Mixed Bag, Miscellarny, Potpouri, Ptchwork, Bricolage   Wednesday, June 15, 2016




It's  a  long post this week, with lots of text  holes to fill. Since there aren't enough days in the week  to fill those hole with new poems (along with my library poems), I'll return to using some old poems this  time around.

As every poem-a-day poet knows there are days when one has nothing to say, but the rules of the game are a that poem must be written anyway. These leads to what are basically poems about not having a poem, complete with excuses. I like such poems because there is a kind of invigoration in desperation. In fact, I have a whole section of such poems in my most recent book of poems, New Days and New Ways. My old poems this week are from that "when all else fails, punt" section, "hail Mary poems" that can be lots of fun to write.

My photos this week are all from the coffeehouse where I spend a good part of the day. The  coffeehouse, IAMA (International Academy of Music and the Arts), as the name  suggests is also a music school,  as well as a venue for musical and spoken word performance. It is  also a venue to display art and, as demonstrated with these photos, a boutique full of interesting things (everything is for sale, is how the owners put it). Looking for something to photograph, I looked around and saw all the interesting shapes, sizes and textures around me and decided the place might be  a natural  for a photo series.


 Me
remembering Alice
David Eberhardt
in memory,  Barbara Spilka  

Me
chalk up another day lost to literature
Joanna Weston
Woman Behind Glass
Pencil Sketches
A Curious Domesticity
Summer and Winter
Me
winners and losers (for what it's worth)
Federick Seidel
1968
Me
the beginning of the end or the end of the beginning or just another damn day in a life of beginnings-endings
Jean-Paul Pecqueur
Enter Here
Me
Me? Whee!
Ralph  Angel
Twice Removed
Me
the secret to long-term marriage and other revelations
Marge Piercy
Visitors with too much baggage

Me
loss
William Merredith
Pastoral
Me
but what does it mean? 
Alice Walker
Mississippi Winter I-IV'
Me
the girl with violet eyes
Yannis ritsos
Underneath Oblivion
Audible and Inaudible
Ariel Dorfman
Last Waltz in Santiago
Me
so  what am I to do now  
Naomi Shihab Nye
The Sail Made of Rags
Even at War
Morning Paper, Society Page
Me
having wasted the requisite 45 minutes on Facebook
William Virgil Davis
An Evening in Advent
The Light
Winter Walk
Me
waiting for promised lightning
Gilbert  Sorrentino
Coast of Texas
Me
Frank and Dino are dead
Edna St.  Vincent Millay
Passerr Mortuus Est
Pastoral
Me
all my dithers done
Alice Folkart
Pure and simple usually isn't         










A friend died last  week. I was just one of many who knew her and who now mourn her.













remembering Alice
how is it possible to feel you know so well
someone you  never met in person
though there was an opportunity
some years ago,  traveling through
Los Angeles while she still lived there,.
an offer to show us the sights, including
the breakfast place by the train station
where, for five cents, your coffee cup
could always be full...
such a loss to have  not had that meeting,
but time, that devourer of opportunity,
made it impossible)
instead,
can only know her through  her  words,
her beautiful,  kind, witty words,
her observations of the world
and people around her,
so  precise and true, and her
rhymes,, such silly, wonderful rhymes,
that told the stories of her heart
and the deepest soundings of her soul...
this brave woman...
I'm  sure she had  her mysteries
and secrets, as do we all,
known only
to her husband and others
closest to her,  from a life that
her  occasional hints
suggested
was as free and adventurous
as her poems
(and how I  would love to read
her memoir if  she
had one)
I will miss her
words
and through her words
her life and the beauty of her inner nature,
and she, herself, the lovely, gentle Alice,
so much of her I will remember
always
and miss already
in this first bright sunrise
of another summer
day...











A week of loss - this poem from another poet, David Eberhardt, remembering the one he lost.








in memory, Barbara Spilka

(sister-in-law,  just  died in  Prague after "La Bohem" - Barbara loved opera)

After Chopin, and a visit to the Musee de la Vie Romantique - References to Everest

Strong wills choose their own death:

Heard in the Chopin
Turning a certain corner...
Chopin,il adoree les surprise -

Not just any corner - that one on the mountain:
Self suicide - Khumbu Icefall, Lhotse Face,
South Col, the Hilary Step near the summit - not
Wishing to summit, not wishing to be
A  burden, other climbers find her  sitting alone.

A cast of his hand the long
Spidery fingers Chopin also
Encased in his ice.

You had lost hope of return,
Or had not even considered it...
Western medicine abandoned -

The face of a model
Had turned into a vole,
And yr arms now stix of camp photos...

You died alone in yr apartment
Music  swelling  to Puccini:
Charge ahead always.











Here's the first of my "hail Mary" poems from my book New Days and New Ways, available wherever eBooks  are sold. Actually, it's more of a a "hail Mary"/observational poem, but still in the "hail Mary" section of the book.













chalk up another day lost to literature

    I should write
something deep and important today

something grand with meaning
in this helter-skelter world, war and peace

in a page and a half,
that's what I should be doing today...

but  I can't get my brain
past the  woman in the booth  facing me

early old or late middle age,
tiny face almost lost under a big puffy hair-do

white strips streaming back
from both  temples,

her little eyes wide beneath hair like a
coonskin cap with a bobbed tail...

i'm thinking this is a humorous image, then I notice
when she and her white-bearded companion

get up to leave that she is wearing
very tight pants, wearing them very well in fact

and considering the factor of her rear
as I would the rings of a tree,

I adjust my age estimate
sharply down

and therein likes the problem -
how does on write war and peace

in a page and a half when in the midst
of tightly-panted women in coonskin caps?

i'll bet Tolstoy didn't have to deal with such as this
and if he did he'd probably just clear his mind

by writing a hot sex scene
which I can't do

since there's no room for a hot sex scene in a page and a half
and i'm not sure i'm remember enough of it to write it, anyway,

so I  decide  I'll have to write that
meaningful poem tomorrow as my brain

follows the coonskin cap and tight pants
flexing

flexing
right out the door











Next I have four short poems by my Canadian poet-friend, Joanna Weston.

