High-Signs and Low-Downs   Wednesday, January 28, 2015




Among its very varied geographies, geologies and biologies, Texas has only two serious mountain areas. The Guadalupe Mountains, within the Guadalupe Mountains National Park, offers visitors natural areas for hiking and primitive camping, with very limited road access. The park's highest elevation is 8,750 feet. Although my son has hiked and camped there often (providing pictures I have used here), it is too rough for me at this point  in my life and I have only driven past. The park is on the border with New Mexico.

South, in the Big Bend on the Texas-Mexico border where the two countries are separated by the green ribbon of the Rio Grande River are the Chisos Mountains, with peak elevation of 7,825 feet, in the Big Bend National Park. In addition to more than 150 miles of mountain and desert hiking, with both primitive and more civilized camping opportunities, river rafting through tall canyons and the Chisos Basin which, at 5,400 feet, offers a lodge, with a restaurant, RV camping spaces, a hotel and cabins scattered within the woods. Otherwise surrounded by high peaks, the "notch" on the western side of  the basin offers a view all the way down to the Chihuahua Desert below, making for beautiful sunsets and moon rises.

Being the kind of camper who requires maid service and a good restaurant, Big Bend National Park and the Chisos Basin are where I get my in-state mountain fix.

My photos this week are from the the park and a bit of the area around it. They were taken on different visits to the park during different seasons.

My anthology this week is The Outlaw Bible of American Poetry, 644 pages of poets and poetry published by Thunder's Mouth Press in 1999, everyone from Walt Whitman, godfather to the beats, to the outlaws themselves.

The rest of the post is the normal, me and my  library.


Me
my search for better person-hood

Walt Whitman
Poets to Come

Me
breakfast at the flour mill

Henry Coulette
It is a Strange Book
On Account
Little Enough

Me
thinking my day had come

Alan Kaufman
The Saddest Man on Earth

Me
discussing the nature of things with my dog  

Nanao Sakaki
Love Letter

Me
as I  pay my dues

Mike Topp
Rejected Mafia Nicknames
Disappointment 
The Mind is Buddha 
Tozan's Pretzels
We Have Chocolate Pudding

Me
it's a sign

Jose Emilio Pacheco
A Farewell to Arms

Me
such fading memories

Julia Vinograd
In the Bookstore

Me
remembering the caves

Brenda Cardenas
Cornflowers

Me
it seems the  kind of day when such a thing could happen

Kathleen Wood
The Wino, the Junkie and the Lord

Me
season of zombies walking

Stephen Dunn
Losing Steps

Me
surely the gods must weep

Neeli Cherkovski
The Woman at the Palace of the Legion of Honor

Me
seasons changing around us

Marilyn Hacker
A Note Downriver
Groves of Academe

Me
stalked

Me
something insightful    


But before we go on, I repeat this note from  last  week.


I know "Here and Now" has readers because I have the numbers, 5,000 to 9,000 page views a month, depending on the season, and that encourages me to continue. But I would really enjoy more feedback.



So I invite you to comment.



Click on the comment button at the end of the post for comment you might like to make. If you don't  want to post publicly, you can email me at allen.itz@gmail.com. You can also use this address if you're looking at "Here and  Now" for the first time and would like to be included on my weekly promo list. As always, if you're on the list and want off,  you can email me and tell  me to just cut it out. 


And, of course, if you have poem you would like to submit to me you can also use the email above. I prefer material sent to me to be included in the body of the email instead of as an attachment which will often present formatting  problems.



Now, here's this week's show.   

     










It is a constant struggle.











my search for better person-hood

still,
having slept an  extra hour
every morning
for the past six days
and having exchanged my wide window view
of stressed commuters on Interstate 10
for a smaller window and more laid-back traffic on Broadway
I cannot say
I am a better person for it

but the sun just came out
making he morning yellow and bright
and that is certainly
promising
but
still I fear
it will  take more than that

and the obits this morning,
25 dead people and only one younger than me
(and that only by scant months)
and that is sure as hell
a promise
to consider,
but
still
I  think
it will take more than that

and while my wife was her usual
non-committal self
my dog demonstrated the true and deepest love for me
this morning
and that would be  promising if in any way
it suggested a status change
but it does not
so that falls on the maintenance side
of the ledger
not on any new promise side
so it will take more than
that

so
it might appear,
setting all else aside as nice but not the true way
to better person-hood, that the only way to be a better person
is to be  a better person...

