Hoist the Flag Boys, the Sumbitches Are Coming Over the Hill   Wednesday, January 04, 2017

New Year

fat man
frantically chasing
grackles from his pickup
as black waves rise
from trees all around
an image for the new year -
futile cursing
a darkly rising tide







More of my poems, new and old; more random photos; and more anthologies.

That's about it.


Me
whether I want to or not

Sa'adyya Muffareh
from The Spell of Blazing Trees

Me
a memory of a dream

Bonnie Lyons
walking out

Me
see you on the "b" side

Judith Sornberger
Wish

Me
slow Sunday

Akka Mahadevi
from Voices of Light

Me
an unplanned overnight

Me
peas in our time

Me
forbidden

Cha Shen-Hsing
The Customs Station at Weed Lake

Me
I am stateless person

Tina Koyama
Grape Daiquiri

Me
squashed armadillos and other mythic creatures of the Texas plain

Constantine Cavafy
The Tobacco Shop Window
At the Next Table
Their Beginning

Me
as it is meant to be

Iva Kotrla
At Moments of Piety
Growing Up

Me
cracking wise

Me
protecting our constitutional rights

Me
dreams of free air, free water   

Me
it's the day before the new year











Here's a start for the new year, written  near  the end of last year.










whether I want to or not

today,
whether I want to or not,
I'm going  to write about
trees and beautiful sunshine
and dogs playing catch-the-Frisbee
in a cool winter park
and boys and girls holding hands
under a faint morning 
moon, eggs over easy with
extra crispy bacon
and a great night's sleep
and, oh, you know,  that kind
of stuff
when I would much  rather
scream again in
rage
will this ever stop
I doubt it
not for way to long a time
I'm  afraid

but 
I'll do my best -

wow
look at them clouds
wow
look at the green trees
wow
look at them playful dogs
wow
how "bout them cowboys...

bullshit!!










This poem is by Sa'adyya Muffareh, a poet, critic and journalist from Kuwait, publisher of several books of poetry.

It is taken from Language of a New Century, an anthology of poems from "the Middle East, Asia and Beyond," published by W. W. Norton in 2008.









from  The Spell of Blazing Trees

His laugh:
endearing like the trinkets of young girls
the lisping of  a child

sharp like a sword
hung on his brow
by tribal elders

straight
like a well-lit street
fenced in
by infinite
detail

beautiful women
water
palm trees and pebbles

proud  silver droplets
a sudden summer rain
on the wide ocean
of my gloom

I shake  myself
like a wet bird
dispelling sorrow
driving away
sleep

and paint a face
splendid and proud
to rival yours
which finds its way into
the features of my heart
like a mount
with a rider
who knows the territory

       Translated from the Arabic by Mona Fayad












This is an old poem from 2007.









 

a memory of a dream

I have a
memory
of a dream
that through
constant dreaming
has become a memory
of another life
that with the constant
remembering
seems as real
as the life
I might have
with you tonight









This poem is by my second anthology this week, Risk, Courage, and Women, Contemporary Voices in Poetry and Prose, published University of North Texas Press in 2007.

The poet is Bonnie Lyons, born in Brooklyn in 1944 and now a professor at the University of Texas in San Antonio, primarily interest in American and Jewish literature and women writers.









walking out

I know what you  think:
weak and disobedient
vulnerable - duped
by the wily serpent.
Think again.

Our life in Eden was an idyll -
no work, no  struggle,
an unbroken expanse
of pleasure,
a garden
of perpetual plenty.
We were  protected children
and I was bored.

When the serpent told me
eating the fruit of that tree
would make me wise
I hesitated
like any child
about to walk out
of her parent's domain.

Had I foreseen
that my first son
would kill his brother -
but who knows the future?

Biting into the sweet  fruit
meant entering the world
of time an death,
adventure, change, possibility
including the possibility
of murder.

I chose life.
I would again.
Do you wish
you were never born?
Do you wish to be
a child forever?

Then celebrate my wisdom.









How to tell my dog she's being left behind. There is no good way.

This new piece is from before Thanksgiving.











see you on the "b" side

Bella
shrinks herself down
from size large to small  enough
to squeeze herself into the space
under my desk
as I work,
happy as always
whenever she can find
or make a  place close to me

too  bad
we're going to leave her home
alone today

and I'm trying to think of a way
to tell her

"Happy Thanksgiving" 
I suppose I can say, don't you just
love these human holidays cause  that's what 
I say to myself since I haven't yet
convinced myself and
I
don't imagine it'll be a big  okeydokey to her
either

or I might just  say
smile
"You're on Thanksgiving"

see you on the
"b" side









The next poet is Judith Sornberger, taken from the anthology Claiming the Spirit Within, a Sourcebook of Women's Poetry. The book was  published by Beacon Press in 1996.

