Ex Post Facto Exacto   Tuesday, October 25, 2016





I had  this  done before our recent vacation and decided to hold it and do vacation pics instead.

It's the standard stuff, random photos, my poems, old and new, and poems from Norton Anthology of American Poetry.


Me
true blue

Amiri Baraka
A Poem for Black Hearts

Me
from Sonyador
"Why  Heaven Is Better Than Hell"  

Rita Dove
Geometry
The  House Slave

Me
the great fortune of Fernando

Kamau Brathwaite 
Trane

Me
jabber jockey

Louise Erdrich
The Fence

Me
shoulda woulda

Dave Smith
Black Silhouettes of Shrimpers   

Me
the dead rise, and prevail

Lorna Dee Cervantes
The Body as Braille
Refugee Ship

Me
wonderful day I came here to remember

Allen Ginsberg
A Supermarket in California

Me
from Sonyador
"Playing War"

Charles Simic
Fork
Classic Ballroom Dances

Me
Sweet Treat

Eavan Boland
Anorexic

Me
about tattoos

Adrienne Rich
A Valediction Forbidding Mourning 

Me
          a  life event         
    











 Home from my travels, first new poem of the week.










true blue

I knew a factory
once,
a huge factory
whose profile cracked
the dawn's horizon, a manufacturer
of plastics for many companies,
making he  plastic for products familiar
around the country and around the world...

each company the factory served
had its own particular colors
for its products
and each product manufactured
had to precisely true to its assigned color

so this huge factory
of smokestacks
and conveyors and tanks where the plastic
wad cooked and robots for molding
the products into their proper
form, there was a small office
with four men whose entire job
was to determine, by sight alone,
whether every batch of,  for example,
of green was the precise Lawnboy green
 the customer required and was 
thus approved...

no machines to judge, no  fancy
sensors to match the exact shade of colors
specified, just the un-enhanced eyes
of four  middle-aged to older men, aging eyes,
eyes of such rare ability the company
was desperate to find potential replacements
for when these men's time was done...

near 50 years go I knew these men,
certain not to be gone, dead or very old,
replaced when it finally became necessary
by 50 years of technological advance
that finally matched their unique
talent for color discrimination, just
as technology chases all our unique skills
into obsolescence...

but
this one thing I know today,
where their time no passed and were they
here right now
they would look at this morning's sky
and say -

that's blue, that's the truly
truly blue a sky is supposed
to be









This is the first poem from the Norton anthology is by Amiri Baraka, born in 1934 as "Leroi Jones."

This quote from Baraka is especially satisfying to  me, criticized by some as a writer of prose, not poetry.

There cannot  be anything I must fit the poem into. Everything must be made to fit into the poem. There must not be any preconceived notion or design for what the poem ought to be.







A Poem for Black Hearts

For Malcolm's eyes, when they broke
the face of some dumb white man, Poor
Malcolm's hands raised to bless us
all black and strong in his image
of ourselves. For Malcolm's words
fire darts , the victor's tireless
thrusts,words hung above the world
change s it may, he said it,  and
for this he was killed,for saying
and feeling, and being/change, all
collected hot in his heart, For  Malcolm's
heart, raising us above our filthy cities,
for his  stride and his beat, and his address
to the grey monsters of the world, For Malcolm's
pleas for your dignity, black men, for your life,
black man, for the filling of your minds
with righteousness. For all of him dead and
gone and vanished from us, and all of him which
clings to our speech black god of our time.
For all of him, and all of yourself, look up,
black man, quit stutt3erind and shuffling, look up,
black man, quit whining and stooping, for all of him,
for Great Malcolm a prince of the earth, let nothing in us rest
until we avenge ourselves for his death, stupid animals
that killed him, let us never breathe a pure breath if
we fail, and white men call us faggots till the end of
the earth.











One of the pieces from Sonyador, a book of very short short stories that sketch the life of a boy growing up in South Texas,  not an autobiography, just stories of the time and place where I grew up. I  published the book in 2011.









