Low Balling the High Rollers   Wednesday, June 24, 2015

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The world is under attack by an unknown and ruthless enemy whose purpose seems to be extermination of the human race. Using flash-fiction pieces presented as dispatches from a soldier, the book creates an extended narrative about the soldier and his eventual destiny.

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I usually put my photos up first, then fill in the space between  with text.

This week I got caught up with pictures and ended up needing a lot more text than usual, thus this very much longer than usual post. As I said before, the easiest text transcribe is my own stuff, so being very much into easy, there's even more me this week than usual.

The photos I got caught up with are still,  as in the past couple of weeks, from the part of Texas I call Texas, the south, central and west portions of the state. I went to East Texas a couple of years ago to take pictures but discovered that after you've taken on picture of a pine tree that pretty much does it. I did drive through the panhandle once,  didn't take any pictures and don't want to go back. Tumble  weeds, I noticed are  a lot like pine trees, seen one, seen them  all.

I should also mention, in case you didn't notice, I have a new book out, not poetry, an extended flash fiction narrative. It is in the process, as I write, of becoming available just about everywhere eBooks are sold at the grand old price of two bucks 99 (US dollars -  price varies by country). It's an interesting experiment and departure for me and an all-round great book, if I say so myself (and so far I'm the only one saying so - which is why I ask if you buy one, review it wherever you bought it.)

This week's amazing stuff:


Me
misplaced essentials

Me
night reaches for more dark

Me
24/7

Laura Van Prooven
Solstice
Glass

Me
a very handsome woman

Me
the eve before the eve before the morning  

Margaret Atwood
Note from an  Italian  Postcard Factory

Me
Mr. Miyagi's revenge

Me
the rain

Pablo Neruda
Ode to the Book (I)

Me
breakfast in Texas where things are as they should be   

Me
more confident suns

Annamayya
from God on the Hill

Me
losing all the  good stories

Li Qi
Land

Mei Shaojing
The Bowl Shaped Heart     

Me
least I can do

Me
best of both

Me
nothing you wouldn't want to do too

David Eberhardt
Homage to Ingmar Bergman

Me
confessions of a former news junkie   
lost and found

Czeslaw Milosz
In Music

Me
pleasant greetings, earth creature

Me
feast  day (two versions)

Me
walking on the moon  and forgetting how we got there

Ryokan
Written in My Hermitage on a Snowy Evening

Me
there is a field

Me
I try to avoid politics in my poems

Campbell  McGrath
Manatee
Trouble with Miami

Me
Dee's birthday poem

Me
pages

William Matthews
The Socratic Method

Me
dream weaver
flashing

Me
a kind of Father's Day consideration    
            







                                                                      





Here's my first new poem for the  week. I ended up only getting four pictures before heavy rains sent me paddling home.












misplaced  essentials

on my own this weekend

with an urge to drive,
a need to take some new pictures...

but it's an overcast  day, storms
likely, but it won't  stop me, perhaps
too dark or wet for photos, but still  good
for new roads, new sights, new air
that does not carry in it the stale, used air I have been
breathing...

what is this about?

at 71, an urge to  quest, to set time and space
between  me and all  that binds me...

just a need, perhaps,
to pretend that I'm young again,
not old, to seek out a  promise of light where the tunnel
seems forever dark, to recharge whatever
it was that made me sue I was
special and destined for
greatness...

how silly that was, but still
essential...








                                                              





This poem is from January, last year. A very cold day in a cold month.












night reaches for a little more dark

night reaches for a little more dark
as day's fire streaks
red and orange in the west, tall oaks silhouetted
black against the light, thrashing
against the strong north wind that rises with the sun

unseen for months,deer
return in the half-light to the  pasture
across the way,  emerging from the  woods
in their  sharp.tippy-toed  way
to graze in high meadow grass

it's cold out, at least for here,
in the thirties, Bella, all golden furred
and fluffy from her beauty parlor visit yesterday,
waits in the car for her morning sausage treat
and a walk

and it's cold out there...








                                                              





Another old poem, this one from 2007.













24-7

I'm trying to find
an idea
that will grow
into my next poem,
something with depth
that can bring that moment
to a reader when it's like
a  dark day turns bright with the light
of an idea or an image  or
a sense of the  inner workings
of a poet's mind and heart