The book doesn't include  any biographical  information on the poet, but I did find a very limited reference to her on the web,  describing her as a poet and scholar and Professor of English and Women's Studies without  saying where.









Wish

Feeling and exotic
after the day of sun
I  sit with  you on the bank
of a man-made lake in Kansas,
wishing it were the Nile,
wishing we were eating  something
other than potato chips -
figs, perhaps, or olives.

I wish the stars
would come out with it:
To which do I own
my skin and skeleton,
the cloaks I  wrap
around my longings?
And to which do I owe
my silver hair?

When we speak of my children,
I wish they were here
and that they'd never been born.
I wish I were sitting beside you
with all things still before me,
that my children were still
grains of light we could awaken
in the tunnels off this night's sleep.

I wish that you could come to me
tonight without any yardstick
but the past, and that the past
had not been the only way here.
I wish I could forget the  darkening
sky and admit that just now
there is no other moon
than the one bobbing in my hair.

Look, you say, pointing to the drop
of light newly fallen from the moon's
wan face, the first star.
Make a wish.











This poem is from 2008.













slow Sunday

on
my own

Dee in a crafts class
and I'm in a
funk
of
don't know what
to do

not that I don't
have anything to do

just can't decide

could write poem

could work
on the next issue
of the blog

could take a nap

could go to a movie...

spent
ten minutes this morning
watching
the neighbor cat
stalk
the black bird
with the dog food nugget
it stole
from the bowl I put out
on the back patio
this morning
from the dogs - sitting
in my car
in the driveway
motor running
watching
the black bird
trying to break the dry dog food
and the cat
belly to the ground
tail twitching
poised to leap
then looking at me
grimacing
at the futility of it all
and turning away
back to its nap by the
front door

not
worth the trouble...

now
I'm at La Taza
watching
with one eye
some food program
about the making
of candies I can't eat anymore
the other eye
watching my laptop screen
as my fingers push word after word
into this little construct
of cat
stalking bird
stealing dog food

thinking
I should go
lay down with the neighbor
cat
by the front door
and goo to sleep before
I cause more
trouble...

the soft wrath
of world
indifference
watches
my every move









The next poet is from Voices of Light, a collection of "Spiritual and visionary poems  by women around the world from ancient Sumeria to now. The book was published by Shambhala in 1999.

Born in 1130, the poet Akka Mahadevi, was one of the early poets in the Kanada language. Though writing relatively few poems compared to her contemporaries, she came to be viewed as an inspiration women for the Kanada literature and history.

She died in 1160.






~~~~

Riding the sapphire mountains
wearing moonstone for slippers
blowing long horns
O Shiva
when shall I
crush you on my pitcher breasts?

O lord white as jasmine
when do I join you
stripped of body's shame
and heart's modesty

~~~~~

People,
male and female,
blush when cloth covering their shame
comes loose
                     When the lord of lives
lives drowned without a face
in the world, how can you be modest?

When ll the world is the eye of the lord,
onlooking everywhere, what can you
cover and conceal?

       Translated by A. K. Ramanujan











This is another new poem from the end of November I'm just now getting to












an unplanned overnight

an  unplanned overnight
on a hard hotel
bed

breakfast at Denny's
(obesity, thy name
is Denny)

much accomplished
yesterday
to long term

quality of life
benefit
but much still

this day
to do
and I am tired

in unplanned
second day clothes
and hand-combed hair

teeth coated with yesterday
and breath not fit for
human  presumption

and I want to be
heading
back south

to my wife
and my dog and my cat
and my coffeehouse

and homely air
and familiar light
and everything  else

that years ago
set my feet 
to  not  wandering

where the good days
unwind
with a kind and gracious

leisure - it's 
what I call
home...