Joanna has published a middle-reader, Frame and The McGuire, and poetry, A Bedroom  of Searchlights. Her eBooks are found at her blog http://www.1960willowtree.wordpress.com/












Woman Behind Glass

half-seen through  a window
glimpsed in trailed light
the neighbor saw her
locked in silence

he broke in
to touch cold
drawn on lips  and eyes
by a single stroke
of mute white chalk

     this dream-Mother
     walks through
veils of rain
     where no one
     can see her

her self-portrait
hangs on  my wall


Pencil Sketches

of son and daughter
fill the book

my brother
newborn
small and  dark
myself a toddler

myself adult
curled in an  armchair
face quiet, ill

Mother saw  us
as older than tears
built to withstand grief
poverty father's  death
her  breakdown


A Curious Domesticity

her dress hangs in a cupboard
patterned by her  paint  -
gathered  pleated and tucked

she wore it when she beat eggs
four spices    butter to cake
for an afternoon tea-party

while her palette knife dripped
on the hem while she waited
for the gypsy to  tell her fortune
after she saw ghosts at midnight
and flailed them with candle flame
under oak beam and plaster


Summer and Winter

she framed children in amber
laid them on paper
then hung them over her bed

where they stewed letters
and hung phone calls from her ears
for the solstice
the roots remained in her skin
while blossom shone  in her eyes
like snowdrops in January















I wrote  this last week, prompted by a comment by another  poet.













