Thinking Back   Wednesday, June 10, 2015






When it comes to my home state of Texas, I'd be pleased to let Louisiana, Arkansas and Oklahoma fight over every thing east of Austin and north of San Angelo. My Texas, my true Texas and the parts that reverberate in my memory are the central, south and western regions. As I consider the future of "Here and Now" I will be looking back this week and probably for several weeks to come to a mix of photos from those  regions, mostly taken about the time I started "Here and Now" nine years ago last month.

I also expect to be concentrating, as I've done this  week, more on my own work than on poets from my library.








                                                                



San Antonio was lucky. We didn't get the tragedy and ruination of the storms that hit all around us over the Memorial Day weekend, but we did  get the benefit of the rain that we so badly needed.












glowering skies

glowering skies
approach,
thunder, lightning
and the cold pounding fire
of deluge

disaster for some,
relief for others
as behind the storm
follows green
under blue,
like the tail of a
kite
flying high
in the gentle winds
of early
spring








                                                                  






I found some poems in my document  file that I think I may have never used.










The first little smidget was written in March, this year. Apparently it was not a good day.


a day like a ride

a day
like a ride
in a Maytag washer
and I haven't gotten anywhere
yet

and now they want to  throw me
in the dryer

I may, like the bored repairman on TV,
take the rest of the day
off



This one also written in March, then apparently forgotten. Maybe on purpose. Judging from these two poems, it doesn't seem that the whole of March was much of a month.


frozen

dead, damp quiet
chokes the day

overhead
Chopin's light voice

like an angel
whispering

through the 
smothering veil

of silence,
as if all has stopped

waiting
for a sign

a signal,
a  direction

to show the course
from frozen to  whatever

is planned for
next








                                                              


The first  poet from my library this week is Sharan Strange with a poem from  her book, Ash, published in 2001 by Beacon Press.

Strange grew up in South Carolina, was educated at Harvard and earned her MFA in poetry at Sarah Lawrence College. She teaches at Spelman College and has been writer-in-residence at a number of other colleges and universities.









February 19, 1994
                 In memory of Julia-Lucille Collie 


We're all in a  black like saying good-bye.
My brother, the oldest grandson, looks lost,
his red face buoyed by whiskey. He holds
our mother, shattered, but dignified,
the way we'd hoped she'd be.
Her black suit and hat are  armor.
Tears move down her face like wax.
My aunts, svelte, New Yorkish,
taste a private, refined sorrow.
My sisters cling to each other. They are
on the verge of this world, seeing her gone.
We all are:  family, friends,neighbors, church.
The choir wails over their hymnals
as the soloist's strident notes hover. The minister
raises the Bible, chants a prayer to
"send our Sister home." I clutch a book
of poems, turn  to the one written for her,
and read over and over, each word.
Later, I'll sift through  the box  my mother
drags from beneath the bed, take
the flowered,,cotton dress, a safety pin
piercing its  pocket. A keepsake
to soften grief,
folded and parceled
like a pillow.








                                                                       





The poems get thinner and thinner and I begin to think, maybe it's time to re-engage real life again.












just practice for now

I am sending today
an application for a very good job
that 15 years ago, after my first retirement,
would have seemed an  almost impossibly exciting  next step...

but it's not 15 years ago
and the job is in Chicago and even if by some mysterious
swirling in the tidal basin of fate I were to be offered the job
there is no way I would move to Chicago
at my age, a decision not  so much different than deciding
I want to die in Chicago which I  do not...

still, off goes the application, resume prepared
along with a cover letter outlining all the reasons
why, barring the return of Jesus Christ to the job market,
I should be their immediate and enthusiastic choice
to rescue their organization  from whatever doldrums
it currently suffers...

just practice for now...








                                                               





Sometimes it is necessary to take a stand against all the piddly  problems  that  will puddle around our feet if we let them. This  cry of revolution  from 2007.

