Winter Wild Cards   Tuesday, December 01, 2015







My photos this week were taken on various winter days at different places on different  years. The only thing in common in all  the years and all the days and  all the places is that it was cold.

The poems from my library this week are from the anthology The Best American Poetry, 1994, published by Simon & Schuster.


Here's the dance card for the week.

Me
let us consider magic

John Hollander
Variations on a  Fragment by Trumball Stickney 

Me
Reba

Me
let us consider dreams

Ramola Dharmaraj
full of rain, the word

Me
it turned Christmas overnight

Me
let us consider life and death

Charles Bukowski  
me against the world

Me
turnip ball

Me
let us consider blood and water

John Ashbery
Myrtle

Me
what i'm supposed to be doing

Me
let us consider the best of times

Burlin Barr  
Tremendous Mood Swings

Me
in spite of it all

Me
let us consider skin

Jenny Mueller
Allegory

Me
3 X 10 in 6
half moon
bejeweled
guns and poses

Me
let us consider the random occurrence of good and bad poems

Richard Wilbur
A Digression

Me
thinking right is good

Me
let us consider those who dare

W.S. Merwin
One of the Lives

Me
                                             let us consider the rot of progress                                          










First this week, one of my own.













let us consider magic

let us imagine
magic is
real

that a young man
with a trumpet can blow down
the walls of a mighty city;

that the dead
can rise;

that a man
can walk on water
and a boy can
fly;

let us imagine
that all we know not
can be learned
through the dim arts
of magic, that the truth of all
lies buried in Merlin's secret cave;

that once there was a Camelot,
that love and beauty flowed there
under the rule of a sorcerer's
magic;

let us imagine a world
where the witches west and north
and south and east rule all but the realm
of a counterfeit wizard;

let us imagine yellow brick roads
and loves and  fishes
and water to
wine

and the power of goodness
forever triumphant
over the bane of
evil;

let us imagine
love
everlasting;

let us imagine
life
unfettered
by anger and
fear;

let us live as we
imagine;
imagine
as we live all the better
lives that might live
within
us










From this week's anthology, The Best American Poetry 1994, this poem by John Hollander. Born in New York City in 1929, Hollander was Professor Emeritus of English at Yale University at the time of his death in 2013.















Variations on a Fragment by Trumbell  Stickney

I  hear a river thro' the valley wander
Whose water runs, the song alone remaining.
A rainbow stands and summer passes under,

Following like silence in the light of wonder.
In the near distances it is still raining
Where now the valley fills again with thunder,

Where now the river in her wide meander,
Losing at each loop what she had been gaining,
Moves into what one might as well call yonder.

The way of the dark water is to ponder
The way the light sings as of something waning.
The far-off waterfall can sound asunder

Stillness of distances, as if in blunder,
Tumbling over the rim of  all explaining.
Water proves nothing, but can only maunder.

Shadows show nothing, but can only launder
The lovely land that sunset had been staining,
Long fields of which the falling light grows fonder.

Here summer stands while all its songs pass under,
A riverbank still time runs by, remaining.
I  will  remember  rainbow as I wander.

     from The Paris Review









Starting with old poems from past Decembers, this one from 2007.

This poem a love note  to my dog, Reba, shown on the side with me at Lake Tahoe. An eager traveler, the journey to Lake Tahoe was the last she made with us.The the loss referred to in the poem occurred about a year later, after nearly 20 years with us.









Reba

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

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

it's late -

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

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

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

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

but that's not  now

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









   

Next from me, another in a little series, doing it daily, so don't know how little or not it will  turn out to be.













let us consider  dreams

sometimes
I dream I am  the hero

flying on a white horse
across a purple waving  prairie;

sometimes
I dream I am the prairie,
ancient,
clean,
vibrant and fertile,
forever waving beneath
the sun and clouds  slowly
drifting;

sometimes
I am the clouds
soft  and billowy,
traveling continents
and oceans
beneath the warming sun,
beneath the cool, yellow moon;

sometimes
I am the sun and moon,
sisters in a sky on the edge
of stars gleaming,
stars afire in the black  eternal
space of  a god deeply
sleeping;

sometimes I  am the sleeping god,
dreaming
that I am a white horse
flying across the purple waving pastures
of my forever spreading
home...

sometimes
I wake, sorry to be
still lonely among my kind, sorry
to be awake
again
in the world of
undreaming...