Why Heaven Is  Better Than Hell

Little Sonyador sits on the hard oak  pew at St. Phineas Lutheran Church, the same hard oak pew he sits on every Sunday morning, early church service, Dad on one side, Mom on the other. Pastor Hardamaelar preaching hellfire as he does every Sunday morning, every time he preaches.

The boy listens and imagines how hot  and burning must be the fires of hell; imagining his teacher, Missus Persker in hell - horns and pitchfork tail, breathing fiery arithmetic problems.

And little Sonyador wants to be  good, does not want to  go to hell, does not want to spend forever burning in  old Missus Persker's  class, writing the same equations over and over again with her long- red-pointed claws on a scratchy, black-as-devils blackboard. He wants to go to heaven, about which he knows little,  since the pastor hardly talks about, seemingly not particularly expectant that his ever  sinful congregants would get there, choosing instead to prepare them for their almost certain journey to eternal damnation.

But little  Sonyador  knows Missus Persker  is a  devil-witch and will not be in heaven and that makes heaven a lot better place to be than hell,  the brimstone where she will surely return.

And then the sermon ends and the recessional song begins and little Sonyador tries to sing like his father whose deep bass voice is like a floor on which the universe could rest, but all the boy can manage is a raspy croak.

"Sing right," his father says. "Quit trying to be  funny."








These two poems are by Rita Dove.

Born in 1952 in Ohio, she was educated at the Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, traveled to Tubingen University in Germany as a Fulbright fellow and received an M.F.A. from the University of Iowa. She has taught creative writing at Arizona State University and the University of Virginia. In addition to her poetry collections, she has published short stories, a play and a novel. Winner of the 1987 Pulitzer Prize, she was the first African American poet laureate of the United States (1993-1995)








Geometry

I prove a theorem and the house expands:
the windows jerk free to hover near the ceiling,
the ceiling floats away with  sigh.

As the walls clear themselves of everything
but transparency, the scent of carnations
leaves with them. I am out in the open

and above the windows have hinged into butterflies,
sunlight glinting where they've intersected.
They are going to some point true and unproven.

1980


The House Slave

The first horn  lifts its arm over the dew-lit  grass
and in the  slave quarters there is a rustling -
children are bundled into  aprons, cornbread

and water gourds grabbed, salt pork breakfast taken.
I watch them driven into the vague before-dawn
while their mistress sleeps like an ivory toothpick

and Massa dreams of asses, rum and  slave funk.
I cannot fall asleep again. at the second horn,
the whip curls  across the backs of laggards -

sometimes my sister's voice, unmistaken, among them.
"Oh! pray," she cries. "Oh! pray!" Those days
I lie on my cot, shivering in the early heat,

and as the fields unfold to whiteness,
and they spill like bees among the fat flowers,
I weep. It is not yet daylight.











Another new one.













the great fortune of Fernando

the pretty young girl
at the Stop-n-Shop smiles
tenderly
and for a moment
I enjoy the idea she might be
smiling at me
even though I know
I am just another forgettable face
cluttering her busy morning
and that her smile is for the memory
of her night with
Fernando










This poem is by Kamau Brathwaite. Born in the Barbados in 1930, Brathwaite is widely considered the major voice in the Caribbean literary canon. A professor of  literature at New York University, he won the 2006 International Winner of the Griffen Poetry Prize.










Trane 

Propped against the crowded bar
he pours into the curved and  silver horn
his old unhappy longing  for  home

the dancers twist and turn
he leans in  wishes he could burn
his memories to ashes like some old notorious emperor

of Rome. but no stars blamed across the sky when he was born
no wise men found his  hovel. this crowded bar
where dancers twist and turn

holds all the fame and recognition he will ever earn
on earth or heaven. he leans into the bar
and pours his old unhappy longing in the saxophone











Like the Sonyador book, this  poem is from 2011.











