So What Do We Tell Our Children Now?   Wednesday, November 30, 2016





This post, with "new" poems nearly two  weeks old includes a lot of consideration of election fall out, not so overtly,  but still, the title and the poem it's named after says it all. The photo included with new poems is of refugee children from a couple of genocides ago. Think of the little girl's face, full of fear, whenever you hear typical right wing crap about refugees. Remember that no matter what the haters say, a country can't do indecent things and still call itself decent.

I  have just a few digital pages from my first book, Seven Beats a Second. Most were lost along the way. Of the ones I still  have, I used a few last post and the rest in this  post.

And, as usual, poems from my library.


Me
the essentials

Jacinto Jesus Cardona
The Count of Tristeza
Wicked Green Buicks
Back in '57
Don Angjuiano

Me
finding religion at 3 a.m.

Me
buggin' out

Me
so what are we to tell our children now   

T. S. Eliot
IV (from Burnt Norton)
Me
fleshware

Ana Castillo
Paco and Rosa

Me
a tale of two dogs and an envied cow   

David Eberhardt
The Divorce

Me
for you & me

Virgil Suarez
Song to the Sugarcane

Me
paraphrasing Janis or Kris or Maybe Both   

Me
bop shee bop

Me
life is

James Fenton
Wind
Vucceria

Me
best I can do

Me
ripples

Me
through the hundred meter lens

Dorothea Matthews
The Lynching

Helene Johnson
The Road

Me
my tribute to Sir Willie,  my soon departed friend   











Adjusting to reality, four years, a long, long time in dog years.








the essentials

the essentials
done

news exiled from the radio,
the classical station instead

Christmas card list edited
appropriately

(Dumpster Divers  can  expect
no Merry Anything from me)

morality & decency
gathered up

delivered
down to the U-Store-It

secure
and climate controlled

safe
until they are relevant again


~~~~~


desk cleared
of old muse droppings

it's time to redirect
to more healthful and happy

poems
not sure what

probably a lot about
kittens

and pretty flowers
and rainbows

falling from the
sky

and,
you know,

sweet sounding 
crap








My first poem this week that isn't me, but might as well be, coming from deep South Texas, San  Antonio to  the border, where I was born and grew up.

Jacinto  Jesus Cardona was born in  Palacios, Texas, and grew up in Alice, the center of the South  Texas oil belt and the self-declared "Hub of South Texas." He teaches English at Palo Alto  College in  San Antonio and at the Trinity University Upward Bound Program. In addition to publishing in his own book and in  literary journals, he has read his  poetry on NPR and PBS.









The Count of Tristeza

Under a canicula sun,
my skin is a scorch of  scorpions
Ando triston.
El son del zenzontle no longer hums in  my blood.
I am the count of Tisteza
walking down my unpaved street
under Aztlan azul skies.
Caught between anil and caliche,
I  am  lost in  the sweep of dry mezquite


Wicked Green Buicks

Dogs ran loose
in our neighborhoods,
and wicked green Buicks
curled their chrome lips
in arrogance.


Back in '57

I was just another Latin American boy
deep into khaki pants,  steam-ironed pleats, gaudy cuff links,
impressed by passive parking meters on Main Street,
mesmerized by the chrome spokes of customized wheels.

And yes, I would laugh and laugh at how I took my black shellac,
celebrating the edges of my orange Stacy's, my dancing  shoes
anxious to shake loose the alkaline kiss
of caliche down my unpaved streets.

Caught in the vortex of oil wells and taco shells,
Spanish was my first, English was my second,
but Star-Spangled Spanglish became my middle name.
So was I Tex or was  I Mex,

part-time Aztec, or was I your  classic borderline case?
Biped and bilingual, I even  wore bifocals,
but my biceps remained monolingual.
Back in '57 I could care less and less

because I could always laugh
with Cantiflas at the Ranch Drive-In


Don Angulano

Don Angulano es el mayor picador.
He picks King Cotton on his knees

Beneath the sultan sun,
he dreams of buena raya,
of stiff white collars,
and custom-made Stetsons.

Rising from his knees,
he wipes he sweat  from his eyes.

Cargando su costal,
se acerca al gancho del la pescadora.


























Still trying to wrap my head around the election results.










so what are  we to tell our children now?

the screech of the grackles
last night,  as they began their nesting,
and the mess  of the droppings they left behind,
coating the patio bricks and furniture,
reminding me, despite my best efforts
to  set it aside, of out presidential election

the incessant pounding screech of fools
and the shit pouring onto us from above
how could I  think of anything else?

Greg Popovich, coach of the  San Antonio Spurs,
in a lengthy comment before last  night'game
spoke of his concern that the election showed
us to be Rome at the start of its decline

decline not because of wars lost, but
because of the loss of public morality
and basic human decency and compassion,
one citizen for another...

a candidate  makes clear his low
character by his own words and deeds,
and the people hear it and see it
and shrug their shoulders and accept it
and vote for him  anyway...

voting for him despite what he made clear 
about his immorality and indecency...

this recent thing we suffered, not an  election, but
an  indictment



~~~~~


what are we to tell our children now?