~~

isn't it always the way,
there's always one damn catch or other,
like the advertisements on the back of comic books
about how to quit being the guy
who the bully at the beach always kicks sand in the face of,
the secret sold for twenty-five cents and a coupon on the back of the label of a 75-ounce jar
of Vaseline Petroleum Jelly...

Nirvana and better person-hood
available only to those most dedicated to its pursuit

(and liberal daily use of Vaseline Petroleum  Jelly)













The first poem from this week's "outlaw bible" is actually the afterword to the book, a short poem by Walt Whitman, his exhortation to  all the outlaws to come.










Poets to Come

Poets to come! orators, singers, musicians to come!
Not to-day is to justify me and answer what I am for,
But you, a new  brood, native, athletic, continental, greater than
    before known,
Arouse! for you must justify me.

I myself but write one or two indicative words for the future,
I but advance a moment only to wheel and hurry back in the
    darkness.

I am a man who, sauntering along without fully stopping, turns a
    casual look upon you and then averts his face.
Leaving it to you to prove and define it,
Expecting the main things from you.













This is an old poem from January, last year.












breakfast at the flour mill

breakfast
with a friend
this morning, at the restaurant
connected to the Pioneer Four Mill
where they make syruplious pancakes
all the way south of downtown
in the King William district
by the river, a ways to go
so time is short
so poem must be short a well...

moon
stars
brightly shining
clouds
slowly drifting
trees
whisperly stirring
dog
sniffing and sniffing
cat
grayly slinking
skunk
waddly lurking
(wait...
skunk is another
poem entirely)

but
enough
every word seems
abundant with "s's" today
ad my "s" key is
sticking -
highly aggravating,
so even if
I didn't have to rush downtown
I'd be stopping
here any
way...








The first poems from my library this week is by Henri Coulette. It is taken from The Collected Poems of Henri Coulette, published in 1990 by The University of Arkansas Press.

Born in 1927, Coulette  was a poet and educator. His first book, The War of the Secret Agents and Other Poems was greeted with high acclaim. His second book, The Family Goldschmitt received very little attention after, it is told, most of the book's print run was accidentally pulped. Though he continued to teach and write until his death in 1988, he did not publish another book in his lifetime.






In a Strange Book

I read in a strange book,
While the sunlight moves on my back
And the dog at my foot stretches:

No word is ever lost,
For all sound circles the earth,
Like a noose or wristwatch.

The sun moves off. The dog sleeps.
I close the book, and the sound
Of the book closing rises,

A thread of hemp, a small jewel,
Among the quotations, flying.
Famous and infamous.

I think of your cry of pain,
Of myself, once, reciting,
Amo, amas, amat.



On Account

The tax-man would be  around,
Late at  night,subpoena in hand,

If what you are really worth
Would lend itself  to numbers,

To columns, red ink, black  ink...
I am writing this poem,  you know,

In my check  book, in black ink. 
You can cash it, if you like.



Little Enough

I speak of shadows,saying
Than they ask little enough:

Just to be allowed to be faithful...
At our feet in the warm light

or  hovering darkly above us...
Like dogs, like guardian angels.

What shall I leave you, later,
When I leave you? My shadow.

I shall avoid the light then
You shall avoid the dark.