winners and losers (for what it's worth)
the subject of winners and losers
came up from another's
comment 
and 
I was thinking  well
let's think about
that
and what I came up  with
is that every game has a winner
and a loser, some deserving to win or lose
and some not
and
one should never believe
the equivocators and clip artists
who talk about ties
or win-wins
because ties are temporary
and there will always be a winner and a loser
in every game, except
for the long game
which
all will lose
and it turns out 
that's all I have to say about winners and losers 
and why would I even want to say that
on such a beautiful sun-shining 
day after weeks of rain...
a real winner
this day
and all of us who bask in it
    (though we know a day is just a day
    and another one comes
    after the night
    and the uncertainty principle
    is that
    even if there is not collision of a new  comet
    descending, it is almost certain
    that that which is today
    will be nothing  like
    tomorrow...)
~~~~~
that's life...
a bumpy road  to  an inevitable end
and confusing  as  hell
along the way










The first poem from my library this week is by Frederick  Seidel. The poem is from the book Poems, 1959-1979,  published  in 1989 by Alfred A. Knopf. Born in 1936, Seidel's first book published in 1962 was controversial as was frequently the case  with his later work.













1968

A football spirals through the oyster glow
Of dawn dope and fog in L.A.'s
Bel Air, punted perfectly.The foot
That punted is absolutely stoned.

A rising starlet leans her head against the tire
Of a  replica Cord.
A bonfire of red hair out of
Focus in the fog.Serenading her,
A boy plucks "God Bless America" from a guitar.
Vascular spasm has made the boy's hands blue,
Even after hours of opium.

Fifty or so of the original
Four hundred
At the fundraiser,
Robert Kennedy for President  remnants, lie
Exposed as snails around the swimming pool, stretched
Out on the paths, and in the gardens, and the drive.
Many dreams their famous bodies have filled.

the host, a rock superstar, has
a huge cake of opium.
Which he refers to as "King Kong,"
And which he serves on a silver salver
Under a glass bell to his close  friends,
So  called,
Which means all mankind apparently,
Except the fuzz,
Sticky as tar, the color of coffee,
A quarter of a million dollars going up in smoke.

This is Paradise painted
On the inside of an eggshell
With the light outside showing through,
Subtropical trees and flowers in the lawns,
Clammy as  albumen in the fog,
And smelling of fog. Back-lit
And diffuse, the murdered
Voityck Frokowski,  Abigail Folger and Sharon Tate
Sit together without faces.

This is the future.
Their future is the future. The future
Has been born.
The present is afterbirth,
These bloodshot and blue acres of flowerbeds and stars.
Robert Kennedy will be killed.
It is '68, the campaign year -
And the beginning of a new day.

People are waiting
When the chauffeur-bodyguard arrives
For work and walks
Into the ballroom, not recording studio, herds
Of breasts turn round, it seems in silence,
Like cattle turning to face a sound.
Like  cattle  lined up to face the dawn.
Shining eyes seeing all or nothing,
In the silence.

A stranger, and wearing a suit,
Has to be John the Baptist,
At least, come
To  say someone  else is coming.
He hikes up his shoulder holster
Self-consciously, meeting theirgaze.
That  is as sensitive as the future gets.













Here's another "punt" poem from New Days and New Ways and one  that was great fun  to write.














the beginning of the end or  the end of the beginning
or just another damn day in the life of beginnings-endings

     I was going to write a poem
about how miserable everything is

how the lunatics
have taken over the asylum

how good things everywhere
are hightailing it to the low hills and
high
gulches

how the bad guys
have stolen all the white hats
and posture ad preen and pretend
they are the good guys
while the real good guys are all off somewhere
eating crackerjacks
and  drinking lattes and smoking rose-tipped cigarettes
mute and blind
to the ravages  of their absence,
content in their philosophy of okeydokey pass the smokeys
while the world burns with the riders of the apocalypse
going eeehaw through the great divide
of hip and hop  and spit and spot
and drip and drop and pip
and pop  and duck
and fuck
ad clickety-cluck
and eeeehaw
we ride
they say
our grim teeth
gnashing
and you run
your whit ass
flashing
in the light of the dying moon

you had your chance
they say
now it's our turn to ride

gnashing
eeehawing
in the light of the dying moon
we  are eh riders
of our inconsequential doom

you betcha

and I've gone old
and my damn coffee's gone  cold
and my left foot's gone sleepy
twitching like jello in a junk-jar from jim-jam jarheads
and don't know jack-sprat
garage
sales

and that's just the beginning
of it...

but nobody wants to hear  all that
so I'll  just  start over
junk this jerky poem and write a new one
about blue birds and puffy-fluffy clouds
and shit like
that...










Next from my library, poet Jean-Paul Pecqueur, from  his book, The Case Against Happiness,  published in 2006 by Alice James Books.

Pecqueur is a poet, critic and professor born in Tacoma, Washington. With an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Washington, he teaches at Platt Institute, York College and City University of New York. 













Enter Here

I want to invent a mistake, a  punk
rock showcase like Oddbody Hall,
witless as the ear of the of the absolute.
I want  one brute lute  to bake with.
A brick toaster oven. Mourning
doves in the  yard. I want nary a worry
and just once an owl-topped cairn.
I want  that painter's eye in a cup.
More pie, of  course. And more
inner resources on monthly lease.
I want it live at five at first but it ought
to look a bit at  ease with baloney
neo-pragmatic theses.And why not?
Whose  price isn't pegged to death,
that night in which all crows are black?
I  want a refund on the decaf break.
It whinnies like  a powdered thug.Then,
when the spirit calls collect
on the land line, I want to be transferred
to the idiot owner of this mind-fuck operation:
Who precisely said what.I  want to  say.
I can't do anything with these words,
and yes, the sandwiches are heavier than air.










It will be old  news  by the time you read this, but I still want to take notice.














    "Me? Whee!"
       Muhammad Ali
everyone
has their memories now
and their stories
they will be telling
this is mine...
it is from early 1967
when he was still Cassius,
and I was just turning 23, with my friends,
after a year at Indiana University,, finishing u[
our training for three months at
Goodfellow Air Force Base in San Angelo, Texas...
four of us in my car, a 1953 Cadillac,
on the top of one of the caliche and limestone hills
outside the city, up  where radio reception
would be clear and pure...
three six-packs of Lone Star, ready
for  the big fight,
prepared 
to enjoy ten rounds of the champ,
the monster/gangster/golem
who couldn't be beat
pounding some humility into the
upstart, braggart, pretty boy Clay
with all his rhymes...
the fight started
as four beer pull tabs popped
and then before the fizz from the beer  stopped 
there was the knockout punch, that no one but Lisbon saw
and the fight was over, the champ  lying flat on the canvas in the
picture I  saw later, the new champ standing over him, 
waving his large  fists,screaming, "get up" "get up"...
I don't  remember if this was the first fight
or the second, but it was the end  for Liston, and for Clay,
soon to be Ali, the beginning of a string of victories 
over the other giants in the heavyweight business  he was in, 
Frasier, Foreman, Norton, a series of
thrillas in manila and rumbles in the jungle, brilliant,
brutal fights, the greatest meanest fighters in the world
all falling before the butterfly-floating, bee-stinging Ali, unstoppable
until his bought with the fat old men at the draft board, a fight
that he finally won three years later, the same way he beat Foreman,
patience,
unbending resistance and the
ability to take the worst beating
anyone could ever give him
he paid a terrible price for his greatness, like all the demigods
of Olympus, brought down in the end by the rough stone of time,
but by god, he was beautiful, with his own  beauty
and the beauty and grace of all youth
in their prime...
he called himself  the resurrector, the savior of heavyweight boxing
and he was and without him the glory
days were quickly over,
and although I have not thought of him in a long time,
there is a place in my memory
where he is today  and a
place where will 
always 
be...







Ralph Angel is next, with this poem from his  book Twice Removed, published by Sarabande Books in 2001.

Born in Seattle, Washington, Angel, with an MFA from  the University of California,  Irvin, is a poet, with a number of books published, and translator of  the work of  Federico Garcia Lorca.










Twice Removed

Not even sleep (though I'm ashamed of that too).
Or  watching my sleeping self drift out and kick harder,  burst
            awake, then the nothing,
leaf-shadowed, a shave and
black coffee, I know  how a dream sounds.

This ease. this difficulty: The brain that lives on a little longer.

              The long
commute (not even what  happened back then - this sort of
giving up with no one around and therefore
no charge for anything).

No word. No feeling
when a feeling wells up and is that much further.
cupola and drumming from the inside, holes open up a sky
                no thicker than  cardboard.
You, the one I'd step over. You, whom I care  for

and lie  to, who doesn't want to, either, not even this failure
(having grown so use to it), the wreck that still
seeps from a  stone, sinks down among  the roots and, in the
                   perfect darkness, such bloom
No name for it. No place inscribed with its own grief,

where the grass resists, and I too
resist.
No place to get to. No place to leave from. No place where
                    those times,
and times like these, are allowed to die.













Here's another of my  lost and on the edge of panic  rambles.













the secret to long term marriage and other revelations

     he's the kind of
likable guy
who
if arrested for lighting
his grandmother afire, would
get elected to congress
with a campaign slogan  something like
"reduce your heating bills and keep  grandma warm
at the same time"

``

he's
a likable guy, all  right,
energetic,
friendly,
a real  meet-and-greet, shake every hand,
kiss the babies, sweet-talk  the mommas kind of fellow -

and given the choices available
in this tea-party state,
I'd probably vote for him...

but I'd be sure
to keep  grandma hid away inside
whenever he's in the neighborhood,
not  that I'm suggesting
he  might relapse

but him being an orphan
and all
a little extra effort at understanding
is not out of
line

```

speaking
of grandmas,
this whole restaurant
this Sunday morning  is full
of people older than me,
grandmas
and grandpas all around,
enjoying their soft-boiled eggs
and wheat toast
dry
with extra marmalade
on the side...

(suckers
for their Smucker's)

i'm a strawberry man
myself,
i like that strawberry jam
thick as hot tar roofing on my
toast,  except sometimes
i like my grape,
mixing it with my ham
and sunny-side-up eggs,
turning everything green,  a great
Saint Pat's day breakfast
or good on any day
you feel like creating an appropriate
homage
to the great Dr. Seuss,
which I used to do when having breakfast
with my nieces and nephews
when they were young, before they grew
up enough to recognize an old coot who has
slipped his tether when
they saw one...

```

but,
back to the old people,
about half of them in booths,
sitting together on the same side,
displaying, in my opinion,
the secret to a sixty-year marriage,
it being impossible
to  talk  to someone sitting next to you
in a booth,sharply restricting
the  possibility
of having any kind of discussion
that might lead to each
recognizing
the shortcomings and unreasonable levels
of irrationality
in the other...

it's about 87% of marriage failures
in my opinion,
that are the result  of couples sitting
on opposite sides of a booth,
leading to unwelcome revelatory
discovery of
factors
that make it impossible
for each to live with
the other...