Who says I don't deal with the important issues of the day in my poetry - ha!









up  the banner, up the flag

where does it say
the proper position of a toilet seat
is down?

it's not in the bible -
I've checked,
chapter and verse...

it's  not
in the constitution,
the  federalists papers

the Magna Carta,
or was it the Carta Blanca,
or in the political philosophy
of any seer,sage, savant

or political science  crackpot
I can find in any of the learned journals,
including Wikipedia...

so how do things like this
become law then,
when not precedentially established ?

me are taught from their earliest years
to  check the target
before getting down to business..

if me, so often deemed insufficient,
can do this,why not also those persons
of the fem-alien persuasion

who so readily complain
when this law of toilet  seat alignment
is disregarded by those  brutes

who dribble
when  they piddle
from the evolutionarily advantageous upright position?

enough!

up the banner, up the flag,
let the toilet seat rebellion
begin








                                                                         




This is mine, from the middle of last year, an example of the phony promises of  rain that raised our hopes for five years, finally met (and then a little too much for some) last month.











 just ask her yourself

one of the regulars comes in
tells me it's about to
rain
so I run out real  quick
to  check, my windows half  down
so Bella can get some air,sitting in the driver's seat
as usual, what's up? she asks
with raised eyebrows

false alarm, dry as a bone,
which I  don't  actually say since
any reference to bone
needlessly
activates  her salivary glands
which is a mess, so I euphemize,
tell her, never mind
go back to
sleep
which she does  almost  as well
as she salivates when "bone"
or its phonetic equivalent  is heard

so
I thought I'd come back inside
and write this pitiful
excuse
for a morning poem
while watching
for the  phantasmagorical  rain
that isn't  here
yet
even though the regular guy
says it was

actually
I think he was just giving me
an indirect hard time
for leaving my dog
in  the car

I have to deal with this  kind of buttinskie type
all the time
even though I've discussed the  question
with  the dog and she an emphatic preference
for sitting in the car waiting for me
than sitting at  home
alone...

if you don't  believe me, I tell the buttinskies,
ask her yourself








                                                                     





Continuing  to consider change  and how  much of it I want, or don't want.












is this a man...

life
is a coefficient of death,
purpose
the product of challenge,
anticipation
the creator of change,
fulfillment
a progeny of dreams,
age
an illusion of inaction

my life
sunk in here and now and this day too again,
watching,
day to day, night to night,
the same sun rise
the same sun set
the same red horizons east and west,
pushed
by circumstance
to consider
does it have to be that way,
must
it end that way,
after some sun's rising or falling uncertain

is this a man
drowning, or is it

a man
learning
to swim again









                                                                     





Here's a breakfast observational from  2008.










the woman who reminds me of Gertrude Stein

the woman who reminds me
of Gertrude  Stein
sits across from me
several tables away,
feet heavy on the floor,
wide bottom
planted in her  chair
like a bull
on its own private pasture

she's a large woman
with a sharp beak of a nose
centered
with an occasional sniff
of dissatisfaction
on a fleshy face
that hints of sensuality
behind a domineering facade,
a look of secrets
behind
small,
quick
eyes








                                                                 

The next poem is by Austin poet Frank Pool, taken from his book Depth  of Field, published by Plain View Press in 2001.

Born in Wyoming in 1953, the poet grew up in Longview, Texas, graduating from Stephen F. Austin University in 1975 and earning a master's degree in philosophy, with a minor in Japanese literature, in 1980. He teaches Baccalaureate  and Advanced Placement English in Austin and, since 1998, has been chairman of the Austin International Poetry Festival.











The Sound of Number

                  for  Carl Sagan

The silent night will never hide
Its crying again.  It  is our ignorance
That makes us deaf -  we hypothesize
Peace and calm, and there is no peace
Anywhere, even in the vacuum  reaches
Of the Most Distant.

                                     Violence and motion
And massive structures beyond all
Human language, yet sounding
In their own  emitted tongues of flame
Translate as  number.

For I heard the learned astronomer
Talking, saying the stars spoke
In decimals, roaring outbursts,
Stutters,whines and drones, groaning
Into our intellect, if we only listen
By counting frequencies, intervals,even
Collecting  waves and protons one by
One, into a limited infinity, for the
Skies are not silently immense, but
Noisy with number; and I  saw his  eyes
Glowing, radiating black  bodies of
Awe, speaking the figures, exponentials
And integers - for us congregated -
Reciting the Magnificence, the
Wonders, the Voice, in the
Language of Cosmos:

Light years, constants, billions.








                                                                         






As thoughts of change continue to work  through my head, I think about the  consequences.