Next from the best American poetry of 1994 anthology, this poem by poet Ramola Dharmaraj.

Born in Madras, India in 1964, she studied physics and business at the University of Madras and worked as a freelance journalist in India. She received an M.F.A. in poetry from George Mason University and, at the time of publication, was a technical writer for the American Red Cross having previously taught at George Mason, George Washington University and Montgomery College. It appears she still works for Red Cross, though the information on the web is not clear to  me.

Having never read this poet before, she is a revelation to me.










full of rain, the word

full of rain, the word
is coming now
out of the south, out of
                  the flat white grain
                  of rice that sleeps
still inside the husk, in shells, that wait
         for a woman's hand,
         for the winnowing
and whisper
of fallen stalk, the word

is coming now
out of the north, out of
                  the faint murmuring
                  sounds the stone
                  makes to itself
as it watches the clothes
beaten on its crud
                 and eaten back
                 at the Krishna
and the Godavari.

                  out of the wooden plough
                  dragged out of the east
across the hardened field
by buffalo, in Bengal, Orissa,
           out of the west
           by cows stretched thin
around the ribs, in Gujarat,  Maharashtra
out of the tin
          the village beggar holds
          out of her eyes
grown heavy and dull,
dull with the heavy
          abrasion of desire, out of

the mud that buffaloes
wallow in, out of the mud
           that builds the hut and breaks

the flood, out of
the weeping mud. The word,
           it sleeps  like a fallen god
           in the flat dung-
cakes the women smear
on brick walls, washed

                 white with lime, it
                  burns

in the burning of dung,
open fires and wood
          spelling smoke in thick
          letters in the air, the word
rushes at us with the whole
alphabet
             of the monsoon
             in its wake -

but such a distanced
whisper, such a shaved,
whittled breath,
                   who will hear
                   the word as it struggles,
                   who will put

their ear to the stones and to
the grain snapped hard
off the singing stalk, who will
           touch the swollen
           word and know
           what it says, who will hear
           the voice of the poor
           as they speak?

     from Green Mountain Review












This is a quiet little December/Christmas poem from 2008.













it  turned Christmas overnight

it  turned
Christmas overnight

cold weather
slipped in
after midnight

the  streets
are jam-packed
and the bookstore
had five cashiers working
with a long line at each

we walked the river
earlier this evening
taking in the lights
and the mob, elbow
to  elbow, bundled up
against the wind
and water chill, locals
and out-of-towners,
accents
and languages
from all around the world

four days to go
and i'm finally getting
a little feel of it...

time to do my shopping...

a book for Chris,
I think,
and a new  "Far  Side"
calendar,
three books for Dora
and something
pretty...

that's the way we do
Christmas












And another in the "let us consider series."










let us consider life and death

white knight
at one end of the jousting field, resplendent
in white armor, horse draped in white armor as well,
brilliant in the noon sun,
Lancelot I think it was, the King's champion,
the Queen's lover...

and onto the field rides the mystery of the  black knight,
a huge man on a huge horse, unknown,
as black as Lancelot was white,
a spoiler in the game...

and we all know, sitting in our theater seats,
that this is going to be a battle
between good and bad
dark and light,
life and
death

and there it is...

the essence of the battle
we fight between birth and the end,
the life-light that is born  with us, and that we carry
with us, the sunshine
of all the days allotted to  us

and the inevitable everlasting dark,
the black at the end of the tunnel, the final mysterious
fall into the nothing and nowhere
of night so deep we lose  our place
forever, lost to the dark
forever

the white, the shining light
of life, the brilliance of all possible good
wrapped around us, our cocoon of potential
protecting us from the black that always surrounds
us, the dark that  daily tries to seduce us
into its cold embrace...

a fight we all know we will lose
in the end
for black
is the natural state all around us,
the natural state of us
and all our works as well,
broken
for a short  spell
by the sun passing over us,
rising, then falling,
true to its end  as must we  be
to our own