Here's a piece from 2009.














peas in our time

dinner
last night
at Grisinis'

Italian
penne pasta
with some kind
of orangish sauce

tiny pieces of ham
mushrooms
&
peas

&
the peas
did it for me
since peas are
my second favorite
vegetable -
peas & corn
being my favorite

&
someone mentioned
that it was strange, my
liking peas so much,
since no one was
eating
peas
anymore

&
that's hardly
a surprise to me
since the world slips
further
into decline
with every passing day













Now, from 2010.












forbidden

I resist
the idea of "forbidden" words
because
I think words are words
and as writer
if I find that a particular
word is the right word
then I want to use it
gloriously
because, as writers know,
finding the truly right word
is a glorious thing
in a world
where the word  is most often
the nearly right word
or maybe the wrong word
altogether

I
think
once found
the right word
should be used fearlessly
but that doesn't mean
all words
are equal in their suitability

I
for example
almost  never
use words like cunt
or motherfucker
or spic
or nigger-lover
or any such
because I almost never
write  poems
where those words
are the right words, though
some do write such poems
that are good poems
that use these words perfectly
and I applaud
both the excellence of the poems
and the fierceness of the poets
who  commit to the requirements
of the truth of their art

for I believe
truth
is the first obligation
of the artist
and a word,
if used as it should be used,
is a form of truth
and
truth
should never be
denied
or rendered
forbidden

every word
is a construct of centuries,
a mark of a specific,
unique
and with meaning that can only
be approximated
no matter ho comprehensive
your thesaurus

an idea
of something 
carried from some dim past
to our own world
and time

to forbid a word
is to forbid not just the richness
of our language
but the reach and richness of our kind
as  well









My next anthology is Waiting for  the Unicorn, Poems and Lyrics of China's Last Dynasty, 1644-1911. The book is a First Midland Book  Edition published in 1990.

For this  post, I chose a poem by Cha Shen-Hsing, born in 1650 and died in 1727. With his little poem he tells a story of his time.










The Customs Station  at  Weed Lake

Yesterday, we  left Dragon River,
Arrived this morning at Weed Lake.
A following wind filling the sails.
We passed the customs station in a flash.
An officer, duty bound to impose the levy,
Blocked our way, loudly shouted at us.
The boatmen not daring to proceed,
Shifted the rudder, hauled on the windlass.
I smile and spoke to the customs officer:
"Of  rare  goods, I have none  at all!
For linking verses, only one short brush,
And, as ballast, one hundred scrolls
In the prow there are two chests;
In the stern, a jug of wine.
Beyond this, what more can there be
But my companion,  this long-bearded servant?"
Distrusting me, the officer advanced
To overturn chests, topple wicker baskets,
Ignoring not a single article.
Regarding one another, he fixed me with his gaze:
"To guy us rinks, the law requires payment."
He turned away as if I was a tax dodger.
If one has goods, officials press for the levy;
If one has none, officers can be perversely harsh.
Goods or no, neither can be avoided.
So how can one console one's self on a long journey?

          Translated by William Schultz










Here's this, from early December.

The daily struggle of change.









I am a stateless  person

my coffeehouse
closed 
for a month
as they execute relocation

so I am a stateless
person,
a refuge huddled
in a winter-cold tent
on the barbed wire border
between Starbucks and
nowhere

all will  be well in the end
I  hope,
but in the meantime
I am a person of steady routine
in a state of disorienting change
that I hate as I hate bulging, infected boils
or people who talk loudly
on their phones
or  women with loud squeaky
voices, or men who brag about
their amorous exploits or dogs
who pee on my shoe, or birds who
poop on my car, or fat-free cookies 
or wind in my willows, or change for a dollar
in pennies or restaurant servers
who screw up  my order, or...

well, you see the problem...

not my friend, this change thing,
I know that from experience...









The next poem is from Breaking Silence, an Anthology of Contemporary Asian American Poets, published by The Greenfield Review Press in 1983.

The poet is Tina Koyama. Searching the web, I can't find a Tina Koyama that I can be sure is this Tina Koyama. The anthology provides space for the poets to provide a little biography. This poet, instead of a biography, decided to utilize her space to an essay on baking bread and how it's like writing poetry.









Grape Daiquiri

"You were forty years too late
to be having your first drink."
                     - Richard Koyama

Your cousin tells you it's like fruit juice,
what she always orders, and you let
the cool sweetness deceive your thirst,
placate your grumbling stomach.

At first you hardly see the faces
moving in and out of focus,
the room lights dimming. Three sips more
and  waiter's white sleeve dissolves like sugar.
Beside you, your husband speaks from the far end
of a tunnel, repeating another fish story
between gulps of his third V.O. and water.

You want to warn them - these smiling,
bobbing heads around the table -
warn them of the dangers, that the walls
melt and fall like icing on a cake,
but you know they won't hear you
for the droning of bees between your ears.
You try to shake the free, but the floor
shifts like flour beneath your feet.
A chair fools you into thinking it's steady.
Bees pour honey down your eyes,
pull the  color from your cheeks
and let it pool in the pockets of your knees.