and all I can think  of
is how damn tired  I am,
which leads  me to think about
sleep and what a gift it is
and how the life we lead
spurns that gift
as if it was a cheap plastic
doodad we receive  in the mail
as some kind of promotion
for a product even cheaper

```

watch how a cat sleeps...

mine does it so well, finding
a place next to me at  night
and most of the next  day, arising
for just a few hours  during the day
to do what cats do
when out of the sight of man...

how intense is  her short waking life...

and how drab is mine, stretched over
the greater part of my life -
how deep and uncomplicated her sleep
and how short
and unsatisfying is mine








                                                                       
I met Laura Van Prooyen, a friend of a friend, and didn't find out until later that she is a poet. Having now a copy of her book, I include here two of her poems. The book is Our House  Was on Fire, published by Ashland Press in 2015. It is the poet's second book and winner of the Robert McGovern Memorial Publication Prize.

Born in Chicago, Van Prooyen currently lives in San Antonio and has more than 15 years teaching poetry and writing. She earned a B.A. at Purdue University, an M.A. at the University of  Illinois at Chicago and an M.F.A. at Warren Wilson College.









Solstice

It is not so complicated. I am at the window
grinding walnuts for bread.

The chain link fence
surrounds our dormant stamp of grass.

When you speak, I watch your lips,
or else I can't understand.

This winter is made simple by the  cold.
In lean air,  the train whistle carries.

Our neighbor's faucet spills  out
the Great Lakes, freezes into a rink.

I hear the hockey sticks
smacking ice. I hear the blades.


Glass

Because you asked, and the knife
in my hand could not answer, and you refused
my slice of green apple because it was sour,

I could see no other way but to tell you
everything. You pressed
for everything I told you.

Today I pulled out
the frost-blackened tomatoes.
Our daughter poked in the mulch
and found a pair of slugs. For a long time
we crouched and re-routed their trails of slime.

In the afternoon
when I thumbed through the mail, a bird
hit our window, but outside
I couldn't find it on the ground.

I can see how misleading
the glass could be, reflecting trees
and this sky so terrifically blue.








                                                                                




This is another new piece from last week, an observational from my breakfast diner.













a very handsome woman

what a very handsome  woman,
here at the restaurant
most every morning,  sits
alone, unattached,  or maybe just
not interested,
all the questions that  come up
when you see someone always alone
the same questions,probably,
 that people have about me, also usually
alone in public, that preoccupied aloofness, likely
with the woman  as well, saying something
about  the usual state of my mind,
even when in the middle of a
crowd...


a handsome woman, in her  fifties,
maybe early sixties, a great beauty
when she must have been when younger,
beauty not faded now, but matured beyond
mere prettiness...

usually dressed casually
this early in the morning, today
she has come together with care,
with make-up that frames
the previous beauty as if to be
hung in a gallery of fine human arts,
showing what hides beneath the surface
of passing years...

two people who  share a restaurant
but never a table, we nod and we smile
coming and going...

leaving,  I now, she smiles...

tomorrow, who knows,
I might smile and she might
nod...

such a vibrant,ever-changing
early morning relationship
we  share...

"after you, Alphonse, no,
Gaston, after you"  - truly a vibrant
relationship  we have here
in the morning
as the routine moon sets and
the everyday sun rises
around us...



 




                                                                            




Here is a new years poem from 2013.















the eve before the eve before the morning

it is
the eve
of the eve
so many place
such hope
on

I
was cured
of all that magic thinking
when I was about
thirteen
after I discovered
on the morning after
the eve that we still had no money,
my bicycle still had two flat tires
and girls still didn't like me...

but
my dog did

waking me in the morning
after the eve
with a squiggle under the covers
at my feet, licking my feet
in her usual morning way,
just  as she did in all the previous eves
before the eve
before the morning...

1957,
I'm thinking it was before
the morning after the eve, a middling year
as I remember it,
and the 1958 morning after the eve
as well,with nothing really important
changing between me
and my best
pal
squiggling beneath the covers








                                                             
From my library, this poem is by Margaret Atwood from her book, Two-Headed Poems. The book was published by Simon and Schuster in 1978

Born in 1939, Atwood is a Canadian poet, novelist, literary critic, essayist, and environmental activist. While she is best known as a novelist, she has published 15 collections of poetry.







Note from an Italian Postcard Factory

Why prowl the world, hungry
and albino, with your
face of a blotter, your  eyes on stalks
jerking this way and that,
rubbing yourself against
these alien landscapes,  on the sniff
for the real thing?

You know you will never find it:
the muted trees shaped like umbrellas
or reversed turnips or brooms, the mountains
that were promised you recede
as you approach,
taking their unassailable
blue, leaving a space
devoid of anything but the air
in elevators.

A clean toilet is a metaphysical
assumption, your quest for which
has spoiled the  view;
but you also want demons
that are still believed in.

We on the other hand
can give you the genuine item
without the pain:
no gut cramps, no swollen ankles,
no men trusting their fingerless hands
through the windows.

We sell pure yodels,
camel drivers with no buses
in the background, tamed bangles
wrist to elbow on women
who don't  mind,
                           the essence of whatever
you like
              and those mountains, those brief blue
mountains  can be yours
as much as they are anyone's,
forever, untouched
by anything but clouds.








                                                              


We had a mobile home on a nice bit of property out in the country that we bought for our son to use at college rather than paying rent to someone else. After he finished with it. we were renting it out, which worked fine until the last tenant shredded it. We decided to sell it, but before we could, a lot of rehab was required.

And that's the story behind this piece from 2008.









Mr.  Miyagi's revenge

I  had
a painterly day -
not artist painterly
but paint the rent house
painterly -
and after a day
of carrying gallon
paint cans
up and down
a ladder,
and-swishing a brush
up and down
and side to side,
I, who hasn't swished
anything
heavier than a computer mouse
in years of months,
am tired
sore
pooped tuckered
wore out
toes
to nose
a certified
dump lump ready for the
gulls of landfill
manor

and sunburned

it's hard work
and I don't know why
the professionals don't make
more money at it - it
being the lowest paid
of the apprenticeship trades -
but there is a joy to it,
making the drab
