Suck It Up Buttercup   Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Taking  a small break from the obsessions of the day. This piece is from my first eBook, Pushing Clouds Against the Wind - Poems 2006-2007.


to  hell with politics

i'm
sitting in one  of the little cage-feeling
places they have set aside for laptop users
and while it's better than trying
to work at one of the waxed tables
that leave you chasing
your laptop as it slips this way and that
with every letter you type
i'd still be
pissed
if not entirely surprised
if someone tossed me a banana
and did one of those
gynyeck-gynyeck-gynyeck
monkey noises in front of me

speaking of higher life forms...

across the room i can see the parking lot
through the big north-facing windows
and out of six cars
i see three
including my own
with Obama stickers

not entirely surprising
since Obama took San Antonio
and Bexar County with about 53%
but still, this is one of the richest parts
of the city, fat cats on every corner,
and not often tempted to vote Democrat
and even more
not willing to advertise it when they do

it has to do with
winning
i suppose,
even already-rich folks
like to be on the winning side

they just happen to be more accustomed
to it than i am...

oooooops!

a pretty
young girl
in a purple fedora
just sat down in front of me,

blocks my view
of the parking lot,
the cars,
and the Obama stickers...

to
hell
with politics!








This week, I have my new poems, a few poems from my library (very few - just enough so that I can claim it's not  all about me), and a lot of poems from my first book, Seven Beats a Second. I've concentrated on the book beginning two weeks ago because it suddenly came to me that, though the book is still listed on Amazon as a print-to-demand offering, it is out of print and almost certain to stay that way. There have been in the past, offerings of used copies (including one listed as a collectible because it was  signed) on Amazon and I still, less frequently now, see copies at second-hand book stories.

So, I decided to use "Here and Now" as a last chance vehicle to present the book to readers.

That's why there were so many in the last  two  posts, are so many in this post and will likely be many in the next post, if not also a post after.

The picture that accompanies the poems from Seven Beats a Second i of me reading at the release event, July, 2005, one of the functions featured in the city's arts appreciation month.


Me
to hell with politics

Me
as appropriate to your circumstance

Me
life is
the cruelty of cats at play
poem on a napkin
while a bald man burns
finding religion at 3 a.m.

Philip Larkin
The Card Players

Me
my small  car     

From One Hundred Poems from the Japanese
Four poems

Me
slipping away

Me
days when

Me
before we lost our lizard brain this kind of thing never happened

Sandra M. Gilbert
5. Fog on the Coast (from "Some Definitions") 

Me
eyes of Sister Jude 
the dreams of Mary Quemada

Michael Blumethal
Poetry Love

Me
Jesus had it easy

Me
this could be your final warning   

Me
what God don't like

Me
Zeus, Zarathustra, burning bushes, sparkly bright sprites...

Me
when nighthawks fly in memories dark
does he still dream  

Me
rethinking the probabilities of God  

Me
my blond guardian

Me
ripples

Me
living la vida encansado   
                  











First for this week from  last  week.











as appropriate to your circumstance

I am dullard
today

drifting
through the gray fog
of a slow motion
morning

guess
I'll probably write
a poem

cause I'm supposed
to

a dullard poem
from an arrested motion
day

included
with it, this dispensation -

just because I have to write it
doesn't man you have to
read it

you might better
just go stand outside
in the sunshine or the rain
as appropriate
to your circumstance...

in the meantime,
I
apologize
for this superfluous
interruption
to your
life 












From the now most  likely no longer available Seven Beats a  Second.












journey's end

star splinters fall,
flaming  across the sky
while hermit crabs dance
before the ebbing midnight tide

we sit on packed beach sand,
watching, counting the fiery streaks
as the cross to the horizon,
burning to cinders and dispersing gas
at the end of eons of airless flight

          ohhh, you whisper
          as I hold you close
          against the cold

they com from cataclysm,
from a time unimaginably past,
past suns and moons
and the loose scattered dust of creation,
past all the innumerable
realms of possibility and chance,
past all that is familiar to us
and all that we can never know,
past all this, they came
to die on our doorstep,
bringing glory to our night

          ohhh, you whisper
          as I pull you tight against
          the loneliness of the sky











