It's a Hell'uv a Long Time in Dog Years   Wednesday, November 23, 2016





I hate this.

I'm writing this now from the day after the election and every "new" thing I have was  written during  the week before and immediately after the election.

It's like being caught in an episode of  "Walking Dead," but I think of my writing as a form of journal and journals have their nightmares too.

So  here's mine.

But not just that. Struggling for normalcy, I have poems from the anthology Twentieth Century Latin American Poetry (published by University of Texas Press in 1996), plus something I don't think I've done before, pages from my first book Seven Beats A Second, including the accompanying art by my collaborator on the book, Vincent Martinez. I have only about a dozen (out of 500) personal  copies still available, but the book is still available on a print-to-order basis at Amazon. There are also used copies available there. Unlike my eBooks, available wherever eBooks are sold, this, my first and only print book, is available only on Amazon

Me
blue plate special

Jose Santos Chocano
A Manifesto

Me
eyes of Sister Jude    

Me
before you were flesh

Me
has anybody seen Frank

Jorge de Lima
words of departure

Me
cinnamon dreams

Xavier Villaurrutia
Nocturne

Me
sleeping through the storm  

Octavio Armand
Another Poetics

Me
caress

Me
about  sex

Raul Zurita
March of the Cordillars

Me
election day, 2016

Cesar Vallejo
"I'm thinking of yours sex" 

Me
dark lover

Octavio Paz
Here
Certainty
Village

Me
27 February 1933

Oswald de Andrade
Portuguese Mistake
Frontier

Me
lying in the sun with Susan

Me
lotsa hots

Me
bossman  coming  through   
                              









Here's  the  first from that week.










blue plate special

old men line the lunch counter
at the diner
as they have for most of  their years,
signing up for the  daily
special,
Monday - meatloaf
Tuesday - smothered chopped steak
Wednesday - roast beef
then chicken and fish 
to round off the  week,
menu unchanged since Ike
had his first  heart attack and
I watch them eat and wonder how
these bags of bones can put away so much
more than I, thirty or forty pounds heavier, 
can and I'm jealous of their capacity, wishing
I was old enough to eat like a kid again,
especially since smothered chopped steak
is my favorite and I can't  eat nearly
as much as I'd like, just this damn salad
and  be satisfied I try to convince myself...

just as 50 plus years ago
I ate lunch at the diner at Day's Drug Store
across from the grocery store
where I worked,  eating at the counter,
the blue plate special, comfort food with seconds,
as many as I  wanted, and best,
sitting at the counter, so close to Amelia,
convincing myself I had a chance even though
she was too old for me, unreachable except 
in m dreams, her perky, sexy  smile, her short red skirt
and white apron,, smiling  in my dream
as she brings me my blue plate special
like she knew my secrets...

so near,
so sweetly smelling grilled hamburgers
and soda fountain fizz...








The first of my 20th century poets is Peruvian Jose Santos Chocano.

Born in 1875, the poet died in 1934. He was a political activist, praised across  Europe and Latin America for hiswork. With a fiery personality he was frequently involved in feuds with fellow intellectuals and was jailed for a time for shooting  journalist who criticized him. He was stabbed to death by an unknown assailant while on a tram in Santiago.






A Manifesto

     I sing America, in its wild  and autochthonous state;
my lyre has  soul, and my song has an ideal.
My poem does not  hang from a branch,
calmly swinging like a topical hammock...

     When I feel Incan, I honor the king,
the Sun who offers me the scepter of his  royal power;
when I feel Spanish, I  invoke the Empires;
my strophes seem like crystal  trumpets...

     My imagination comes from ancient Moorish blood:
the Andes are of silver, but Leon is of gold;
I fuse both races with   noise like  thunder.

     My blood is Spanish and Incan in its throb;
if I were not  poet, I might have had the job
of  white adventurer, or Incan emperor!


