuckled my belt,
And did what sixteen-year-olds do in thirty-three seconds.
In ecstasy I pictured the girl with the pencil in her mouth,
Gnawing away, adding her own teeth marks.
She licked the lead point, came up now
To say it wasn't so bad, an embarrassing dribble
On her chin dark as first-time sin.








                                              
A more recent picture reminds me of days long past. I was about four years old and this situation was not permanent, but it was what it was, a product of post-war shortages, leaving a house (a retro-fitted surplus military barracks) half done. Things had to be done to make do.








good old days

shack
in a pasture
below a green mountain forest

wood for fire
stacked high against one wall

 ready for the next cold
and lonely
winter

very large
iron pot beside the house,
like the one my mother
used to heat wash water
over an open fire,
my older brother's job every
Monday morning -
fill the pot with water
and light the fire
while I fed the chickens
and gathered their
eggs
for breakfast

old days

good old days,
some would say...

my mother,
stirring clothes
in our large iron pot
would not agree

(Colorado, 2008/South Texas, 1948








                     


Here's the last half of the poem by Alex Solis, appearing in the current issue of Otoliths.







We're Accidents at  the Scene of the Crime (final)

VII

I wonder if you're awake yet. I steal from Bukowski:
wonder if you slept well or did you stir when I came
for you. What did you feel when I imagined your body
pressed to mine? Did you feel my hand on your thigh,
my lips on your skinny throat? I steal from Addonizio:
first kisses and razor blades and unseen tattoos; can't
even listen to The National anymore. You were in my
dream last  night, surprised to be there. I cannot recall
anything you said. I wonder if  it's the same for you.


VIII

She  presses her body against the wall.  Retro-punk beats a low hush
against  her  thigh. She's a  half song from wet. I thank  some random
god we're all sinners. I  can  already smell the fire.


IX

It's  all the same: the same sky or the same earth
or the same dirt. the same leaves trapped under
ice, under the same bridge. Truth hides between
lines;  the same lines  we crossed.

                                                                            I know
Nick Cave makes her wet. I slide her  against a wall
at intermission,save a thought of you. We've scent,
touch, taste, sound off heels  against concrete.

                                                                               I  see 
how you're supposed to erase contacts after a certain
period of time so they don't light up green;  it doesn't
hurt to have friends wherever you travel.

                                                                                  Drop me in
a box fold  me cut me paste copy me we feel the same
heat on the same page; always


X

We are combustible, flammable; need to scatter our  senses. Hands
shaking lips flushed red absolute need hip to hip the taste of tongue,
the round swell of breast. Everything is  in this space.  Ashes to  ashes.

XI

No more writing for the dead. No more making
it up as we bang  around. Tell  me what you need:
a bound promise,  a hand against  throat,a hard
kiss and slow finish. You taste smooth, slightly
bitter when you cum. I crave your body, a thumb
caressing nipple,lips  parched cold; the pounding
of your heart in mine. Be  quiet now. Not  a sound.
Not a moan, a cry; nothing. Only skin against skin
against mouth against cock against clit. This is  for
being alive;  for  ever.  No  more writing  for ghosts.


XII

I'm  done. Ready. She needs more time, needs  to fuck
a few more people. I pretend  I'm okay, kiss her palm,
let the napalm roll under my tongue.








                                    

This is another old poem from January, 2007, appropriate for this January which has seen some of the coldest weather since that year.









cold winds strip the morning bare

cold winds strip
the morning bare
then cover it
with ice,
the chill weight
of its clutch
bending oak limbs
to the ground,
encasing blooms
fooled by false spring

the city
stops,
except for a few
hardy fools
like me, slip-sliding
down the  road
in search of a newspaper
that  I can read with
morning coffee, looking
out the kitchen windows
to  the frozen grass
and the woodpile
covered white
and the icicles  hanging
long and sharp
form the lip of my
chiminea

both dogs,  pushed
out against their will,
stand shivering
at the door until
I am overcome
by their misery
and let them in,
hoping
they left the patio
long enough
to take care of
business








Next, I have several pieces by Osip Mandelstam, from his book Stone, his first book, and the only one of three he published before his death in a Soviet transit camp in 1938. Born in 1891, Mandelstam sealed his eventual fate in 1934 when he read a satirical poem about Stalin to a group of friends.

My edition was  published by The Harvill Press in 1997. It is a bi-lingual book, with Russian and English, translated by Robert Tracy, on facing  pages.

This week, I'm using the first four and the next-to-last pieces from the book.









from Stone

1.

