Winners, Whiners, Weasels, Wafflers    Wednesday, March 08, 2017

A bit of resistance philosophy.


good and stubborn

there are two types
of people in the
world,
us
and the others

decency
being
not just about
how we treat each other
but , more challenging,
how we treat the
mysterious
perhaps threatening
others

it’s hard,
so much easier to feed the devil
than to keep alive the angels
of our spirit
even harder
to protect our potential angels
when the devil is fed so well
from the highest levels
of our government

making it not good enough
to be good,
we must be stubborn in our goodness
as well…

good and stubborn…

maybe
that will help us make it through
the time of the devil’s
darkness that is
upon us






Lots of problems with my blog host this week (at on point it was spell-checking syllables), so it might not be my fault (whatever it is).

New poems, old poems (from my third eBook, Always to the Light, poems from my  library and random photos.


Me
good and stubborn

Me
veiled

Jorge Guillen 
Stream With Washerwoman 

Me
scattered in the wide night sky 

Cynthia Zarin
stream with washerwomen  

Me
hiding behind words again

Tu Fu
Banquet at the Tso Family Manor

Me
my turn

Robert Bonazzi
Lonely for Solitude   

Me
four special things at the coffeehouse early  

Walter McDonald
The Last  Still Days  in a Bunker 

Me
smile for me 

Wanda Coleman
rules

 Me
crackpots of the world unite  

Gary Blankenship
Fever, Lone Star
Gleam, Invitation

Me
my brother teaches me the art of war

Kevin Prufer
Girls in Heaven

Me
a doubters prayer
 
Wislawa Szymborska
Bruelhgel's Two Monkeys
Going Home

Me
a mighty fine thing to see    


     








In the beginning, the world was dark.












veiled

deep fog
covering the city 
like a gray silk veil
later today
strong thunderstorms
promised
but for now the
fog
cars passing on the highway
in silence, gray sharks 
passing, ghosts
in the mist
passing 
  









First from my library is a poem from the anthology, Roots & Wings, Poetry from Spain 1900-1975. The book was published by White Pine Press 1976.

The poet is Jorge Guillen. Born in  1892,  Guillen died in 1984. A member of the generation of '27, he was a poet, university teacher, scholar, and literary critic.

His poem was translated from  Spanish by Charles Guenther.








Stream with Washerwomen

Rushes float in the stream
That stirs them in its current,
Poised as if they advanced.

They don't advance.They follow,
Green-gold, toward the horizon,
The murmur of  a busy shore.  
           In the mass of bluish water
           Clothes crackle with increasing weight
           Under the torrent of shouts.

Oh stream where  gray tones float
By the green foliage in the current turning blue
And struggling, yet exulting!

Flourishes of f brushes, sputters of slang,
The morning wide open on their revelry.
The shore is perfect  like that, feminine.
           Can life be enjoyed kneeling on the riverbanks?
           A necessary bending of the body...
           The shore is over there. (Is the whole world pain?)

Flowing laboriously toward the rolling sea,
Glittering, tinkling, toiling,
The stream is more: there's more morning.          









Always to the Light was my third eBook. I knew the title I wanted and I knew the image I wanted for the cover, a nude facing bright light. Unfortunately I knew no nude models, at least none I could afford, so I did it myself. In a fit of good sense, I cropped the photo for  publication.

That's the dirty little secret of Always to the Light (and the poet's dedication to his art).









scattered in the wide night sky
scattered
in the wide night sky
are pinpoints of light
bringing  star-heat
to  worlds like our
own
biological  stews
pining the universal 
spark
on some
and on others
life at  its most simple
is cradled,
protected from the
cosmic storms,
and on a relative few
creatures who strive
and dream
like you and 
I
I
know this
like some people
know God, such
knowledge
a product of longing
in the lonely bright
for a companion
worthy
of our best nature  
      







The next poet from my library is Cynthia Zarin. Her poem is from her book, The Swordfish  Tooth, published  by Knopf in 1989.

Born in 1959, Zarin graduated from Harvard and earned her MFA at Columbia. She teaches at Yale.









Wildlife

Head smaller than my fist, pin teeth,
the frightened chipmunk clutching the porch screen 
frightens me - quick movement not my own
jarring a rainy, eerie afternoon, in a week
of enforced solitude, as though my heart leapt out.