```

jeez
this place  is full of old people,
I mean,
really old people...

time for me to get out of here,
just in case, you know,
it's catching...

```

and 'what a successful and wonderful poem
this is,
as measured
by my usual standard
of how little I can remember of the poem's beginning
when I finally get to the end

I hope it wasn't about
anything
important











Marge Piercy is next, with a poem from Breaking Camp, her book  published in 1979 by Wesleyan University Press.

Born in 1936 in Detroit, Piercy is a poet, novelist and social  activist.















Visitors with too much  baggage

You stand with your arm heavy on your wife
who looks about to cry teeth.
Her hair falls gently. The curve of her neck
appeals. I would like to smile.

I press to miy husband.
Guilty as a car salesman, he promotes
the surface commonweal and grinds his teeth.
You beat me with the oak flail of your voice
but we have nothing to exchange.

If there were a cave beyond the mirror
say the neutral bathroom mirror filmed with steam
and crawled through into that empty house
with bloodshot sky and pea soup streets
what could we say?

All one winter, need clamped in my teeth,
I tried to board you.  We traded scarstamps,
snapshots  of headstones and bone flutes
till the night bled white and the sun rose,
a blister on the ice rumpled lake.
Sparrows fell with claws curled into hooks.

Now, rival clocks,we glare.
Shall we exchange little  fingers,or spit?
If we could begin brandnew with courtesies and guesses
or one die and the other write an elegy
for that imperfect pass which hangs false wreaths
to live and curious noses.












Thoughts on "loss"  after the death of a friend.








loss
my first loss
was my grandfather,
a man, bedridden  and unable to speak,
I did not in any personal way know
or mourn him, but I did mourn
my father's mourning, that single
sob as he started the car to follow
the hearse to the 
graveyard...
later there was a friend,
not really a close friend, but an acquaintance,
murdered by his father, not mourning
I felt, but shock that a father could murder his son... 
and
along the way
aunts and uncles who I still miss today,
mourning, if that's what it is,
a kind of disbelief that I'll never knock
on their doors again, never set down to  a meal
with them again
and friends from high school and elsewhere,
part of my long ago  past, when I was not me and they
were not who they became, how can I mourn
them, since it's not the young friends
I knew fifty years ago who died, but
old men and women
I never knew...
my mother, my father
my older brother, all died and I did mourn
them, but, in truth, not for long
for in my mind  they are as alive as they ever were,
not walking the earth now
but still present in my memory
and my dreams...
~~~
when young our mourning is for the void
left in our life when someone passes, nothing so personal,
but a vacancy, in some ways like a hotel,
someone checks out,
someone  else will check in
we know, the hole in our universe will be filled
by the grace of the people in the world we  will know
through our life, people yet unknown but who will become real
in the passage of time and our life...
it's different for the old...
I remember the funeral
for someone who I had known for many years,
a patron, 
a man who had been important to me 
for many years, six old men, myself included,
standing around the grave, mourning the loss of our friend, true,
but also in some part of our mourning an understanding
that one day, drawing nearer than ever before, our place
will be, as I did then, counting their own days to come,
as they recall the good days past...
the young face the death of others in with a lifetime
to  come of friends to cherish and love,
the old ones know their stock of friends is ever
diminishing,, never to be replaced...
so I continue to mourn a friend newly passed
and I know I mourn the loss
of all that I will miss of her that will never come again
and also a few tears for myself,
for the new region of emptiness
that will never be filled again...









 



                                                                                         
This short piece is by   William Meredith. It's taken from his book, Effort at Speech, New and Selected Poems, published in 1997 by TriQuarterly Books.

Born in 1919, Meredith was a poet and educator and Poet Laureate of the United States from 1978 to 1980. He died in 2007.








Pastoral

the girl lies down on the hill
In the grass in the sun in June.
Love calls for the braking of will;
The young man knows that soon

He will to be free must break,
And his ego, dear as a wife;
His hand is a brown mistake
Lacing him into life.

As blank as a flower, her face
Is full of the meadow's musk
And the shadow of grass like lace
On the hill where she wills the dust.














Punt!
















but what  does it  mean?!

     sky

hanging low and heavy
this morning,
clouds deep and dark

something's
up

^^^^^

that's the way
this poem begins...

what's next?

what are these
heavy
low
deep and dark
clouds predicting
for the morning?

^^^^^

are the
heavy
low
etc.
clouds a representation
of smoke, the fires of apocalypse
burning  again today,
the first sparks
here in the hill country
of the conflagration
that will sweep the world
in its final  throes of judgement
dray,
brimstone
next on the agenda

I know some hard-shell ecclesiasticals
who would buy into that
in a minute,
unquestioning believers
in every chapter, verse, word,
period, comma and colon of the Word
which says, and they agree,
we're due our heavenly smiteance any
day now
and all those
low
heavy
etc.
clouds prove the time is here...

hallelujah,
praise be to he who smites!

^^^^

on the other hand
all these etc.  clouds could be
sign of the first wave of alien invasion,
like in that movie,
huge alien spaceships pushing their
broad gray noses
out of the clouds any minute now,
aliens
with teeth and tentacles and tiny feet
with twisted talons,
come to eat our brains,
rape our women,
abduct our children for slave labor
in the potato mines
of  the barren planet Bisseloogerish

aliens
come to cut down our trees,
build massive pulp factories
to turn our trees into  cardboard
for cheap tennis shoes
to sell  to the Chinese
before they eat their brains,
rape their  children,
abduct their women for slave
labor in pasta mines
on the other side of the barren planet
Bitselboogerish
where buffaloes no longer roam
and skies are cloudy all day,
where seldom is heard
a discouraging word
since everyone  is underground
digging for potatoes
and pasta
and you can't hear them moaning
discouragingly
topside...