A tentative hollow note
As  a pod falls from a tree
In the constant  melody
Of  the wood's deep quiet....         1908


2.

In the wood there are Christmas trees
With golden  tinsel blazing;
In the thickest toy wolves  are grazing
With terrifying eyes.

O my prophetic sadness,
O my silent  freedom
And the heavens' lifeless dome
Of eternally laughing glass!                   1908

3.

In a light shawl, you  suddenly slipped
Out of the  shadowed hall -
We  disturbed no one at all
Nor  woke the servants up...                   1908


4.

To have only a child's books for reading
And only a child's thoughts to nurse,
To let all grown up things  disperse,
To rise out of deep  grieving.

Life has made me mortally weary;
I  will  take nothing it gives,
But I love my land, poor as it  is,
For I've seen no  other country.

In a far  away garden I swung
On a plain wooden swing - I recall
Fir trees, mysterious and tall,
In my vague delirium.                    1908



80.

Grazing horse herds joyfully neigh,
The valley has gone  red with Roman  rust'
Time's clear torrents are bearing away
A classical  spring's  gold dust.

Treading down oak leaves in fall
Thick on pathways where  nobody goes
I will remember Caesar's perfect features -
Effeminate profile,  crafty curving nose.

Here, amid the quiet  fading of nature
Far from the Forum ad the Capitol
I hear Augustus, and on the earth's rim I hear
The years rolling,  like the sovereign  apple.

When I am old, then  let my sorrows  shine:
I was born in Rome and Rome has come back  tome;
The autumn was my she-wolf and was  kind
And  August - the month of Caesar - smiled on me.          1915








                      


Another in the memory series.









musical mystery tour

he and I,
father and son
quality time together
driving through the mountains
and deserts and vistas
of the American Southwest, me
celebrating my first
retirement, he
celebrating the end of another
year of high school

at fifteen,
a musician himself,
he had advanced and eclectic taste
in music, so that by our fourth day
I was introduced to musicians new to me
that are still among my favorites
16 years later,
listening to Bella Fleck and his Flecktones
as we pass through Santa Fe,
Dave Matthews while visiting Red Rocks,
near holy site to him
where Dave and his band played
in their early days, about to get too big
for such small venues, imagining
the band's improvisations echoing off the rocks,
Denver's tall buildings on the horizon,
and over and over as we passed through state
after state, a Willie and Lobo CD,
two  guys with about a half-dozen modern and exotic string instruments,
a mix of musical styles and themes from the Moors and the Spanish,
intricate compositions from all the different strains
of Spanish musical influences with a little modern jazz mixed in,
thinking how amazing and wonderful it would be
to watch them play...

somewhere in Arizona,
a small town
whose main and near only street
followed along railroad tracks
from city-start to city-end,
a rusty town, everything rusty red,
a mining town, the red dust of its mines
the only thing left of the town's
reason to be...

a night in a motel beside the highway,
brought awake several times through the long night
by trains passing, their lonely whistle moaning at every crossing,
up early for breakfast and coffee at a cafe beside the tracks,
sausage and eggs and a flyer on the cashier's counter,
Willie and Lobo,
never knowing they would be there
in this lost and begotten place,
we missed them by just two days...

I didn't tell Chris how close we had come,
but I still have the CD
and play it often

(somewhere in Arizona, 1998)








                                         
First from this week's anthology of contemporary Asian American poets. Breaking Silence, I have this poem by Al Robles.

Robles, the second eldest in a family of ten brothers and sister, was born in 1930. A Filipino-American poet and community activist in San Francisco, he died in 2009.









Manong Federco Delos Reyes and His Golden Banjo

 back home
in the p.i.
i ride the snake
i ride the monkey
i ride the water buffalo
i ride the lizard
i ride the fish
i ride coconut tree
in america
i ride the southern pacific box car
montana snow-bound cries
shuffling brown feet
in centerville taxi dance halls
i chase the white women
in manilatown
i ride the stool
at blanco's bar
scotch on the rocks express
dreaming of dark brown pinays
i ride the seven seas
1920-golden banjo
strumming
songs of romance

"yes sir - that's my baby
    no sir - i don't mean maybe
yes sir - that's my baby doll."

silver wing cafe
"oh mama!
you got my fishhead?
and two plates of rice..."
              oh god, how i love my fishhead!
              oh god, how i love my women!
              oh god, how i love my music!