Time inchoate, meaningless. Two birds,
trapped all night inside  the porch,arch and din
against the  grid. A day equals
a black year - motor of the blood a drill gone mad.
At dawn  we found them, wooed them out.

And then, last night, a mole: visitant friar
at the garbage can. Alone I  stamp my foot,
but, bold in company, one guest terrified,, become
benign protector of dim habits, earthly
or unearthly scrounging, in or out. 












Words can illuminate,but they can also obfuscate. Easy for writers to slip either way.












hiding behind words again

Allison Krause
interviewed by NPR
this morning
and I think of how much
I enjoy her music
and how little time I spend
listening to it,
not because there's not enough time 
but because I don't take the time,
too buys with this and that,
writing this, reading that...
and I think of all the music
I have missed in my  life
because I was  too busy to  sit and listen,
and I wonder  what  else I've missed
because I was too engaged
to hear, too  distracted to see...
the only stillness
in my life is the part I see
through my camera lens ad through
this exercise of writing and lately
I've been so sunk in pseudo life
my camera sits in my car unused,
my writing, about some other life,
my own missing even there...
so while it's true 
I'm fierce about protecting
my writing time, the time I'm protecting 
seems more and more a sorry 
substitute for the smiles 
I see around m, the light in the eyes
of the people living lives
I merely observe
I'm wondering
about all I've written myself out of,
wondering if at this late time  
it's not too late to write myself
back in...    
      










This piece is from the anthology One Hundred Poems from the Chinesea New Directions book published in 1971. Poems were collected and translated by Kenneth Rexroth.

The first poem in the book is this, by the master, Tu Fu.











Banquet at the Tso  Family Manor 

The windy forest is checkered 
By the light of the setting,
Waning moon. I turn the lute
Its springs are moist with dew.
The brook flows in the darkness 
Below the flower path. The thatched
Roof is crowned with constellations.
As we write the candles burn short.
Our wits grow sharp as swords while
The wine goes round. When the poem
Contest is ended, someone
Sings a song of the South. And 
I think of my little boat,
And long to be on my way.    












Another from Always to the Light.











my turn

it is  a cold
sloppy wet day
a glorious
day
a touch
of winter
finally
in mid-March
evidence
you'll get   
what you want
if you'll just
wait long enough
meanwhile
on South  Padre
beaches
all the little 
bunny-bumps
are freezing
their little cherry butts
not what they wanted
but I don't care
they're young
and haven waited
long
enough



       







Robert Bonazzi is the next poet from my library. His poem is from his 
book, Maestro of Solitude, published by Wings Press of San Antonio in 2007.

In addition to his numerous books, Bonazzi, is a columnist with the San Antonio Express-News.









 Lonely For  Solitude

Dogs bark fear into warning 
rattle chains at shadow or echo  
I'm the insomniac fixated on sleep
cursing hounds to awaken silence
I have acquaintance with  
The Absolute
which remains mute through
some loudly claim to hear whispers
There must be a way
to be at one with the reed
attuned to wind and tide
There must be a way
to delight nature with our silence
I rip away
brooding rags of thought
to probe  paradoxical wounds
healing in solitude   













More coffeehouse stories. What would I do without them.









four special things at the coffeehouse early

the young woman
with the Jane Russell hair
walks in
followed close behind
by the homeless guy who stops in
every morning for a cup of
coffee, paid for by
himself
this morning,
street corner dues  paid
by the guilty of
conscience
sits
at a table next to me
and I notice
he's in better shape 
today than yesterday when he was wrapped
in a blanket, sleepy-eyed
and barefoot   
the dual  pleasures
of early morning at the coffeehouse,
the  pretty girl with Jan Russell 
hair and the homeless guy
who on good days
finds
his shoes...
oh,
I almost  forgot
about the great waffles
and perfect extra-crispy bacon,
so  that's four reasons
to be early
at the coffeehouse...
hard to decide my favorite,
probably not the homeless  guy,
but a real close call between  
the waffle and extra-crispy bacon
and the girl with Jane Russell
hair...
ooh,
bonus
this morning -
the homeless guy
is talking
and is
coherent,
making no sense,
but speaking in complete
sentences, unmistakable sign
of having found a really good  street
corner...
(oh my god,
the barista called his name,
"Freddy"
shades of Red Skelton born again!