bright and colorful,
the shopworn old
new again,
every day leaving something
clearly better,
prettier,
nicer
than it was when you
started the day...

there's something
to be said for that kind
of job satisfaction -

and the stilts,
holy cow, the stilts...

sometimes painters get
to wear stilts
while they're working
so they can reach high places,
you know,
without the bother of a ladder...

stilts - what
could be cooler than that








                                                                                           





More rain coming, though  the sun shines now, the rain comes  from opposite directions.












the rain

the rain
is like a thin lace curtain
stirring by a slow
gulf breeze,
ghost of storms passed
and insinuation of storms to come
later today, when a tropic  gale crosses the coast
and comes our way,pounding our limestone
hills with the fading fury of a lover
spurned...

the rain will be beneficial to us, an inconvenience
to travel and commerce for which we will be
rewarded with reserves for thirsty
summer...

but places east,
already reeling from the floods of an earlier storm
will get more rain, more rising waters,
at  a time when  all they want instead is to find
the remains of  their past life
scattered among  the fallen cypress  trees
lying horizontal  along river  banks,
that,
and the relief
of a chance to dry out
under the bright of a benevolent
bare-naked
sun...








                                                                   
Next from my library, the incomparable Pablo Neruda. The book is Neruda - Selected Poems,  published  by Houghton Mifflin in 1970. A bilingual book with several translators, this poem was translated by Nathaniel Tarn.

Chilean poet, diplomatic and politician, Neruda was born in 1904 and died in 1973, winning the  Nobel Prize for Literature along the way in 1971.









Ode to the Book (I)

When I close a book
I open life.
I hear
faltering cries
among harbors.
Copper ingots
slide down sand-pits
to Tocopilla.
Night time.
Among the islands
our ocean
throbs with fish,
touches the  feet, the thighs,
the chalk ribs
of my country.
The whole of night
clings to its shores, by dawn
it wakes up singing
as it it had excited a guitar.

The ocean's  surge is calling.
The wind
calls me
and Rodriguez calls,
and Jose Antonio -
I got a telegram
from the "Mine" Union
and the one I love
(whose name I won't let out)
expects me in Bucalemu.

No book has been able
to wrap me in paper,
to  fill me up
with typography,
with heavenly imprints
or was ever able
to bind my eyes.
I come out of the books to people orchards
with the hoarse family of my  song,
to work the burning metals
or to eat smoked beef
by mountain firesides.
I love adventurous
books,
books of forest or snow,
depth of sky
but
hate
the spider book
in which thought
has laid poisonous wires
to trap the juvenile
and circling fly.
Book, let me go.
I won't go clothed
in volumes,
I don't come out
of collected works,
my poems
have not eaten poems -
they devour
exciting happenings,
feed on rough weather,
and dig  their food
out of earth and men.
I'm on my way
with dust in my shoes
free of mythology:
send books back to their shelves,
I'm going down into the streets.

I learned about life
from life  itself,
love I learned in a single kiss
and could teach  no on anything
except that I have lived
with something in common among men,
when fighting with them,
when saying all their say in my song.










                                                                                





Some things just have to be said, and I said  it  in 2012, a defense of the pinto bean.











breakfast in Texas where things are as they should be

having a basic Texas born-and-bred urge
this morning
for a real Tex-Mex breakfast
and my regular breakfast place,
being of Colorado origin
and a victim of the black bean fallacy,
I did a Marty McFly
and returned to one of my back-to-the-future
breakfast places
of yore, a traditional Texas diner
where the role of the  pinto bean
is recognized and
honored
as the centerpiece of Mexican cooking
not some yuppie, mountain-based
bean of the night,
beloved in those  states southwest
so shy when it comes to their Mexican
heritage,
preferring instead, to identify their cuisine
with the Spanish imperialists
and their conquistadors,
black bean eaters, all of them,
not like those proud
people
native to the lands
conquered, subsumed
along with their simple pinto bean
by the colonial priests
and their soldier
cohort

and how  proud I am this morning
to be in Texas
where the conquered conquered
the conquerors,
eating my huevos rancheros
and refried  pinto
beans
in true Tex-Mex fashion,
survivors
all
in a restaurant where no black bean
has ever passed through
its doors








                                                                                





This poem is from last  week, more about rain, so much better than poems about drought.











more confident suns

a sepia-lit day
under an uncertain sun

storm blowing in from the coast,
but staying east of us, the threat
increasingly hollow as west winds blow
the rain away...

but still
the hesitant sun knows how prevailing winds can change,
a lesson learned by many of us in life...

rarely the easy
way -
at least for me

everything I've ever learned
the product of mistakes,
under-estimating myself, over-
estimating people I counted on, giving up
when I should have hung on,  holding on when
good sense would have told me to let go

but, and here's the important lesson

always losing more by giving up
than by holding on has made me
tough, or, as others describe it,
stubborn...

the virtue of a hard head,
serving me now as
never before

meanwhile
a sepia-lit day
under an uncertain sun

but I hold on
to remembered light
and more confident
suns








                                                                                      
Tallapaka Annamacharya (or Annamayya), born 1408, died 1503, was a Hindu saint and the earliest known Indian musician to compose songs called sabkirtanas in praise of the god Venkateswara, a  form of Vishnu. His wife, Timmakka, is considered the first female poet in Telugu literature and both his son and his grandson gained fame as musicians and composers.

A selection of his songs are collected in God on the Hill, Temple Poems from Tirupati, published by Oxford University Press in 2005. The poems were translated by Velcheru Narayana Rao and David Shulman.









from God on the Hill

These marks of black musk
on her lips, red as buds,
what are they but letters of love
sent by our friend to her lover?

Think it over, my friends:
what is it but the blood
still staining the long glances
that pierced her beloved
after she drew them from his body
back to her eyes?

                  What are they but letters of love?

How is it that this woman's breasts
show so bright through her sari?

Can't you guess, my friends?
It's the rays from the  crescents
left by the nails of her lover,
rays luminous as moonlight on a summer night?

                   What are they but letters of love?

What are these graces,
these pearls,
raining down her cheeks?

Can't you imagine, friends?
What could they be bu beads of sweat
left on her gentle face
by the god on the hill
when he pressed hard,
frantic in love?