                       

Another poem from January,  2007, perfect for this morning when after a dreary start, the sun has come up and the blistering cold wind has stopped and warmth is creeping through the morning.







a glad poem

tired
of sad poems
of mad poems
looking for a
glad
poem
about  a sunny day
when spirits are low
or a glad poem
about a rainy day
when gardens thirst,
about a big orange moon
when lovers
flourish
or a moonless night
keeping werewolves
at  bay
or trees in the dese44t
where Bedouins rest
in mid-day shade
or sand in a box
so a child can play
and dream
and dream

I want a
glad poem
for all like me
who need relief
and a friendly spirit
a  glad poem
so we can all be
overcome
by sad
or mad
no
more








                              

Next, here are several short poems by Nikki Giovanni, from her book My House,published by Quill in 1983.








Winter Poem

once a snowflake fell
on my brow and i loved
it so much and i kissed
it and it was happy and called its cousins
and brothers and a web
of snow engulfed me then
i reached to love them all
and i squeezed them and they became
a spring rain and i stood perfectly
still and was a flower

[3 feb 72]


Poem for Stacia

i see wonder
in little things
like thorn figurines rowing
across my table
or Stacia caring
by imposing which being
such a little thing wasn't
a bi imposition
and i saw a rainbow
after a very cloudy day
but i looked down to swat
a mosquito and lost
it in the midst

[ 16 july 71]


The World Is Not a Pleasant Place to Be

the world is not a pleasant place
to be without
someone to hold and be held by

a river would stop
its flow if only
a stream were there
to receive it

an ocean would never laugh
if clouds weren't there
to kiss her tears

the world is not
a pleasant place to be without
someone

[17 feb 72]









                            


Another good memory, turned tragic with time.









history's young victims

walking beneath
my second floor window,
in their school uniforms,
walking in a disciplined line
lead by their teacher,
I could hear them
singing,
their high light voices
waking the thin mountain air
morning

joyous morning
then,
a sweet and innocent
moment
in a strange and foreign
place

a morning
and a moment
I will not forget

a memory
struggling against the cruel beast of history

a memory
that cannot shield these children...

---

remembering

trying not to  think
of what happened  to these
beautiful, singing
children
in the near 50  years since

those children, victims of
of the beasts
who came though years and bloody seasons
to devour their time
and place,
their life and the innocence
of that morning

(Kabul, 1969)








                                                        


Next from this week's anthology, here's a poem by Laureen Mar.

I can find next to nothing on the poet on the web. In the book, it says she was born in Seattle in 1953, and had, at the time of publication, lived in New York City for six years. She has published at least one chapbook, appears frequently  in anthologies and also has worked as an editor on anthologies.








Black Rocks

1.
Your mother  poses on black rocks.
The sun flares white behind her.
Is it the sun that makes her dark eyes frown
this time - the camera or the child
who waits to lean against her skirt,
the yellow jungle that promises
heat and a torrid wind?

2.
You were born on black rocks.
You climbed the jagged
face against your mother's
warning, digging your way past yellow
and white daisies, the frail iris.
From the neighbor you stole whatever
was in season, crab apples, cherries.

3.
You fall against black rocks.
The sky opens, startled
green leaves rising above you faster
than your hands. You lie in the grass
listening to your mother rushing,
your lips bleeding brightly.
Your mouth shows a faint bone-white scar.








                                

 I wrote  this in 2007 after a particularly grim couple of months on the murder beat.









where does justice draw the line

I want to write
about the four
children
murdered
by their parents
in this city
in the past two weeks,
to memorialize them
somehow,
but cannot

I don't have the language
to say what I want to say
and my mind drifts
to other things,
to evil,
for example

I don't believe
in god
but I do believe
in evil,
the diabolic
evil
of  mass murders
and the casual
evil of parents
who kill
their children -
the mother who
smothered  her baby
because it would not
stop crying,
the father,
angered to madness
by his wife,
who shoots their
two daughters,
age 10 and 5,
in the head,
then kills
himself,
the woman
who swings her
baby like a baseball bat
to  strike her lover -
what do we do
with these people?

I believe
in capital punishment;
I believe humanity
has the right and obligation
to protect itself against
the most evil among us,
some born that  way,
I am convinced, evil
from the moment
they leave their mother's
womb, others who learn
their evil from the circumstances
of their life,
born or made,  I don't care,
it is the consequence
of their act
not the consequences
of their lives that matter,
as a consequence
of their act
they do not deserve
our solicitude...

maintaining the life of
Charles Manson
for a year
costs as much as or more
than sending a needy
student through a year
of college -
I say, kill the bloody
son of a bitch
and send the money
to the kid...

but that's an easy case

it's drawing the line
that makes these questions hard

three parents killed four children
in this city in the past two weeks

where do we draw the line
for them?

where does justice
draw the line
for these four
children?








