Sense and Nonsense   Wednesday, April 05, 2017

A poem from my book New Days & New Ways, written in 2011, after the mid-term  elections. I could write it just as well today.

just because this poem is about idiots doesn't necessarily mean it's a political poem, though I'll admit it does make it more likely

trying to write a poem this morning
maybe
something 
about how the wind is blowing,
shaking up the trees,
snapping the flag over at  USAA,
(I bet if I was outside
I could hear it
pop)
and the possibility of thunderstorms,
welcome rain
and if it does come a good strong rain 
I'll be out in my backyard
naked,
stomping and sliding in the mud
when the first raindrop falls,
flapping and rolling in the grass
like a bird chasing worms,
and the biscuit and gravy I had for breakfast,
especially good this morning...

but politics 
continue to invade, steady against
the wind, not the national stuff
about which I have given up in despair,
resigned to waiting for the next election,
retaining some hope
that all the insane fucks from the last election
will be sent packing to whatever hole
they crawled out of...

not talking about those national abominations,
but the more local type,
the Texas legislature winding up
its bi-annual 180-day session dominated by Republicans,
the same kind of slime-sucking snakes
brought to us nationally by the last election,
ending one of the most dishonorable sessions
since secession, like yesterday,
heading into the last frantic days of the session,
three pieces  of last-minute skullduggery -

the "let's-go-shoot-our-professors" guns
in the classrooms bill;

and the
"too-damn-many-poor-democrats-voting" voter ID
bill;

and the
"let's-send-all-them-damn-meskins-back-to-Arizona"
sanctuary cities bill

and the months
to the next election seem to stretch
further and further away every day,
especially
when I hear a couple of democrats
at the table next to me yesterday
fuming about how we shot bin Laden
when  we should'a given him 
a party hat and a party horn
and brought him back
for questioning,
but like "Law and Order"
only after having his right read to him
in seven languages
(including sign)
and I'm thinking,
holy shit!
are these the idiots I have to look to
to get rid of the other idiots...

and see,
that's why I'm tired of thinking
about politics
cause it seems all you ever get is a choice
between which idiots
you're to let give you heartburn
next

but, then,
it might rain
and I might go sloshing in it
and I've heard talk
that some folks are trying to talk
Tommy Lee Jones
into running for Senator from  Texas
and that'd be almost  as much fun
as sloshing in the rain









Stuff as usual this week, new poems and poetry from my library (from anthologies I haven't gone to in a while). A little different old stuff taken from my book, Peace in Our Time, subtitled "a flash-fiction fable). It is a different kin apocalyptic story, with an environmental message, written if the form of a soldier's short diary entries. There are 47 entries in all, most a page or less in length.

There are  softer stories in the book than the ones used in the limited space here. But they don't change an inevitable end.


Me
just because this poem is about idiots doesn't necessarily mean it's a political poem, though I'll admit it does make it more likely

Me
menage a trois  

Basho, Buson, Issa
Three haiku

Me
1. In the early days of the war... (from "Peace in Our Time")  

Me
3. In the place of my city... (from "Peace in Our Time")  

Jim Mitsui
Shakuhachi

Me
French toast by the interstate

Eric J. Janneli
The Amateur Sleuth

Felix Fojas
The Second Coming

Gerert Vebeke
Bamboo Voices

Me
Naked by the Sweat Rock...  (from "Peace in Our Time")  

Me
waning moon

Patricia Dubrava
What's It Like in Wyoming

Me
They have come upon us...  (from "Peace in Our Time") 

Me
forever ever was

Kirsti Simonsuuri
Traveling Light

Me 
22. A woman in the snow... (from "Peace in Our Time") 

Arnold Itwaru
chant six

Me
snakeskin

Gottfried Benn
Listen

Me 
31.a child... (from "Peace in Our Time")  

Me
32. I cannot decide... (from "Peace in Our Time") 

Valerie Bridgeman Davis
Death by Sleep 

Me
it's Rose of the Prairie, dammit

Me 
39. I am the path I walk...  (from "Peace in Our Time")  

Me
40. I am following a river through a seemingly endless prairie...  (from "Peace in Our Time")  

Me
cat came back    
             

          









First up for the new week.












menage a trois



it's a dim day
inside and out,
rain, maybe even
a heavy thunderstorm,
so dogs waiting the car,
windows half down, I have to keep
my eye on the weather through the windows

the dogs are a bother, my own golden Bella
and my son's dark Ayla who is visiting,
but they both expect to go where
I go and their affectation and 
their excitement when
they see me coming 
back to the car 
rewards me

double kisses, both dogs,
each to a cheek, a
furry menage
a trois...

who can deny
the love of a dog,
people should
study,learn
how thy 
do it










Here are three haiku by the masters.