Over the past several weeks, we've been through an extended (in South Texas terms) period of lousy, cold (in South Texas terms), wet weather. During most of that time I was under the influence, for alternating periods, of head colds and allergy miseries. My mental condition and my writing were reflective of those conditions as you can see in the next poem and several more that will follow.








 thinking my day  had  come

thinking my day has come
only to discover
it's just another damn cold and wet January morning

and I'm distressed to consider
that maybe this misery
is my day that has come

and all the promises of rainbows
and pots of riches and gold-bricked streets
were just another fraud
that gullibles like me always fall for...

and why does gullible make me think
of guppies,
fishy gray and dull, swimming their whole life
between the beautiful angel fish and sword tails and coal black mollies,
forever lost in the beautiful days other fish were having,
forever  outshone by those who wake up without crusty fins
and twitchy whiskers - even the lowly crap-eating catfish
get better press...

so I'm just another guppy,  invisible in a crystal clear aquarium,
bubbles of oxygen passing me by for the show boats
that swim with such delicacy
through the fake plants and seashells buried in the sand...

~~~

and again today, the curvaceous blonde in the slinky red dress
did not stir me  from my sleep with a kiss
and a snuggle...

oh, those dreams
how they lie
to us boring guppies,
most gullible of the fishes of the
sea -
the sea,
so much grander than they'll  ever
see










Next from the anthology, I have this poem by Alan Kaufman. A poet, editor, writer and painter, Kaufman was born in the Bronx and earned a BA at City College in New York. In 1977 he moved to Israel where he served in the Israel Defense Forces. After studying fiction at the MFA program at Columbia University, he moved to San Francisco where he was very active in developing the Spoken Word community of poets and became a leader in the Jewish counter-culture movement. He is co-editor of this week's anthology.









The Saddest Man on Earth

The saddest man on earth...

ignored how the rain felt
as he left home
for the last time

Wore down
his boot heels
searching for the woman
of his dreams
but never understood
that life is a woman

Lived in a town
where sadness was illegal
and where grinning
cops ticked his face
so often
that he lost his license
to cry

The saddest man
on Earth
tuned guitars
but couldn't play them
cheated the IRS
of his own refund
fathered a child
who thought she saw
him in perfect strangers
yet didn't recognize
him face to face

I met him once
in a bar
toasting the mirror
with his stare
He had come
south to start
life over

He was a
Mozart of silence












Another old one from  this time last year.














discussing the true nature of things with my dog

discussing
the true nature of things
with my dog
on a brisk winter's day

I find she and I have
only a few areas off agreement,
but in  those areas our agreements
is intense, like,  for example,
the issue of bird's nest hanging
high and alone at the tops
of winter-bare trees which to both
of us is a lonely sight, yet equally a sign
of hope, for though the home
is vacant during these months, it remains,
waiting for the spring and spring's
new chicks, hanging there in their
bushy bed, protected and fed by their mother,
singing, preparing them for their life's first flight

dog and I both see life lessons
in these empty nests and the certainty
that in their time they will be filled again
will new life, persistent life,coming
again in good time, not deterred by
the difficulties of a passing season...

dog knows that while there may not be
a soup bone today, the power that governs all
is preparing her bone for tomorrow, that is her lesson
taken from today's empty nests...

for me, I am reminded that tomorrow
is not yet lost,
only waiting for me to find it,
to fill it again with
life,
like a mother bird coaching
flight out of her chicks,
like her chicks,finding the courage
to take mother's advice to defy
the seemingly insurmountable force of
gravity, to confront the inertia of fear and
soar among the high clouds
according to  creation's grand
design











This poem  from my library is by Nanao Sakaki, from his book  Break the Mirror, published by North Point Press in 1987. A Japanese poet, Sakaki was born in 1923 and died in 2008. His life was much too interesting to try to cram into a tiny space here, so I'll just refer to the web for your own entertainment.










A Love Letter

Within a circle of one meter
You sit, pray and sing.

Within a shelter ten meters large
You sleep well, rain sounds a lullaby.

Within a field a hundred meters large
Raise rice and goats.

Within a valley a thousand meters large
Gather firewood, water, wild vegetables and Amanitas.

Within a forest ten kilometers large
Play with raccoons, hawks,
Poison snakes and butterflies.

Mountainous country Shinano
A hundred kilometers large
Where someone lives leisurely, they say

Within a circle ten thousands kilometers large
Go see the southern coral reef in summer
Or winter drifting ices in the sea of  Okhotsk.

Within a circle ten  thousand kilometers large
Walking somewhere on the earth.

Within a circle a hundred thousand kilometers large
Swimming in the sea of shooting stars.

Within a circle a million kilometers large
Upon the spaced-out yellow mustard blossoms
The moon in the east, the sun west.

Within a circle ten billion kilometers large
Pop  far out of he solar system mandala.

Within a circle ten thousand light years large
The Galaxy full blooming in spring.

Within a circle one billion light years large
Andromeda is melting away into snowing cherry flowers.

Now within a circle ten billion light years large
All thoughts of time, space are burnt away
There again you sit, pray and sing
You sit, pray and sing.












Okay, here's more from the misery files.










as I pay my dues

the sun,
lost in the dark for three weeks,
returns in the early morn,
the previous night's rain hangs
in droplets on brown leaves late fallen
like diamonds flung across a muddy field

umbrellas at sidewalk restaurants
are unfurled, welcoming
the sun lovers to return, to have  their lattes
and everything bagels outside, saved
from another day in dank and dark rooms...

but
just for a day,  this winter, long in coming
is not  over, all of us due for only a one-day reprieve

the cold, dark wet will return tomorrow
and stay near past when we can stand
it

