The Age of Crackpottery   Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Maybe we could call this the title poem. This is from my book Always to the Light.


crackpots of the world, unite

it so happens
that I live in a section
of these  great Discombobulated
States of America
where
commonsense
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 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 off it comes
from religious fundamentalists
who confuse speaking in tongues
with thinking in circles,
god-folk
principled  concerned with enumerating
the sins of everyone who doesn't
believe
exactly as they do, confident
as they make their lists
that these people are really going to be
fucked
when Jesus finds out what they've been
thinking

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

if it's just rain around here
and maybe
cool off a bit
I think most of these people
might come to their
senses








I used sex-themed poems from my  first  book from 2005, Seven Beats a Second,  in my last post. I'm  going back to the book this post for some sciency type stuff. I should mention that all I know about science comes from my early love of science fiction. which means I  know amazing stuff which probably isn't real (or maybe isn't real yet).

(I checked  on Amazon to see if they had any of my books  left, and it seems their supply of the book is depleted - though a print-on-demand option  may still be available. Other than that, I have less than  ten books (which I intend to keep for myself) left from my initial supply of 500, so "Here and Now" may be the only place these poems can still be read.)

Other than that, it's just the regular stuff this week.


Me
crackpots of the world, unite

Me
as appropriate to your circumstance

Chao Chih-Hsin
A Mid-Autumn Night
Fireflies
Presented to a Mountain Dweller
On Poetry

Me
red planet rebirth

Fady Jourdah
Scarecrow

Me
the little airplane

Me
star bright

Me
our place in the story of space and time    

Annamaria Ferramosca
After Rilke's Eight Elegy

Me
a conundrum

Me
through the 100 meter lens

Me
meanwhile in the Hydra Constellation

Stanley Moss
Song of Imperfection

Me
cliche

Me
fleshware

Me
how it all comes about

Gary Snyder
Waiting for a Ride 

Me
goddamn cheap-assed bastards 

Me
dinner plate moon

Me
Adam, before the fall

Aleda Shirley
Fin de Siecle

Me
good golly, Miss Molly 
       










A couple of days late, but here's my Easter poem.













the thousand years of Easter

it is the second day
of three

tomorrow
the stone will roll from
the burial chamber and he,
the Messiah, will rise from the bloody cross
as promised,
to bring salvation to those
who believe

this story
is in one form or another
celebrated in thousands of differing rituals
for thousands of years
in thousands of languages and jargon
by thousands of cultures and cults...

always the same story, a cry
from the need of our kind
for reassurance, a  basis to believe
in survival, to avoid
final death...

to be saved
a savior must come,
and he does, sometimes as she,
sometimes even another kind,
a goat, a chicken, a tr
of many branches, an apparition
form the clouds, always different
but always the same story,
all telling us that we, the personal
me and you, are centers of the universe,
too central to the workings of the cosmos
to ever die...

how our kind fears, not just our death,
but death as final proof
of our irrelevancy...

and so the Cosmos
send a son, a daughter,
a holy creature not of our kind,
to save us, to guarantee
by our saving, the continuation 
of the all in which e are 
the  center...

some of us create our own version,
not of personal salvation, but
the salvation  of the parts of us that
made us, not  the  center of all,but
just a part, important as are
even the smallest parts
of even the greatest thing...

I do  not denigrate  all those
who celebrate 
the thousand stories -
my own less exalted story
I celebrate alone

and I am satisfied...









First from my library this week, several short poems from the anthology Waiting for the Unicorn, Poems and Lyrics from China's Last Dynasty, 1644-1911. The book was published by Indiana University Press in 1986. (I spent very pleasant nine months at Indian U in 1966, studying Russian for the Air Force. I'm pleased to be reminded of the time.)

The poet I chose for this post is Chao Chih-Hsin. Spanning the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, Chao lived from 1662 to 1744. An early achiever and spoiled by his youthful success, an  excess of pride brought an end to his official career, leaving bitter and antagonistic to both friend and foe.