                What are they but letters of love?


 ~~

You're just about as much as one imagines you to be.
As they say, the more dough, the more bread.

People who follow Vishnu love you as Vishnu.
Philosophers speak of you as the ultimate.
Those who go with Siva think of you as Siva.
Those who carry skulls see a skull in your hand.

                  You are as one imagines.

People who serve the goddess think you are their goddess.
Different schools of thought measure by their thoughts.
Small people think of you to get rich, and for them you become small.
Thoughtful minds contemplate your depths, and for them you are deep,

                    as deep as one imagines.

There's nothing missing in you.
The  lotus spreads to the limits of the lake.
there's water in the Ganges, also  in wells on the shore.
You're the god on the hill,
the one who's taken hold of me.
For me, you are real,

                     as real as I can imagine.







                                                           





It's never too late to  learn some new  history, which I did in 2009.














 losing all the good stories

San Antonio,
one of the oldest cities
in the United States,
was, for the greater part
of its existence, capital of, first
the Spanish and later the Mexican
province of Tejas, encompassing most
of what is now known as the
American Southwest...

it is now  county seat
of Bexar County, Texas

that's  pronounced "bear,"
as in the grizzly animal  who
does a thing in the woods that
need not be discussed here, though
it is true, the bear does do it in the woods
just as it is true that the Pope is Catholic
and the earth is not flat like a pancake but
round like a tennis ball, though less fuzzy...

for most  of my life
I was taught and  believed
that the county was named after
a hero of  the Texas Revolution
by the name of Bear who could not write
and signed his name with an "X" so that when
he was designated the namesake of the county
the name was written with an "X" in the middle
so as to be true to him and to eliminate
any suggestion the county was named after
any other Bear than him...

that's the story
and it was only recently I learned
it is not  true -

in fact,
the county was named after
the presidio (fort) established
in the early Spanish settlement
by the Spanish Governor Martin de Alacorn,
with the name San Antonio de Bejar
in honor of the Duke of Bejar,
the viceroy's brother,
who died a hero's death defending Budapest
from the Ottoman Empire in 1686...

one  hero
is as good as another, I guess
but I really liked the story of the  "X"
and am sorry to lose it

it being one of the consequences
of growing old -
all the best stories turn  out to be
untrue

and now
I just have to learn to find  some
shared sense of kinship with
the guy who saved Budapest in
1686








Next, I have two poets from Women of the Red Plain, an anthology of contemporary Chinese women's poetry.  It was first published in 1992 in the People's Republic of China by Chinese Literature Press and, then, in the same year this translated version from my library by Penguin Books. The translator was Julia C. Lin.




                                                              
The first poet is Li Qi. Born in 1956 in the city of  Habin in the province of Heilongjiang, Li became a Chinese instructor in he Athletic College of Harbin upon her graduation from college. She began to write poetry when she was fourteen. She began to publish her poems in literary journals in 1978 and published her first collection of poetry in 1985.

I couldn't find an image of Li, so I settled for this, a beautiful painting representing Li Qingzao, a poet from more than  900 years ago.





Land

To be a sailor is a man's good fortune,
To be a sailor's wife
Is a woman's good fortune.

Her love has overcome the sea
Her promises have colored the sea blue,
      then bleached it white
She has mastered
The man who has mastered the sea.

Her husband tells her
That she will perpetually rise from the sea
Changing into a pleasing breeze
Changing into shimmering waves
Changing into clouds, into birds
Tailing his ships
To iron smooth the rocky years
All their wrinkles.

He also tells her
Every sailor is envious of him
She has brought to these lusty men
Verse lines blue as the roof tiles
She has made them believe

That there's nothing to fear in the world
Not storm, shoals,waves
Only that there be a piece of land in the heart
Only that fragrance will grow on this land.


                                                            
The second poem from the anthology is Mei  Shaojing. Born in Chongqing in 1948, Mei was enrolled in the Chinese Department of the Shaanxi Teacher's College in 1978 when she had to drop out due to illness. She returned to a previous job doing promotion work in a radio factory. Having previously published her first collection of poems in 1975,  in 1981 she was transferred to work for the Federation of Literary and Art Circles and in 1984  began attending the Lu Xun Academy in Beijing as  well as the Chinese Department  of the Beijing University for advanced  studies.

I also couldn't find a photo of Mei, but I did get picture of her latest book on Goodreads, a not particularly helpful cover.






 The Bowl-Shaped Heart

Those old bowls before me
Steaming hot
Float fragrance everywhere

But all I can see
Is the gleaming sweat
On a hot face.

Under the sun of a young spring
Quietly, quietly
The mountain stream
Lets out its warm breath.

I try to change
My bowl-shaped heart
Mould it
And fire it
In the suffering or our race.

Let such a heart,
The bowl-shaped heart
Be filled to the full
With all the words hotly passionate
That still exist in this world.

Then let it send forth
Its own fragrance
From many many kilns to afloat
Drift after floating drift.








                                                                 




This poem is from August, 2011. With summer barely started, we haven't got to this point yet, but we will, we will because we always do.












the least I can do

sitting here,
waiting for October,
when the Devil's  fire dogs
are returned to their kennel
and smiles are back
upon the land...

until then,
I'm just going to sit here
being a pain in the ass, complaining,
complaining,  complaining,
about the weather...

least I can do








                                                                 






This is new from last week, more about the weather and what to make of it.












best of both

like yesterday,
another day with storms
on the horizon, the in-between morning,
8 hours of sunshine bright
followed by 3 to 4 inches of rain
as the sun begins its westerly decline...

I hope today bears true
to yesterday's pattern, the best
of both worlds, sunshine to make the roses
bloom and rain to make the oak trees
grown strong and straight, too much of either
one or the other makes for a difficult life for both
in the passage of a day, it's like the variety
they used to call the spice of life...

could that we always live with such spice as this...

our minds and bodies growing strong and
straight,,  our talents blooming like the reddest
of all the roses, fed by challenge,
nurtured by rest,times to  do
and times to think about doing, times to savor
memories of all that's done and times to anticipate
all  that there still is for doing...