I have a brother-in-law
who would buy into that,
a watcher-for-aliens
in the night,
discouraged  because
he's never seen one except
in the movies  where they always get it
wrong,
waiting every night
for his inevitable abduction
for weird alien science
sexual experiments on the average
alien-believing male
when awarded conjugal visits
with their Lady Gaga simulation,
plastikiey,  but pliable
and open to new ides
as to more unusual practices
of  conjugality...

they just want to see how
it all  works,
and he's willing
to show them, if they're willing
to  take him back with them
to their fantastical home planet
of  noodle and
noze

^^^^

or it could just be
that the clouds, all
low
and
heavy
and
dark
and
deep
are just the precursor to rain...

but that's just one crazy idea
too many...

if I was you,
I'd go with apocalypse
or aliens
if you're wanting to bet
with the odds













This poem is by Alice Walker, from her book Horses Make a Landscape More Beautiful. This book was published in 1971by Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, Publishers.














Mississippi Winter I

If I had erased my life thre
where the touchdown more than race
olds attention now
how martyred he would have been
his dedication to his work
how unquestionable!
But I am stoned and do now worry
- sitting in this motel room -
for when his footsteps at last disturb
the remnants of my self-pity
there will be nothing here
to point his love of me
not even my appreciation


Mississippi Winter II

When you remember me, my child,
be sure to recall that Mama was
a sinner. Her soul was lost
(according to her mama) the very
first time she questioned God. (It
weighed heavily on here,  though she
did not  like to tell.)
But she wanted to live and what is more
be happy
a concept not understood before the age
of  twenty-one.
She was not happy
with fences.


Mississippi Winter III

I cradle my four-year-old daughter
in my arms
alarmed that already she smells
of Love-Is-True perfume.
A present from
her grandmother,
who loves her.
At twenty-nine my own  gifts
of seduction
have been squandered. I rise
to Romance
as if it is an Occasional Test
in which my lessons of etiquette
will, thankfully, allow me to fail.


Mississippi Winter IV

My father and mother both
used to warn me
that "a whistling woman and a crowing
hen would surely come to
no good end." And perhaps I should
'have listened to them.
But even at the time I knew
that though my end probably might
not
be good
I must whistle
like a woman undaunted
until I reached it.












Here's another from last  week, a memory from long ago.








the girl with violet eyes
after 20 years
I remember her eyes
and not much else, violet, Elizabeth Taylor eyes,
brilliant, piercing eyes, like looking into dark jewels, not
seductive, but searching, mysterious,
as if her special eyes
were a sign of something deep and special
behind them, beyond
that, a vague image of a small girl in her early 20s,
if even that old, dark hair
that framed her face and those eyes,
those eyes that I can  see now as if it was
yesterday, working at a burger place down the street
from my office where I'd go to lunch some days...
it's funny the things we remember,  a  person I never talked to
except to order a burger, no mustard, no pickles,
cheese, a coke and a fried pie,
apple, staring as I ordered into the gemstones
of her eyes...
in her 40s now, I wonder what happened to her,
married, I'm sure, children, maybe even  grandchildren...
I wonder if her eyes still shine as if lit from behind...
I wonder if that light still  shines...













Next,  I have a couple of  poets from  the anthology, Against Forgetting, Twentieth Century Poetry of Witness. The book was published by W.W.  Norton & Company in 1993.





The first of the poets is Yannis Ritsos.

Born in 1909, the poet died in 1990. A committed socialist, his books were burned by the Fascist government of Greece in 1936 and his work was banned until 1954. In  1948, during the civil war after WWII, he was captured in 1948 and spent four years in concentration. Released in 1952, he received recognition for his poetry until he was imprisoned again after the coup of 1967 and was  eventually released due to is poor  health.

His poems were translated by  Minas Savas.











Underneath Oblivion

The only evidence remaining from his existence was his coat.
They hung it there in a the large closet.  It was  forgotten,
shoved deeper by our own clothes, summer, winter,
new clothes each year for our fresh needs. Until,
one day, it caught our eye - perhaps because of its strange color,
perhaps because of its old-fashioned cut. On its buttons
there remained three circular, identical scenes: 
the wall of the execution with four holes, and around it our memories.



Audible  and Inaudible

A sudden, unexpected movement; his hand
clutched the wound to stop the bleeding,
though we had not heard the gunburst at all
or the whistling of a bullet. A short time later
he  lowered his hand and smiled;
but again slowly, he placed his palm
on that same spot, pulled out his wallet,
paid the waiter  politely, and went out.
Just the the small coffee cup cracked by itself.
That at least we heard clearly.





Next from the anthology, Ariel Dorfman

Although born in Argentina in 1942, Dorfman is a Chilean. The coup of 1973 forced the  poet, a strong supporter  of the ousted Allende, into exile. He lived in the United States and Europe until  1983, when he returned to Chile where he was arrested in 1987 and deported. Since then he  has been allowed to return and divides his time to teaching at Duke  University and visit to Chile.  He considers himself a resident of the United States  where he has become well known as both a poet and a novelist.

The poet translated the poem,  with the help of co-translator, Edith Grossman.




Last  Waltz in Santiago

All that you've danced they take from you
they just take it
just like that.

They kill the dancer in you
they crush her slowly,
they skeleton, smoke,
before she can
                         dance this dance
                                     with you

they break your rhumba, tango
                                                    they break you,
they dissolve your carnival in urine,
they put needles through the skin of your record,
they use the trumpet like a knife
                                                       and they shatter your violin

just like that.

they  lock you in walls
that have no number,
among mirrors and songs covered with ashes,
they lock your hands,  your feet, you collarbone,
and they tell you now dance you cripple 
dance now you motherfucker,
they sentence you to tomb,  the scrape you  with sand.

Let's dance, then,
my dear,
because they're taking away all that  we've danced
- right now, listen to the footsteps coming closer
and someone is  trying out shiny soldier's boots
right now -
                    right now.