jabber jockey

I jabber  on
cause it's what I do best
mind
like a box of Mexican jumping beans
bouncing here
bouncing there
clackity clack against the sides of the box

like what beautiful day
it's going to be today
sky already blue with early morning clouds
little puffs of clouds
like melted marshmallows on cup
of blue chocolate
little puffs melted away
by 10 a.m.
leaving the blue chocolate
cold across the sky

like  what a beautiful day
but I feel  lousy
so who gives a crap
about beautiful days
when your nose is either dripping
or stuffed ad sneezy
beautiful days
a taunt like ads on TV
for beautiful things you know you'll never
own or wouldn't even want that much
if you didn't know you couldn't  have them

 beautiful day today - who cares

and about that  guy at the restaurant
this morning,
talking talking talking,
a man filled with the shallow  wisdom of talking
so much
no one can interrupt to question
him like the crackerpots
on Fox News who own the microphone
like Ronald Reagan who said
about the telephone
at the debate
with George the 1st
it's mine,  I paid for it

which reminds me of LBJ
arriving at Randolph Air Force Base
in Austin to get a helicopter
to take him to the Ranch, heading
toward a helicopter,  stopped
by a fearless  airman,who tells him
he's headed for the wrong helicopter,
that's not your helicopter, sir, he tells the President
and LBJ replies they're all my helicopters, son

which reminds me of he wife
of  former mayor of the city who
likes to refer to  the time when  her husband
was mayor
as "our administration"

which reminds me of the fellows
at the table next to mine  here in
the coffeehouse, the one guy, tall
thin, semi-black, sharp dresser, something
to do with the city I think,
listening man,
and the other guy talking about plans
for the new downtown arts center nd
listening to him I can hardly wait
to go there

which reminds  me
this is supposed to be a poem
about my jabber-poetry
but I really can't  think of anything
to say on that  subject
this morning
so  maybe I'll be back to it tomorrow

we'll see









The next poet from this week's anthology is Louise Erdrich.

Born in 1954 Erdrich is a poet, novelist, children's book author and bookstore owner. An enrolled member of  the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians, a band of the Anishinaabe, most of her  children's books center  around Native American characters.











The Fence

Then  one day the gray rags vanish
and  the sweet wind  rattles her sash.
Her secrets bloom hot. I'm wild for everything.
My body is  a golden armor around my unborn child's body.
and I'll die happy here on the  ground.
I bend to the mixture of dirt, chopped  hay,
grinding of coffee from  our dark winter breakfasts.
I spoon the rich substance around the acid-loving shrubs.
I tear down last year's drunken vines,
pull the black rug off the bed of asparagus
and lie there, knowing by June I'll push the baby out
as easily s seed wings fold back from the cotyledon.
I see the first fig leaf already,the veined tongue
rigid between the thighs of the  runner beans.
I know how the shoot will complicate itself
as  roots fill the trench.
Here is the link fence. the stem doubling toward it,
and something I've never witnessed.
One moment the young plant trembles on its stalk.
The next, it has  already gripped the wire.
Now it will continue to climb, dragging rude blossoms
to the other side
until in  summer  the fruit like green scimitars,
the frieze of vines, and then the small body
spread before me in need
drinking light from the shifting wall of  my body,
and the fingers, tiny stems wavering in mine,
flexing for the ascent.

     1989











Again with another newbie.











shoulda-woulda

there's a chill
in the
air

and 
the joke is
the temperature falls to 80 degrees
and folks in South Texas
go aquiver
with excitement t the arrival
of first winter's
dy
and men break out their ratty old army coats
and women
their fur-lined
boots

and 
today,
a bright blue sky morning
with temps in the high 50s, 
and we are like a band
of St. Anthony's 
Ecstatics
thinking
time
to  get the long sleeves
out of the back of the
closet -

like
the chill running down my
Hawaiian clad back
says we shoulda-
woulda
done 
yesterday









Next from the anthology, this poem is by Dave Smith.

Born in 1942 in Virginia, Smith is a poet, writer, critic, editor and educator. With a Ph.D. from Ohio University, he is author of more than a dozen poetry collections. Previously editor of  The Southern Review and professor at several universities,  including currently, John Hopkins University.












Black Silhouettes of Shrimpers

      Grand Isle, Louisiana

Along the flat sand the cupped torsos of trash fish
arch to seek the sun, but the eyes
glaze with thick gray, death's touch
already drifting these jeweled darters.