                           
Several more short poems from my library, these  by Frances Trevino, from her book Cayetana. The book was published in 2007 by Wing's Press.

Trevino is chair of the English department at Thomas Jefferson High School in San Antonio,  home of the oldest high school literary magazine in the the state. She is also a writing instructor at the University of the Incarnate Word, also in San Antonio.







Observations On A Woman In Her Thirties Preparing for a Date

Bathed in
department
store fragrance
sprayed ac4oss
sweet-smoothed
honey-combed
legs lotioned
down smooth
like olive silk
olive like the
finest hues from
the branches
of Jerusalem
kettled in that
perfume I have
come to know


My Sister, She Dances

she sips sangria
purses her lips
to savor
the little bit of sour
and orders new pitchers
by the hour
tell me
girlfriend
don't pretend
look at you
lookin' like
you wanna be me
she spins in the middle
of moustached mariachis
shakes herself
fine like that
they tell her
andale mujer
one more time





Southern and in Detroit

I do not  like the empty buildings
in Detroit.

Cradled in whispers
of angry ghosts
rocking in  river breezes
white and smoked stacked,

engines dead and rusting,
barges humming along the river way,
slow,  tired, and achy.

And now, more than ever,
I miss the South.









                     


Again a memory, less tragic than the last.








stalked

early morning

walking a dark path
from out cabin to the lodge

thinking in the black night
of the bears and cougars that roam
these mountains
and the desert that surrounds them

a rustle in the forest

and another

and another

and I walk faster,
peering into the shadows ahead
hoping to materialize through
will the welcome light
of the lodge

a sinister form
pacing me through the trees
and I think of the breakfast
that could have waited for daylight

and the ominous form
steps into the path in front of me...

a large doe,
and a fawn following close behind

they look at me,
sniff, flick their white tails
and bound into the trees on the other
side of me

just passing though...

(Big Bend National Park, October, 2006)








                                                         

Luis Cabalquinto, the next poet from this week's anthology, was born in the Philippines and first came to the United States in 1968. He studied writing at Cornell, the New School, and New York University. He lives in New York and the Philippines and writes in English and two Filipino languages.











The Big One

I like to fish,
an old habit,
for a definition
outside
the act itself:
in addition to
the useful air
and exercise.

The lake will do
without
my best mono:
the star-drag reel,
lures of the trade,
and rod. Or lines.

I go for the clipped lift,
the sudden suck
caught in the teeth
of sky and water -
the trembling stop
of  bait in a
sudden shift
of scale:
struck by bass!
in the brain








This is the last old poem of the week. It's from December, 2007, not according to my plan to use January poems, but I ran across it accidentally and, remembering Reba and the time we had, at  home and traveling, her in the back of the car, through twenty or more states, put me in a very sentimental mood.

We had to put her down about a year ago. She was in great pain that could not be eased.








Reba

it is a damp  night
with low clouds
that reflect back
to earth
all the lights
of the city
making
it brighter
here in my neighborhood
than under  even
the most
radiant
moon

Reba and i
are taking our walk,
the almost-mile
we do every night...

it's late

(Reba is very
jealous and protective
of me and bristles
and barks
at every dog we meet)

she embarrasses me
and i can't get  her
to stop, so,
even  though she begins
to follow me around
at stare at me at me at six,
we don't walk until after nine,
late, when we have the
streets to ourselves...

she's a lovely dog, a
border collie mix,
gentle  and sweet-natured,
and bright and curious
as a young child - we
got her at the Animal Defense
League shelter, the second to
take her home,  the
first returned her for reasons
i cannot even guess, but it's
clear they disciplined
her with a broom
because brooms terrify
her - she hides
in the bedroom when
we sweep the kitchen
and comes out
only when it's clear
the broom monster
has been  returned
to its closet...

it is in the nature
of having pets
that you're usually
bound
to outlive them
and having kept dogs
all of my life
i've outlived many,
but none of those
losses, i think,
will compare to the loss
when this dog's  time
arrives...

but that's not now

now,
she's  in the den
by  the fire,
waiting
for me to come  in
and  finish the
Harry Potter movie
we started
before the walk








                                        
The next poem is by Barbara Evans Stanush,  from her book, Stone Garden, published by Pecan Grove Press in 1992. I can't find much about the poet beyond what's on the back cover of her book, which says that, after living on the east coast for 30 years, she moved to Texas where she has authored poetry collections and, for the Institute of Texan Cultures in San Antonio, several books for young people on Texas history and on the various ethnic peoples who came to Texas to make what is today a great mix of Texan cultures.