The book was published by Shambhala in 2000, with translation by Sam Hamill.











Basho (Who would have guessed, the masters a vain as the rest of us)

Gray hairs being plucked,
and from below my pillow
a cricket sings


Buson (A painter  as well as poet, he brought his painter's eye to his poetry)

At a roadside shrine,
before the stony Buddha
a firefly burns


Issa (A more personal poet than the others, he brought the reverence for life of a pure Buddhist philosophy  into his poetry without getting tied up in religious dogmatism.

Of the three, he's my favorite/

A faint yellow rose
almost hidden in deep grass -
and then it moves












This is the opening bit from my book, Peace in Our Time. It sets the stage and the tenor for the story that will unfold through the rest of the book.












1. In the early days of the war...

     In the early days of the war, back  when most had shoes and my baby sister was a virgin and I was in love and we did not yet know the taste of horse or pigeon.

     We had so much to learn.












More from the apocalypse.











3. In the place of my city...

     In the place of my city there are gaping holes, like rotted teeth in the earth; in the place of grand boulevards, muddy cow paths unvisited by cows long slaughtered; in the place of orchards there are gallows; and hanging from their limbs, not the crisp taste of winter apples but the foul stench of strange fruit, rotting.








The first of my anthologies is Breaking Silence, An  Anthology of Asian American Poets, published by the Greenfield Review Press in 1983. The poet I selected from the book is Jim Mitsui.

Born to  Japanese immigrants in Washington state, Mitsui lived in California for a year when his family was forced to move there during World War II. After a year, the family was allowed to return to Washington where he grew up. He earned a BA degree from Eastern Washington University and an MA from the University of Washington. He has published a number of books, including Journal of the Sun, winner of the 1974 Pacific Northwest Bookseller Award. He taught at a number of colleges and universities.





Shakuhachi
      - for Ina San

When his son-in-law
asked for lessons,
he nodded
Slipped the bamboo
out of its silk case.
Played one note.
Played it until it hung
clear as the moon.
Handed over the instrument.
Said, "Practice this note.
Come back  in a year
for the second."











Days got a little discombobulated, pushing me into old ways and places.












French toast by the interstate

used to come her for breakfast
every day
but changed my morning routine,
going south into downtown
instead of northwest to the 
coffee shop at Borders, and visit
rarely these days

this morning,
experiencing some morning
poem stimuli I've missed in the interim,,
the oak tree with the forked trunks
reaching  high, the very red roses
beneath the tree, the flag flying across
they way at USAA, the deer grazing
in the meadow, the constant stream
of headlights on the interstate
commuting, heading out to whatever
occupies their daily rituals an duties...

some changes here,
a complete staff turnover,
the managers and servers
who knew my name
and who set my coffee
out waiting when they saw
me in the parking lot

all gone...

(I miss the familiarity -
a creature of habit and
routine, I like being known,
there's a comfortable fell to it. and
a  small ego reminder from the years
in another city where I was, for a
period of time, a minor media celebrity,
recognized, if not especially known,
by most people I bumped up against
during the day one of those people
like a TV or movie personality
form years age, recognized, but
nameless in the past-prime
hereafter...)

but that's another story...