Trying to remember when you've felt this way
before, you recall the thick sweetness of ether
smelled once for each daughter and son.
Curious, the things you think of last:
your children in another city, eating
ice cream or reading novels; a photo
of your mother framed above your desk;
the purple of the carpet as it rises
to soften your fall.












Now, from 2011.

I guess I could see it  coming










squashed armadillos and other mythic creatures of the Texas plain

I know  people
who are so far out
on the fringe of ideology
they make Genghis Khan
look like a daisy-smoking, fire-spitting,
girly-walking socialist liberal anarchist freak
people who are like black holes,
every circling
circling
circling
rightward into another dimension
where the rules of everything from gravity
to the basic laws of mechanics
and motion
are altered; where sunshine shines up
from the earth to the sun;
where dry rain falls
from arid skies;
where Glenn Beck makes sense and
Sarah Palin
is a rocket scientist;
a place where
tennis balls
and clouds never break to the left -

that kind of people,
people for whom I am a kind of token lefty
among their circle of other true
believers...

on the other hand,
I know other people so reflexively left wing
they take forever to get to the supermarket because
they won't make right turns
and can only go places they can get to
by making a series of left-turn boxes,
moving squared block by squared block
closer to their goal...

from their perch
high in the clouds of gooey-gooey
relativism
they bemoan my troglodyte tendencies,
my insistence on evolutionary theories of
gradual-things-getting-better-ism;
my understanding that government is a creature of the  people,
including people
who care more abut their next paycheck
than they do about
academic theories of the casual effects
of meat-eating on
interpersonal  relationships between
prairie grasses and endangered insects,
people who want things to work
and don't care
if a few cockroaches get stepped on
in the process...

people
who my left-winger friends
care about
only after they're a hundred years dead
and can be re-configured
as working class heroes
instead of just plain folk living
just plain lives
they found rewarding in their own bourgeois way...

my left-winger  friends
for whom
I am a kind of token rightist,
good at  parties
for the amusing of  their  ivory-tower friends
who luxuriate in the dirty words
they were too prissy to use
before - like
I'm a mean motherfucker
they say,
now pass the brie
and  hold the ammunition...

meanwhile
 I often feel lie the squashed armadillo
a former Texas politician
maintained
was the only thing ever in the middle of the road

white stripe
ahead, white
stripe behind, it's an uncomfortable
way to live in these times








These three short poems are by Greek poet Constantine  Cavafy and are taken from A Day for  Lay, A Century of Gay Poetry. The anthology was published by Barricade Books in 1999.

Cavafy, born in 1863, was Greek by birth, but spent most of his life in Alexandria, Egypt working as a civil servant. He died there in 1933.






The Tobacco-Shop Window

The stood among may others
near the lighted window of  tobacco shop.
By chance their glances met
and timidly, halting,
expressed the illicit craving of their flesh.
Then a few tentative steps along the streets,
until they smiled and discreetly nodded.

And after that the enclosed carriage,
the physical closeness of their bodies,
the joining of hands, the meeting of lips...


At the Next Table

He must be barely twenty-two, and yet
I am certain that just so many years ago
I enjoyed that selfsame body.

No, it isn't merely inlovement,
I only entered the tavern  moment ago and I've
hardly had a thing to drink -
but I have enjoyed that very body.

And if I can't recall where - one lapse of memory proves nothing.

There, see, now that he has sat at the next table,
I'm familiar with every move he makes -
and beneath his clothes, I can envision those
naked limbs tht5 I have loved.


Their Beginning

The consummation of their deviant, sexual
delight complete,  they arose from the mattress
and quickly dressed without speaking.

They left the house one at a time, furtively,
and as each walked  uneasily up the street,  it seemed as if
something about himself perhaps did betray
into what sort of bed he had fallen mere moments ago.

But for the life of the artist, look what's been gained -
tomorrow, the next day, or years hence, the powerful
verses will be composed that have had their beginning.











Thinking out loud.










as it is meant to be

a book begins
and a book ends
and within the book's
beginning and ending
chapters begin and end
and within the chapters,
pages and paragraphs and
sentences all do the same thing, the
whole book a stream
of beginnings and endings,
like life,  always
beginning and ending,
years, weeks, by the month,
the ours beginning and ending
and my life
like yours, books in a  universal
library of life, and even knowing 
this, that every time the joy
of beginning will be followed
some day, some hour, some moment
by the pain of ending
and we welcome the job
even knowing
the sadness to come,
for it is precious all the life 
in between and as we accept
life as our birthright we also accept
the inevitable consequence of its living,
the joy before the pain,
before the gathering of 
moments  arriving at their 
end as it is meant
to be








These two short poems are by Iva Kotrla and are taken from the book Spirits of the Age, Poets of Conscience, published in 1989 by Quarry Press.