This poem is by Walter  McDonald, from his book, Night Landings. The book was published in 1989 by Harper and Row.

McDonald is  a poet and former professor at Texas Tech  University where he was a professor of English and Poet in Residence. He served as Poet Laureate of Texas in 2001.    










The Last Still Days in a Bunker

 All morning we saw flames in the distance,
rockets or mortars, not bombs  which  curl
and billow up like clouds. We left the door
wide open  for  a breath of air,
the heavy monsoon threatening  Saigon 

like a flood, the only breeze
the secret files we fanned our faces with,
and shredded. I shook  my head at our schemes   
and sweat flew. For weeks,  rockets
had fallen on the base like Sodom.

Secretaries  slept nude in this walk-in vault.
At dawn when we opened eight-bolt locks
we found them dressed, their torsos
outlined in sweat on the concrete.
Now, we were alone in khaki and black shoes

scuffed dull from days of shredding orders,
like trying to hide our tracks
in the jungle. We listened for news,
but all we heard piped in
were the same  old country and western tunes

that kept us human. I flung cold sweat 
and fed another sealed order
into the whirring shredder, wondering
how many tons of bombs we'd abandon,
how many battles we might stop.           












Sunday brunch at my favorite diner, from Always to the Light.












smile for me

it's the lunch side
of Sunday
brunch

& the place
is packed,
a mixed crowd

of church folk
in their Sunday best

& the just-
crawled-
out-of-bed

in shorts &
flip-flops,
bed-head

hair
flat on one side
sticking out 

on the other,
like a 
porcupine

in heat,
& the golfers   
from the quarry

clip-clop,
clip-clop-clip
in their golf  shoes

& the grandmas and
pregnant 
moms with last year's

babies
in high chairs,
dads in khakis

& hard-starched
checkered shirts
thinking

how simple
life
is at work

& that baby
again,
looking at

me
from across 
the room

talking
talking
talking

hyper-alert,
smiling
a big toothless

smile
for
me

this swirl of sound
& color
is like I'm home

unmoving
in the center
of a whirlpool

of sensation,
all moving sound 
& color streaming

like paint
flung
in a circle

except the baby
talking
talking

talking,
smiling a big
toothless

smile
for  
me                         









 I just bought  this book at my local half-price bookstore this afternoon. The  book  is The Lace of Tough Mesquite - A Texas Heritage, published by Eakin Press in 1993. The book  was winner of the W.E. Bard Book Award in 1992.

The poet is E'lane Carlisle Murry, who, though I didn't know her,  spent a great  deal of her life on the Texas coast where I also  spent a great deal of my life.









 Passerby at  Indian Point

Here  in transparent  waves
that fold and seal themselves 
with foam, the broken pier bows
stiffly but retains
its water-weathered grace,
accenting tides that push
and sway its

snaggled form.
Once fishermen, in boots or
canvas shoes, stood  balanced
on its sturdy deck to cast
their lines. Now

where the soft roar has no final note,
now where the fine spray 
smells of pungent salt,

the windblown passerby at Indian Point
is  bonded with transparent waves
and broken pier.    
    

I couldn't find a photo of the poet, but I  did find her  obituary from 2011. 














February is a big month in our family. In addition to what's covered here, there's our son's birthday a week before.











knowing a good thing when I found it

three days from now
is my 73rd birthday
the day after that,
our 40th wedding anniversary...
my spouse,
a mere slip of a girl on the day 
of the day,
an innocent with a wide smile 
and tiny feet,
whereas I,
a bedraggled 33-year-old
having seen better
days,   
was at least smart enough
to know a good thing
when I found it
and it worked out 
pretty darn
good



    






Next, a  poem by Wanda Coleman, from her book, Heavy Daughter Blues. The book was published by Black Sparrow Press in 1991.

Coleman, born in 1946, died in 2013. She was known as "the LA blueswoman" and unofficial poet laureate of Los Angeles.