~~~

for so many of us our prospects bleak, our spice jars
empty, no memories of the done or doing,
just another day's  slog through another day's fog...

but I am the other kind and happy for it, loving
the rain and the sun in equal measure, as they both
feed me, as trial and triumph feeds me,
as failure and success makes me better, informs me
of the realities of  life, prepares me for further
living...

~~~

Donald Trump, I read, had to hire
the cheering crowds that greeted his declaration
of candidacy for the presidency - how sad to live with such
pretension,  trying to buy the sun and the rain
so as to never  admit a life in dark and drought,
a lover of neither rain nor sun that even through his riches
he cannot own...








                                                                           




Here it is, yet another observational, this one from 2013. It's the reason I don't write at home - nothing to see there. Of course, as  this poem points out, sometimes too  much to see can be a problem too.











nothing you wouldn't want to do too

the
skinny fellow
in the booth all the way
across the room from  me
in a tee shirt and wide angle 1980s glasses

yes, that fellow,
the skinny long-necked fellow,
eating his toast, his long neck bobbing,
looks like a crane eating tiny
insects...

he's not what I intended to write about
this morning, but it's one of my handicaps
as a poet, so easily distracted  that even the best
and deepest poetry that might well up from within  me
is lost when something unexpected
and interesting
passes before my eyes,
something unexpected and interesting
like a long-necked skinny man chewing like a  crane
eating tiny insects...

and now he's gone,
driving out the parking lot
in a tiny red car,
and any chance for something poetically deep
and inspiring to well up from within  me
leaves in his tiny red car
with him...

so the day for deep and inspiring, etc. etc.
is  lost, but
tell me the truth,
if you saw a skinny man in a tee shirt and 1980s glasses,
eating his toast like a long-necked crane
chewing tiny insects,
wouldn't you want to write it down too?








                                                                              


The next poem is by poet friend and activist from Baltimore, David Eberhardt.









Homage to Ingmar  Bergman

1 "Cries and Whispers"

Sisters Karin and Maria...
Are the Swedes more emotional?
I'm afraid not.

Would someone touch my face
Your knuckles curved just so
In the Bergman movie?

I might sit there
In front of some soup and
One little Swedish meatball and some dark  wine...

"Have I told you how much I hate you?
You sit there with your cold little grin".
But then I might change my demeanor:

"Forgive me, maybe you know better".
In scenes I would just scream.
Could all  elementary school students be required

To watch "Cries and Whispers", maybe twice and repeat:
"Sit with me til the horror is over".. or:
"The tang of autumn air, mild but fine...

The sisters with Anna
Going to the old swing with white parasols...
"Come what may...this is happiness..."


2 "Wild Strawberries"

There is still room for mercy, it is not too late
To care for another, summer nights,
When  you're tired
You go to bed;
A fan in the window
And beyond that the rain; it sounds  perfect...
The fan plus rain,
At the end comes  acceptance.


3 "Smiles of a Summer Night"

Midsummer, Scandinavia...
We bathe in the sunlight!
We want to "relate",
A sincere desire
To tear the mask off.
Some'd rather keep it on
Even in sheer sunlight.
Because of sheer sunlight.








                                                                    


                                                         


Even though the next two short poems were both written last year, I'm calling them new because I never used them anywhere. I never used them anywhere because I never thought they were much to do with. Now, a  year  later, I've  decided that they deserve at least a moment or two in the sun.

The poems have nothing to do with each other except that they are both short and were both written a year ago and hidden  away in the cellar.









confessions of a former news junkie

I  read  my local newspaper
every day,
mainly for the comics
and so I can keep up with the  NBA finals...

I  used to be a  news junkie
but haven't read my New York Times
since last Saturday

too many conflicting versions
of reality
being pushed at me

and too much I really don't want
to know




lost and found

lost in yesterday's
gloom and rain
I almost lost spring's bright
smile today

old Broadway
shining in the morning sun
like a new
silver
coin,
a festival of sunlight
having chased away the
rain...








                                                                            
Now, from my library, Czeslaw Milosz, from his book, Provinces, Poems 1987-1991. The book was published by The Ecco Press in 1991.

Milosz, Polish poet, prose writer, translator and diplomat, was born in 1911 and died in 2004. Following the end of the second world war, he served as Polish cultural attache in Paris and Washington D.C. until 1951 when he defected to the West. He was a professor of Slavic Languages  and Literature at the University of California, Berkeley from 1961 to 1998, and was the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1980. After the fall of the "Iron Curtain" he divided his time between California and Poland.








In Music

Wailing of a flute, a little drum.
A small wedding cortege accompanies a couple
Going past clay houses on the street of a village.
In the dress of the bride much white satin.
How many pennies put away to sew it,  once in a lifetime.
The dress of the groom, black,  festively stiff.
The flute tells something to the hills, parched, the color of deer,
Hens scratch in dry mounds of manure.

I have not seen it, I summoned it listening to music.
The instruments play for themselves, in their own eternity.
Lips glow, agile fingers work, so short a time.
Soon afterwards the pageant  sinks into the earth.
But the sound endures, autonomous, triumphant,
For ever visited by, each time returning,
The warm touch of  cheeks, interiors of houses,
And particular human lives
Of which the chronicles make no mention.


He translated the poems in the book, along with  Robert Haas.








                                                                      






Interpreting my dreams in 2012.










pleasant greetings, earth creature

"Pleasant greetings,
earth creature..."

it's 0-five hundred
ad I went to bed at
0-1thirty
and I had to take
the dog out to pee
three times between  then
and now and I'm
sleepy
and this sort of ting
always seems to happen
when I suffer insufficient
sleep,
my normal snapcracklepop
morning displaced
by encounters of the very
third kind, strange folk,
green-skinned  and  scaly, smiling
with fearsome teeth,
twitchy orange eyes (all eight
of them flittering  and jittering
like Mexican  jumping beans
in a tea cup, tickling
the crawly backbone of the
great worm of tequila destiny)
and all I want is a cup of coffee,
a jack of Joe-juice and maybe
a danish, "Oh, I love the Danish,"
says my green friend,"they are
so tasty, with smoked eel on rye,
certainly worth the trip," he says
as he smiles
with his sharp little fearsome teeth
twinkling in the morning light

twitching and switching
through the kitchen window,
and I would be very frightened
if I wasn't sure I was still asleep
and dreaming and I swear I'm never
going to  stay up  past 0-ten  hundred
again...

and I hear, as  the bedroom
door closes,
"Sleep pleasantly,
earth creature it has been tasty
meeting you this morning."