A couple of short pieces from Seven Beats a  Second, my first book, published in 2005 and currently out of print.













life is

life 
is like a duck hunt

every time 
you really start to fly

some
asshole in the weeds

shoots 
your feathered butt

right out of the sky


the cruelty of cats at  play

her black smile
cut like a dagger through the dark
          unseen
          slicing cleanly to  the heart

"I  have something to tell you,"
          she whispered


poem on a napkin

Starbucks brown
and flimsy
with little space
for things profound,
instead,
a small memorial
to the moment
our eyes met
and the future
was  foretold


while a bald man  burns

three gulls  circle
while
a bald man burns
in the fierce island sun
while 
I trace gargoyles
in the sand
with my toe
while
you pretend to study
the book in your hand
while 
three gulls circle
in the fierce island sun


finding religion at 3 am

hanging my head over a
dirty toilet
I wouldn't even piss in
on a better day
gagging
the smell of my own breath
and the taste in my mouth
setting off  
another round of dry heaves

god
please don't make my sober
now








 First from my library, this small poem by Philip Larkin, from his small chapbook, High Windows, published by Faber and Faber in 1974.

Larkin, poet, novelist, and librarian, was born in 1922. He went to work  as Librarian at Brynmor Jones Library at the University of Hull and held that post until his death in 1985.






The Card Players

Jan van Hogspeuw staggers to the door
And pisses at the dark. Outside the rain
Courses in the cart-ruts down the deep mud lane.
Inside, Dirk Dogstoerd pours himself some more,
And holds a cinder to  his clay with tongs,
Belching out smoke. Old Prijck snores with the gale,
His skull  face firelit;  someone behind drinks ale,
And opens  mussels, and croaks scraps of songs
Toward the ham-hung rafters about love.
Dirk deals the cards. Wet century-wide trees
Clash  in surrounding starlessness above
this lamplit cave, where Jan turns back and farts,
Gobs a the grate, and hits the queen  of hearts.

Rain wind and fire! The secret, bestial peace!











Talking about my accommodation to  the worlds of dog and man.










my small car

I have a small car,
a very small car with just enough
room for me 
and my dog and one other person
who doesn't mind dog hair

and that's all right with me since
I like my dog more than
I like
most people. especially people
who object to a little
(well, more than a little)
dog hair
on their sweaters
and blue jeans
and up their
noses

my dog, after all,
is always happy to see me,
says hello by licking my face
which very few people I know
are willing to do

so
my tiny car
is just big enough
for me
and my best 
friend
and
that's okay by
me










Next from my library - three poems from One Hundred Poems From the Japanese, selected and translated by Kenneth Rexroth. The anthology published by New Directions in 1964.












XVIII

In the Autumn mountains
The colored leaves are falling.
If I could hold them back,
I could still see her.

     by Hitomaro


LXXXII

In the evening
The rice leaves in the garden
Rustle in the autumn wind
That blows through my reed hut.

     by Minamoto No Tsunenobu


LXXXIII

The wind has stopped
The current of the mountain stream
With only a windrow
Of  red maple leaves.

     by Harumichi No Tsuraki


LXXXIV

Out in the marsh reeds
A bird cries out in sorrow,
As though it had recalled
Something better forgotten.

     by Ki No  Tsuaryuki











Here's  one of the more personal poems in Seven Beats a  Second. Also one of the longer ones.