Back and forth against the horizon slow trawlers
gulp in their bags whatever rises
here with the shrimp they come for.
Boys on deck shovel the fish off

like the clothes of their fathers out of attics.
Who knows what tides beached them,
what lives were lived to arrive just here?
I walk without stepping on any

dead, though it is hard, the sun's many blazes
spattering and blinding the way ahead
where the wildness of water coils
dark in small swamps and smells fiercely of flesh.

If a cloud shadows everything for a moment, cool,
welcome, there is still no end in sight,
body after body, stench, jewels
nothing will wear, roar and fade of engines.

    2000









From 2011, the San Antonio Spurs, as usual, were in the NBA finals, with four  championship behind them. This game though won, was not enough. The eventual winner was the Dallas  Maverick. The Spurs had to wait until  2014 to win their 5th championship rings.

The game was, as all professional basketball finals tend to be, a nail-biter.









the dead rise, and prevail

a miracle shot
with  only half a second
left on the clock
and the battle is won

but not the war -

the war will not be
won
in  seconds, but through
96 long minutes on  a
hardwood  court -

two more battles,
and neither can be lost
and the odds
are not good for our heroes

but last night,
hope was reborn

last night was an ascension,
like Christ
rolling back  the rock
his wounds still fresh from the cross

a night for the dead
to arise
and prevail

and I could not sleep
after
so rapid
did beat my heart








Next from this week's anthology, two poems by one of my favorite poets, Lorna Dee Cervantes.

Born in 1954, Cervantes is an Hispanic-Native American (Chumash) feminist, activist poet described as the best Chicana poet writing today. I enjoy her stories and the plain-spoken way she tells them.







The Body as Braille

He tells me, "Your back
is so beautiful." He traces
my spine with his hand.

I'm burning like the white ring
around the moon. "A witches moon,"
dijo mi abuela." The schools call it

"a reflection of ice crystals."
It's a storm brewing in the cauldron
of the sky. I'm in love

but won't tell him
if it's omens
or ice

     1981


Refugee Ship

Like wet cornstarch, I slide
past my grandmother's eyes. Bible
at  her side, she removes her glasses.
the pudding thickens.

Mama raised me without language.
I'm orphaned from my Spanish name.
The words are foreign, stumbling
on my tongue. I see in the mirror
my reflection: bronzed skin, black hair.

I feel I am a captive
aboard a refugee ship.
The ship will never dock.
El barco que nunca atraca.

     1981










Back to new again.











wonderful days I came here to remember

a bright Sunday afternoon
in an early week of October

on the patio
under the seven oaks
at the coffeehouse
enjoying
the fresh light and slight cool breeze
of the season

drinking a glass of my favorite
Texas beer,
watching the traffic on Broadway,
the few cars and trucks passing, undertaking
the languid chance
business
of a Sunday afternoon

thinking of long-gone
afternoons,
1966-1967, walking
through a medieval forest
in West Germany, the sunlight through
the trees, like today
dappling the thick turf of countless
seasons of fallen autumn leaves,
walking to a small biergarten
in a bright forest clearing,
afternoons spent in forest quiet, reading,
talking, writing some, drinking
my favorite local beer, liters of thick
German beer, among the tall trees surrounding...

wonderful days, days
I specifically came here to
remember









Next, Allen Ginsberg, born 1926, died 1997, older  than other poets in the anthology, his poem written before a number of the poets in the anthology were born, but still  "contemporary" until the day he died.











A Supermarket in California

     What thoughts I he of you tonight, Walt Whitman, for I walked down the sidestreets under the trees with a headache self-conscious looking at the full moon.
     In my hungry fatigue, and shopping for images, I went into the neon fruit supermarket, dreaming of your enumerations!
     What peaches, and what penumbras! Whole families shopping at night! Aisles full of husbands! Wives in the avocados, babies in the tomatoes! - and you, Garcia Lorca, what were doing down by the watermelons?
     I saw you, Walt Whitman, childless, lonely old grubber, poking among the meats in the refrigerator and eyeing the grocery boys.
     I heard you asking questions of each: Who killed the pork chops? What price bananas? Are you my angel?
     I wandered in and out of the brilliant stacks of cans following your, and followed in my imagination by the store detective.
     We  strode into the open corridors together in our solitary fancy tasting artichokes, possessing every frozen delicacy, and never passing the cashier.