~~~

next comes the commentary:

though usually well hidden,
my poems almost always have
some meaning,some message,
some selection of jams and jellies
of deep philosophy,
some lesson to  the world
for better and more moral living...

but, of course,
that's bullshit, any lesson
or message or meaning in my poems
is an afterthought at best, this pitiful claim
of relevance merely an attempt
at this late moment
to obscure the fact that I can think
of no reason for this poem, can find
no message for anyone, except maybe me,
a goad to myself
to recognize my limitations,
to swear a promise to myself
that I am never going
to stay up past 0-nine hundred
again
no matter
how great the promise
of  a championship-level basketball game,
a big boy game,
nasty...





                                                                       

                                                 
                                                   




Revealing my indecision, this is from last week, two versions. I can't  decide which should be the keeper. Brilliant and wonderful as are the parts I deleted from the longer version, I think they are a distraction and the shorter poem is stronger without them. But I can't decide.










feast day

    version i

storm
at  4 am. passed
by dawn's first light

trees sag
under the weight
of leaves bursting with wet,  rain-fed
growth

the grass
like a thick Persian carpet,
green and springy
underfoot

birds call,
welcome this lush new day,
this day of earthworms
rising from sodden grown to
take a humid
breath

birds call,
welcome the light of this
feasting day



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~`

    version 2

storm
at  4 am. passed
by dawn's first light

birds call,
welcome this lush new day,
this day of earthworms
rising from sodden grown to
take a humid
breath

birds call,
welcome the light of this
feasting day








                                                                 





This one is from 2009, remember a great event (Neil...who?)












walking on the moon and forgetting how we got there

twenty-five years old,
three months returned
from military service,
driving a taxi,  two
in the afternoon until
two in the morning,
lousy money, but
working that shift
seven days a week
money is irrelevant
to your  life - marking

time,
GI Bill promising
a return to college,
much like today,
waiting for the next
big event in my life

somehow,
I was home that
night,  with my
parents, waiting
with Walter Cronkite
and Wally Schirra
and most of the rest
of  the world, for
two human beings,
having crossed
the cold black well of space,
to make the short final
jump to the surface
of the moon, to  make
that first step for
human-kind, to step
from the  pages of the
books I read from the
age of  twelve  to real

life,
to walk on a
piece of the void
not our own, I watched
and  I waited and it was done
and Walter and Wally shed
tears of a generation who,
like my father, lived to see
from our kind's  first rise from
the gravity-bound to this, this
expansion of humanity's
place in the universe,this
great pushing against the
smallest of our  boundaries

and  I was left with a great
fullness...

and I watched the next one
and the one after that, and
by the  time they ended, I
read about the last one
in the newspaper-the morning
after and what  had been
the next big thing in my life
became another bit  of dusty
history and by the time of my
son's generation, not even

that, as those who  were
there when it happened
forgot to pass on the greatness
and significance of the event,
failed to remember it ourselves,
as  if the secret of fire was
discovered, then
forgotten...

like
our primitive awe of flame
was forgotten...

a measure of the poverty
of our soul








                                                                               

Next, Zen poetry by Ryokan from the collection One Robe, One Bowl published by Weatherhill in 1977, my edition in 2005.

Born in 1758, Ryokan was a quiet and eccentric Zen monk who lived much of his life as a hermit. His  poetry presented the essence of Zen life even as he rejected any title, such as teacher. He died in 1831.

His poem  was translated by John Stevens.











Written in My Hermitage on a Snowy Evening

For  more than   seventy years, I have been  making
Myself dizzy observing men.
I have abandoned trying to penetrate men's good and
    bad actions.
Coming and going is a sign of weakness.
Heavy snow in the dead of night -
Under the weather-beaten window, one incense stick.

~~~~

Light rain - the mountain forest is wrapped in mist.
Slowly the fog changes to clouds and haze.
Along the boundless river bank, many crows.
I  walk to a hill overlooking the valley to sit in zazen.

~~~~

After spending the day begging in town,
I now sit  peacefully,  under a cliff  in the evening cool,
Alone, with one robe and one bowl -
The life of a Zen monk is truly the best!








                                                                             




This piece is from 2011. I don't believe as the believers believe but I understand and honor the goodness and peace they seek, if not in this world, at least in the next.













there is a field

    Rumi says:
    
    Out beyond ideas of wrong-doing and right-doing,
    there  is a field. I'll meet you there.

