Winter in the Hills, II   Monday, December 08, 2014





Welcome back, all turkeyed-up and ready for more  poetry.

My anthology this week is an anthology I found at a half-price book store, It's a Woman's World, sub-titled, "A Century of Women's Voices in Poetry." The book was published by Dutton Children's Books in 2000. I'm a little surprised by the publisher (a division of Penguin) because the couple of poems I read before buying the book didn't strike me as children's poems.

My photos this week are a follow-on to the "Winter in the Hills" post I did two weeks ago, the main difference, these poems are in color and were taken in December rather than November.

I will be doing none of my old poems. Instead all of my poems this week will be part of series I began two week ago, tentatively titled Dispatches, very short, some just two or three lines, pieces with inspiration from several sources, the poems of the World War I war poets, the brevity and clarity of William Carlos Williams, and some chants and songs I have read from the native peoples, mostly Sioux and Aztec. I'm doing one of the pieces every day will continue to do them daily until I run out of gas. If I can do enough of them I have an unlikely to be fulfilled vision of a chapbook, each of the little pieces centered on a page of its own.

Unlikely, like I said, but a reason to continue the series, which, if I am able, will be included in "Here and Now" until I don't have any more.


Me
In the  early days of the war...

Luci Tapahonso
The Were Alone in the Winter

Me
There is a new weapon...

From In the Trail of the Wind
Native American chants and songs

Me
In the place of my city...

Judith Wright
Request to a Year

Me
A stream here...

Judith Chalmer
The Archivist

Me
I fought at the First Battle of Balanced Rock

Ch'iu Chin (AKA Qui Jin)
To the Tune "The River is Red"

Me
I am a courier today...

Dan Cuddy
The Resurrection of the Flesh

Me
Monday was a washday...

Adrienne Rich
Upper Broadway

Me
It was the fire circle at night...

John Ashbery
Frost

Me
There were roads...

Dorothy Livesay
Eve

Me
In a forward position...

Marge Piercy
Morning Love Song

Laura H. Kennedy
Untitled 1

Rachel Loden
Far In

Raymond Carver
Woman Bathing

Me
I was sixteen  when the Floaters came...     







                                                                   





Here's the first in the series in process I mentioned above.











from Dispatches


In the early days of the  war...

    In the early days of the war, back when most had shoes and my baby sister was a virgin and I was in love, we did not yet know the taste of horse or pigeon.

    We had so much to learn...






                                                                  


Here's the first of the poems from this week's anthology, It's a Woman's World. The poem is by one of my favorite poets, Luci Tapahonso.

Born in 1953, the Navajo poet is the first and current poet laureate of the Navajo Nation.










They Were Alone in the Winter

Each night I braid my daughter's hair.
My fingers slip through the thick silkiness,
weaving the strands into a single black stream.

"The air feels like something will happen,"
she says, "Maybe it will snow."
The moon outside is a silver arc in the cold sky.
"In the old stories, they say the moon comes as a beautiful horse,"
I tell her. From the bedroom window, we look out
                                                                 at the glistening night sky.

It is outside the house: the frozen night.
It glimmers with her pleas for snow.
It glimmers in her night dreams: a fusing of music, laughter
                                                       talk of boys and clothes.
It glimmers here in the fibers of my bed sheets,
                      there above the old roar of the Kaw River.

It glimmers in the western sky where he thinks of me and smiles.

In an old story, a woman and her daughter were alone all winter
and the mother said, "Tomorrow, if the sun rises,
                                     it will come as many different horses."







                                                                    





Again, from the series in process.













from Dispatches


There is a new weapon...

    There is a new weapon.

    Even the scavengers  will not defile the corpses.

    They all lie twisted, pale in the moonlight and shining clean as if washed after death, the farm boys and the grocers and the clerks and the lawyers, all lie twisted, pale, and clean.

    Maggie lies twisted in the moonlight, pale, undefiled...and clean.







                                                                          


I  mentioned Native American chants and songs as one of the inspirations for the "Dispatches" series I started with this post. Here are some examples of such poems taken from In the Trail of the Wind, subtitled "American Indian Poems and Ritual  Orations." The book was published  by Farrar, Straus and Giroux in 1971. Translators of these works are many and varied. No specific credit is given to any.










On the subject of "Death"


The Moon and the Year

The moon and the year
travel and pass away:
also the day, also the wind.
Also the flesh passes away
to the place of it's quietness
                                       Maya


Charms

1

    In the spring when we lie down under the young cherry tree,
with the grass green and the sun getting a bit warm, we feel like
sleeping don't we?