Sunday in the sun at Starbucks

as i consider
the possibility of life change
I begin to think
of those  things that will be lost
or changed or re-designed,
some big, major parts of my life
that will fall away,
and some small,
like this,
Sunday in the sun outside Starbucks
at Huebner Oaks, a place, until a couple
of months ago, I rarely visited
after the Borders Books & Music
next door closed down,
an old habit renewed  now  as a stop-over
after breakfast, a geographic time-killer,  a place
with WIFI to wait until Dee gets out of church
and we meet  and Barnes & Noble...

that hour at Barnes & Noble
becoming strangely important as one of the few places
we spend  time together outside of the evening hours
at home...

for me,
at least at first,
Barnes & Noble just an air conditioned place
where I could read magazines without
paying for them and browse for new books
that I might want to steal for my
Kindle...

legalized theft,
makes me feel bad,
but I've felt bad about worse things in my life
that I didn't stop doing, being a person whose guilty
conscience is easily manipulated by  and opportunity to  save
a  buck or  two

in  which case, I am not so  different
from so  many in the world with well-oiled conscience-muffling
when it comes to  advantage, however so small
it  might be...

and there I go again, beginning a poem
that was supposed to be about consideration of change
and its consequence, ending  with a poem about
those  elements of  humanity that never
change...

``````````````````````````````````````````

even so, talented as  I am in that other human
skill at excuse-making and
self-justification no matter how far the reach,
I  note that
Amazon is now assessing state sales tax
on all purchases, which means that, even as
continue to  screw Barnes & Noble, I am,  at least
not stealing from The Great State of Texas
whose eyes are upon me all  the live-long
day

including Sundays in the sun at Starbucks








                                                                   





Here's a  little thing of not much account from 2009.












scant skits

the back door
is the front door
to those
show dawdle in
kitchens

```

politics
is the art
of what can i
get away with
today

```

superheros
never have to take
a whiz - part
of what  makes them
super

```

the short man
has a tall hat, which
are your going to believe

```

the girls all look better
at closing time -
silly ideas
all seem wiser
in a panic

```

that woman
has crooked toes
pointing  in all  different
directions
no matter which way
she goes

```

the girl with the sly smile
crosses
her  tanned legs
repeatedly - she
knows i am
watching and
likes it

glad
to be of service
i think

```

three old men
read their newspapers

hah,
they think,
could'a told'em  so

```

sex
can light up
both night and day...

as i remember
it

```

enough of this
time  to write a real
poem...

tomorrow













This is from 2007, asks the question, who can't jump when these guys start wailing.











Little Richard at the supermarket

one thing  everybody
wondered about
in 1955

was Little Richard
queer
or just a fancy dresser

like the old folks with  Liberace,
the young folk didn't care,
because one thing they all knew

he was the devil's spawn
singing
the devil's music

and that's why
we loved him
and everyone
with any vestige of authority
hate him and all the rest

we burned up
our tinny little 45 record players
with his music, along with
Jerry Lee
and Chuck Berry
and all the other
colored
guys,
dangerous guys,
not from our part of
town

we  love these guys
because their music made us move
like Doris Day never did;
because we were sure
every crazy, wild-ass thing
we were afraid to do
they had already done;
because they scared
the crap
out of our parents
and anything that scared
the crap
out of our parents
must be the goddamn
greatest thing
there ever was

and while we bopped
and hopped in the gym
churches were having
devil-burning parties,
tossing records into the fire
just like they had  tossed
our comic books in the fire
a couple of years earlier...

now the comics are collectibles
and Little Richard rocks and rolls
through the sound systems
in supermarket aisles,
right over the denture cream,
support  hose
and little liver  pills

Good Golly, Miss Molly! -

sometimes
we forget we won








                                                                                  




Opportunities to be disrespected  multiply as one gets older. It is important not to put up  with it,, without of course, descending too far into codger-hood.












affirmation,  of a sort

timid
as a boy, likely
to swallow insult, not expecting
much from myself, not surprised
when others joined in my opinion, until
along the line of growing up, I faced the kind of challenges
that either grow a stronger self or reduce the self that's there
to an even dimmer shadow on the gray walls of every-
day life...