Next from the anthology, Charles Bukowski. Born in 1920, Bukowski died in 1994, the year the anthology was published.














me against the world

when I was a kid
one of the questions asked was,
would you rather eat a bucket of shit
or drink a bucket of piss?
I thought that  was easy.
"that's easy" I said, "I'll take the
piss."
"maybe we'll make you do both."
they told me.
I was the new kid in the
neighborhood.
"oh yeah," I said.
"yeah!: they said.
"yeah," I said. "you and whose
army?'
"we won't need no army," the
biggest one said.
I slammed my fist into his
stomach.
then all 5 of us were down on
the ground fighting.
they got in each other's way
but there were still too many
of them.
I broke free and started
running.
"sissy! sissy!" they yelled.
"going home to mama?"
I kept running.
they were right.
I ran all the way to my house,
up the driveway and onto the
porch and into the
house where my father was beating
up my mother.
she was screaming.
things were broken on the floor.
I charged my father and started swinging.
I reached up but he was too tall.
all I could hit were his
legs.
then there was a flash of red and
purple and green
and I was on the floor.
"you little prick!" my father said,
"you stay out of this!"
"don't you hit my boy! my mother
screamed.
but I felt good because my father
was no longer hitting my
mother.
to make sure, I got up and charged
him again, swinging.
there was another flash of colors
and I was on the floor
again.
when I got up again
my father was sitting in one chair
and my mother was sitting in
another chair
and they both just sat there
looking at me.
I walked down the hall and into
my bedroom and sat on the
bed.
I listened to make sure there
weren't any more sounds of
beating and screaming
out there.
there weren't.
then I didn't know what to
do.
it wasn't any good outside
and it wasn't any good
inside.
so I just sat there.
then I saw a spider making a web
across a window.
I found a match, walked over,
lit it and burned the spider to
death.
then I felt better.
much better.

     from Urbanus











A life lesson from December, 2009.













turnip  balls

so
say you go to this
fancy feast

and you see the table
beautifully laid
with flowers
and fine china
and gleaming
silverware,
straining under great
mounds of  delicious
looking food

and you sit down
and take your first bite
and your first bite
is from a turnip ball
or something
equally
disgusting...

do you throw your fork
down and leave
the table,
leave behind all that
other great looking food?

no ma'am,
you do not,
you move on to the next dish
and just eat around that
disgusting
turnip
ball...

that's what  you
do!

well
that's what i'm doing
right now,
going around the
disgusting
turnip ball  of a poem
i wrote
earlier this morning
and threw away

i'm sure
it's gonna get much better
from here

a  great poem
right around the corner,
just waiting for me to catch it in the act
and write it down

starting
any minute now...












"Let us consider..."











let us consider blood and water

water is the blood
that lets our blood flow,
the blood of all life
the blood of the forest
and of the meadow
and of pastures
and bluebonnets
and daisies and the
blood-red rose,
the blood that eases
drought, that allows
farmers to plant and sow,
that allows the cow and pig
and lamb to grow to fill
our stomach, the blood
that we rise at midnight
to lubricate our dry mouth,
the blood that washes
away desert dust at
a noon oasis, panacea
for both our hunger
and our thirst...

water is the blood that
flows between rivals
in dry times, blood is the
disputed creek or river,
the range war,
water is the blood that
flows as aquifers are drained
for some at the expense
of others, the
blood of neighbor on
neighbor...

water is the blood
of wars coming, the blood
for which we will fight,
the blood to be shed in the
fighting  yours for mine, mine
for yours...

water is the blood of all
our future desires...










Here is John Ashbery from this week's anthology on the best American poetry of 1994. Born in 1927, Ashbery has won every significant American prize in poetry there is, including the Pulitzer Prize in 1976.