2

    In  the fall when there is a little  breeze and we lie in some
shelter, hearing the dry weeds rubbing against one another, we
generally get drowsy, don't we?

3

    In he daytime as the drizzle strikes the lodge pattering and
we lie warming the soles of our feet, we fall asleep, don't we?

4

    At night when we  lie down,listening to the wind rustling
though the bleached trees, we know not how we get to sleep
but we fall asleep, don't we?

5

    Having looked for a hollow among the thickest pines, we make
a fresh camp there. The wind blows on us, and we, rather tired,
lie down and keep listening  to the rustling pines until we fall
asleep.
                                     Crow


We Spirits Dance

Down west, down  west we dance,
We  spirits dance,
We spirits  weeping dance.
                                     Wintu


On the subject of "Dreams"




Dream Song

Where the mountain crosses.
On top of the mountain, I do not myself know where.
I wandered there where my mind and my heart seemed to be lost.
I wandered away.
                                        Papago


Dream Song

Where will you and I sleep?
At the down-turned ragged rim of the sky you and I will sleep.
                                        Wintu


On the subject of "Omens and Prophecies"


Omen

    By daylight a fire fell.  Three  stars  together it seemed: flaming,
bearing tails. Out of the west it came, falling in a rain of sparks,
running to the east. The people saw, and screamed with a noise
like the shaking of  bells.
                                        Aztec


Omen

    By night a voice was heard in the air: a woman, crying,  "Oh,
my children we must go far away." At times she cried: "Oh,
my children where can I take you?"


On the subject of  "The Arrival of the Whites"


The Weeping Spreads

The weeping spreads,
In Tlatelolco the tears are dripping.
The Mexicans have taken flight across the water;
They are like women;everyone  flees.
"Where  are we going? Oh, my friends!"
then: "Was it true?"
Yes, already the city of Mexico is abandoned;
The smoke rises; the haze  spreads.
                                     Aztec


The Surrender Speech of Cuauhtemoc

    Ah, captain, I have  done  everything within my power to defend
my kingdom and deliver it from your hands. But as fortune  has
not favored me, take my life; it will be most  fitting; and in so
doing you will bring an end  to the Mexican  kingdom, for
already you have ruined and destroyed my city and my people.
                                      Aztec


On the subject of "We Shall Live Again"


There!

There!
There!
Beautiful white-rising  has dawned.
Beautiful  yellow-rising has dawned
There!
There!
                                    Hopi


Come All!

Come all! Stand up!
Just over there the dawn is coming.
Now I hear
Soft laughter.
                                     Papago


They Will  Appear

They will appear - may you behold them!
They will appear - may you behold them!
A horse nation will appear.
A thunder-being nation will appear.
They will appear, behold!
They will appear, behold!
                                   Sioux       







                                                     





More.













from Dispatches


In the place of my city...

     In the place of my city there are gaping holes, like rotted teeth in the earth; in the place  of grand boulevards, muddy cow paths unvisited by cows long slaughtered; in the place of  orchards there are gallows; and  hanging from their limbs, not the crisp taste of winter apples but the  foul stench of the Fifth Cycle revolution's strange fruit, rotting.  







                                                                    


Next from this week's anthology, a poem by Judith Wright.

Born in 1915, Wright was an Australian writer, poet, environmentalist and campaigner for aboriginal rights. She died in 2000.










Request to a  Year

If the year is meditating a suitable gift,
I should like it to be the attitude
of my great great grandmother,
legendary devotee of the arts,

who, having had eight children
and little opportunity for painting pictures,
sat one day on a high rock
beside a river in Switzerland

and from a difficult distance viewed
her second son, balanced on a small ice floe,
drift down the current towards a waterfall
that struck rock-bottom eighty feet below,

while her second daughter, impeded,
no doubt, the the petticoats of the day,
stretched out a last hope alpenstock
(which luckily later caught him on his way).

Nothing, it was evident, could be done;
and with the artist's isolating eye
my great-great  grandmother hastily sketched the scene.
The sketch survives to probe the story by.

Year, if you have no Mother's day present  planned;
reach back and bring me the firmness of her hand.







                                                       






More












from Dispatches


A stream here...

    A stream here,  Maggie lying with me in the cool of an autumn eve, pale skin, breasts inviting my kisses  the blush of desire, together entwined under a full October  moon.

    I remember  Maggie lying with me  here that day.

    It was before the clouds parted.







                                                                                   
Here's a poem from a new (half-priced) book in my library. The book is Out of History's Junk Jar, subtitled "Poems of  Mixed Inheritance." The book was published in 1995 by Time Being Books and the poet is Judith Chalmer.