 I also could find a photo of the poet, so I'm using the image from the front cover of her book.







Tortilla Leap

and cover the sun.
Wrap around that
red hot  pepper
and cool it down.
Keep the orb in
bounds so only
burning trickles
trail across
our face.

Th sun's rays stab and
lose themselves ii soil.
fondle seeds of bedded
corn,soak kernels
in serape heat glowing
with colors of sunset.

The underground
swells to bugles,
trumpets pathways
back to  sky,
swings green, new
shafts of stalk.
Silver tassels
swaddle baby ears.
Kernel clones,
a white milk of bites
too tiny for teeth,
huddle a thousand eyes
bent on straightening
rows on rows.
Green corn,
soft gold,
Souls dance.
Mortals dry the host,
preserve the promise.
Too soak, to grind,
to pat, to clap,
to make a cake
a circle like the sun
to  wrap around that
red hot  pepper
with rays dripping fire,
fire.








                      


A new poem in the memory series.









dust to  dust to  dust

wind howling
outside the car

sand popping
against our windows
like tiny fingers tapping,
blowing across the highway
thick as a mid-winter fog
on a Gulf coast morning

tumbleweeds
fly in front of us and behind
like prickly missiles
short from a silo somewhere
in Iowa or Kansas

a big one,
the size of a small car,
rushing at us broadside,
tossed airborne
right over the top of us,
one side to the other...

(Texas Panhandle, March, 1981)









The last poem from this weeks anthology of Asian-American poets is Geraldine Kudaka. Born in Hawaii in 1951, Kudaka received her formal education at SJSU and UClA. She has worked as a cameraman/filmmaker, traveling to Cuba, Mexico, Japan, Hong Kong, and both the east and west coasts of the United States. She also worked as a poet-teacher in Poetry in Schools and as a poet in the old CETA program.






Okinawa Kanashii Monogatari

okinawa kanashii monogratari
the bird has been chained
to the sky
its tether stretching the pacific
crucified between the u.s. and jieiitai
okinawa, okinawa
i who have loved you for so long
i weep for you
                 for you were the laughter
of my land
the island of smiles / valley of tears
okinawa kanashii monogatarie
until the rain seeps away the tears
i am blind
until the voices of the dead
burn the asphalt jungles
               okinawa kayo
until the rain sweeps away the tears
i am blind
until the voices of the dead
burn the asphalt jungles
               okinawa kaiyo
until a hundred men become a thousand
            ampo sunsai / ampo funsai
until the machines which convert
time into pain / fields into graves
creak and rust  into the past
                there will be no songs
bird wings clipped, birds feet chained










My last poem this week from my library is by John Engles, and it's from his book, Sinking Creek. The book was published by Lyons Press in 1998.             Engles was born in 1931 and died in 2007. He graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 1952. After service in the Navy, he studied at University College, Dublin, then completed his MFA at the Iowa Writer's Workshop in 1957. He taught at a number of colleges and universities and in 1995 was Wyndam Robertson Chair at Hollins College.






The 20th Century Limited

Close at the edge of the platform
already terrified
to ecstasy, waiting

for the enormous winds
of it approach, smash
and wallop of drive rods

smoke billowing
everywhere -
my brother, my parents,

everything from ten feet out
gone spectral
through steam, so joyous

an uproar
of steam, of steel-
to-steel so fine

a hullabaloo
as I haven't known
since but ache

crave, hanker and itch,
pine, lust for and thirst and
yearn  for still, that

great suck and inrush
of vacuum,
power of in-pull, that

resistless horror of
the edging in.








                            


The last new poem of the week, continuing with the memory series.





hanging on

switchbacks
down the side 
of the mountain,
the town on one side
of the road, sheer
drop to the valley below
on the other, 
with an occasional shop
or restaurant
jilting out over the edge
on stilts...

an old mining town
hanging on to the side
of the mountain through
boom and bust and back to
tourist boom,  attached
to the mountain
by a whisper and a prayer,
out-of-towners 
like us
grazing where intelligent
mountain goats
might hesitate to tread...

it is exhilarating,
this high air, this human quest
for destiny and wealth
and life despite all obstacles,
ridiculous,
when you think about it,
that nice, lush valley below
inviting, a place to build 
a flat and friendly
Utopia

instead, those early arrivals
decide to build a life in the high clouds
of  Olympus...

---

Dee goes shopping
in the little roadside shops

Chris throws rocks at the valley

still a smoker at the time,  I
sit on a rock and try to
breathe

(Jerome, Arizona, 1993)












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Places and Spaces





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