Rules

walk on the inside away from the curb

no public displays of affection

when you call, let the phone ring twice
hang up and then dial again

call only if it's an emergency
if she answers, hang up

have the kids in bed when I get there

i like my wine chilly, ice cold,please keep
the ice tray filled

play jazz for me. keep it low. you like
your music too loud

keep  a wet towel handy on the night  stand
so we don't have to get up and go to  the bathroom

when we fuck
suck my nipples

when you cum call me jesus








 


Another from  my eBook Always to the Light.

Hard to believe that so many of the poems in  this book are not contemporaneously written.











 crackpots of the world unite

it so  happens
that I  live in a section
of  these great Discombobulated
States of America
where
common sense
is seen as a disturbing
sign
of  rampant
left-wingism
and the principle
Republican
recruiting slogan
appears to be
Crackpots of the World Unite...

some of these attitudes
may be the result of pride
in our frontier
heritage
though most of  those
so afflicted
are prosperous
but mortgaged to their eyeballs    
by the 21st century,
suburbanites
who wouldn't know a frontier
if it bit them on the ass...

some of it comes
from religious fundamentalists
who confuse speaking in tongues
with thinking in circles,
god-folk
principally concerned with
enumerating
the sins of everyone who doesn't
believe 
exactly as they do,
confident as thy make their lists 
that these people
are really gonna  be fucked   
when Jesus
finds out what they've been thinking...

but mostly I think
it's the weather, the heat
and lack of rain, little  jumping neurons
frying  like an automobile
engine running without oil

it it'd just rain around here,
and maybe cool off  a bit, I think 
most of these people would
come  to their 
senses  

(As we now know these years later, I was wrong. Rain didn't solve anything)          











These short poems are  by my poet-friend Gary Blankenship, from his book, The Poetic States and a drop  of sunshine. The book, Gary's second or third was published by Hsinchu City in 2014.









An addendum  to his Texas poem


Fever, Lone Star
                    for Dale

Mesquite fires crackle across the hills,
no wind until the hurricanes blow by.
Too hot to siesta, when the sun's down
dance to tejano, brisket on the grill.   


An addendum to his New Hampshire poem 


Gleam, Invitation

He sat on the rock  fence,
hat  pulled down his eyes; 
She sat on the front porch,
bonnet in her hand.

He sauntered homeward,
she swirled calico;
they left the  bonnet and the hat  
on the porch swing.


(An addendum to his Utah poem)

Where They Stay All Day in the Sun

where appaloosas range broken  mesas,
where fry bread and fresh jam our daily fare -
till a full moon shines over the last coals
and we count stars we never imagined. 


  











A remembrance of my older brother, passed on many years now.










 my brother teaches me the art of war

the great general Sun Tzu
lists four ways to defeat your enemy 
in order of effectiveness...
the least effective, he said, is siege, a losing strategy
even if you win, while the most effective, he 
advises is to counter-attack before your enemy
attacks you, anticipate an attack, but
don't wait for it to strike back...
my older brother, ten years older
and wise to the world when I was still
in knee pants, was a fighter, who  never learned
the meaning of words like "give up" or, especially,
"back down"    
though never a fighter myself, he did teach me
his rules for fighting, and though I'm sure
he never  read The Art of War, he understood
the general's lessons very well, especially
the first one...
if you see a fight coming, he said, don't let
the other fella start it; fight first, in the general's words,
counter  attack before your enemy can attack,
hit them first, my brother taught me,
hit them first and as hard as you can and when
you get them on the ground, keep them on the ground
until thy quit trying
to get up 
the only thing worse than fighting, he said
is losing a fight once it's started...
he may have never heard
of Sun Tzu, but the general
would have welcomed him to his
army...











From my library, this poem is by Kevin Prufer. the poem is taken from his book National Anthem, published by Four Way Books in 2008.

Born in 1969 in Ohio, Prufer is a poet, academic, editor, essayist and Professor of English in the Creative Writing Program at the University of Houston.  He received a BA from Wesleyan University, and MA from Hollins University and an MFA at Washington University in St. Louis.