today the story is simple,
writing my poem at a past-day's
hangout, waiting for our appointment
time at the dog groomer's...

~~~~~

wish the coffee was better, like in the
old days

that's me, a creature of the old
days and comfortable
with
it

mostly










Next I have three short poems by three poets from Taj Mahal Review, June, 2004, a quarterly publication of Cyberwit.net of Allahabad, India, publisher of my first book, Seven Beats a Second. I also have a couple of later poems in this issue.










The first poem is by Eric J. Jannelli. I couldn't find anything on the poet on the web. A one-line bio at the back of the book says he was/is a freelance writer living in Germany.


The Amateur Sleuth

Exhausted and sad, I searched your handbag and found
a handful of loose M&Ms: red, never your favorite
color. Among them was a note, scribbled
on paper from some cold stack of filling
trays in an office in the posh part of town. Digging
deeper, much deeper, the the grimy bottom, I pulled out
this paperclip, bent into the shape of a heart.



The next poem is by Felix Fojas, a member, at the time of publication, of PEN International and the Philippine Literary Arts Council. Recipient of a Creative Writing fellowship from Cambridge University, he earned a BA and an MA in Linguistics & Literature.


The Second Coming

Like the High Priest Solomon
Once again  I reverently
Enter her holy of holies
And offer the pure white
Lamb of y nakedness
Upon the altar of lust:
O her eyes fluttered,
O her body trembled,
As she anxiously awaited
The Second Coming!


And last  from the issue, Geert Verbeke


Bamboo Voices
 
autumnal drawing
bamboo in a few lines
fog in the garden

footwear of bamboo
clattering in the morning
monks in the temple

four fingerholes
a thumbhole on the back
the wind blows











From Peace in Our Time - By this time in the story, organized military resistance to the invaders as degenerated into small, desperate bands of citizen-soldiers.










13. Naked by the sweat rock...

     Naked  by the sweat rock we struggle,slippery with sweat, arms, chests, cocks, knees pushing, bumping together, desperately we try to disadvantage the other while avoiding damage to ourselves.

     He found an old can of tuna,  tried to hide it, won't share.

     We struggle, and  in the end, I kill the son-of-a-bitch.

     Nobody cares.

     The son-of-a-bitch wouldn't share his tuna.












Just another moon poem - we  poets are hopeless when smitten by a good moon.












waning moon

no one writes poems
to an old and
waning 
moon

we 
know, we
old ones, we know,
like this silver thread of a moon,
how it is to be ignored, set aside,
as if, our days past. we are no longer
relevant
to the world of bright, full moons

but
we know, we old ones,
that a new moon always comes,
our chance, we hope to be one,
shining bright and full
of promise when
the tides 
turn 
and it is our time
to shine
again









The next poem is by Patricia Dubrava, taken from the anthology Crossing the River, Poets of the Western United States. The book was published by The Permanent Press in 1987.

Dubrava, born in New York City, moved with her family to a succession of east coast cities, attending 13 schools by the 8th grade, until after a time in California, moved to  Denver where she stayed. She earned a BA in English at the University of Florida and an MA in English at the University of Colorado  in Denver. She taught both Secondary English and Spanish at the Denver School of Art, ending her career there in 2010 as chair of the Creative Writing program.






What It's Like in Wyoming

The meadow lark sings in fenced pastures.
In the creek, three large brown trout
hold against the current, contemplating.
When a shadow touches the bank,
the double and disappear.
Mule deer scatter among cottonwoods,
ford the confluence off creeks
in three easy leaps,
gray coats melting into sage.

A truck's changing gars carry
half a mile from the time it rounds
the mesa till it hits the fork
past the bridge.
The meadowlark stitches  silence
back together under a sky heavy
with hope of rain.

Stone-ringed memories of encampment
fade on a high hilltop.
One could rise the rubbed hide flap
of a teepee,look down
the box elder-fringed water,
up to the Big Horns, slate blue and white.
One would see the valley without fences,
the ranch house gone,
the occasional whisper of tires gone,
the golden eagle climbing a spiral
in primordial  air.
It would be like that.
It's like that sometimes still.












From Peace in Our Times - desperate time, only the lucky survive.












15. They have come upon us...

     They have  come upon us from beyond the high sands and we are moving back as quickly we can.

     But not fast  enough.

     Blood paints a seeping pattern on white sand; how quickly it fades away.

     I leave my friend, Willis, in pieces behind me, blowing sand already crusting over all his parts.

     I run and run, and somehow find a hidey hole, wrapping myself as  tight in myself as I can, head and arms a bundle as small  as I can  make it in the sand, frantically scrabbling into the sand like a crab on a beach,  eyes burning,  sand on my tongue,  caked around my mouth.

     They pass over me and I am unseen.











Another from last week. What more interesting thing to think about than the possible hereafters.













the forever ever was

a poet
passing through the later stages
of life
says
he looks forward to the gradual fade
of his life, has done enough
with his life, he says,
looking forward now to ease into
nothingness...

not me...

no idea what follows
as this mortal coil unwinds,
but I want to stay
in whatever form is allowed
to me, finding
my place among
the lilies of the field
or the beasts of the jungle
or just a small
shining
pebble on a clear-flowing
stream bed...

whatever I am when I am not more
what I am today, it will be me...

though a secret to all others,
I will know, a happy
celebrant
in the completeness
of which
in which
I share until the last moon
explodes
and the last star sputters
to  dark
and
past the pale of whatever
comes after the death o  stars...

in that larger large
I will  seek to
persevere, thrive,
if only as a shadow of the
forever
ever
was








The next poem is taken from What Have You Lost, a selection of poems chosen by San Antonio poet Naomi Shihab Nye. The poem I selected to use here is by Finnish poet Kirsti Simonsuuri, translated by Jascha Kessler and the poet.

The book was published by Harper Collins in 1999.

The poet, born in 1945, is a professor, writer, poet, and researcher of ancient literature.








Traveling Light