these days, perhaps, I expect too much
expecting
those around me to respect  the me
I  have become...

```````````````````````````````

I was disrespected over the weekend,
such as I no longer take quietly -

so there will be noise this week
and maybe even
a  little
fury...

I will be the storm
that refuses
to softly
pass

I will, I
will, my
will
be
done

``````````````````````````````````

 and
of course,
since no  man ever leaves  entirely behind
the boy, I will  do  it
ever
so
politely








                                                       





This is from 2010, affirming the act of creation as  a measure of humanity  all it's own.












my stupid tree, my stupid poem

this is the part
where i  lower my eyes
and mumble a humble response like

well
thanks
it was nothing

but of course it was
something
it was a poem

and good  or bad
it  was an effort at creation
like the tree stump

in the back yard
i've  cut with my Father's Day chain saw
leaving swoosh-like slashes

from top to  bottom
that i've painted  primary colors
red, blue, yellow

to match the ceramic thing
Dee made
a mirror framed in a mosaic

of red  blue yellow
stones
that  i put on top  of the stump

in a slot i cut
with my new 18-inch
chain saw which i'm finding very handy

and i'm not done yet
i'm thinking of little mirrors all around the tree
as soon as i figure out

how to stick them so they'll stay
on the whole  a truly atrocious thing
to be stuck in the middle of one's back yard

but i don't  care
because i believe it is the creative instinct
that should be honored

regardless of what it produces
which may or may not be honored as a final
product

the human creative passion
i invested in my stupid tree  is equal
to any passion of Picasso

just as my stupid poem
is equal in its creative passion
to  any poem ever written

it is the passion that counts
before all else
it is what separates  us

from the animals in the field
and the fish in the sea
and the birds that fly over it all








                                                                             
Next from my library, a long piece (actually not so long by her standards) by Marina Tsvetaeva, from the collection of her work, Poem of the End, translated from the poets original Russian text by Nina Kossman. The book was published in paperback by Ardis Publishers in 2004. It is a bilingual book, Russian and English on facing pages.

Born in 1892, Tsvetaeva was one of a generation of Russian poets, artists and intellectuals who came to prominence during the ending years of Imperial Russia, then had to survive the revolution and the new Communist Soviet Union. Some made it some did not. Tsvetaeva's story is a sad one, including the death of her daughter by starvation, execution of her husband  by the state and her own suicide by despair in 1941. I'm not going to tell the story here, but I recommend it to readers.

Her work is considered some of the greatest in twentieth century Russian literature.





On a  Red Steed

No Muse, no Muse
Sang over my shabby
Cradle,  or took me by the hand.
No Muse warmed my cold hands in her own.
Or cooled  my burning eyelids:
No Muse brushed the strands from my brow,
And led me into open fields

No Muse, no black braids, no beads,
No fables - just two wings of light hair,
Cut short over winged bows:
A man in armor.
A horsehair  plume.

He did not bow towards my lips,
He did not bless me at bedtime.
He did not grieve with me
Over a broken doll.
He set all my birds free
Then - not sparing his spurs,
Rode a red steed - through the  blue mountains
Of a thundering ice-flow.

___________________________________________


Firemen! - A wide-mouthed  shout!
A shout  wide  as a blaze!
Firemen! - A soul on fire!
Is that our house on fire?

The bell tolls ceaselessly.
Swing-toll your tongue,
Ceaseless bell! - The fire is
Vast. - A  soul on  fire!

Dancing from the terrible beauty,
Plaits of  flame on red torches...
I  clang - blare - clap,
I snarl, I shoot sparks.

Who  carried me out? Who, through the rumble and fumes,
Like an eagle, carried me out? I can't come to!
A long gown  hangs on me
And a string of beads.

The roaring  fire, the clanging glass...
Instead of eyes, in each face -
Two flames.Featherbeds flying.
Fire! Fire! Fire!

Split open, thousand-year-old coffers!
Burn, hoarded wealth!
My house is lord over all,
I want for nothing.

Firemen! - Spread red-winged flame!
Shine on gilded foreheads
Let the fire never die, never  die.
Let the pillars crash.

What - suddenly - what collapsed?
There was no pillar crashing.
A wild  clasping of small hands
And a shout - up to the sky: "The doll!"