Chalmer, born in Buffalo in 1951, currently lives in Montpelier, Vermont, where she teaches writing and literature, through Norwich University, to adults who return, after a long absence, to college. She also  teaches creative writing at an arts-based day care center for frail elders.She has received numerous awards and honors and her work appears often in journals and anthologies.



The Archivist

I didn't expect it to be so
pretty. I didn't want it to be
so clean. It wasn't the Nazis
who fingered the needle,
stitched a neat cotton backing
to the coarse grained star.
"It was my grandmother
who  lined it," I told the archivist
when I dropped it on her table.

Slowly, as if lifting a thin yellow baby
from her bath, the archivist raised
the tired cloth to the light,
ran her finger over the little scars,
the tracks where my grandma pulled
a heavy thread around all six points
of the scar. "Look!" she nodded
to where the window framed wild iris,
orchids banked in the yard, and the star
translucent against the light.

I'd missed the way people reach
inside, when even their faces are buried
in grime, to find something pretty
something to shine - Beautiful! in the dirt,
in the stubble and smear, Bright! in the blade
of the knight. My eyes followed hers
in the late gray light to the curled free end
of the plain cotton thread my grandmother hid
fifty years ago,  tucked inside, so in hands
like mine, it wouldn't  come  unraveled.







                                                                    






More.












from Dispatches


I fought at the First Battle of Balanced Rock...

     I fought at the First Battle of Balanced Rock.

    Fifth Cycle Floaters had taken the  rock. Command staff wanted it back.

    I remember the roar of the mechanized units and the Floaters overhead and the crash of the falling rock.

    My captain and two cousins from the West Hatchee Hills were crushed and sent home killed. I survived to fight here again this day. Quiet now until then again.

    Birds,  rabbits in the brush, a doe and her fawn search for grass in the torn and bitter ground - they don't remember, don't know.

    The raccoons raiding the bloody knapsacks know but keep the secret.








                                                                          

 From the anthology, a Chinese national hero, Ch'ui Chin (more commonly known as Qiu Jin).

In her time, the poet, writer, revolutionary and feminist, was also known as "Woman Knight of Mirror Lake." She was born in 1875 and died in 1907, beheaded after a failed revolution against the Qing Dynasty.

Her poem was translated from Chinese by Kenneth Rexroth and Ling Chung.










To the Tune "The River is Red"

How many wise men and heroes
Have survived the dust and dirt of the  world?
How many beautiful women  have been heroines?
There were the novel and famous women generals
Ch'in Liang-yu and Shen Yun-yin.
Through tears stained their dresses
Their hearts were full of blood.
The wild strokes of their swords
Whistled like dragons and sobbed with pain.

The perfume of freedom burns in my mind
With grief for my country.
When will we ever be cleansed?
Comrades, I say to you,
Spare no effort, struggle unceasingly,
That at last peace may come to our people,
And jeweled dresses and deformed feet
Will be abandoned.
And one  day, all under heaven
Will see beautiful free women,
Blooming like fields of  flowers,
And bearing brilliant and and noble human beings.







                                                               





More "Dispatches" -














from Dispatches

I am a courier today...

    I am a courier today,  carrying a message to General  Parchantz.

    It is important, I am told.

    I am curious and could read the message but do not. I know my name. I am afraid to know anything else.







                                                                    




The next poem is by Dan Cuddy, another poet friend from Baltimore and occasional housemate on Blueline's "House of 30."













The Resurrection of the Flesh
                        - after  Giuseppe Gioachino  Belli
                          Poetry Magazine April 1980

No one in their right mind.
immersed in the mathematics of making money,
in giving the appearance of normalcy to the world,
can stand the poetry of ecstasy,
can look in the sun's eye,
or prophesize anything definite

about heaven except  in words that mask
like "Beatific Vision."
Bernini's Theresa is obscene

One must speak in hushed deliberate prose,
make an effort to put one foot properly in front of the other,
tiptoe  down the long corridors of the mind,
keep as "cool" as possible,
keep ever twitter of a song restrained.

And on the Second Coming?
                                         What we feel
is fear, the destruction of the world by fir.
How can these miserable decaying bodies,
rags on a hanger, stand all the heat to come?
Everyone fears fire, even the smallest
finger pulls away after first acquainted.
And yet faith tells us of resurrected, glorified bodies -
anything  less could not stand the shock -
and legend has it all will be 33 years old,
naked, magnificent in bone, flesh, sex,
and the eyes will flash poetry,
and the mind will tumble out equations, perceptions,
such abstractions that will rid the universe of
absurdity.
And love will  be unrestrained when unleashed
from  original sin. We will love everybody,
every body,
and this will be love, not lust, a peeking into the soul.
The chains of  morality, as well as mortality, will fall.
There will be a Great Humping throughout the universe.