    When the soul lies down in the grass
    the world is too full to talk about.
    Ideas, language, even the phrase each other
    doesn't make any sense

talking to a friend, he
a believer,
and me, not,
about the differences between
the old and new testaments
of the Christian Bible,
when Rumi
intervenes -

the old testament,
the book of wrong-doing and right-doing
and the rites and strictures
of both,
an earth bound by the rules
of a creator
who lays out rules for everything
from how to pray
to what and when you eat...

The Christ
of the new testament
having no time for such as that,
a prophet
who has no  time
for rules old or new,
a prophet of  the field,
where wrong-doing and
right-doing
lie together in the grass.
irrelevant, too much world/
time/life to spend any of it
talking about them, a field where
the great soul over all
souls
cushions the  heads
of both right and wrong,
both good and bad,
requiring
only acceptance of that great soul
to nullify all the harsh and warnings
that came before

a precious dream,
even if not
my own
  







                                                                            
                                                                     



This is one of the poems from last  year that I couldn't decide to throw away or just hide in the attic along with crazy Aunt Emma.

Watch out, here comes weird old auntie











I try to avoid politics  in my poems

I try to avoid
politics
in my poems
because the dim-lit  minds
and crystal-hard hearts
of the disloyal opposition
drives me not to reasoned verse
but to fits of rage
and gutter language not fit
for high-price poetry,
or even the bargain basement stuff
I produce every morning,
like when I was a  kid,  Japan
produced junk tin toys,
flimsy, sharp-edged
like the razor
in a streetwalker's purse

and I know I'll never be
a high-class
poet
writing about  low-class
politicians who don't even have the wit
to be entertainingly corrupt
like the old-time politicians
from Louisiana bayous
and South Texas cotton and cattle fields,
like the former Duval County judge
who called me  three days after he got out of prison
and told me to hire one of his nephews,
or  else...

at least they were good for a
laugh -

but this new crop of Christ-fuckers,
widow-bashers, truth-defilers,
life force-molesters,
and individuals otherwise morally degenerate  in almost
every imaginable
way

and writing about them
just skews my whole day to the side
of  extreme grump and lingering
grouch

cause they just ain't no fun
at all
and I'm the kind of  guy who starts his  day
out for fun and not to growl
and after writing this
I'm feeling all
growly al-
ready









                                                                           
Next from my library, two poems from Campbell McGrath from his book, Florida Poems. The book was published in 2002 by Harper Collins/Ecco.

Born in 1962, McGrath earned his BA at the University of Chicago and his MBA at Columbia University. Winner of numerous awards and honors including a MacArthur Foundation Genius Grant, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Bynner Grant from the Library of Congress, the Academy of American Poets Prize, a Pushcart Prize and others, he has taught at the University of Chicago, Northwestern University and Florida International University.






The Manatee

Deep sunk in the dreamtime of his terminal coma,
the manatee persists like a vegetative outpatient,
victim of the whirling propellers of impatience
and a buoyantly bovine quiescence gone nova.

Dream deep,  brother. Dream long and deep, sister sea-cow.
May millennia of soft tides and sea grass sustain they sleep
across the dark ages of extinction. May your memory keep
heavy he hearts and hulls of your inheritors. Us, for now.


Trouble with Miami

is the lack of significant galleries& serious theater,
the absence of museums, operas, ballets, symphonies,
a dearth of cultural infrastructure so profound

that the only local institution worth its salt is the ocean.

that watching the beautiful women on the beach
with bodies cast from bronze & soft lobed chrome
may be our best shot at real enlightenment,

their formal aspects comprise our artistic endowment,
their lubricity constitutes our esthetic nourishment,

hard candy loaves & fishes,

a sculpture garden of erotic  possibility
displayed  in postures of  wicked amusement
like wild palms abandoned to wind and solar decay,

and I am a happily married man
who sunburns easily.








                                                                                      





This is from last week, my wife's birthday. I try to do one every year. Sometimes  they work out; sometimes they don't.












Dee's  birthday poem

it is  that day of counting,
the number of years
known to her
to the driver's license bureau,
to the social security administration,
to the recorder of births for the State of
Tamaulipas, to her mother and to her father,
and to me,  but I'm not  telling
except
to say that 40 of those years,
having been spent with me,
passing quickly, flying
like when you're having fun,
for me, anyway, and I'm glad she was along
for the ride, and hope she's glad, too, aboard
the party bus of our years, that's
the way I think of it, anyway, and what
a sorrowful bus rid it would have been without
her...

so here we are
this new day in this new  undisclosed year,
a rainy day, which is a good thing,
not like all the sad songs about rainy days,
but a rainy day like spring, springing, blessing
the day with the stuff of new life,  so what else
can I say, facing the end of this poem
at the beginning of a new day, this poem
none of which that would be welcomed on  a
Hallmark Card, except maybe a quiet
"Happy Birthday"
and a time worn but still rising every day
like the sun,saying hello, hello,
I love you...












                                                                            





More internal discussion, which I more of  than I should, my poems like a daily journal laid out for anyone who wants to see.












pages

for most of my life
I saw it as a book I was writing
page by page, often not  knowing
as I finished one page what the next one would bring,
much as I write these little poems,
each line written with confidence that it will inspire
the next, usually not knowing what the next line will be
until it is there, on the page, inscribed in permanent
marker, not to be changed, like a page in my life,
there is no going back, learning to love or hate
or just accept each line, each page as it is...

lately it seems
the poems might be ending, like the book I write,
denouement approaching, the point of it all approaching,
yet, a dread feeling like you get finishing a book that seemed both
endless and meaningless that it may have been there is no point to it

it is an internal conversation I have with myself, a conversation, I
expect, not unusual for persons in the early stages
of their eighth decade...

still, I remind myself, a conversation with self at any age
is a conversation controlled by the two parts conversing, just
as many times in earlier ages the one part of myself convinced
that I  could do what the other part doubted...


and the believer part tells me today, that a book
on page one is no different than a book on any numbered
page and a poem at one line is not different than
a poem that has begun its closing...

there is always another page to write, another line
to find falling from the one just written - until
at a time unknown to all, there is not another page,
there is not another line and the book and the poem
must stand on the pages and lines written...

it is the deal we accept on our birth day, not a bad deal
if you accept, as I do, that every page of my book and every line
of my poems is worth the writing...