Who was it, from his plunging steed,
threw after me and imperious glance?
Who, leaping off his red steed,
Entered the red house?

A shout  -  and louder still
A shout. A thunder-clap.
Holding the doll aloft like armor,
He rises up like the Fire itself.

Kinglike, among fiery ripples,
He rises up, his brow knit
- I've saved it for you. Now break it!
Set your love free.

___________________________________________


What - suddenly - what  collapsed?
No, it's not the world collapsing.
Reaching after the horseman - the empty hands
Of the little girl with no doll.

____________________________________________


February. Winding roads.
A snowstorm in the fields.
An alliance of winds
Sweeps the big roads.

Now galloping down the sloping hills,
Now mounting upwards.
The same road stretches
Behind the red horseman.

Here he is! Within reach!
How he teases: Touch me!
You stretch  your hands widely,
But instead of the horse  - snow.

Is that his shaggy horsehair plume
In his eyes - or some  branch?
No  rest for you matchmakers!
Sweep on, winds.

Sweep, pile up on the thresholds -
Higher than cliffs.
Let his swift-legged horse
Stop dead.

The winds harken: moan
Echoing moan.
My horseback dream hastens
Scudding red.

Are those his shaggy, upswept  wings?
Or just some branch?
Lift up your brooms, trees!
Hold tight,winds!

Is that a boulder
Looming - or what?
As if the blizzard  had built
A thousand-spired church.

At last the chase is crowned.
The fire of his horse's hooves
Licks my face; my hands
Touch the edge of his cloak.

Help, with thunder and sword,
Tsar of all armies!
But the steed stirs and like thunder
Bolts at the altar!

____________________________________________


I spur on; behind me -
the whole horde  of winds.
In the choir-loft the thunder of hooves
Has-not yet died down.

Like the rumble of Requiem,
The snowstorm revives.
The altar's upended. - Empty!
Vanished into the earth.

Weep, wail, wail!
Snowstorm, rage on!
The horse's foam dims
The radiance of chasubles.

the dome is trembling - Fall,
Hosts of might and glory.
And the body falls, its arms
Spread-eagled like a cross.

_______________________________________


The rays of the icon-lamps
Scatter like great rainbows.
- Receive me,thou pure and sweet,
Crucified for us.

This - your  feast, o jealous palm:
Receive the flame.
But who is that horseman from on high,
And what is that steed?

His armor is like the sun...
His flight, steep...
Onto my chest  he places
His  horse's hoof.

_________________________________________


Is that thunder in the cranium - or
A crowbar to  the skull?! - People! - People!
Grinding the dry pillow with my brow
To say, for the first time: He loves me not!

Loves me not! - I need no woman's tresses!
Loves  me not! - I need no red beads!
Loves me not! - I will mount my steed!
Loves me not! - And rise up to - the sky!

Ancestral spirit,  shake off your  chains!
Rattle the primeval pines!
Ancestral spirit, Aeolus!
Tousle my golden mane.

Leading  my regiments, on a white steed,
With  a silvery thunder of  hooves - forward!
We shall see how he does in battle,
That  braggart  on the red steed.

The sky has broken. A good sign:
Dawn  bloodies my helmet!
Soldiers! It's one step from here to heaven:
By the law of the grain you go - into the ground!

Forward! - Over the trench! - Fallen?
Next row - Over the trench! - Fallen?
Again -  Over the trench! - Fallen?
Dawn on the snow-white armor? Blood?

Soldiers! What enemy are we fighting?
A burning chill invades my breast.
And piercing, piercing  my heart like a lance,
A ray of light.

________________________________________


He whispers: "I wanted you like this:"
And rumbles:  "I chose you like this,
Child of passion - sister - brother - brother
My bride in armor of ice.

Mine and no other's - forever"
I, rising my arms: "Light."
"You shall be no other's. You  swear  this?"
I, stanching my wound:  "Yes."

No Muse, no Muse - not the frail ties
Of kinship - No,not your bonds,
O friendship! That was no woman's hand - a fierce one
Drew this knot tight
Around me.

A terrifying union.  I lie
In the trench's darkness - while the dawn rises.
Oh,who suspended these
Two weightless wings
On my shoulders?

A silent spy
Of living  storms
I lie - and I watch
Shadows.