     Where are we going, Walt Whitman? The doors close in an hour. Which way does your head point tonight?
     (I touch your book and dream of our odyssey in the supermarket and feel absurd.)
     Will we walk all night through solitary streets? The trees add shade to shade, lights out in the houses, we'll both be lonely.
     Will we stroll dreaming of the lost America of love past blue automobiles in driveways, home to our silent cottage?
     Ah, dear father, graybeard, lonely old courage-teacher, what America did you have when Charon quit poling his ferry and you got out on a smoking bank and stood watching the boat disappear on the black waters of Lethe?

      1956












Here's another piece from the Sonyador narrative.














Playing  War

Little Sonyador reads all the "Leatherneck" comics of his Korean War era, stories of square-jawed American soldiers firing machine guns and throwing grenades against yellow, slant-eyed North Korean  invaders, their  fanatic hatred of everything good and American screaming rage from their squinty eyes  as they counter-attack.

And Sonyador has  nightmares about going to war, not by killing  and dying of war,  being frightened, even as a young boy, not by that, but by the extinguishing of self, the giving up of his self to  Generals and  Sergeants and the machineries of war and the military.

He is often a lonely boy, comfortable with  going his own way in  his head. He addresses the expectations of  1950's boyhood when it pleases him or when he must, reading "Boy's Life," getting  all his Cub Scout merit badges  but shunning the smothering blanket of Boy Scout campfire camaraderie when he is old enough to  transition as is expected of him. He hates the joining that is expected of him, the idea of being lost in a group. He has come to expect his aloneness, to  prefer it even, for the world outside his head does not always welcome him on his own, not always clearly understood, terms.

He is a peculiar boy, this little  Sonyador, not always attuned to the cadences of most around him.

"Go find someone to play with," his father says. But little Sonyador would rather play his own games.

He plays at war with little mud soldiers he makes himself. In his games, he is always the hero, standing apart, never one of the mud soldiers.

That is his nightmare - to  be just another mud soldier.









Next  Charles Simic.

Born in 1938, after surviving German bombing and occupation of his native Belgrade in World War II, then escaping in 1948 to Austria and France, eventually arriving when in the United States when he was sixteen years old. Haunted by wartime memories of blasted buildings, displaced populations, and the sounds of his native Serbian, his poem often reflect the dark times he lived through, if not  explicitly, at least implicitly.









Fork

This strange thing must have crept
Right out of hell.
It resembles a bird's foot
Worn around the cannibal's neck.

As you hold it in your hand,
As you stab with it into a piece of meat,
It is possible to imagine the rest of the bird:
Its head which like your fist
Is large, bald, beakless, and blind.


Classic Ballroom Dances

Grandmothers who wring the necks
Of chickens; old nuns
With names like Teresa, Marianne,
Who pull schoolboys by the ear;

The intricate steps of pickpockets
Working the crowd of the curious
At the scene of an accident; the slow shuffle
Of the evangelist with  sandwich board;

The hesitation of the early-morning customer
Peeking through the window grille
Of a pawnshop; the weave of  little kid
Who is walking to school with his eyes closed;

And the ancient lovers, cheek to cheek,
On the dance floor of the Union Hall,
Where they also hold charity raffles
On rainy Monday nights of an eternal November.











Another little piece of last week.













sweet treat

fog
thick
like white taffy

diaphanous fluffs  drifting cross the road
winding  round tall  buildings
downtown

ummm.
sweet









From the anthology, this poem is by Irish poet, Eavan Boland.

Born in 1944, her mother was a painter and her father was Ireland's ambassador to England and then to the United States. The experience of traveling with her family exposed her to a variety of versions of the English language, inducing in her an acute sensitivity to language.








Anorexic

Flesh is heretic.
My body is a witch.
I am burning it.

Yes I am torching
her curves and paps and wiles.
They scorch in my self-denials.

How she meshed my head
in the half-truths
of her fevers till I renounced
milk and honey
and the taste of lunch.

I vomited
her hungers.
Now the bitch is burning.

I am starved and curveless.
I am skin and bone.
She has learned her lesson.