~~~

I am inside
and can only see the sun though my window
as I pay the price of winter
defied,
walking in the cold with my dog,
head uncovered, rain on my shoulders,
pretending to be again the invincible I once was  sure I was,
paying the  price then as I pay my dues
today as well...

suffering again the fool's fever
and chills...









 I've done these little things from the anthology by Mike Topp before, but I think they're very funny so I'm doing them again. Everything I can find in the way of a Mike Topp bio appears to have been written by the poet himself, such as:

"Mike Topp was born in Washington D.C and lives in New York City, unless he moved or died."

I did note somewhere that he is an editor at The Evergreen Review.









Rejected Mafia Nicknames

Vanilla
Kitty
Jughead
Senor Wences
Marcel Duchamp
Arcilochus
Tony the Logical Positivist
X-15
Gideon
Achilles Fang


Disappointment

6'5"
4"


The Mind is Buddha

Two monks were arguing about whether their train was moving. One
    said:
"Our train is moving."
        The other said: "The train on the tracks next to us is moving."
        The sixth patriarch happened to be walking down the aisle. He
    asked them: "'Would I look good in short shorts?"


Tozan's Pretzels

A monk asked Tozan when he was eating pretzels "What is
    Buddha?"
        Tozan said: "These pretzels are making me thirsty."


We Have Chocolate Pudding

When Banzan was walking through the Union Square greenmarket he
overheard a conversation between an vendor and his customer.
    "Do you have chocolate mousse?" asked the customer.
    "We have chocolate pudding," replied the vendor.
     At these words Banzan became enlightened.













From January last year, apparently not a good day.













it's a sign

this is not
a happy chirpy
day

birds
moan from the trees

dogs
whine and cower

cats scowl
in aggravation
at the world's
failure
yet again
to recognize
feline pre-eminence
in the order of things

trees
droop their limbs

stars, like cheap plastic
jewelry
on a dark-hearted
whore,
do not shine

the sun rises, its single
bright eye
sagging above the horizon's edge
like a lay-about drunk
preparing for its day's labors,
again
it seems to say
again and again and again
I  rise, it says,
seeking only the dark relief
of night falling

sister moon, it calls,
stay awhile
longer

let me sleep...

it's not a happy,  chirpy day -
when birds
moan
from their trees
you know it's not a
happy, chirpy
day

it's a
sign









The next poet from  my library is Jose Emilio Pacheco. His poem is from his book, City of Memory and Other Poems, published by City Lights in 1997, with translation from Spanish by Cynthia Steele and David Lauer.