Another from the Hail Mary, save my ass section of my most recent poetry collection, New Days and New Ways.












so  what am I to do now

    I have written
a  horrible
poem
today -

a fine example
of what happens
when  I try to follow
someone else's form,
leaving my helter-skelter
hither-and-yon
piling  on of words by the roadside
and I want desperately to write
something better before the time's-up bell
rings and the horrible poem becomes
my poem for the
day
and I don't  care what kind of poem
it is, just something  with  a little pulse of
life
to it, evidence of blood  being the sterility
of
words
gone astray
as they dump here and there and here
and now
on page (right here, I'm talking about)

I  suppose I could write  about the rain
last night
that didn't rain
like it was supposed to
or the car this morning that started
just like it's supposed to
or the biscuits and gravy breakfast that was
tasty and fulfilling just like it's
supposed to be
or the sun that came up in the east
again,
just like it's supposed to
or the brimstone-hail- fiery-chariots that
didn't come
roaring from the heavens
with the electric bill
just like it's not
supposed to
or the giant cockadodo
that jumped from the tree to eat the giant worm
that emerged wiggling from the rain

(that's kind off unusual, but it was over so fast
I don't think I  can write a poem about it
like I'm supposed
to)

and I don't know, but this poem
is just as horrible as the horrible poem I
don't want
to have anything to do with
but
at least it's a little bit long
and that should be worth
some points
so I guess this is my poem for the day,
and not the shorter, more horrible one, taking a
chance here
that when it comes to horrible
more horrible is better than less horrible

...but
wait,
that's counter-intuitive if I ever heard
counter-intuitiveness,
I mean
this is not Walmart
where volume is the supposed secret to
its rise as he retail-king-of-the-world,
big  boxosity at its most
gargantuanally
over-
powering,
proving more crap is better than
less crap
so
holy crap
what am I do do know?

^^^^

maybe just
admit  it, a fog
of anti-poetry bletch
covers the land
and I am lost in its  swirling
smugalence
and  can only await
my return to clear poetic light
anon,
or maybe the anon after
anon









Next, I have two poets from the four-poet anthology,  A Quartet, Texas Poets in  Concert, published by the University of North Texas Press in 1990.








The first of the poets is my frequently used Texas/San Antonio favorite  Naomi Shihab Nye.













The Sail Made of Rags

On a river in Bangladesh, one of  the million currents, a
boat  with a  sail of neatly patched rags is floating past.
A crowd of lean men and women  watch it from the shore, murmuring
quietly. Children with bare bottoms leap  and dance, carrying
sticks. We stand behind the crowd.Some of the rags are
purple,some tie-dyed - they shimmer in the warm light. I
wish we could stand here a long time and have no on notice
us, have no one imagine we  watch them out of pity, or foreignness,
or fear. It is impossible to say to someone, "I perceive in you
a calm,  which will alter my life forever," and have them
accept it. We are strange, we have buttons on our collars.

Today, miles from their shore, I think of the radiant billowing
sail each time someone mentions "the third world" - where
is the second world, and why are we the first? Maybe the rags
came from old sarongs, were joined by kerosene lamplight,  had
been made by people who stood there. Maybe each stitch
was a blessing or a cry. Maybe there  are  hundreds of sails
that beautiful and we happened to see only one. Dark shoulders,
billowing beneath, from  miles away I stand behind you. Ilook
where you look. the boat  is going by.


Even at War

Loose in his lap,  the hands.
And always a necktie,
as some worlds  are made complete
by single things.
Graveled voice,
bucket raised on old ropes.
You know  how  a man can get up,
get dressed, and think
the world is waiting for him.
At night darkness knits
a giant cap to hold the dreams in.
A wardrobe of neckties with slanted stripes.
Outside oranges are sleeping, eggplants,
fields of wild sage.  An order
from the government said
You will no longer pick the sage
that flavors your whole life.
And all the hands smiled.
Tonight the breathing air carries
headlines that will cross the ocean
by tomorrow. Bar the door.

                           In memory, Issat Shihab Idais Al-Zer
                           West Bank, Palestine


Morning Paper, Society Page

I can never see fashion models,
lean angular  cheeks,strutting hips
and blooming hair, without thinking of
the skulls at the catacombs in Lima,  Peru.
How we climbed down from blurred markets
to find a thousand unnamed  friends smiling at  us
as if they too could advertise
a coming style.













A poem-a-day struggle day.












having wasted the requisite 45 minutes on Facebook
having wasted the requisite 45 minutes
on Facebook
it is now time, it so states in the heavenly pocket watch,
to t urn to my poem of the day,  the difficulty
being  that though the pocket watch runneth,
the poem of the day  appeareth not,
so instead of a poem,
I will proclamate on the issues of the day
and since the issues of the day
are all about politics and there's not much good
there, except the time neareth when Oz  from  Vermont
will be returneth to back behind his curtain
where we  all, if fortune smileth, never hear from him
and his yellow brick roads again,
and
speaking
of fairy tales and  orges and monsters beneath the ridges and persistent
dumbasses, the evil Trumpster will be in San Antonio today where he will be meeting
at  a location known only to those who pay to attend, most of whol  are trying
very diligently to avoid being known as an  attendee  at said Trump
fleecing, such sheep they are, those who  have been identified making the excuse
that, except for the racist thing,  and the insane thing and the crooked and crackpot thing
and the fraud thing and he indictment thing,
well, he's an alright  kind of guy, reminding me of  those in the 30s who said,Hitler,
what a card,  they said, helluva a nice fella,
except for the Jew thing of  course and the world domination thing,  do you suppose
we  can ge un-circumcised and live with him, maybe
get a bed at on of  his summer camps....
~~~~
and so you can see why I didn't want to get sucked into
politics for my poem of the day, much better
if I had  noticed earlier the guy with the newfangled skateboard
go by amidst the traffic on Broadway,just like a regular
skateboard, a  place for both feet, one front, one back and in the middle
a  single large wheel, battery powered o doubt and moving well,
keeping up with traffic, which is a strange sight to me, and
kind off stupid, kind of like politics as it is played
today and as an old-time Democrat progressive who maintains,
even in these times,, a well-tended garden in my heart for
my abbreviated heroes, FDR, HST, LBJ, HHH and might even
throw in an Ike if he'd return from the grave and kick some sense  into
those damn Republicans and that's why I don't want to talk
about it since here with another Clinton, better than 
the alternatives, and certainly better than another Bush
as I trudge to the polls wishing it was 1964 again
and my hips and knees didn't hurt in the morning and the dreams
were still fresh and maybe possible...
~~~~
and I have no idea what is with the "runneth" and "appeareth" and such early on in this
whatever the hell it is, kind of like Trump and Bernie world, makes no
damn sense
at all









 




This the second poet from A Quartet, Texas Poets in Concert, William Virgil Davis.