But then again...........

  





                                                              






"Dispatches"  again.












from Dispatches


Monday was washday...

    Monday was  washday at my mother's house. I remember the clothes hanging on the wash line, whites,  starched, bleached, blinding white in the sun, and the colored clothes like a queen's flower garden waving  in the sky, the wind blowing, folding and  unfolding clothes as it came across the fields.

    It was right over there where she hung the clothes, by that broken tree and the crumbling  stones that
were our house - and by the hanging vine on the leaning fence, the place where first I kissed Maggie
Bray.

    Home.

    Blood Hill we call it now, graveyard of stolen kisses.

    It was right here,  all of it that I  remember.








                                                           



Here is another from the anthology, this one by Adrienne Rich.

Rich, born in 1929, was a poet, essayist and feminist credited with "bringing the oppression of women and lesbians to the forefront of poetic discourse." She died in 2012.










Upper Broadway

The leafbud struggles forth
toward the frigid light of the air shaft      this is faith
this pale extension of a day
when looking up      you know      something is changing
winter has turned      through the wind is colder
Three streets away      a roof collapses      onto people
who thought they still had time      Time out of mind

I have written so many words
wanting to live inside you
to be of use to you

Now I must write for myself      for this blind
woman scratching the pavement       with her wand of thought
this slippered crone      inching on icy streets
reaching into the wire trash baskets    pulling out
what was thrown away      and infinitely precious

I look at my hands and see      they are still unfinished
I look at he vine and see the leafbud
inching towards life

I look at my face in the glass      and see
a halfborn woman







                                                         






From the new series again.












from Dispatches


It  was  the fire circle at night...

    It was the fire circle at night that brought us comfort in our refuge after our bloodiest days, the
red and orange and yellow flames and the shadows they cast on us as we set  together as close to the fire as the heat would allow us. Singing, all of us together, quietly, for we knew the Floaters could hear even what they could not  see.

    But we sang anyway, even those like me who sang poorly, the words, the tunes, wrapping themselves
around our fears, easing them like a lullaby eases a baby in its crib.

    The singing, it was the singing that  gave sustenance to our poor  rations, made brothers of stranger, our strangers, our brothers.








                                                                  


From my library, here's a poem by John Ashbery. Born in 1927, Ashbery has published more than 20 collections of poet and won  nearly every major American poetry award, including the Pulitzer Prize in 1976.

The poem is from his book, April Galleons, published in 1988 by Penguin Books.











Frost

Trapped in the wrong dream, you turn
Outof an alley into a wide, weak street      Mirrors
Fall from trees and it could be time
To  refinance the mess of starting
and staying put. But rumors feed this.
The distant passage  is then always sublime
And well-lit for some,  a curious picture
Of longing and distress for others.

Meanwhile the only tall thing
Of importance dismantles himself,
Transparent in places,sometimes  opaque
and more beautiful for the scenes
That might be projected on him.The secret
Chamber  is one, where only the king
Could come, and now two or three young people
Can sit, uneasy and comfortable, discussing
Bicycles, the bone: any of the smaller anythings.
Which is quite nice,  but darkness
Seems to fall more quickly, to accrue more in this sudden
Place, made of a name cut out of a map.

One gets closer  to nervousness then.
It needn't be so. things are stranger elsewhere.
Here in the dark the keeping of secrets
Is dense, that's all. There are still a few common
Names for things around here; even they don't have to be
Used. Only I  wish
There was some way of not getting more thoughtful,
Of not bruising the obvious  shadow for which
There is a reason. Am I poor?
Have I worn out God's welcome?
There is enough dark green to cover us
Yet will we  always be speechless to the end,
Unable to say the familiar things?







                                                            






The Dispatches series.












from Dispatches


 There were roads...



    There were roads where I  could run with my dog, Misty, fields  crisscrossed by irrigation canals where we could swim naked under a benevolent sun, trees  below the canal banks where we could laze in cool shadows,  trees we  could climb, so close and intertwining their branches, we could scamper  like  squirrels  from tree to tree.

    There were snakes that swam with us in canals, long and sinuous as they undulated across the top of the water, and ferocious looking alligator gar, some as big as or bigger than those of us who swam.

    But they were natural things and we had been taught not to fear natural things.

    Innocent as we were, we could not imagine such unnatural things as there were in other places we also could not imagine.





 

                                                   




Last from this week's anthology, this poem by Dorothy Livesay

Born in 1909, Livesay died in 1996. She was a Canadian poet, twice winner of the Governor General's Award in the 1940.