Pop's question, and mine  
as well









T. S. Eliot, born in 1888 and died in 1965, was a poet, publisher, editor, playwright and literary and social critic.Born in the United States, he emigrated to England and renounced his American citizenship in 1927 and becoming a naturalized British citizen.

This piece is from  "Burnt Norton," the first of Eliot's Four Quartets, first published in1943.






IV ( from  Burnt Norton)

Time and the bell have buried the day,
The black cloud carries the sun away.
Will the sunflower  turn to us,  will  the clematis
Stray down, bend to us; tendril and spray
Clutch and cling?

     Chill
fingers of yew be curled
Down on us? After the kingfisher's wing
Has answered light to  light,  and is silent, the light is still
At the small  point of the turning world.

















The next poem  is by Ana Castillo, taken from her book My Father  Was a  Toltec, Selected Poems  1973 -1988, published by W W Norton & Company in 1995.

Born in 1953, Castillo is a Mexican American novelist, poet, short story writer, essayist, editor, playwright, translator and independent scholar.








Paco and Rosa

"AS SOON AS THE CHILDREN
ARE  OUT OF SCHOOL
I'LL  COME," Rosa shouts
over static
from La  Barca to Chicago.
"GOOD," says her husband,
hangs up, sighs.

Tonight he won't
shave, slap on Christmas
cologne, press down his hair.
He won't go to the Paraiso Club
with his brother or to the
corner tavern where a man gets
lost in the smell of hairspray
on a woman  whose name ie'd
rather not know.

Instead, hands  behind his head,
he thinks of Rosa
who smells of the children
the meat-packing plant where
she worked between  babies,
the summer the met, La  Barca
by the sea, Rosa,
who  smells of home.










Leaving the election behind, leaving piles of little metaphors in my wake.

What my dog does when we go for a walk, except what she leaves behind not so  metaphoric.








a tale of two dogs and an envied cow

walking 
two dogs this morning

my dog
and my grand-dog

Bella
and Ayla

Ayla
afraid of grumpy Bella

but steals her front seat
in the car anyway

walking them together
amazed at how they manage

to go in the same direction together
despite ignoring each other...


I  think there must  be
a natural  force

that binds dog
together

always part of the pack -
living with, sleeping with,

eating with,traveling with  their pack
even when the fear and hate

the alpha, even as they conspire 
to take his place

pack rules,
accommodation and reconciliation

required,
possibly a lesson for the pack of us

after the last election...


but what if  one does not
like the  pack  he's  stuck  with

time,  perhaps,
to forget about the dogs

and remember the maverick,
the calf not so cow-like

who leaves the herd
to find  the greener pasture

to be free of the bull
and all his bullshit

to  be  young again,
to  believe in greener fields again

to be not afraid
to  be young again









The next poem is by my  poet-friend from Baltimore, David Eberhardt. The poem is from David's book, blue running  lights, published in 2007 by Abecedarian Books, Inc.











Sad Thoughts After the  Divorce

The partner just  right for you
Just passed you in the supermarket;
You didn't get to meet him/her tho'...
S/he was a couple of aisles over.
All I wanted was a "rock and roller,"

A blithe spirit, could get into
Fantasies, just a bit  moist
Like fresh coffee or driving
Straight thru' to Florida,
That avenue of cedars just before  Savannah
Down 95, then the
Long  tidal marsh part,
River refineries,
Stacks lit up like Christmas;

("That bride lady's
Dead, Mistuh Dave"),
On a more positive note
I remember
Hitting this stretch
Before dawn, in blue grey,
Wife and son, a fine milk smell
Like cedar drawers inside.



















The next poem is by Virgil Suarez, taken from Burnt Sugar (Cana Quemada), an anthology of contemporary Cuban Poetry, published  by Free Press (Simon & Schuster) in 2006.

Born in Havana in 1962, Suarez is professor of English at Florida State University.









Song to the Sugarcane

At Publix today with my daughters
I spotted the green  stalks of sugarcane

tucked under the boxed Hollad tomatoes,
ninety-eight cents a stalk. I grabbed the threee

left and brought them home. My daughters,
born in the United States,  unlike me,, stand

in the kitchen in awe as I take the serrated
knife and peel away the hard green layer

exposing the fibrous white,  pure slices.
"Here, I say, "nothing ever as  sweet as this."

We  stand in the kitchen and chew slices
of sugarcane as I tell them this was my candy

when I was a kid growing up in Havana,
this was the only constant sweetness

in my childhood. This delicious, sweet stalk.
You chew on a piece to  remember how

to love what you can't have all the time.