Born in in 1939, Pacheco was a Mexican poet,  essayist, novelist, short story writer and professor recognized as one of the major Mexican writers of the second half of the last  century and one of the most significant of Latin American poets. He taught in universities in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. He died  last year.




A Farewell to Arms

One afternoon they arrived from a city up north,
or maybe from central Mexico.
I couldn't say for sure
after the lies of so many years,
that function we call memory,
forgetfulness that invents.

Maria Elvira, Ana, Amalia: names of another time,
nearly identical sisters,
all three of them lovely,
all three our erotic and romantic
pre-teenage dream.

Out of vanity or shyness
they never looked at us.
We vied for their attention:
bicycle stunts, scaling and balancing acts
on cornices and railings,
hand games, ball games, boxing matches,
- all of it to  no avail.

With all hope lost, Marco Vargas
somehow managed to win  their friendship.
And one night the Armas sisters' mother
invited us over.

Pate sandwiches, Mundet cider,
two hours of chatting right in the living room.

Marco and I
left more in love than ever with Ana,
Maria Elvira, and Amalia.

And the next day
all three of them  went  back to where they came from:
their father killed someone
or got an important promotion.

We never saw them again.
That one night was our farewell to arms.










The wonders of memory (appropriately  fictionalized of  course to make a better story).












such fading memories

yesterday's sun a fading memory,
like nickel cokes and twenty-five cent movies.

and Polly in the backseat of my '49 Plymouth,
of! soft Polly lying back on soft cloth seats,
my heart fluttering against her yielding breasts, nipples
like dark  marbles,
her legs tight
around my back, quivering like my
hasty heart...

oh! such fading memories
on a day returned to
dark...










Next from the anthology, here is a poem by Julia Vinograd, a Berkeley street poet who has published 57 collections of poetry and won numerous awards and prizes, including the Pushcart Prize, an American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation, and Lifetime Poetry Achievement Award from the City of Berkeley. She earned a BA from the University of California at Berkeley and an MFA from the University of Iowa. She also has three poetry collections on CDs.









In the Bookstore

I went down to the bookstore this evening
and found myself in the poetry section.
But for every thin book of poems
there was a thick biography of the poet
and an even thicker book of the poet
by someone who's supposed to know
explaining what the poet
is supposed to've said and why he didn't.
So you don't have to waster your time
on the best the writer could do,
the words he fought in the darkness and himself for,
the unequal battle with beauty.
Instead you can read comfortably
about the worst the writer could do:
the mess he made of his life,
how he fought with his family,
cheated on his lovers, didn't pay his debts
and not only drank too much
but all the stupid things
he ever said to the bartender
just before getting 86'd will be printed for you
and they're just as stupid
as the things everyone says just before getting 86'd.
The books explaining the poet
are themselves inexplicable.
The students who have to read them
cheat.
I left the poetry section
thinking about burning the bookstore down.
Some of the poet's work comes from his life, ok.
But most of the poet's work comes
in spite of his life, in spite of everything,
even in spite of bookstores.
So I went to the next section
and bought a murder mystery but I haven't read it yet.
I find I don't want to know who done it
and why:
               I want to do it myself.











I wrote this last year after hearing scientific speculation that among the things we pass on in our genes are some (not all) memories of our own time and memories of those who came before us.

I love this kind of stuff that explains so many mysteries of trolls and unicorns and fire-breathing dragons.










remembering the caves

so it's like this,
we preserve memories in our brain
and when our brain
dies
so die the memories

except for a few
that reside our genes
and do not die with us
but are passed on to our
offspring, memories
encoded in genes
that are part of the
inheritance
just as are the rest
of the genetic
mix that makes us...

generational memories,
passed on and passed on
so that some part of us
remembers the cave,
remembers the man-things,
the almost-us Neanderthals
who we remember
as we remember so many
other fantastical things
beyond our experience,
things we explain through
tall tales and myths and
fairy stories...