It's as though I saw it all
diminished to the core
the whole day to a minute
the suitcase to a book
the long conversation to a word
looks of longing to a smile
and hopeless choice to what must be
it is so light, so clear
I want nothing more anymore
       only wind stroking waves
       onto a distant shore












From  Peace in Our Times - desperate strangers meet.












23. A woman in the snow

     A woman in the snow, back against a tree, the tree protecting from the butcher's wind.

     Dirty, wrapped in multiple layers of cloth, like a heavy theater curtain, dirty too, stolen, pulled down from the relic of a theater somewhere. I don't know where; don't know where there could be a theater. I don't even know where I am.

     A woman, filthy, in rags like me, freezing to death in this dark winter, like me, a survivor, like me. She fights against the cold and will fight against me if I get close.

     Though I haven't  seen a woman in six months, haven't talked to a woman in even more time than  that, haven't fucked a woman since the camp whore in the first year - this on,this one doesn't entice me to try.

     I think we have all gone insane.








My next anthology for this week is Crossing Water, Contemporary Poetry of the English-Speaking Caribbean,  published by The Greenfield Review Press in 1992.

The poet I selected for this week is Arnold Itwaru, a native of Guyana living in Toronto at the time of publication.








chant six

awake now in this darkening sky
across the cities and borders or our dreaming
i resurrect alien mountains and springs
precarious pathways in the loins
and olives of Delphic moon

i enter anew the ancient stone
the wind and heat and heave of
the shimmering sea of our living
the cliffs and plains of Olympian fears
the peaks of silence in our meeting

the roads are many in this changing light
which maps our touch
and touches our mapping

they lead through shores and tunnels
obelisks and gilded tombs
the vertiginous ground of our embrace
beyond the grandeur of museums in
whose shadows beggars and dogs forage

we are where we have
and have never been
here where the light hurts our walk
within the ruins of centuries and empires
under the shadow of Minerva's owl
crucifixions in pieties configuration in blood and wine
where the anguished echoes of moans
indicts the ecstasy of the humbled and the curious
as the sun gleams on the fading cries
of colosseum killings
in the labyrinths of pomp
the catacombs of glory

we are where we have
and have never been
we who look and are looked
in each fossil and bark
each strand of earth that speaks
and shuts us out
each monument of ordered beauty
and tyrannical precision
against which we must not be silenced












Another memory poem from last week.













snakeskin

I had
a girlfriend
a long time ago -
for about six months,
the period between Elvis
and the Beatles -

she had a Vauxhall,
a British automobile,
small
and blocky,
it handled like a pregnant sow

while she,
the girlfriend, 
was tall and sleek,
with a sheen like a snake

and we had good times playing
naked games
parked alongside the arroyo
in the small backseat
of that British automobile..

until I left town for a month
and she shed
me
like a growing snake
sheds its skin








My next anthology is The Faber Book of 20th-Century German Poems. The book was published by faber and faber in 2005.

The poet I selected from the anthology is Gottfried Benn. Born 1886, died 1956, Benn was a poet and essayist. The son and grandson of pastors, he studied theology at the University of Marburg, and later military medicine at the Kaiser Wilhelm Academy. After leaving the military in 1912, he became a pathologist. Much of his poetry centers around his experiences in the morgues where he worked, expressionist poems dealing with inevitable decay of the flesh.

This poem was translated from German by Michael Hofmann.





Listen

Listen, this is what the last evening will be like
when you're still capable of going out: you're smoking your Junos,
quaffing your three pints of Wuzburgr Hofbrau
and reading about the UN as reflected in the pages of the Spiegel.

You're sitting alone at your little table, the least possible company
beside the radiator, because you crave warmth.
All round you mankind and it is mewling,
the couple and their loathsome bound.

That's all your are, you've no house or hill
to call your own, for dreaming in a sunny landscape,
from your birth to this evening
the walls around you were always pretty tightly drawn.

That's all you were, but Zeus and all the immortals,
the great souls, the cosmos and all the suns
were there for you too, spun and fed through you,
that's all you were, finished as begun -
your last evening - good night,











From Peace in Our Time - the woman gone, another lost to the war, but a new stranger appears.











31. A child...

     A child high  in a tree over my head.

     Hiding.

     Watching me with feral  eyes...

     I don't know what to do.


32. I cannot decide

     I cannot decide.

     Unwilling to kill the boy, unwilling to embrace him, I let  him  follow behind, his wild, hungry eyes all the time on my back.

     I now a choice will have to be made. I hope he will do something to help me decide.








The last poem from my library this week is from  Everywhere is Someplace Else. The anthology was published by Plain View Press in 1998.

The poet I selected to include this week is Valerie Bridgeman Davis.

Raised in Alabama, she moved to Texas in 1981, earning a BA degree from Trinity University and a M.Div. degree from Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary. At the time of publication, the poet was completing a Ph.D. in religion at Baylor while teaching at Huston-Titillation College and serving as part-time chaplain for Hospice Austin  and as pastor at Banah Full Community Church.






Death by Sleep

I know of a woman
who died of gang violence
in her sleep - a bullet
ripped past the safety bars,
landed in her skull.

A drive-by bullet
gone astray, looking
for another target.
Bullets don't come
with names, though.

Sh died instantly,
the coroner said.
She never felt a thing.

But she did fl it,
felt it coming
for years, felt
the horror growing
every day.

Waited for this bullet.
Expected it for her son.
Died, anticipating.













I'm old. I think old things.












it's Rose of the Prairie, dammit

we remodeled our den, ripped
out the carpet, bought
new furniture and stained
the bare concrete

and painted the walls, my brother-in-law
says "pink"

I know different, not pink, "Rose of the Prairie"

it says so right on the can