The first three  poems were translated by Michel S. Duke.


A Mid-Autumn Night

The autumn air banishes lingering rains,
An empty courtyard invited distant breezes ...
One  glass of mulberry dew wine,
At midnight in the moon-bright season.
A longtime traveler feels the night is endless.
In early coldness grows  drunk too slowly.
Still  resigns his bleak and lonely feelings
To a rendezvous to a fr-off chrysanthemums.


Fireflies

Once more coming  through the door with rain,
Suddenly flying over the wall on the wind,
Although thy need the grass to achieve their nature,
They do not depend on the moon for light.
Understanding the secluded one's feelings.
I briefly invite them to dwell in my gauze bag.
Just look: falling through  vast  empty space,
How do they differ from the great stars' rays?


Presented to a Mountain Dweller

Looking like a wild deer  sleeping against the cliffs,
Casually wandering out of the valleys with flowing streams.
Since the travelers asked him about the frosty leaves,
They all came to know his face, but do not know his name.


This poem was  translated by Irving  Lo.


On Poetry

An expert painter who scrutinizes  marvelous scene is equal to  god:
High and low, he dabs in the crimson and the blue to draw trees in October.
He ought to know that autumn's colors are the brightest
Only where the quiet hills are caught in the sun's dying glow.











First this week from Seven Beats a Second. I wrote this right after the first Mars lander began to roam the planet.








red planet rebirth

oxidized remains of cathedrals an commerce
brought to dust by the savage rub of time

red dust so fine it spreads like a cloud
across the plains and hills all around

virgin bride again

ready for life again after millennia
alone in the dark crypt of space









My next poem is by Fady Jourdah, a Palestinian/American medical doctor and a field member of Doctors Without Borders since 2001.. He was born in Austin, Texas of Palestinian refugee parents. He later grew up in Libya and Saudi Arabia.

This, his first book of poetry, won the 2008 Yale Series of Younger Poets competition, an award open to any American writer under 40 years of age who is publishing their first volume of poetry.









Scarecrow

The rice field birds are too clever for scarecrows,
They know what they love, milk in the grain.

When it happens, there will be no time to look for anyone.
Husband, children, nine brothers and sisters.

You will drop your sugarcane-stick-beating of plastic bucket,
Stop shouting at birds and run.

They will load you in trucks and herd you for a hundred miles.
Old men will teach you trade with soldiers at checkpoints.

You will give them your spoon, blanket and beans,
They will let you keep your life. And if your jump off the truck,

The army jeep trailing it will run you over.
Later they will accuse you of giving up your land.

Later, you will stand in distribution lines and won't receive enough to eat.
Your mother will weave you new underwear from flour sacks.

And they'll give you plastic tents, cooking pots,
Vaccine cards, white pills, and wool blankets.

And you will keep your cool.
Standing with eyes shut tight like you have soap in them.

Arms stretched wide like you're  catching rain.












Surrendering to sentimentality, from last week.












the little airplane

when I was very young
my father worked a late shift,
mechanic and oilier  on the draglines
building flood control levees
between the Rio Grande
and Arroyo Colorado...

he didn't get home 
until after midnight and I was too young
to stay up, except one night
he asked my mother to wake me up
when he came home, all greasy
and dirty from his ten-hour shift
on the levees

he had a gift for me,
and after a long tight embrace
he gave it to me, a toy, a small
wooden airplane he had carved as he had time,
a simple toy, I remember it wasn't painted,
and beyond that, all I remember from that
late sleepy night is the feel of the wood,
so sleek and smooth to my touch, hard wood,
but soft beneath my fingers like the product 
of a silk worm's long night's passion...