Until  I'm whirled
Off into the blue
On the red steed
By my genius!

           Moscow, 1921








                                                                        




It was a beautiful morning, but hesitant, as if uncertain it wanted to get started.













without commitment

a full summer
moon
fading slowly
against a timid
dawning
sky

the day
begins without
conviction,
even the doves
still sing their 
lullabies
from the night
before








                                                                       





 Here's  another coffeehouse observational - this one from 2011.













the young woman who laughed so big

young woman,
nice looking, short,
with a gargantuan  laugh,
ack,ack, ack,
like an anti-aircraft barrage
over London,
rattling the windows,
amazing
from such a small
person

a full-bodied laugh,
her body
leaning backward
like marsh grass in the face
of a mighty blowing wind,
head thrown back,
eyes half-closed, mouth open,
like turkeys
in a heavy rain, amazed
at the rain, drowning
in it
as the rain pours
into their open mouth, too
dumb to close it, too
enthralled by the curiosity
of the rain
to shift their gaze
to the ground...

endearing,
this happy young woman
might be,
if her caution-to-the-wind
wide-mouthed,
head back
laugh
didn't  remind me
of drowning
turkeys

and if it wasn't
so damn
loud









                                                       


From my library, this poem is by Mark Scott, from  his book  Tactile Values. The book  was published in 2000 by Western Michigan University.

Born in Denver, Scott studied at the University or Colorado, University College in London, and the Universita per Stranieri in Pertugia. He took his doctorate  in literature at Rutgers, the State University of  New Jersey in 1992.









Crush

"To have a crush on someone" -
that's a schoolgirl's  phrase,
the lexicographers say.

But I have a generalist's temperament
(like  Napoleon's)
any aunt or schoolgirl can daunt and tether,

and I have had crushes all my life,
once on my aunt, my uncle's wife,
sometimes  for many days  together.

Crush,
ecrasez,
crescit sub pondere virtu:

What's so passing about it?
It's Byron's "Everything by turns
and nothing long,"

and you would have to have
Frank O'Hara's mental life
in Georg Simmel's metropolis

not to be ground up in its mills.
How  pervious and flappable
can you  afford to be?

"Marble does not laugh," said Diderot -
yes, but even marble twitches
intermittently.








                                                                              





 As often happens,  something in the now brings back such strong sense memories from long before.












leather boy

noon
at
Wonderland of the Americas Mall

to vote early,
runoff  election for Mayor and my councilman

(and a pox on both their houses)

pass a boot  store
and the sweet, dark smell  of leather

and I am back, a
small, very blond child
at the Mercado
in Matamoros, across the border

from Brownsville, and everyone who  passes
wants to rub my blond head 
for luck

but it's not that so much
I remember
but the smell of leather

that thick  smell  of rubbed and polished
leather...

boots
purses
belts

chaps for  rider and horse
to ease passage through  the thick
high  chaparral

saddles, so beautiful,
silver-studded
and embossed with intricate
designs
things real from  a life
on the range
and things
fanciful, imagined
from the minds
of 
craftsmen intense
and devote

and 
for the little boy
entranced by heroes
Whip Wilson
&
Lash LaRue,
leather bullwhips with which
he will practice
and practice
and practice
and  never learn to crack
like  his
movie star
heroes