Myrtle

How funny your name would be
if you could follow it back to where
the first person thought of saying it,
naming himself that, or maybe
some other person thought of it
and named that person. It would
be like following a river to its source,
which would be impossible. Rivers have no  source.
They just automatically appear at a place
where they get wider, and soon a real
river comes along, with fish and debris,
regal as you please, and someone
has already given a name to it: St. Benno
(saints are popular  for this purpose) or, or
some other name, the name of his
long-lost girlfriend, who comes
at long last to impersonate the river,
on a stage, her voice clanking
like  its bed, her clothing of sand
and pasted paper, a piece off real  technology,
while all along  she is thinking, I can
do what I want to  do. But I want to stay here.

     from The New Yorker











A conflicted  poet's conundrum from December, 2010.












what i'm supposed to be doing

this is the time of day
when i usually demonstrate my
bonafidies as a poet

by poeticatig
on cue
and the problem today is

i can't remember
if a cue is a nudge
and a wink

or the long  striker stick
used to re-position
colored and numbered balls on a green-felt table

in a brisk game
of pocket
billiards

- pocket pool
I could have said, but that
is often construed

to denote
another game
entirely

or
vicey-versey,
which complicates things

since i'm  not sure
if i should  start writing now
or amble

over to  Fat Annie's
for a pickup game of
eight ball,

which reminds me
of several
good pool-playing stories

i  could write about
if i knew
that's  what i was supposed

to be doing
at  this exact minute
and since i don't know

i won't write anything,
but that's okay
since i didn't want to write

a poem this morning
anyway
but if Fat Annie's open

this early
i might just resolve the question
by connoting that's what i'm supposed

to be doing

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

meanwhile
there is the moon
hanging pale

like a sliver of shaved soap
in the dark night-tide
sky

that cares nothing
about my poem
or  any lack thereof











Let us  consider...











let us consider the best of times

the little blond haired girl
riding her tricycle in front of your house
when your were three;

the '49 Plymouth
you overhauled with your dad,
never went more than 45  miles per hour,
but,  oh, that first drive so
sweet;

the first great afternoon
of sex on the beach,
never mind the sunburned ass
or the sand  lodged
in delicate
places
for her name was Julie
and we loved each other for
at  least three
weeks;

and later
the girl in the back seat,
not Julie, for that love gone,
but never forgotten,
she with the great billowy
breasts, lying back against soft cloth seats,
astride her,
like riding hot waves
in a great sailing ship with white
billowing sails;

the wedding,
vows complete, the stately recessional
past guests standing, applauding,
you father in a pew by the aisle,
you father who  disapproved and said
he would not come but in a pew by the aisle,
thumbs up as your and your bride pass;

the baby,
one month old, in your arms
for the first time, tiny tiny crying thing
who will not stop for your or his new mother,
silently sleeping within a minute
of being held by your mother, his new grandmother;

the look  in the eyes of your child
when they ask you a question,
knowing
that of all the moms and dads in the world
you  are the  one who will always know
the answer;

the band,
your son's first band,
first hearing the blast of horns
and guitars and  drums, realizing how goo
they are...

the best times of life...

===========

some hold the notion that the good times
lie still ahead ; while the realist
with an accumulation of
years comes to accept  the best times of our lives
lie not in the future, but in the past,
in the memories we hold
dear...








                                                                                                                                                                                                              



The next poem is by Burlin Barr. He is Associate Professor of English at Central Connecticut State University and  the universities Program Coordinator of Cinema Studies. I couldn't find his photo but I did find his ratings from his students, 4 plus out of five across the board.












Tremendous  Mood Swings

Clearly we'd found the rim of something.
No sooner were  we skirting
its edges for the purpose of a clear outline,
than every step  seemed possible

infraction; the inlet had frozen
and our excursions crazed
the surface; extreme cold, we've informed,
changes the properties of things:

the untraversable yields an effortless walk;
barriers fill with passages
and we fill dimensions where other belong,
maintain stances of others'

walking, and suspect  vaguely
"We do not belong here": this is nudity
stripped of liberation.
I'm not sure how we arrived at this point.

If the water makes a half-circle
in the land, wouldn't we observe where one stops?
"the perimeter's a foregone conclusion."
Or so we thought, but as we traverse

this scene, certain that events will fall into
line, that already we sense the emerging
figure, it seems the sturdiest  thing we have
is the witness convictions erode and form

and frame us. So, is the question
"What does it look like here?" or
"What's holding us up?"
But there is more.