Thin as   rib
I turn in sleep.
My dreams probe

a claustrophobia
as sensuous enclosure.
How warm it was and wide

once by a warm drum,
once by the song of his breath
and in his sleeping side.

Only a little more,
only a few more days
sinless, foodless.

I will slip
back into him gain
as if I have never been away.

Caged so
I will grow
angular and holy

past pain
keeping his heart
such company

as will make me forget
in a small space
the fall

into forked dark,
into python needs
heaving to hips and breasts
and lips and heat
and sweat and fat and greed.












Here's another from 2011.












about tattoos

the thing with me
about tattoos
is that  I hate them

being the great  appreciator
of skin
I am

(the more the better
is my philosophy)

I've never seen
a tat
looking better
than the skin
it covers

except
maybe for that really ugly guy
over in the corner

he
could do  with  some  more
ink










Here's the last poem this  week  from the week's anthology.

The poem is by Adrienne Rich. Born in 1929 and died in 2012, Rich was a poet, essayist and radical  feminist. She declined the National Medal of Arts to protest the vote  by House Speaker Newt Gingrich to end funding for the National Endowment of the Arts.










A Valediction Forbidding Mourning

My swirling wants. Your frozen lips.
The grammar turned and attacked me.
Themes,  written under  duress.
Emptiness of notation.

They gave me  drug that slowed the healing of wounds.


I want you to see this before I leave:
the experience of repetition as death
the failure of criticism to locate the pain
the poster in the bus said:
my bleeding is under control.

 red plant in a cemetery of plastic wreaths.

A last attempt: the language is a dialect called metaphor:
These images go unglossed: hair, glacier,  flashlight.
When I talk of taking a trip I mean forever.
I  could say: those mountains have a meaning
but further than that I could not say.

To do something very common, in my own way

                                         1970-1971











Here's my last new piece  from the week.











a life event

pretty girls
passing
on South Congress

a SOCO
afternoon

a bacon ad arugula
open-faced sandwich
on walnut
bread

iced tea
under a blue friendly sky

summer dresses and
shorts baring long,
Texas-tanned
legs

all those pretty girls passing,
 real life event
for an old
fella
like
me








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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
 

3 Comments:
at 8:55 AM Blogger davideberhardt said...

fave photos this issue- counting down- # 8, # 19- had to laugh at early one w picnic table- looked awfully desolate

now let me take a look at the poetry

at 8:58 AM Blogger davideberhardt said...

re poetry- my usual peeve- little music, little mystery- simic is an ex. (i guess he's not from here originally)- way too dry

when it starts out so dry i turn off- he cld have something gret to say- i don't even care

dave smith a bit better

at 9:01 AM Blogger davideberhardt said...

didn't mind the erdrich

u shld see the job my favorite critic, Wm Logan, does on rita dove (also natasha tretheway and mary oliver)

little to say, sd negligibly

nyt bk review of his (10/22) masterful on a masterful poet- Marie Ponsot

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July 2017
August 2017
September 2017
October 2017
Links
Loch Raven Review
Mindfire Renewed
Holy Groove Records
Tryst
Poems Niederngasse
BlazeVOX
Eclectica
Michaela Gabriel's In.Visible.Ink
zafusy
The Blogging Poet
Poetsarus.Com
Wild Poetry Forum
Blueline Poetry Forum
The Writer's Block Poetry Forum
The Word Distillery Poetry Forum
Gary Blankenship
The Hiss Quarterly
Thunder In Winter, Snow In Summer
Lawrence Trujillo Artsite
Arlene Ang
The Comstock Review
Thane Zander
Pitching Pennies
The Rain In My Purse
Dave Ruslander
S. Thomas Summers
Clif Keller's Music
Vienna's Gallery
Shawn Nacona Stroud
Beau Blue
Downside up
Dan Cuddy
Christine Kiefer
David Anthony
Layman Lyric
Scott Acheson
Christopher George
James Lineberger
Joanna M. Weston
Desert Moon Review
Octopus Beak Inc.
Wrong Planet...Right Universe
Poetry and Poets in Rags
Teresa White
Camroc Press Review
The Angry Poet