and so rich the
smell
shop 
after  shop
as Mexican shoppers
and tourist
bustle
down the narrow
corridors
between shops

`````````````````````````````````````

I  vote under bright and modern light
at Wonderland of  the Americas
mall 
in a memory haze
of sweet, rubbed soft
and polished to a shine
leather...








                                                                     






From  2010,  this is an observational from an earlier coffee hangout.












usual suspects

the old guys
are here
and the tattooed
fat lady is here
and the always neat
and clean homeless guy
with his tightly wrapped
foam  bedroll,  heavy looking backpack
and professorial  look
behind little half-lens glasses
as he spends the day reading
in the air-conditioned
cool, and the mama
with her little blond  girl trailing behind
baby-doll in one arm and pink little purse
on the other,  and little plastic dangly
bracelets on both wrists
that she shakes as she passes, and
the  young mother with two little girls
heading double-time for the bathroom
passing  a new guy, a long-white-haired
Sam Elliot-looking guy in short pants
reading "Guns & Ammo" magazine,
and a couple of the medical student
regulars, and the short-haired  cowboy guy
with the bad arm, and the two gay guys
that show  up  a couple of times a week
(and, okay, maybe they're not gay, but
they sure are sharp dressers),
and the middle-aged woman, a mid-life
student who always  looks like she's mad
at me because  I always get here first
and take the table by  the door
next to an electric  plug where she'd like to  be,
and the dorky-looking guy and his dorky-looking wife
who  come in and stare at each other and  never
say a  word the whole time they're here, and
the old guy with the thick glasses and magnifying
glass who writes tiny numbers  in tiny columns
in a spiral notebook, eyes inches from the
magnifying glass inches from the paper,
and the table of law students, arguing
with each other like it was a Supreme Court
appearance, and the oriental guy reading
Shopenheimer haiku and the girl with the long auburn
hair and acne scared face, a cheeky girl
with a  constant air of amused observation
and I'm thinking if she was  50 years older
she might share the joke with me, assuming
it's not me that's the joke, of  course,
a possibility I do not discount...

all  the  familiar faces  in this very familiar
place in a mostly typical Thursday
morning...







                                                                                    




I wrote this in 2012 after reading a report that was attributing at least some of the  earliest cave paintings to neanderthals, saying that, in fact, it was the neanderthals that taught the art of art to us, the newcomers.











what did we think?

what
did we think,
I wonder, when we were
the new-comers,
the new-kind-comers,
as we roamed, straggled
with our hairless  kind
across new landscapes
the always-new landscapes that
welcome travelers
with every new sun, the roamers
who sleep every night
on new ground, under new trees...

what did we think,
our restless kind, when we met
the old-timers, the settled kind,
did we recognize
them
as distant kin
or were they just another beast
of prey, beasts  of our racial
burden -
what did we think
when we met a stranger almost
like our self, so close
yet so different - a  defective copy,
we think, black where I am white, short
where I am tall, squat where I am thin,
an almost me, but not me, an almost me
but close enough to me to be
incomplete, the spark of me missing,
close enough to me to be considered, not
close enough to  me to be consequential
to my concern or conscience...

what did we think of these
inadequate versions of ourselves, these
beasts who lived in caves
and knew not
the arts of
war...

and what did we
who had no art but survival
think when we took their caves
and found their souls
painted
on the rock  walls








                                                                             
This poem, the last from my library this week, is by   Larissa Szporluk. It's  from her  book Dark Sky Question, published in 1998 by Beacon Press. 

Raised in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Szporluk graduated from the University of Michigan, studied at the Iowa Writers' Workshop and graduated from the University of California, Berkeley and the University of Virginia  with an MFA. Her awards and honors including two Best American Poetry Awards, a Pushcart Prize,  and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, she currently teaches at Bowling Green State University.







Krell

He arrives and looks around
and doesn't  know the word for wind,
and  wind is the subject.

He finds a girl on a fence
hurting herself with a nail.
He pulls her away without speaking,

to her surprise, and wipes
the stuff from her hair that smells
like burning-out lights,

and suddenly it's not  a burden
to be walking with her
in enemy land. When she tells him

"the best thing here is the moon,"
he feels happier than if he'd seen it
and remembers a parable

about a string that never meets
its ends, and she tells him then
about a warm place at the end

of a grove of horned trees.
If the  night steadies, if it  controls
their speed,they'll reach it

together, fusing in the meantime,
discarding all the nuance
that betrays them with disease.








                                                              





Here's a ramble from  last week.












settling for semi-naked ladies

I approach the new day's  poem
as I approach the new
day, hesitant
and a little unsure as to how
it's going to go...

a busy day ahead, things to do,
a drive to Austin, nothing interesting enough
to force into a poem...

and while I sit here
dumbfounded
by my "failure to communicate"
(what a great movie)
creative self to sitting-in-my-chair-drinking-coffee
self

(and yes I know "dumbfounded" is a peculiar word
for use in this context, but I like it and it is my weakness
to use words I particularly like even if they don't
quit
or at  all
fit
and I'm used to it and I expect to to be too
by this time)

affirmation!

(yes, self-affirmation,
even  when inappropriate essential
to maintaining  the hubris of putting words on paper
and expecting them to be read by other than close
friends and relatives who will tell you they read it even
if they didn't)

(let's face it - I mainline that stuff like a junkie on horse
on a fat man eating pecan pie - I have no other excuse)

meantime,
communication between the ego and its alter
still mostly static and buzz (is is not obvious), I am
bombarded by images and moments and distractions, traffic
on Broadway, a fire truck, Chopin bumping keys overhead, two skinny
blond women having a meeting, too much gym time taking them past  desirable
to hungry and ferocious and sharp-toothed predatory (middle-age, trying, always
to keep  that  debutant look without the wide-eyed innocence I never believed
anyway, but still probably nice people so I hate to criticize...) and, I swear to God,
sea gulls that turn out to be ring tones on one of the woman's  cell phone
but it's already too late,  I'm back at the beach dodging jelly fish
and nearly naked ladies...

and I'm tired of this hail Mary fake and dodge
anyway
so
what the hell, I
quit