                                                                     
From his book Blues if You Want, here's a poem by William Matthews. The book was published by Houghton Mifflin Company in 1989.

Matthews,  a poet and essayist, was born in 1942. After teaching at a number of universities, he was professor of English and director of the creative writing program at City College of New York at the time of his death in 1997.








The Socratic Method

If you could  change things,  he asked,
with what would you begin? And  he held
up his hands like a magician's
and of course they were empty.

If you could be right, he asked,
who would you most like to be wrong?
Such pleasures taste like tin
but one could learn to live on tin.

Is it possible, he asked - and I could
see how we were in for it - that the poor
sleep  on the streets and in the wan mouths
of the subways because it makes us feel bad?

He waved  at the crescent moon
and at bright Venus, which seemed
to be docked alongside so  that one
patch of the sky looked like a Turkish flag

hung bluely above the Chrysler Building.
A beautiful April night we stood in,
though the air had swatches of cold  in it
here and  there, like a pond.

What makes a good excuse? he asked.
But why did he wave at the moon?
What should I ask you  instead of these
questions? he wanted to know.

By then we were getting restive
and anger would be next. Do you know,
he asked,  the way ice can  shift and crack
in a frozen river like a rifle shot?

Cabs swirled up Third Avenue.
Who the hell did he think  he was?
If you had to eat  pain for breakfast,
he began, and then you had to eat pain

again for lunch - but I, for one, stopped
listening. I stood and stared at him
like an owl and shifted my chilling feet
and cabs swirled up Third Avenue.







                                                                              



Next  I  have two short poems from 2010, again both observationals. Until recently I had breakfast every day at a busy restaurant where there were always people to look  at and think about as I wrote.Which led to a  lot of poems like this, just people who in there own particular way were weird of just interesting.












dream  weaver

the boy
in the yellow
shirt
with dark
Latin
eyes
looks for the girl
in the yellow
dress
with broad brown
shoulders
and hair
black
and flowing

he dreamed
of her last night
and knows
she
will soon dream
of him


flashing

watch her walk

with each step
the rear of her foot rises
as weight shifts from her heel to her  toe
while her shoe lags behind
and between the shoe
and the bottom of her foot
the soft pale flesh
of her instep flashes
like a lover's wink
across a crowded room,
this most beautiful, unseen place
inviting a caress,
a  kiss,
flashing like a  secret
across a crowded room








                                                                                        





This  poem from last week, Father's Day on Sunday, Dee's birthday the day before, two  poems from a weekend.












a kind of Father's Day consideration

I dream a boy
with a trombone
and I think of my son and his trombone
and I am sad, not  because
I am sad about the man the boy became
any more than I am sad about the man I became,
but because parents all pine for the child that was
theirs as much as they wish to return again to be the child
that was themselves...

it is a second chance, to have a child, a chance to sing and dance
and play games no grown-up man can play,  to read Seuss
and laugh with the child at the discovery of such wonderful
words, real and made up, to take first steps again, to learn to  read
again, to hit a ball, to run a race, to sleep in the quiet
of a child's innocence...

it is a second chance to be you when you were at your best, to be
the future, the promise, the explorer, the finder
of great treasure in unsuspected
places...

it is another chance, perhaps, when a child becomes
a parent, a third chance to reclaim
all that was often missed the previous time around,
for as life so often keeps us from the things we love the most,
such a blessing to have another chance to finally learn,
given the grace of a last chance, how to take the  opening given
to us without hesitation or reserve, a last chance
to recognize that the gift of life is in the living of it
in all the beauty and glory you can find, not in the work
of the world, but  in the cultivation of your greatest creations,
the child you were born again in the children you
have...









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






Fiction


Sonyador - The Dreamer





                                             Peace in our Time








5 Comments:
at 1:22 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

usual wonderful photos by itz- many stand outs- a neglected genius

in my Poem "Cries and Whispers" in nxt to last line should be swing- not swig

at 1:26 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

while i can remember:

favorites are:


lone manzanita? bush

misty clouds rising w mtns

tree that looks like a mastadon bone- what is this?

desolate valley filled w boulders


at 12:31 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

n my # 2 of bergman- too shld b to

u have more than one manzanita (i think that's what it is) photos that r wonderful

but the best is that desolate valley w the boulders-

i think we should paint in an image of Jesus- just floating abv the surface- cld get grt sales from the evangelicals

at 2:13 PM Blogger Here and Now said...

i think the photo you're talking about is one of several taken off hwy 170 between Terlingua,on the edge of the Big Bend National Park, and Presidio. it's called the River Road because it follows the Rio Grande River (you can see a little string of the river between canyons in one picture), sometimea high above the river and sometimes right along side it. what you see as you look out from the heights is Mexico.

at 1:04 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

i was wrong abt the to- it Should b "too" (early onset alzheimers?)

please no

who's the guy wading oujt- keep on goin mutha fuka

the photo of the canyon w rox is the most desolate piece i have ever seen- reminds of the desert where Jesuss went to meditate and wuz tempeted by the devil

YOU MUST DO MORE W THIS

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