This from, 2005, has echoes  today.












slipping away

i.

my mind  is blind
to  the crisp  autumn  sky
and the creek  running clear
and the squirrel
teasing my dog,
a backyard clown
mocking the quivering
puffed-chest forward
self-righteousness
of a small dog
facing  a  large world

my eyes  see none of this,
for like a fist
clenched tight on itself
I am closed to all but anger,
a  simmering constant
since the last  election,
anger,
not just the loss
of mine against theirs
but at the outcome
as  a symptom
of the nature of my life
in these later years,
like a lifetime
of being on the wrong  side

ii.

I  feel the passing of time now
like never before,
time and opportunity
slipping away,
life space lost
like water  squeezed
from a cloth,
disappearing in an eddy
down a drain,
leaving an approximation of me
to fill the place I had before
until the day I  need no space at all

iii.

as i read the obituaries in the morning
or stand at the grave  of my father
as I did last week in a park
green with the growth of recent rain,
I cannot  reconcile the contradictions
of death and life, how the life I see
in the obituary photos and the light
I  remember in my father's eyes
can disappear in an on-rush of dark,
one minute to the next,  life to death,
how it is that I, too, will some day slip
into that vortex of night and never return

iv.

I think of the eternal nature of atoms
and how they combine and recombine
over uncountable eons to create
illusions of form and
in some of those illusory constructs
a spark of life and consciousness
and beings  like you and me
and all those whose obituaries
I  read every morning
and my father,  dead 25 years,
the illusion of him gone  forever
to seed the soil he lies in
and the grass and trees and clouds
over his head and, someday,
in the great recycling that brings
all the old to something new,
perhaps another illusion with life
and a sense of  self and universe
outside of  self that is the cradle
where rests the truth, for life to last
forever, we must over and over  die











One of a  series of West Texas highway honky-tonk poems, this one included in Seven Beats a Second.

Toby was a regular in the poems.












days when

wore my cowboy hat today
to keep the rain off my head
and my boots, too, for the puddles

reminding me of the old days when me
and my colored friend Toby
would shoot pool and drink Pearl beer
in little West Texas highway honky-tonks
that didn't see a black face
come in the front door, except by mistake

but I  was a big sumbitch
and Toby was mean as a snake when riled
and looked it even when he wasn't
so we mostly got long, drank some beer,
played some pool, made a dollar or  two
to get us started back on down the road

honky-tonk cowboys is what we were

never punched  cow
but kicked some ass in our better days











How evolution failed us.











before we lost our lizard brain this kind of thing never happened

there are just a few
certainties
in my life

here is one...

the tool I have spent 35  minutes 
looking for in order that
I can do a 5-minute
job
will not be  found 
today

in will be found
six  months from now
on the afternoon of October 30
by which time
I will not  longer need it
and will, furthermore, not  remember
what 5-minute job it was
that I needed it for

at which time I will put it in a 
special place
which I will not remember
in December when I get back
to trying to do
what
I couldn't do today
because I couldn't find  the thing
I can't find again today

back when we were still getting along
nicely 
with our then recently evolved lizard brain 
I don't think this kind of problem
ever came
up









This poem is by Sandra M. Gilbert from her book Kissing the Bread - New and Selected Poems  1969-1999, published by W. W. Norton in 2000.

Gilbert, born in 1936 and educated at Columbia University, New York University and Cornell University, is Professor Emerita of English at the University of California, Davis.

This poem is from the series,  "Some Definitions".









5. Fog on  the Coast

Lid of thin
milk across the light,
skin of mist

above the waters,
weight
of vacancy pressing

against the eyes, great
shapeless
throat of silence

swallowing everything:
here's where
trawlers disappear, black

bluffs melt, ambitious
summer houses
step into nowhere

and only
the closeup  has a chance,
the mouse and her grain,

the jagged
pebble, the nettle
standing its ground

among a few spare
outlines of sound -
                             the faint
hint of a gull, the sea
still hungrily
thumping its table.