A dissident born and raised in the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic, Kortla, poet and mother of five children, was harassed and called to interrogation by the government for her poetry only a few weeks after the birth of her fifth baby. While still  in hospital, her home was searched and all her writing from 1966 to that date was confiscated.

No translators are cited for any of the poems  in the book.

The picture to the left is a family picture, Kotrla is on the left. I could find no other usable picture.






At Moments of Piety

The lonely cross on Golgotha -
     A periscope
through which the Earth observes us.
Out of its dust
     we're dust shedding tears
in adult unhappiness
when the Son in the arms of his
     Mother
is the only password
opening the gates of Paradise...


Growing Up

     In the years
when the secret police
took down our faces
     as we left the church
we reached out
     into our dreams

Every evening
adulthood came, with a lamp,
to our bedside,
     quietly drew aside the curtains
and spoke to us
     gently, like a mother












Now for 2012.














cracking wise

I really hate it
when
poets begin to imagine
themselves
wise
as if language
facility
and wisdom were
somehow the same thing
because you'll  notice
if you look close
that most poets
don't know much
of anything
and aren't really wise
at all

that's why I don't like
you know  who and
that other one, too,
because they both quit
writing good poetry
and started saying silly stuff
that they think
somehow
must be wise
since they said it

they've both fooled
a lot of people
but I'm on to the game
and they didn't
fool me
at all

(wait...
I think I might have  just s
said something
wise...it's happening
more and more,
I've
noticed
but I try to keep the news
to myself)













On to 2013.















protecting our constitutional rights

I believe
every American
has certain inalienable  rights,
among them, the constitutional right
to complain often
and vigorously about whatever
peeves their goat

and I further believe
that every constitutional right
must be regularly exercised if it is to be
retained

thus
I believe that Americans
not only have a right
to complain
but a patriotic obligation
to be unreasonably obnoxious
about something trivial to the rest of the world
at least once a day

this is an obligation
I address seriously every day, at least once,
finding at least one thing about which hell
must be raised

this morning, though
this bright, sunny day, blue cloudless sky
smiling for love of all creatures
below, a light breeze whispering
welcome to this day, the orange morning light
casting cool orange shadows  beneath
oak trees' wide arching limbs,  grass at their base
calling, sit here, sit here, join the happy
squirrels who live here, share an acorn as you wait
for the wonders coming of this wonderful
day...

patriot that I am, it is hard
on such a day to do my constitutional duty,
but, as I prepare to drive downtown
on the expressway in morning commuter traffic,
I am confident that something
will come
up
to inspire me











Remembering the good old days.











dreams of free air, free water

I'm so old
I remember when air
and water were free at
service stations

(service, i.e. actual  flesh
and blood human performing
acts of assistance t customers)

it's all part of the
commercialization
of all aspects of human life

a smile - $5.00

a hug - $15 to $35 (depending on the duration of human contact)

a shoulder to cry on - you'll need major  medical for that










Here's another. Began this post with a downer. End it with a little humor, a New Year's day in the form of an abject apology.





it's the day before the new year

it's the day before the new year
begins and I'm at my station at the coffeehouse
thinking
that such  day should be an occasion for a
deep and meaningful poem
and all I can think of what  a really miserable 
year it's been and how it's probably
my fault since I didn't eat
my black eyed peas on
New Year's Day
last year

I resolve to do better this year
for the sake of the world
in 2017

I promise
I'll eat
those damn peas even if
I choke on them







As usual, everything belongs to who made it. You're welcome to use my stuff, just, if you do, give appropriate credit to "Here and Now" and to me



Also as usual, I am Allen Itz owner and producer of this blog, and a not so diligent seller of books, specifically these and specifically here:

Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iBookstore, Sony eBookstore, Copia, Garner's, Baker & Taylor, eSentral, Scribd, Oyster, Flipkart, Ciando and Kobo (and, through Kobo,  brick and mortar retail booksellers all across America and abroad





Poetry

New Days & New Ways


Places and Spaces
 




Always to the Light




Goes Around Comes Around



Pushing Clouds Against the Wind





And, for those print-bent, available at Amazon and select coffeehouses in San Antonio




Seven Beats a Second





Fiction


Sonyador - The Dreamer




                                                            

  Peace in Our Time
 

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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