~~~~~

which reminds me of the young girl
at the coffeehouse, Latina, 
about 16 or so, with long
rose of prairie colored hair
and rose of the prairie colored fingernails, 
and sneakers that lace up to her
knee, with little rose of the prairie colored
ribbons at the top, she, with a friend
her own age, keeping up fashion-wise
with a rose of the prairie colored skirt...

both eating avocado
sandwiches and drinking sodas, some kind
of Italian drink I've never heard of, the whole
thing, the hair, the nails, the shoes, the entire
outfit and the avocado sandwiches and Italian soda
costing more than I spent on clothes the entire
year when I was 16, not counting
the suit I had to buy since it was confirmation
year, $25, plus $15 for the shoes and the $25 suit  
wasted since the only thing that showed beneath
my robes were the shoes and a necktie I borrowed
for he occasion from my dad...

~~~~~

the point of this observation being only
that I'm old, my expectations stuck in my
1955 prime, when girls' hair was black, brown,
blond, or red, never anything approaching 
rose of the prairie and considering all,
all I can  say is what I heard so often
back in the day...

I swear, I don't know what's wrong with these kids
today












From Peace in Our Time - our survivor learns he is not yet the last of his kind, learns the secrets of the enemy, who and why.









39. I  am the path I walk...

     I am the path I walk and the path is me.

     It is so hard to remember when I was anything  else


40. I am following a river through a seemingly endless prairie...

     I am following a river through a seemingly endless  prairie and have not seen a Floater in weeks.

     I come across a hut,  built against a bluff beside a creek. It is made of grass, covered with river mud so as to be hidden from overhead.

     I find a rude grass mat on the floor inside and, in the center of the room, embers still glowing - the first human sign since Boy.

     I don't know if I should run or stay. It is hard to know what you might find in someone new. Driven mad by isolation, murderously protective of what little they have, or welcoming another of their kind, it is dangerous to  assume anything.

     As I consider this,  an old man walks up from the creek, barefoot, naked, stoop-backed,  on wobbly, knobbly knees,  white hair down his back to his  ass, white beard covering his chest and belly. He holds a rough wooden spear and, writhing on its tip, a fish, still wet and gleaming from the creek.

     We stand frozen in the moment,  each waiting to react to whatever the other does.

     Finally...

     "Hungry," he asks.

We are very near the end of the story here, nothing left but mysteries revealed and the continued journey of our traveler until the inevitable end.












From last week, last for this week.












cat came back

the air is still,
the gathering night
unnaturally calm, soft
as a feather transfixed, caught
floating in unmoving air...

~~~~~

three times in the past week
heavy storms
were predicted and three times
the storms passed north and east of us,
leaving us dry and unaffected

the one predicted for tonight
could b the one that comes for us

~~~~~

there is a sudden, small breeze
and my patio chimes
sound

~~~~~

I see
the backdoor cat is back
at the door after leaving for a week
while my son's dog was visiting

but she's back this early night,
harbinger of calm,
as all cats always are

~~~~

and the storm will pass us by
again tonight

cat has spoken














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 I welcome your comments below on this issue and the poetry and photography featured in it.

I welcome comments on "Hear and Now" and on the poems in this edition. Just click the "Comment" tab below.






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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December 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