 



 .Here are a couple of bookends from Seven Beats a Second.














eyes of Sister Jude

sharp  eyes
like tempered blades
that cut clean through when angry

guarded eyes
that weigh and judge
and stand ever alert for betrayal

dark  eyes, deep,
softened once for love,
then moistened by a long night's weeping

but only once,
and it was  long go


the dreams of Mary Quemada

her long hair flowing
like a dark tide gathering
across her satin pillow,
she dreams  of time past
and places she loved
long ago

while I,
watching,
yearn to dream with her








The next  poem is by Michael Blumenthal, poet, essayist,  novelist, translator.  Born  in New Jersey in 1949, he began his career as a lawyer,  then switched to clinical psychology before achieving success as a writer.

This book, No Hurry, Poems 2000-2012. his most recent, was published by Etruscan Press in 2012.






Poetry Love

It must be wonderful  to be so  obsessed  with  poetry
that you live it,  breathe it, consider every moment without it

a moment wasted want to do  nothing else  but write it,  read it,
recite it to your  friends and lovers and it must be wonderful

to have only this one mission for your life,  this  singular  sense
of purpose and pursuit, or perhaps it's terrible, as a friend

once suggested to me over lunch in Cambridge, eating nothing
but ice cream all the time, perhaps it's awful to live on so

restricted a diet even of beauty and pleasure even of language
outgrowing  itself I think  I might side with those who think

it's terrible this beautiful morning in West Virginia, with the
purple vetch and spring beauties and larkspur and bluebells

blossoming so perfectly, it must be horrible to want to go
perpetually turning everything into poetry to not simply allow

the sacred its moment as the sacred, the profane its tenure
oh one can get so fat from eating too much ice cream,

the arteries clogging, the waistline expanding the breath coming
in shorter and shorter gasps until you die of it, left wishing

you'd at least  been able to master the art of prose.













It's all relative.











Jesus had it easy

my basketball team
had a great night last night

first game of the first series
of the finals,
won by 29 points over a tough
competitor

now they have to rise
to the challenge 
again
(and again)
to win four games
out of seven

then, if they do that,
they have to do it again
against another team of 
tough competitors
in the second series of the
finals

then if they do it in the 
second series,
they have to do it again
against the toughest competitor
in the championship game,
the best of the best
playing for the
title...

Jesus had it easy,
he only had to arise once,
never get a championship ring
that way












A warning from  Seven Beats a Second.












this could be your final warning

I've  grazed in
corporate  clover

a been-there-done-that
sleepy-eyed soldier
in the halls
of  grander ambition

strolled the power nexus,
kept well my
bureaucrat - bondage
necktie-strangulated
cover

but don't let if fool you

down inside
where the balance
of my inner spheres
is truest kept
I am still the same
South Texas
redneck hippy
beatnik cowboy
I was
back in the cusp
of the ticky-tacky fifties
and kick-ass sixties,
which,
putting it all together
is about as much
don't
you
fuck
with

me

as you can fit in one package

and right now it seems to m
that this whole  damn world
and all its
dumb-ass  politicians 
and tight-colored, pervert
pricks
and gangsters and punks,
pugs, mugs,thugs,
price-gorging
captains of industry,
pollsters,  tricksters,
and city-boy -slicksters
have come together
in some secret backroom
where sanity skips
its mid-day muster
for one massive  spam  attack
on the gentler ambitions
of my own good nature

and it's beginning to piss me
off












A little theology from Seven Beats a Second."












what God don't like

I was  seeing this preacher fell on TV the other day
and he was saying that God don't like men fucking men

I don't know how in the world he would know that,
except maybe he was  talking  to God
and just straight out asked him, like, hey, God,
what do you think about this men fucking me thing

I'd be afraid to do that, but maybe it's okay for preachers,
especially this particular preacher fella
since it seems like he's pretty close to God and
like he must talk to him about all sorts of things
because he's all the time on TV
talking about what God likes and don't  like
(mostly about what he don't like from what I've  seen)
not just about fucking but about all sorts of things
God don't like, you know treehuggers and feminazies
and Democrats and evolutionist  and poor people
and those wussy-pussy perverts who think
we ought not be killing raghead foreigners
without some pretty good reason

but mostly what I get from listening to the TV fella
is that mainly what God most often don't  like
are people who aren't exactly that same TV fella

so I'm thinking maybe I ought to study that fella really  real good
and try real hard to be as much like he is as I can

then maybe God won't don't like me too.