and beyond that,
it is said, all living things
animal and plant
have these genetic memories
just as all living things
have a consciousness, the
whooping cranes
in their winter marsh home,
finding this refuge every year
not through some trick
of navigation, but because
somewhere in their genes
they remember it,
generations of genetic memory
remembering its comforts
and where it is ad how
to get there

and also the forests
and the prairie grasses
and the sunflower
that turns its face
to the sun before
the sun rises, knowing
from generations that it will
rise and that it will rise
in the east and  generations
of warm sun memory tell it
when it is time to turn...

science learning from
myth, myth suggesting
new science, and with each
new thing we learn,
new mysteries, all knowledge
an accumulation of ignorance
addressed, universal
consciousness, memories
from all becoming
part of  all...

where have we heard
that before...

~~~

this
the state of knowledge
expanding
today

theory
always questing to be
challenged, questing
to  be debunked

what does a poet
know of this
and what advice
can such a dabbler
provide?

not much

only enough to consider
one suggestion -

maybe we should all talk
to our petunias today
though we know they will not
talk back, science not tells us
there is a good chance
they will hear
and warm themselves
in the genetic memory
of kind words
spoken
by those who
in the far past knew them
better than
we









This poem from my library is by Brenda Cardenas. It is from her book, From the Tongues of Brick and Stone, published in 2005 by Momotombo Press.

The poet  is a native of  Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and is the author of  two poetry collections including this one. She usually writes in a blend of English and Spanish, as she does in this  book, some poems in English and some in Spanish.










Cornflowers

She says my hair  smells
like corn tortillas.
I raise an eyebrow.
After all those honeysuckle
and papaya shampoos,
I can't believe my scalp
hasn't soaked up
the scent of blossoms
or the perfume of rainfall.
No, she's my mother,
and she insists
that  even as a little girl,
my whole bedroom breathed
corn tortillas.

Pressing nose top pillowcase,
I search for masa,
reach back before
molcajete and plow
to a dusky meadow,
its bed of  soil flecked
with teosinte,
ancestor grasses.

Up through the dark
follicles of my skull
covered in sun-cracked husks,
push the black-brown silk strands,
cocooning thirsty kernels.
Maiz  sprouts into fields of thought
bearing hybrid  rows of words
that fall like teeth
from the mouths of the dead.











Here I am back in another misery day,  except by this time I was  past misery and into a state of stolid acceptance.










it seems the kind of day when such a thing could happen

it's a day
that reminds me of the le Carre story
about the spy who comes in from the cold,
Richard Burton under a dim streetlight in East Berlin,
a cigarette in his mouth, smoked down to a nub,
waiting in the shadow of the Wall, barbed wire spikes glistening
with melting ice...

hounded across the broken cityscape by the secret police, the Stasi,
he dies, in the end, i think, shot by hulking border guards
while trying to cross
East to West...

I don't expect anyone to shoot me today,
but, looking out on the dark, cold morning, it seems the kind of day
when such a thing could
happen











This is a poem from the anthology written by Kathleen Wood. I found the photo on the left on the web, but no biography, so all I have is a very short, and maybe obsolete, note in the book's contributors list, that describes Wood as a celebrated star of the Cafe Barbar scene.











The Wino, the Junkie and the Lord

I was on a bench at 18th and Val
Talking to a wino who said he believed in the Lord.
He  said he needed money for dinner at McDonald's.
He  said he wasn't asking for much.
I gave him a dollar.
He said he'd protect  me whenever I was in the
neighborhood.
Because he always looked out
For the people who helped him
He  said he had good  reasons
           for being an alcoholic.
I told him I used to have good reasons for being an addict.
He asked me where I was going.
I  said to an NA meeting on Eureka Street.
He  said his daughters lived on Eureka Street.
And he hoped they turned out okay.
He wanted to know which drug I was addicted to.
I said several.
He said he wanted to know where the meeting was
Because the streets were dangerous at night.
He asked God to  protect me
From the crazies in the dark.
He turned to a yuppie who stood nearby.
"I've got good  reasons to be an alcoholic!"
The yuppie smiles at me and shook his head.
The bum asked the Lord to keep us all.
Then he stumbled off down Valencia.