Born in 1940, Davis has published his own books of poetry in addition to many literary journals. He is Professor of English and Writer-in-Residence at  Baylor University.











An Evening in Advent

The moonlight has lifted the water from the well.
Along the long road  every pebble sows, grows whole.
The corn stubble still stands in even rows.
Each tree can  be seen individually. Everything's still.
This is the kind of night, when we walk out alone,
that we feel blessed,  even among our own shadows.


The Light

It is the most white light.
The dark,like a drawer, has slid shut.
We wait and nothing happens.

There is no beginning or end.

The key has turned tight and locked.
The mirror on the bureau burns.
We wait and wait again.


Winter Walk

The dark comes early.

All afternoon a light snow
fell. Now the moonlight

runs her smooth hand over the land
and the wind  whispers above it.

The small sound of my going
reminds me how close

above the dark we go.












Here's another of the "travails of poem-a-day poets" section in my book New Days and New Ways.












waiting for promised lightning

     pumping gas

     pumping iron

     pumping my fist
upon receiving a $5 coupon
from Bar-B-Que-B-Us

     pumping
Mary Sue in the back  seat
of  a '48 Hudson - oh
how soft those seats
and Mary Sue

you don't have to read the above ,
it's  what I  call
"priming the pump"

dropping a few irrelevant words
down the well
with hope that the addition
to the well of a
irrelevant
words
will though force of the Heimlich Maneuver
or some such science-word
thing having to do with one force
activating a countervailing
force
will cause good words
to rise
to the surface
being irresistibly pushed there
by the irrelevant words

meaning, according to the Heimlich
equation,
that an actual word will start
somewhere
below...

~~~~

...patience
may be required
being
it's
a processing thing
and process things
must
process
else they would be called
miracles
like Jesus' face on a tortilla
or Jimmy cracking corn
when the master's gone away
or my 1906 computer
suddenly humming and buzzing
and computing
again
or the phone company guy
arriving before 11:59 for a service visit
promised  between 8 a.m. and noon,
or me getting  a hot date
when I  was fifteen years old
or next week,
whichever comes first...

miracles...

where would we be without them,
the miracle  of conception
and birth,
the miracle of divining wisdom,
the miracle
of Slinkies and Hula Hoops
and Rice Crispies
snapping and crackling  and popping
every time,
the miracle of meteors not crashing
into the earth
like last time, except this time
making us the new dinosaurs, converting
in the tar pits
into some sort of future fuel
for the finally and again ascendant
cockroach,

no longer  getting squashed
in kitchen corners by our pointy toed cowboy boots,
they in their cowboy boots squashing instead...

~~~~

and the little circley thing is circling
on my blue screen,
which means the aforementioned
pending poem
is still processing, but not so quickly,
so if you have something
else
to do
you should go ahead and
take care of it...

maybe I can give you a call
when the processing
poem
is processed, arisen, so to speak
from the depths by the force of the
Heimlich processing primal
push
to relevancy
in this portion of the universe

but maybe, since the phone guy
hasn't  come yet
I'll just email you
or maybe  send a tweet,
which I almost never do, fearing
being pigeon-holed
as just another tweeting
twit...









 


The next piece, by Gilbert Sorrentino, is an excerpt from a longer poem in his book Selected Poems, 1958-1980,  published by Black Sparrow Press in 1981. I really like the poem and wish I could do the whole thing, but it's too long for here. The poem is about the part of the world where I spent most of my life, and while it is a wonderful place, I can imagine how unwelcoming it might be to a lonely man passing though alone.

Born in 1929, Sorrentino, a novelist, short story writer, poet, critic, professor and editor died in 2006.










Coast of Texas

                                              Sur la cote du Texas
                                                 - Apollinaire

1.

Although the sky
was bright blue and clarity
the exact love

That blank city allows
at times: so that it
did not seem I was

In Hell
I was in Hell. O
love. that impairs my song.

2.

Corpus Christi
is no place to spend Christmas
notwithstanding those avenues
of palms, the white houses on the green gulf.

The old Mexicans fish off
stone quays, and fish off stone quays.
I ate chili and drank rye whisky.
A whole novel wrote and discarded in my head.

Notwithstanding those avenues of green
palms, corpus Christi on the coast
of Texas is not place to spend any time.
Apollinaire himself avoided the blank city.

3.

He never knew it could
be so cold in the streets
of that white city. Walks around
insane the wind tears water
from his eyes.

He thinks he sees her face
in the palm  trees, loved breathed
out of a bad hotel. In his madness.
His hand that touches him
is hers.

the palm trees the palm trees
are moonlight.  His heart is drowned
in the Gulf. O let down
your hair you.
You  blue water.

4.

In that sunny room dreamed
he lay with her, book open, his hand
on his crotch.

He  woke to the bright day and
smell of weak coffee.Walking
around the room, he went walking
around the room, briskly.

Fuck this sun, O fuck this rotten sun,
O fuck this sun, O sound of gentle bluish waves
piling up. Glanced in the closet
and saw her.

5.

Here they are all running down in the night into the sea
off the Coast of Texas. Bad dreams, yellow.
He wrote stories on hotel stationary
and wept into the pillow.  It serves him right
he says in someone else's voice. Dream
of fame. Well the wind
is very wet blowing out of Mexico.She
walked out of his life dragging
his heart alone. In her fucking yellow blouse.

6.

A man with a battered
bluish face stands in the sun
on the dock and tells him
about books.

What books! What a vision
of America,he has  he says, a style
so sweet that. The young man
burning thinks of the woman he loves.

All in the burning sky
she is, all in the burning
sky. And a whiff of orange cutn
come out of Florida.

7.

The interminable novel
between the lines green eyes.