Here I  go again, looking for a way around  the elephant in the room.










paraphrasing Janis or  Kris or maybe both

freedom's
just another word
for leave me the fuck alone

sorry,
but that's just the way
I'm feeling these
days

abused
by events,
betrayed by people
I thought better
of

I need
a mountain top
to sit on
or a
forest refuge
from  events and people
of  the  day



Starbucks
on a Monday  morning
sterile
and impersonal

safe
in a crowd of people who 
don't know me
and don't care enough about me
to bother me

almost
as good as a mountain top
or a forest refuge
and immensely more affordable

and if you think
this is about
being old
and unable  to move that piano
in the den without help

you could be right

if you think this might be
about the election you could
be right
again

or it could be this might be
about both -
the powerlessness
of irrelevancy



























The next poem is by English poet, journalist, critic  and former Oxford Professor of Poetry, James Fenton. It is from his book Children in Exile (Poems  1968-1984), published by The Noonday Press (Farrar Strauss Giroux) in 1994.









Wind

This  is dthewind, thewind in a field of  corn.
Great crowds are  fleeing form a major disaster
Down the long valleys,, the green swaying wadis,
Down through the  beautiful catastrophe of wind.

Families, tribes, nations and their livestock
Havehreardsomething,seen something.An  expectation
Or a gigantic misunderstanding has swept over the hilltop
Bending the ear of the hedgerow  with stories of fire and sword.

I saw a thousand years pass in two  seconds.
Land was lost,languages rose and divided.
This lord went east and found safety.
His brother sought Africa and a dish of aloes.

Centuries, minutes later,onemightask
How the hilt of a sword wandered so far from the smithy.
And somewhere  they will sing: "Like chaff we were  borne
In the wind." This is  the wind  is a field of  corn.



This is another poem from the book, a very strange poem with amazing imagery.


Vucceria

 Maybe this summer I shall revisit Palermo
And see  if the Shanghai restaurant is still there
And if  you can still  buy cartons of contraband
Cigarettes in the triangle square
Beneath. At  evening the horses are undressed
From top  to toe, in the nude light-bulbs' glare.
They leave their skeletons  ever so neatly folded
And piled. Look! there's a pair of socks,
Crimson with two black clocks.
                        Oh no it isn't,
It's a flayed head on a bedside chair.











I  see the horsemen coming  and can't shake this mood.









best I can do

such a beautiful
day
makes me
want to  write
a sonnet
in praise of the 
higher power
except
I'm no sonneteer,
nope,
no way,
and don't believe in
higher powers

none of that,
no match am I for
such a day
as this

just
another hairy-brained
Moses
lost in the desert
peeing
on every burning bush

best I can do


























Next I have two  short  poems by two poets from then  anthology Shadowed Dreams - Women's  Poetry of the Harlem  Renaissance, published by Rutgers University Press in 1989.

Both these poems are from Opportunity: A Journal  of Negro Life, a journal published by the National Urban League from  1923 to 1949. Primarily a sociology forum for the emerging topic of  African-American Studies, it also was significant factor in fostering the literary culture during the Harlem Renaissance.









The first of the two is Dorothea Mathews.

She grew up in Harvard and went to high school there. She started writing poetry when she was in high school and worked as a clerk in her uncle's law firm for many years. She died at the age of 90.








The Lynching

He saw the  rope, the moving  mob,
And suddenly thought of quiet things;
The way the river-ripples sob,
The silver flight of pigeon's wings
Free in the blue September air;
And that the night  was warm and brown -
Under the trees the shadows hung;
The little stars of God looked down.

         From Opportunity (April 1928)



The second poem is by Helene Johnson.

Born in 1906 in Boston, Johnson moved to Harlem with her cousin Dorothy West and attended Columbia, though she  did not graduate. Although she wrote a poem a day until she died in 1995, her last published poems appeared in 1935.






The Road

Ah,little road,  all whirry in the breeze,
A leaping clay hill lost  among the trees,
The bleeding note of rapture-streaming thrush
Caught in a drowsy hush
And stretched out in a single, singing line of dusky song.
Ah, little road, brown as  my race is brown,
Your trodden beauty like our trodden  pride,
Dust of the dust, they must not bruise you down.
Rise to  one brimming golden, spilling cry!

          From Opportunity (July 1926); The Book  of American Negro Poetry (1931)










Last newbie for the week.











a tribute to Sir Willie, my soon departed friend

sitting
under the trees
at the coffeehouse,
mid-afternoon traffic
is like a river running in both
directions down and up
Broadway...

drinking
a can of Sir Williams,
a fine dark ale
made until recently
in Grapevine,  Texas,
a strange name for a place
to brew a great  tasting  beer...

production
discontinued - all good thing
come and good all good things
go,
like my favorite Sir Willie's
dark ale, two cans left
and I have one of them
this mid-afternoon
under the trees.
drinking  to good things gone
with perhaps a vain hope
to seem them someday
again








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