The yuppie muttered something about crazies.
Our bus arrived.













This is another seasonal poem from last year.













season of zombies walking

two weeks
of cedar fever

the highest count
of cedar allergens
in fifteen years

sniffling, drippling
nose,
itchy
watery eyes,
energy
and ambition
swirling
down the great
bottomless
sink of Blatzovia-Kaplatz

I do not wish
to get out of bed

I don not wish to do
anything
but sleep,
wrapped tight
in my blue blankie of snug,
my blue-raggedy, womb-memoried
nest of contented murmur

for
I live in a world
of snuffling
blindly shuffling
zombies...

or
at least
it seems that way
through my own zombie
eyes










Next from my library, Stephen Dunn, from his book, Different Hours, winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 2000, published by W. W. Norton.












Losing Steps

     1

It's  probably a Sunday morning
in a pickup game and it's clear
you've begun to leave
fewer people behind.

Your fakes are as good as ever,
but when you move
you're like the Southern Pacific
the first time a car  kept up with it,

your opponent  at your hip,
with you all the way
to the rim. Five years earlier
he'd have been part  of the air

that stayed behind you
in you ascendance.
On the sidelines they're saying,
He's lost a step.

     2

In a few more years
it's adult night in a gymnasium
streaked with the abrupt scuff marks
of high schoolers and another step 

leaves  you like a wire
burned out in a radio.
You're playing defense,
someone jukes right,goes left,

and you're not fooled
but he's past your anyway,
dust in your  eyes,
a few more points against you

     3

Suddenly you're fifty;
if you know anything  about steps
you're playing chess
with an old,  complicated friend.

But you're walking to a schoolyard
where kids are playing full-court,
telling yourself
the value of experience,worn down

basketball under your  arm,
you legs hanging from your waist
like misplaced sloths in a country
known for its cheetahs and its sunsets.











I head it  on our local classical music station and was immediately taken back to when I first heard it and how profoundly moved I was by  it.










surely the gods must weep

the soft slow opening  passages,
like the whisper of angels' wings,
the most noble, moving, profound beauty
in all music, leading inexorably
to the same passages as it this, this time
the full-throated god-roar of Odin
and all his sons and daughters,
the power of deepest beauty,
the beauty of immense
power,
all in a single piece of human creation,
surely the gods must weep
at this presentation of their own eternal story...

the Overture to Tannhauser, played in high school band,
engulfed in the music from the low brass section
at the back of the band, only three bars in,
the music like the quiet rising waters
of an on-coming flood, that very minute I  learned
such depth of soul and  sound was possible
the very minute I learned I  loved classical music









And last from this week's massive anthology, here is a poem by Neeli Cherkovski. Born Nelson Cherry in 1945, Cherkovski has lived in San Francisco since 1975,  involved in political  work and with the poetry and the poets of the day, coming to know many of them very well. This led to a book of essays on the various San Francisco poets and  complete  biographies on three of  them,  Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Bob Kaufman  and  Charles  Bukowski with whom he collaborated on several projects.








The Woman  at the Palace of the Legion  of Honor

She  does not know that  I  am staring at  here
             as she stands in her bright  yellow dress
             looking at something by Rodin,
She does not know that I believe in  the solemn
             things sculpted by Rodin,
Looking like poetry
             or the secret of clay.

If only I were brave and handsome,
             I would let her hear  my mind
             as I equate her with the statue.
I don't think she has  even  glanced at me,
             and here I am, so close by,
             confused,
             listening to Rodin,
And listening to the woman
             who  stands there,

looking like poetry
             or the secret of clay

1965












A travel memory poem written last year.













seasons changing around us

late getting there,
the park closed for the season,
so we are alone,
mile after mile of rolling hills
covered with all the colors
of autumn, spread across
hill after hill,
like a box
of Crayolas spilled
in the summer by some child,
left to melt in the sun
when mother called,
hardened now
in the cold,
to multicolored streaks
running where
summer flow had taken
them...

an early winter storm
follows us,
closer behind
every time we stop