```

content to hang out
instead
with the semi-naked
ladies
sand in my shorts
be damned








                                                                 





This is the last old poem of the week, from 2013.













random ponderables while dog  pees on her favorite trees

my dog
makes children
and pretty girls  smile

and makes old women
go coochie  coo

```

a man dies
on TV
and I think of my dad,
dead going on 34 years

how could it be...

dead at  65
what a young age
that seems now
for a man to
be dying

```

young women
in my own youth
were such a mystery,
silken creatures
from a different universe...

young women today
so lean and beautiful
and smart and strong,
different creatures
even than
before

I smile and I speak
to  them,
the cute old man
at the coffee
house...

how far I imagine  I  have
fallen

```

I
lust after young women
like Jimmy Carter did,
a little for their sex, mostly
for their youth

```

where
women have evolved
it  seems to me
to be even better, to be even more mystical
and mysterious than they were before

men...

I don't  know about young men,
dull  and seeming thick

mostly
I'm not impressed

```

tellers
at our drive-in
bank
include dog  biscuits
with receipts if  they see
a dog in your car

my dog
is very smart

knows this, moves to  the front seat
presses her head against the
windshield
to make sure she's  seen

```

I am  past the age
where I don't want to act my age

I see old men now
trying so hard to be the studly gents
they imagine they were in their
youth...

I'm quite happy
now
bring old and slow
and have no illusions
I was any more enhanced
in days long ago...

too long in my  life
I have been a
realist

- except sometimes,on
a slow day,
I am the hero of a mid-afternoon
dream, and the girl is
beautiful
and she wants me to do
all manner of speak-able things
to  her ripe and luscious
body -

then I wake
and am only sometimes
and only temporarily
confused...

```

dog
likes country music,
blue grass
with banjo and fiddle
the best,but with always a soft  spot
for Johnny Cash and Merle

she sings along in the car
on long afternoons, especially
when driving through the desert -
she's a Marty Robbins dog
in the desert
and Patsy Cline on fresh-scented
country roads

we share our taste in
music, but
I'm of better voice...

but what can I say,  she's
still a darn good
dog








                                                       





Last for this post, this little bit of self-examination from last week.












the intricate interplay of certitude and doubt

reading about Pluto's moons
and how they all dance to their own tunes
while remaining in tune
with their fellow dancers

it's like the intricate interplay
of certitude and doubt

all certainties
interrupted by doubt, like the Doctor's soda pop
at least three time times a day, ten,  two and
four, the regimen of "can it really be true," how can we be sure of that,"
"maybe we should  rethink the proposition, maybe sleep on it"...

all my life I've been a leap-when-it-feels-
right-and-check-the-terrain-on-the-way-down
type fella, not due to reckless lack of proper caution,
but because of great confidence in my judgment and,
if necessary, confidence that whatever I got myself into
I could also get myself out of, not a road map type when traveling,
preferring only a destination and a compass heading
to make my way...

these days, maybe it's age,
there are days of certainty and
days of doubt, my bulwark of certainty,
like Pluto's moonlets needing their tiny planet
to keep their cavorting orbits  stable,
the self-assurance that kept me steady
through the years, self-confidence
my north star that set and maintained
my course, until now, my north star no longer
certain of its place in the sky,
rising and falling like the sun and moon but
on its own uncertain schedule...









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



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