Eve

Beside the highway
at  the motel door
                it roots
the last survivor of a pioneer
                orchard
miraculously      still
                 bearing.

A thud      another apple falls
                 I stoop      and O
that scent, gnarled, ciderish
                 with sun in it
that woody pulp
                  for teeth and tongue
                  to bite and curl around
that spurting juice
                  earth-sweet!

In fifty seconds, fifty summers sweep
                   and shake me -
I am alive!      can stand
                   up still
hoarding this apple
                   in my hand.







                                                     





The series continues...














from Dispatches


 In a forward position...

    In a forward position, watching for Floaters on the horizon, I see six blackbirds perched on a electric wire, the wire, long dead and unused, attached to a leaning creosote pole at one end and on the other, ceramic insulators on the only standing wall of a small frame house.

    I remember when I was a kid, running my my dog along the arroyo, and the slingshot I made with a
patch of leather and rubber strips from a bicycle inner tube and a fork of tree limb I had cut from a
chinaberry tree in the backyard.

    Remembering how good I was with the slingshot and small round rocks I found washed by the creek, knocking down tin  cans on the fence one  after another and think how if I had  that slingshot today I
could have crow for dinner








Last from my library, I have several poets from the anthology, Passionate Hearts - The Poetry of Sexual Love. The book was published by New  World Library in 1996.


                                                             


The first poet is Marge Piercy. I have several of her  books and use her work here often, so I won't bother repeating her biography as may times in the past.










Morning Love Song

I am filled with love like a melon
with seeds, I am ripe and dripping sweet juices.
If you knock gently on my belly
it will  thrum ripe, ripe.

It is a high green  summer with the strawberries
just ending and the blueberries coloring,
with roses tumbling like fat Persian
kittens,  the gold horns of the squash blowing.

The day after a storm the leaves gleam.
The world is clear as a just washed picture window.
The air whips its fine silk through the hands.
Every last bird has an idea to insist on.

I am trying to work and instead
I  drip love for you like a honeycomb.
I am devoid of fantasies clean as rainwater
waiting  to flow all  over you skin.


                                                                     




Laura H.  Kennedy is the next poet. I find a lot of the poet's work  on the web, but otherwise neither a bio or a  photo.













Untitled I

I am in the most exquisite distress
astride you now,
sweating
feeling an impetuous volcano
strain at its  peak
inside
wanting to explode
my sweetest self
all  over you.


                                                              
Another from the anthology, this one by Rachel Loden.

Loden was born in Washington D.C. and grew up  in Los Angeles, Brooklyn and Berkeley. Two of her collections, Dick of  the Dead, a finalist for the PEN USA Literary Award, and Hotel Imperium, winner of the Contemporary Poetry Series competition, were about Richard Nixon, who was a member  of the  House Un-American Activities Committee that  blackballed her father, an actor and radio announcer.









Far In

Full stop. Let's not
do anything. Wait
for what is spreading
underneath the skin,
the limit on this
only how much ripeness
we can stand. Full
stop. Are you
a woman,  am I a man,
which one of us is fuller
with the other? Something
in pleasure is just
out of ken,  floats
like a lily on a lake
that deepens  farther in.



                                                                     





Here's a surprise, at least to me, Raymond Carver, who I never think of as a poet.












Woman Bathing

Naches River. Just below the falls.
Twenty miles from any town. A day
of dense sunlight
heavy with odors of love.
How long have we?
Already your body,  sharpness of Picasso,
is drying in this highland air.
I towel down your back, your hips,
with my undershirt.
Time is a mountain lion.
We laugh at nothing,
and as I touch your breasts
even the ground-
                    squirrels
are dazzled.








                                                                            





Last for this week  from "Dispatches." More will come in my next  post.














from Dispatches


 I was sixteen when the Floaters came... 

    I was sixteen when the Floaters came, the Fifth Cycle, they call themselves.

    My sister's husband Mica was the first into the fight, then my brother Seth. My turn came the day of
the great collapse, the End of Delusion Day.

    I don't know what has happened to my mother and father, or Mica, or Seth, or my little sister Beth. If they are not alive, I hope they died quickly.

    My world now is this mud, this blood, this stink.

    When my time  comes, I hope it comes quickly







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Short Stories


Sonyador - The Dreamer










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Vienna's Gallery
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Beau Blue
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Dan Cuddy
Christine Kiefer
David Anthony
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Scott Acheson
Christopher George
James Lineberger
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Desert Moon Review
Octopus Beak Inc.
Wrong Planet...Right Universe
Poetry and Poets in Rags
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Camroc Press Review
The Angry Poet