to take in the fragile  beauty,
its seasonal end
approaching,
buried in snow on the hills
so bright before,
the surviving glory of the lost season
passing
all around and ahead...

we leave the parkway to stop
for the night
and in the morning
find our intended route
over the mountains blocked
by very heavy snow...

we take the low route
and leave the mountains
behind
for another day

(Blue Ridge Parkway, 2011)










Last for the week from my library, here are two poems by Marilyn Hacker from her book Winter Numbers. The book was published in 1994 by W W Norton. Born in New York City in 1942, Hacker is a poet, translator, critic  and  Professor of English at the City College of New York.









A Note Downriver

Afternoon of hangovers Sunday morning
earned by drinking white on an empty stomach
after I me Tom for a bomb on Broadway:
done worse; known better.

I feel muggy-headed and convalescent,
barely push a pen across blue-line paper,
scowl at envelopes with another country's
stamps, and your letter.

Hilltop House, a river to take you somewhere,
sandwiches at noon with a good companion:
summer's ghost flicked ash from the front porch railing,
looked up, and listened.

I would grouse and growl at you if you called me.
I have made you chamomile tea and rye bread
toast, fixed us both orange juice with seltzer
similar mornings.

We'll most likely live in each other's houses
like I haunted yours last July, as long as
we hear rivers vacillate downstream. They say
"always", say "never."


Groves of Academe

The hour dragged on, and I was badly needing
coffee; that encouraged my perversity.
I asked the students of Poetry Writing,
"Tell me about the poetry you've been reading."
There was some hair chewing and some nail biting.
Snowdrifts piled up around the university.
"I've really gotten into science fiction."
"I don't read much - it breaks my concentration
I wouldn't want to influence my style."
"We taped some Sound Poems for the college station."
"When I give readings, should I work on diction?"
"Is it true that no really worthwhile
contemporary poets write in rhyme?"
"Do you think it would be a waste of time
to send my poems to Vanity Fair?
I mean - could they relate to my work there?"













 One more old poem, this one another travel memory poem written last year.












stalked

early morning

walking a dark path
from out cottage 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 see
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 through...

(Big Bend National Park, October, 2006)








Here it is the last new  poem of the week.

I told one of my coffeehouse neighbors that I needed to write my daily poem and it would help if she would say something insightful.

"Something  insightful," she said.

And I remembered Rule 17 of the poem-a-day-poet guild - go with what you've got.






something insightful

something insightful
is what I need today, a good trenchant statement
of sharp, cogent insight that
through the magic  of superior poetics
will become a poem for the ages or at least for the next fifteen minutes
after which it  won't count any more
since I will no longer be famous and no one will care
as the the  relative  insightfulness of my statement,  no matter
how rightful or blind dog obvious it is

it's  the most wonderful thing
about fame being limited to only fifteen minutes,
it being that the sooner one's fifteen minutes are up
the sooner of all the idiocies of that time
are forgot -
much better than my 71 years
during which every idiocy ever considered or perpetrated
during that time is on record, subject
to constant review, ridicule and personal angst
over and over and over again...

so much better that fifteen minute statute of limitations

~~~

maybe this is my insight for the day, or the one at least
that will pass for the next fifteen
minutes







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 to me.
 



As always, I am Allen Itz owner and producer of this blog, and diligent seller of books, specifically these and specifically here:
 

Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iBookstore, Sony eBookstore, Copia, Garner's, Baker & Taylor, eSentral, Scribd, Oyster, Flipkart, Ciando and Kobo (and, through Kobo,  brick and mortar retail booksellers all across America and abroad)



´╗┐Poetry
New Days & New Ways


Places and Spaces
 



Always to the Light






Goes Around Comes Around




Pushing Clouds Against the Wind





And, for those print-bent, available at Amazon and select coffeehouses in San Antonio




Seven Beats a Second






Short Stories


Sonyador - The Dreamer



1 Comments:
at 8:23 AM Blogger Globe Trekker said...

Enjoyed the great photos this week!

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