So this is what I think of all the god-stuff that fogs so many good minds.










Zeus, Zarathustra, burning bushes, sparkly bright sprites

Zeus,
Zarathustra
burning bushes,
sparkly bright sprites
in forests of fairies,
Jesus Christ...

all gods the same to  me,
manifestations
of fear
and faith,  a means to understand
the inexplicable,
thunder
in the dark
the collision of meteors
in the night sky,
a winning pick in the state lottery,
all the same,
God did it...

a hold-over from times
when faith
in divine intercession
in the works of nature and man
was all we  had

just pick the one
that works
best for
you

as a believer
not in obsolete gods, but
in the powers of reason,
this past weekend
of endless piety
offends me
 as  does
the fact that my life
is interrupted
as so many of the places
I usually go are closed
so that so many people
can in purposeful view of their neighbors 
publicly, in dress and serious,worshipful
mien,proclaim their faith and request
advance dispensation of their god
from the consequences
of all the evil they will do,
as well as speedy recovery from  all the things
they will otherwise fuck up in
the coming
year...

I don't get  it and three days
of elevated doses of it
combined with denial of my morning
coffee
salvation
tries my patience
with such follies
of man










For those not old as God and therefore too young to remember, the Nighthawks were a comic book (later a real book), a group of special  soldiers who flew jet planes, dressed all in black and represented (with good intentions) every ethnic stereotype around at the time (except no blacks). I figure that will be remedied in the new movie I hear was in the works.

Nighthawks are also, obviously, a kind of bird, night hunters.









when nighthawks fly in  memories dark

nighthawks glide through the dark,
shadows against the star-lit sky,
soaring between trees,
picking insects from the air
like outfielders
shagging high, easy flies

     nothing to it, with a shrug
     as they toss the ball in

the birds flit through the air
and I think of old heroes
jumping from their planes,
uniforms glistening,  black,
Blackhawk, the leader,
Chop Chop, the Chinaman,
Andre,the Frenchman
with glossy black hair
and a pointy little mustache,
and Hans, the square-head German

     that's what  they called my father,
     third generation in  the country,
     first generation to leave
     his central Texas enclave
     of square-heads and krauts,
     always careful through two wars
     not to draw attention to themselves
     and their German ways,  quietly
     keeping to themselves, 
     raising their sheep and cattle
     on rocky hill country pastures,
     facing good times  and bad
     with square-head persistence

and before Blackhawk, Smiling Jack
with his movie star looks, and his friend,
Fatstuff, with a belly so large buttons
flew off his shirt like popcorn in a pan

     Dad had a belly like that,
     from his emphysema
     ballooning his lungs, 
    making them heavy with spit,
     swelling, degenerating  tissue
     dragging his lungs down,
     displacing his stomach,
     pushing his belly out
     like he was pregnant with
     the fruit of his own impending
      death

those  popping buttons are on my mind
as I gasp for air after a flight of  stairs
and think of my own belly pushing
ahead of me and wonder
what it felt like to die in pieces.


Reminding me of another poem in the   book, a poem still unfinished in my mind because I never found an satisfactory ending to it,  the ending unsatisfactory because poem's unanswerable question remained even as the decision had to be  and was made.


does he still dream

his body survives, dependent
for every beat and breath
on the machines that surround him

his conscious mind is blank,
but what of dreams?

we never forget our dreams,
from the very first sloshing
in the universe of our mother's belly
to the very last, as we die, riffling
one last time through our book of dreams
we made page by page over our lifetime

so if this derelict can dream, if this scrap
of man who used to laugh and love,
this shrunken giant who would carry me,

enfold me in  his arms, hold me close
in the worst of storms, this declining

remnant of a son and lover who slept
at the breast of both his mother and mine,

this fallen hero leaving the world as he
entered it, head reaching for his knees

this frail ghost of my father

if he has yet the final gift of dreams,
if, in some part of his mind we can
neither see nor measure, he still drifts
through dreams fading, like shadows
of a fire banked and growing colder...