This presumably illegal recording
I'm unclear  who is playing
these different instruments.
The integrity of sound changes

as a young man makes his way
around the room, microphones concealed
in his  sleeves. One hears him as he attempts to
near the source of the sound;

his efforts, though become vague
approximations; they do not originate
where he'd thought them:
this hum means the circulation of blood,

static means bodies have touched.
then to interrupt the recording mid-performance
and rebegin from the distance:
what authority or love he must have seen.

But one's left wishing the voice
could continue where it left off;
this interest in ghosts is humiliating, but it can't be stopped.
Wanting the event to continue  before it ends,

like lovers so anxious for one another,
they become negligent and resentful.
This is how I hear it now: so wild for the sound,
her tries to bring it inside of him,
certain the sounds carry messages
he can't keep pace with.
It is everything I hear: interference and persisted
buzzing and I know I have lost you.

     from Grand Street












Well, I suppose you could call it a Christmas poem, 2011.











in spite of it all

a
cold
uncaring
gray winter day

snow
in the hills
but here only
blood-biting cold

moon
retreats
sun struggles
to light the day

morning life
muffled
birds early chatter
stilled

dog
next door
barks
echo-less and forlorn

the morning before
the eve before
Christmas -
not  a creature is stirring

but me
at my window
poking my head above
the gloom

to write
a cold,  gray,
and gloomy poem
to say, in spite of it all,

merry
morning before
the eve  before Christmas
to  you











Let us consider...












let us consider skin

there is much to consider
in the matter
of skin...

at its most basic
a natural packaging,
keeping the gooey parts
in;

for many years and for some
less enlightened, still, a shortcut
for identifying social, moral and philosophical status
in shades of lightest white
to darkest black;

also for many years protection
against the coldest winter day
and snugly comfort
of a chilly night,
and even now for some, a status symbol,
social status determined by by the kind and number
of skins one can carry upon one's
most  stylish back;

all that I understand,
but for me the best of skin
is the pink skin of a kitten's belly

and the soft skin
and scent of a freshly powdered baby

and, oh, that  long slow glide
of skin upon skin in
my lover's bed
at midnight -

that's the very best use of  skin
I can think of...











This poem from the anthology is by Jenny Mueller.

With a BA and an MA from the University of Chicago, and MFA from the University of Iowa and a Ph.D from the University of Utah, Mueller is Associate Professor of English at McKendree University.












Allegory

The cockatoo hears gamelan,
            and dances.
The peacock hears rude voices in his head.
The swallow hears her happiness
            caroming  all around her
the  grackle hears his dome being  sealed.
The blue jay hears the cardinal,
             his loyal opposition.
The seagull hears a sharp insoluble debate.
The vulture hear the fine world's
             vulgar gossip, notes it well'
ambitious robin keeps his shewed ear low,
              and hears the dew

              vanish in the shade
              steal the cat
              mouse, the grass
              cover the worm.
The crow hears lies, lies, lies and cries
              out curses. Nighthawk hears the crow's
              lyrical soul.
The mockingbird hears comedy
              in all this.
The dove hears pain
              in all this.
The lesser bird of paradise
              hears, but can't sing.
The phoenix  hears the sirens crying, fire!
              and dances.

     from Colorado Review  












Here are several shorts from December, 2012, beginning with three barku.













3 X 10 in 6

sun
rises-
western sky
colored like a
peach's
pale heart

~~~

great oak
forked -
one branch
faces
rising sun,
other sleeps

~~~

new sun -
waking world
scrunches
its eyes in
Eastwood
squint


half-moon

half-moon
silver  light
in a star-struck sky

dry leaves
fallen this week
crunch and crackle
beneath our feet

cat
like a gray shadow behind us
following


bejeweled

the night is
bejeweled

street lights, porch lights
red and yellow and green traffic lights
softly shatter in the mist

the sound of our footsteps
lost in the fog

cat waits at the bridge
for our return
gray
like a clear-night shadow
in the earth-hugging cloud,
the wispy-shifting
currents
and fractured lights
of damp morning
haze