         Translation by Andrew Rosing


























Four days from the election, one inevitable not yet replace by another.










has anybody seen Frank?

barbarians
at the gate

their final push
for total domination

in four  days,
a good time, perhaps

to think about
more pleasant people...

like, for example, Vandals
and Visigoths

both branches  of nomadic tribes 
of Germanic peoples

called Goths,
honored even today

by fifteen year old
girls

and similarly aged
boys...

the originals sacked
Rome

and extended their
Gothic realm

through much of
Europe

until they were first stopped
by the Franks

then had their kingdom
reduced to history's  ash bucket

in the seventh century
by a force of invading African Moors...


~~~


I know  number of fellas
named Frank

but
unfortunately

none of them  are 
Moorish

so it seems
we must face the barbarians next Tuesday 

on our own
without benefit

of either Frank or any of his Moorish
friends by our side

alas...









 Jorge de Lima is a Brazilian poet, born in 1895 and 1953, who was trained as  physician  and practiced medicine for much of his adult life while also pursuing careers as a writer, a professor of literature, a sculptor, a photographer, and a politician.









Words of Departure

And you will hear in every passing century
a sound lost in time;
and the last comet that passed by only yesterday;
and the oceans renewing their waters over and over.
You will  see constellations sending you their rays
     and then dying.
You will compare your childhood with that of the children
     of the Sun.
You will  recognize stars that threw rocks at you
when you were an ordinary man on life's paths.
You will  count as  Abraham did the celestial bodies, so that
     you can  count.
You will compare the premature death of moons
and the mysterious life of the stars.
You will piece together the game of creation and the
     throne of the first woman.
You will watch hundreds of millions of eclipses happening
     all at once.
And hundreds of millions of flames in a spiral rising to the
     throne of  the Master.
And you will remember you were a poor  Eskimo caught
     between the ice of the earth and the final night that
     freed you from the world.

          Translated  by Luis Fernandez Garcia





















The next poet from this week's Latin American poetry is Xavier Villaurrutia of Mexico.

Born in 1903, Villaurrutia died in 1950. Known internationally as poet of complexity, solitude and Romanticism, he was  best  known  in Mexico as a dramatist, founder of the first experimental theater group in Mexico City.









Nocturne

      All that  the night
sketches with its hand
of shadow:
the  pleasure it reveals,
the vice it uncovers

     All that is shadow
lets hear with its
blow of silence:
the voices unforeseen
it burns between spaces,
the cry of the blood,
the murmur of some strayed
steps.

     All that the silence
makes flee from things:
the stream of desire,
the sweat of the earth,
the nameless fragrance
of the skin.

     All  that desire
anoints on my lips:
the dreamed sweetness
of  contact,
the tasted taste
of saliva.

     And all that the dream
turns palpable:
the mouth of a wound,
the shape of an  entrail,
the fever in a hand
that dares.

     Everything!
Flows in each branch
of the veins of my tree,
fondles my thighs,
floods my ears,
lives in my dead eyes,
dies on my hard lips.

         Translated by Xavier Leroux












The day before, a dream to be burst.












sleeping through the storm

the streets gleam
in early morning light
from a thunderstorm at midnight
I slept peacefully 
through

another storm coming tomorrow

with luck
I'll sleep through that one
as well

wake
up in the end to a new
more hopeful
day








Next from  the anthology, Octavio Armand.

Born in Cuba in 1946, Armand and his family were twice expelled from their home country, first by the dictator, Batista, in the 1950s and, after returning, by the new dictator, Castro in 1960. In the end, he has spent much of his life living in the United States.






Another Poetics

The eye that sees,
sees what?

The word that tells,
tells what?
Beliefs belie?

I bathe in  mirror:
my body is one color
and distance another.

With black letters
green leaves.
With black letters:
lips red
like yours.

I hide in your breathing
I sharpen a hawk
until it soars
and I burn the page you read
with your eyes, which I also burn,
your eyes black as letters.

You and I
will drink together
long sips
of water more crystalline
than absence.
On  a final winding line
dry water for a lingering  thirst.

         Translated by Carol Maier




























The next poet from this week's  Latin American poetry anthology is Chilean Raul  Zurita.

Born in 1951, Zurita is recognized as one of Chile's  most dynamic and experimental poets. In the early 1980s he had skywriting planes inscribe some of his poems in the sky over New York City.







The March of the Cordilleras


i.   And there the mountain began to move