You reach an age and questions answered many times need to be asked again.












rethinking the  probabilities  of god

I approach the
conversion age
when old atheists
begin to peek
around the corners
of their lives thinking
maybe they'll find god
hanging  out on the
doorstep after all,
when memories
are friends
more dead than alive

alas poor Orrick
not to mention
Bob and Ted
and Fred and Nancy
and Molly with the  
long blond  hair
and Rennie
whose breasts
I touched in the 
back of the bus
and Rennie's 
boyfriend Larry
who claimed her
breasts as his own
and beat the 
crap out of me
next day and damn
thinking about it
makes my fingers
tingle even now

it's not the foxholes
that persuade us

we were all immortal
then and dumb
as the dirt that  
grew wet with the
surprise of our blood

it's driving  past
the old folks home,
knowing
they're making
a bed up for you











Explaining the perfectly reasonable worldview of my best pal.











my blond guardian

my dog
understands the universe 
thus

everything she can see
belongs to  her

and though she's happy
to  share it all 
with me,
chastisement is due
anyone else
who dares put a paw
on it

I can  hear her chastising
right now,
right outside the coffeehouse...

several hundred construction workers
working on the new condos
on the other side 
of the river,
half of them walking to work
past my car
wherein
she performs her sentry
duty
this morning

barking at every one of the construction workers
s they pass

it's an irritant
and an embarrassment to me

but since she's doing it
for me,
protecting me from all these
strange creatures
with reinforced plastic hats
attached to their heads
how can I complain?

problem aside,
it's just nice to have someone
care for me 
at all,
especially
in such a loud and incessant
manner...

I don't know anyone else
who would do that 
for me











We lived in Corpus Christi on the Texas gulf coast for fifteen years, driving to work along the bay front just about every day. We moved  to San Antonio in 1993, then I returned to Corpus Christi in 2001, living for a year right on the bay.












ripples

the bay is flat
     so still
underwater  currents
can be seen  on the surface
     like smoky streaks
     on an antique mirror,
     so still,  like time
and the earth's rotation
has stopped and the sun
has stopped overhead, it's
burning light sharp and clear,
     while offshore
     a small fish leaps
     and slaps the water
     with a crack
that starts a small wave
pushing  out in a circle
from the small jumping fish,
     the only motion
spreading across the bay
     to the gulf
small leaping fish pushing
against the Gulf of Mexico
and the Atlantic beyond,
     small leaping fish
     making ripples
in universal waters,
     an anti-tide,
     a nibble-surge
against the moon's orbit
and the rightness of all











Last for the week.












living la vida encansado

I'm up before the sun
rises
and in bed before it
falls

because the first breaking
light opens the curtains
to a new world
of cheering
birds
and fresh winds
and the smell
of baking donuts as I pass
the Dixie Cream
Donut shop
and 
you can't ask for more than that
in a life well
lived

and as for the sun going down,
what's the point of
staying up in the dark
when you've worked all day
and you don't want 
to read too much
since you're already buying 
a book a week and literary resources
don't need the additional load
of two a week
and there's nothing  on TV
or on Netflicks or on Facebook
to stay awake for, especially when
you were awake to see the sun
rise and consecutive days
of seeing the miracle of planetary rebirth
takes a toll
in the sleepy-head 
regions

so
I go to bed looking forward
to the next early
rising...

~~~~~~~~~~

I guess I should  have been
a dairy farmer









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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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