(From a picture on Facebook of a group of gun-nuts showing off their "pieces.")

guns and poses

they are quite funny
posing with their guns,
like posing with a pretty girl
all dollied up for the prom,
or posting notes of their favorites
on Facebook, silvered desire,
murder in a shiny box...

there can be great beauty
in guns,
I'll admit that, but unlike some,
I never confuse them
with my
dick









Let us consider...











let  us consider the random occurrence of good and bad poems

some  poets
are determined to write wonderful poems

but since thy don't feel capable
of writing the wonderful poems they imagine
they write no poems at all;

some poets
are determined to  write wonderful poems

and since the poems they write do not  seem to them
as wonderful as they would like
they throw them away;

some poets
are determined to write wonderful  poems

and since the first poem they write
is less than  wonderful, they rewrite it
over and over again,
never writing another poem, concentrating
all their poetry strength and creativity
on making that un-wonderful poem
wonderful;

and some poets
(like me)
born with no poetic shame,
just say the hell with it and write
poems and poems and poems,
confident in the random distribution in the universe
of good and bad and certain that as the bad poems accumulate
there will be a good one coming any time,
maybe even
a wonderful one...
 
=============================

and what about this poem, one might ask...

though I doubt it is wonderful, might it be good,
or is it bad?

don't  answer  that,
My Critic,
because whether it's  good or bad
I'm going to write another one
tomorrow
anyway...











 Richard Wilbur, from the anthology, was born in 1921. He was the second appointed Poet Laureate of the United States and won the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry twice, first in 1957 and again in 1989.












A Digression

Having confided to the heavy-lipped
Mailbox his great synoptic manuscript
He stands light-headed in the lingering clang.
How lightly, too, he feels his briefcase hang!

And now it swings beside his knees, as they
From habit start him on his evening way,
With the tranced rhythm of a metronome,
Pass hall and grove and stadium toward his home.

Yet as the sun-bathed campus slips behind,
A giddy lack of purpose fills his mind,
Making him swerve into a street which for
Two decades he has managed to ignore.

What stops him in his  tracks is that his soul,
Proposing nothing, innocent of goal,
Sees no perspective narrowing between
Gold-numbered doors and frontages of green

But for the moment an obstructive storm
Of specks and flashes that will take no form,
A roiled mosaic or a teeming scrim
That seems to have no pertinence to him.

It is his purpose now as, turning round,
He takes his bearings and is homeward bound,
To ponder what the world's confusion meant
when he regarded it without intent.

     from  The New Yorker











A December reflection on right and wring thinking, 2013.














thinking right is good

the East
and much of the Midwest buried
under ice and snow
while here
the sun shines bright
above a clear blue sky
and the temperature wandering
between 50 and 60
and it is a beautiful day
this morning before the night
before
and I'll try not to be
unnecessarily smug at my good
fortune because
I'm sure there will be a cloud
here some day

and in the meantime
it is a pleasure to be smug
because all  those uppity Easterners
and cud-chewing Midwesterners
deserve a dose of humbling outsider
smug
now and  then
after all the terrible thing
they say about my home
state in the heart of which
I am now deep, hi ho  hi  ho...

such meanness I demonstrate
here,  hardly my normal
self for I find no pleasure
in the misfortune of others,
except when I can contrast
my good fortune to their
otherwise fortune
which
I am completely convinced
they deserve...

bunch of damn liberals
and dairy farmers
who claim Santa Claus
is not white and neither is Jesus
and how stupid is that
cause everyone knows God
is white and Jesus is his son
so he must be white too
white dud Dad and Jew mother
but we'll forget about the mother
part since to talk about that
would be for certain another front
in the War on Christmas which is about
white Christians and is definitely not about
Jew mothers...

how hard to understand is that?


no wonder they have ice and snow
and we don't  because they think wrong
and deserve it while us thinking
right certainly
deserves
our bright sun and blue sky
and temperatures in the 50-60s

simple as that
hi ho hi
ho...