ii.  Shivering and white          ah yes white the
      freezing peaks of the Andes

iii. Separating from one another like wounds
      opening          little by little          until not even
      the snow could heal them

iv.   And then         standing high        as if  thought had
       moved them       from the same snowy
        ranges         from the same stones       from the very
        same voids        Chile's imposing cordilleras  began
        their lawless march











 Election day; first rumblings.












 election day, 2016

most of us never expect
to face a tornado's
fierce winds

but when one is spotted
in the county
we
feel the threat of it
and fear its consequences

but it's not a tornado
on the horizon today,
but the devil's own
fair-haired
spawn

a man-made monster, worse
than anything nature
can ever come up with...
my dog was  scared
by the thunder of a fierce storm
last night,
unusual since such storms
never frighten her

and today I am like my dog
after 13 presidents
in  my life, afraid
for my country
as never
before








Born in 1892, last of eleven children of a mestizo family, Cesar Vallejo, was raised in the rural highland of Peru. In frequent rebellion and with two Vanguardist poetry books published, he left his homeland the age of 31 and never returned and also never published another book of poems. He traveled restlessly in Europe, motivated by his passion for the ideals of the Russian Revolution and the Spanish  Civil War. Eventually exiled from France as a communist, he traveled to Spain where he worked with Neruda and others to raise support for the  Republican cause. He died in 1938 in France where he had returned, impoverished and ill, for the last three years of his life.





"I'm  thinking of your sex"

I'm thinking of your sex.
My heart simplified, I'm thinking of your sex,
faced with the ripe  flank of the day.
I stroke your bud of pleasure, it's in season.
And an old awareness dies,
degenerated in brains.

I'm thinking of your sex, furrow  more prolific
and harmonious than the womb of Darkness,
though Death conceives and gives birth
from God himself.
Oh Conscience,
I'm thinking, yes, of the free beast
rutting  wherever he  pleases, wherever he can.

Oh, honeyed scandal of twilights.
Oh mute outcry.

Odumodneurtse!

        Translated by Sandy McKinney




















Next the great Mexican master and winner of the 1990 Nobel Prize in literature, Octavio Paz. Born in 1914, Paz died in 1998.

These poems translated by Charles Tomlinson.








 Here

My steps long this street
resound
              in another street
in which
              I hear my steps
passing long this  street
in which

Only the mist is real.


Certainty

If it is real the white
light from this lamp, real
the writing hand,  are they
real,  the eyes looking at what I write?

From one word to the other
what I say vanishes.
I know I am alive
between two parentheses.


Village

The stones are time
                                The wind
Centuries of wind
                                 The trees are time
The people are stone
                                  The wind
Turns upon itself and sinks
Into the stone day

There is no water here for all the luster of its eyes











The day after, a day for remembering  dangerous precedents.










27 February 1933

27 February 1933
the Reichstag burns
and the die
is set

I imagine I can feel this morning
how a Jew must have felt
that day, the beginning
of deadly betrayal
by his
countrymen

I am afraid I must take it personal
this time









Here, last from the weeks anthology of Latin American  poets, two quirky poems from Brazilian, Oswald de Andrade.

Born in  1890, de Andrade died in 1954. He  was known for the wit and linguistic play.

Both poems were translated by Flavia Vidal.








Portuguese Mistake

When the Portuguese arrived
It was raining like crazy
He dressed the Indian in clothes
What a shame!
If only it had been a sunny day
The Indian would have undressed
The Portuguese.


Frontier

I want to study in Paris
That can't happen
Only if your godfather Antunes pays your way
But life is good by how
Godfather Antunes went bankrupt
Life is good
Godfather  Antunes died
Mute old church-bell,
you slow your rhythm in a panic
and speed up your ringing
in rebellion

The seed spouts with no announcement
The man in the mask will fill your table with joys
That's not going to happen
But life is good anyhow
Poet,  your were destined for liberty;
what a a waste to meet  the Shepherds' Christmas Star.





























Days pass, looking for loopholes.








bossman coming  through

I lay awake last night
thinking about the election
and it came to me, I've been thinking about it
all wrong

I'm white
a male of heterosexual persuasion,
and old beside

so,
hell,
I won the damn election

and am in charge

again

so
all you lesser
beings
stand aside

make a hole...

bossman
coming through









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