The sheets were rumpled
and he read.

God they twisted their
way through the pages.

There was one simple arrow
of a line in her voice.

Coming from the dead
center of each o.

This is a resort town,
blanco

8.

She is almost unbearably
nubile.and when I reflect
on the place

where he slender legs join
in absolute silk I find
myself walking

Around in circles
outside Galveston, sure that
I'll be arrested

But too out of my mind
to care, crazy
in the flash from the Gulf....













This is the last new poem from me this week.












Frank and Dino are dead
I held the door
at Starbucks this morning
under an  Amazonian
shadow
a tall woman, even taller 
than my six feet,
long and slender in body
in a soft summer dress barely
to her knees,
long blond hair,
long feet
with long, red-tipped toes
age
indeterminate,
anywhere from 25 to 45,
either aging very well
or in the slight
early
decline
of a life already lived
well...
she did smile
as I held the door for her
which moderated
somewhat
the fact that women
such as she usually scare the crap
out of me
it's not that I'm easily
intimidated,
but after 40 years
with my 5 foot two wife
my parameters have become keyed
to looking down the the top
of a woman's head
not  up
to the underside of  her
chin...
but I'm old,
it's like the music today,
new stuff, like interfacing
with Amazon women,
is not within the boundaries
of my comfort
zone...
~~~~~
Frank and Dino
are dead
I guess I just need
to get over
it









Here's something a bit unusual, at  least for me, Edna St. Vincent Millay, from the Dover Thrift Editions, Early  Poems, published in 2008.

Born in 1892, the poet died at the relatively early age of 58 in 1950. In my time in the fifties, she was the poet most likely to be talked about when discussing female poets. Something  about her name screamed boring to me and I never read her. Turns out she had a more interesting and Bohemian life than  her  name suggested to me. Openly bisexual and a feminist activist, she won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1923, only the third woman to win that award.







Passer Mortuus Est

Death devours all lovely things;
     Lesbia with her sparrow
Shares the darkness - presently
     Every bed is narrow.

Unremembered as old rain
     Dries the sheer libation,
And the little petulant hand
     Is an annotation.

After all, my erstwhile dear,
     My no longer cherished,
Need we say it was not love,
     Now that love is perished?


Pastoral 

If it were only still -
with far away the shrill
Crying of a cock;
Or the shaken ell
From a cow's  throat
Moving through the bushes;
Or the soft shock
Of wizened apples falling
From an old tree
In a forgotten orchard
Upon the hilly rock!

Oh, grey hill,
Where the grazing herd
Licks the purple blossoms,
Crops the spiky weed!
Oh, stony pasture,
Where the tall  mullein
Stands up  so sturdy
On its little seed!















And now  another from poem-a-day panic land.














all my dithers done 

     I've done
all my other dithers
and I'm ready to write my poem
for the day, but Dee is due
here any minute and I know if I find
something good
and she comes I'll either lose it
and be angry at her or I'll just continue
writing while she sits there having her waffle
without me, being angry at me
so I decided
I'm going to write something
not so good so that when she comes
and I stop and fall off the word-train I will not have lost
anything significance and will not be angry
or myself or, probably at anybody at all
since I find myself very lovable and
difficult
to get  or stay mad at

and there are two kinds of angry people
in the world
those
always angry at someone else
or those
always angry at themselves
and since I'm neither of those kinds
I'm not one of the two kinds of people
in the world who are always
angry...

rather
I'm one of the two kinds of people in the world
who always have a silly smile
on their face,
the kind  who didn't get the memo
and don't know better
or the kind, like me, who
got the memo and decided if things
really were that bad, nobody would  be writing
memos, but more likely running around in circles
with their heads up their asses,
and, as I recall,
many of the memos inflicted on me during
my  extended career in public service
did seem to originate  with  people with their heads
up their asses, running around in circles,
otherwise called politicians
and high government officials of all persuasions

and
I could say a lot more about that
but Dee's just no walked in the door
and, fortunately, I have nothing being interrupted
whose loss  would be of great concern to me
or to anyone else, including almost
certainly
you

so I quit right here



 






I  made my own simple best attempt at a tribute for my friend Alice Folkart who passed on two week ago at the beginning of this post. I wanted to end the post with her in  her own words, her last poem written  no more than a week and a half before her death. In the poem, Alice as her friends knew her, clear-eyed and defiant with the wit that was always with her, planning, in her own way, her own departure, clear to us only after her time had passed.






Alice, in her own words ---













Pure and simple  usually isn't

I AM THE BEREAVED, DAMN IT!

Yes, I know that I'm not dead - check with your marketing department.

Doesn't your ad say: "door-to-door, everything included?"

See,  I told you so. SO JUST SEND ME THE BILL, DAMN IT.

What do you mean, you won't know the totals until  it's all over?

YOU KNOW IT'S "ALL OVER" WHEN YOU'RE DEAD - OR AT LEAST SOMEONE DOES.

I'm not being snippy, young lady.

And I am bereaved.  Wouldn't you be?

Do you want to conclude this or write up a contract  of something,

or shall me meet at the nearest Starbucks and settle it over

an iced Frapuchhino and a cookie?

You could overcharge me a bit and feel smug.

Or you could undercharge me and feel smug.

You decide. I just don't want anyone but myself grieving

or having to write checks or anything.

JUST PURE AND SIMPLE.

DAMN IT.




(Rejoin the stars from whence you came, my friend - we will all miss the way you shone your light on us still here)







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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

2 Comments:
at 12:31 PM Blogger judysnwnotes said...

Thanks - again - for keeping this blog filled with interesting poetry. And for this one, the whole of it feels like a tribute to our poet friend, Alice. I think she'd be pleased to be sharing this page with the other poets and poems included here.
- judyb

at 12:34 PM Blogger davideberhardt said...

I note in my poem, after consideration- a surprise ending- and am pleased- as in the greatest music (not that this is) surpise is a big factor.
I say at the dne "charge ahead always- and realize that Barbara did that in her own way- NOT WISHING TO PRO LONG HER LIFE- which she could easily have done.
She said, simply Fuck it.
dave eberhardt

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