Let us consider...











let us consider those who dare

no man wishes
to be called a coward
yet there is a political movement
in our country day building
on waves of cowardice

how to explain
when in reality it costs little
to be brave, one person
in a city of millions stands up
to the fear, displaying
not bravery
but trust in the mathematical
certainty that there is safety
in numbers...

it being so easy to take
such a "brave" position
why are so many choosing
to  hid under their beds...

disdaining such spineless behavior
I declare not that I am one
with the resistance, ready to stand firm
against the barbarian hordes...

I will stand stalwart at the shoulders
of the valiant defenders

but expect you will have to find me
in my one in a million cave
first










And, last  from  the  best of 1994 anthology, W.S. Merwin.

Born in 1927 and educated at Princeton, Merwin is the author of more than 50 books of poetry,  prose, and translation. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1971, he was Poet Laureate of United States in 2010.













One of the Lives

If I had not met the red-haired boy whose father
   had broken a  leg parachuting into Provence
to join the resistance in the final stage of the war
   and so had been killed there as the Germans  were moving north
out of Italy and if the friend who was with him
   as he was dying had not been and elder brother
who also died young quite differently in peacetime
   leaving two children one of them with bad health
who had been kept out of school for a whole year by illness
   and if I had written anything else at the top
of the examination  form where it said college
   of your choice or if the questions that day had been
put differently and if a young woman in Kittanning
   had not taught my father how to drive at  the age of  twenty
so that he got the job  with the pastor of the big church
   in Pittsburgh where my mother was working and if
my mother had not lost both parents when she was a child
   so that she had to go to her grandmother's in Pittsburgh
I would not have found myself on an iron cot
   with my head by the fireplace of a stone  frame house
that had stood empty since some time before I was born
   I would not have traveled so far to lie shivering
with fever I was  wrapped in everything in the house
   nor have watched the unctuous doctor hold up his needle
at the window in the rain light of October
   I would not  have seen through the cracked pane the darkening
valley and the river sliding past the amber mountains
   nor have wakened hearing plums fall in the small house
thinking I knew where I was as I heard them fall

      from The New York Review of Books











Lets us consider, at last.















Let us consider the rot of  progress

tomorrow
I  will watch the sun
rise over gently stirring waters
of the Gulf of Mexico
as I have done many times in years passed

loading up a pick-up truck or a beat-up station wagon
with friends and driving to the island
where we gather driftwood and start a fire
that would burn all  night as we watched
the bright stars shine in the inky gulf night,
with the whisper of the tides ever constant,
doing their dosey doe, in and out, with the turning world
until the sun rises from the sea, turns
the water orange and then the morning,
an orange, then yellow, ball that
bring the sky to cloudless blue...

but that was then...

tomorrow
I will watch the sun rise over the gulf
from the ninth floor balcony
of my brother-in-law's condominium,
buildings like this one on either side, the days
when we would come in our pick-ups
and station wagons long  passed, the
stubby low sand duns that were the island,
covered now by a city of towers
and restaurants and boutiques and grocery stores
and fire stations and a chamber of commerce
and city offices, all that makes a city
a city,  planted, to grow forever...

but I know as many do not know
that the storm will come because
the storm will always come,
always on its own schedule, wind blowing
across the Gulf to bring tornadoes and rain and
a flood surge that will  clean bare
the island again, some will die, mostly new ones
who do not understand the storm
and its power and who do not  listen to those
who know, and much pain will afflict the others
who built the glistening towers and supermarkets
and proud chamber of commerce...

I will  feel sad for those who die by the storm and
their own  ignorance and I will feel the pain
of those who  bet fortunes against
the certainties of chance...

and when it is all done,
when the pearl covered sand
glows bare again
on moonlit nights, and the
stars shine unchallenged in the black night
and the tides whisper in and out
all night..
then I will return
to gather firewood
and build a great fire to burn all night

celebrating earlier times
and never forgotten
nights...








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1 Comments:
at 2:51 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

the photos as usual my fave- specially the diagonal black of firs against mts on left- als the charles bukowski-
this sort of poem rises to grandeur- but - in the lon g term- that doesn't mean much still- we like it for its honesty

can u see it in the new yorker magazine?

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