Girls in Heaven

Sometimes,  it rains for days, 
so we crawl  into our cabin  beds.
                                                      
                                                     My eyes snap shut
like a doll's. The pink spot on the cheek, a plastic flush
that stains the neck, queer thrill of lace

                                                               where the throat begins -

I am always dreaming

    ##

of satellites
winking over the seascape like sewing needles,

of a boy's hands
that crack the seam of the  bluest  egg.

     ##

Or it is a windy day so the houses quake on their stilts,
the palm trees waving their  arms at  the sea. 

How did you happen to -- the blond girl says.
I felt a little faint, collapsed

                                              in the pool of my skirt.

Where were you?

                                The rowboat make me dizzy and I fell.  

Silence

     ##

 I had a palpitation,

                                a bird in my throat that wouldn't sing.
My father far away hunting deer and I, standing in the rowboat,
a parasol ache, a boy's voice, singing
                                           
                                                            and the sound of oars.

     ##

More dreaming - a boy's hand on his oar,
                                             
                                                                   the smile
of cut water, laughter. When I open my mouth, birdsong -  

     ##

Days pass, then sun.

                                   We lie on our  backs on the dock.
A fluttering of pages in the breeze. No, hair. Waves.
Do you remember?

                            The brain retards and, yes - it was sun-drenched
the day I died, my head grown hot my fingers -
    







 




Here's my last  poem for this week from Always to the Light.











 a doubter's prayer

dear most unlikely
heavenly father,
god of fear and weak
minds, hear my prayer
if you exist
and actually care 
about stuff like us, please
bring us peace and protect us
from harm in the world you may
or may not have created
your creations,
should you be willing to accept
such responsibility
are in disarray - your stock market,
to  take just one  example, is in deepest
doo-doo, as  are you banks, your big box
retail stores, your automobile manufacturers,
your farmers, your ranchers and your purveyors
of overpriced goods in upscale niche markets 
not only that,
but your most worthy of all claimed creations, (me),
is getting old and fat and exceedingly
absent minded...
it's all in the toilet
as you should very well know
if you really are the all-seeing-eye
your PR flacks proclaim  you to be, which,    
quite frankly bring into deep doubt
your status as a be-all-end-all master builder
so just in case you actually are
king of all this creation,
I would humbly (if  reluctantly) pray
that you get back on the job and fix this mess
your creation has slipped into...
in your unlikely name,
I pray you to make it so, just like the Star trek guy
who, I have to say, has a much more likely backstory
than your own and who would probably be
an acceptable  replacement to  most of us
if you don't demonstrate some all-powerful Mr. Fix-it skills
pretty darn quick
it's the least you could do
if you really are all  you're cracked up to be...
(but  I doubt it)                 










Next, a couple of poems  from  one of my favorites, Wislawa Szymborska, from the collection of poems from previous books, View  With a Grain of Sand. You can tell she's a favorite - I used her poem from  another book either just last week or the week before.











This  poem from her  book,  Calling Out To Yeti (1957)


Brueghel's Two Monkeys

This is what I see  in my dreams about final exams:
two monkeys, chained to  the floor, sit  on the windowsill,
the sky behind the flutters,
the sea is taking its bath.

The exam is History of Mankind.
I stammer and hedge.

One monkey stares and listens with mocking disdain,
the other seems to be dreaming away -
but when it's clear I don't know what to say
he prompts me with a gentle
clinking of his chain.


   From  her  book, Could Have (1972)  


Going  Home

He came home. Said nothing.
It was clear though,that something had gone wrong.
He lay down fully dressed.
Pulled the blanket over is head
Tucked in his knees.
He's nearly forty , but not at the moment.
He exists just as he did inside his mother's womb,
clad in seven walls of skin, in sheltered darkness.
Tomorrow he'll give a lecture
on homeostasis in megagalactic cosmonautics.
For now, though, has curled up and gone to  sleep.   












My last new poem for the week - a mighty fine memory.











a mighty fine thing to see

              I am a history,
        a memory inventing itself

                       Octavio Paz 
I didn't exactly 
know
even  in those days
what 
a hully gully
was, but I had a girlfriend
who did the hully gully
like a fire burning hot and bright
and it was a mighty fine 
thing to
see    








I've got a bug in what usually goes here, so I'm not putting here what usually goes here.

Except, one print book available at Amazon; seven eBooks available wherever eBooks are sold.

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