we didn't have much money
when I was growing up
so most of what I had  
in those days was home-made,
a creation of my parent's hands, from toys
like my little wooden airplane,
to the clothes I wore, the house
we lived in, the food we ate,
all the home-made rewards
of love and thrift...

~~~~~~~~~~

I don't remember the  little airplane
beyond the sleep-eyed moment Dad gave it to  me
and even that moment is remembered only
in flashes of kaleidoscopic light,
but of all I was ever given it is the gift
of that magic night I  remember 
best

how I  wish I could hold that
little plane in my hands  again,
stand again barefoot on the cold linoleum
of my mother's kitchen,
see again my father, so weary from his long day's work,
coming through the door again,
experience again the rare embrace off my rarely
demonstrative father

to just be a child again, experience
again, the deep, encompassing love of a father
for his first -born son...

it is the dream
of an old man whose time
is passing

nothing more...










From Seven Beats a Second - remembering dark nights in the desert.










star bright

imagine the stars
on cold desert nights,
spread across the wide black sky,
beyond the desert and high mesas,
past prairies where the trickster coyote calls,
pass the land of mortal men
to the place where no man goes,
the place where spirits hunt
ghosts of buffalo

imagine sleeping
with the blaze of night around you,
black stars bright
with cold unchallenged light

imagine
how you must fear the starless night,
when clouds close the sky around you
and bind you prisoner to the dark










From Seven Beats a Second. I included in the book two very similar poems on the same theme. If I were to ever  describe myself as having a religion, this is it.









our place in the story of space and time

we are of the same stuff as stars,
made in the spasm of creation
that began all space and time,
electrical impulses,
static of the expanding universe,
positive and negative influences
that form a thing called matter
arranged in a manner we call me

our birthing
not the arrival of something new,
but reincarnation,
rearrangement of the elements present
since the first day, sparks
thrown off by that first day's conception

our death not the end,
but another reformation,
a recycling of the stuff that made us
so that we might become again
a star or a tree or another babe in arms
or just a speck of universal element
drifting for as long as  there is time

until it will finally come
that all the pieces come to rest
and slowly fade away in the dearness
of never-light, never-time, never-space
never was and never will be  again

from nothing came all
and to nothing it will all  return








This poem is by Annamaria Ferramosca, taken from her book, Other Signs Other Circles, Poems 1990-2009. The book was published by Chelsea Editions in  2009.

Originally from Puglia, Ferramosca lives in Rome and is the author of four poetry collections. She is winner of numerous awards and honors.

Translation for the book was by Anamaria Crowe Serrano.

As a side-note, I was curious about the poet's name, tried first in Spanish (mosca -fly, like maybe firefly or iron fly), then Italian. Didn't find the name/word in either language, then found a Portuguese translation to "ferruginous" - of or pertaining to iron or  the color red brown as in rust color or as in the ferruginous hawk, a hawk of that rust color. The closest I came on my own was "iron fly."





After  Rilke's Eighth  Elegy

The house has windows to the ocean
so as to recall the beginning
the ancient  vortex, calm, millennial sails
returns that  turn  to farewells
odysseys bound for other seas

In  the garden aleppo pines and olive trees
welcome those who know nothing of death:
insects and birds, sometimes
nocturnal foxes - motionless -
also look out to sea
as if mysteriously dazzled
- animals never look 
death in the eye - 
we live with it by our side, shortsighted
see the sky light up with flames
and the places where
death blindly rains

The rose soon loses its leaves
in silence its  thorns make ready
to pierce our flesh
the sea to submerge disorder
hugs are mixed with gunshots despite
the unease of cicadas
swarming in the trees

From the pines, swallows fly
south, undaunted












I mean, really!












a conundrum

truly a conundrum -

serine gas
and tomahawk missiles

who do you believe?

our own lying pig
or his favorite despot,
the Russian lying pig

why do we care
I wonder

what's the difference?

how about a third 
option?

let's just make
shit
up...








 From Seven Beats a Second - from another Times Thursday science section about a massive new telescope. I suppose by now, more than ten  years later, some of the stuff in today's science section is product of that  telescope, approaching  obsolescence by now. Made me think.

I also have to admit that Seuss's Yertle the Turtle played a part in the inspiration.







through the 100 meter lens

we will see it all

the beginning
and the end before
the beginning
and beyond
to all beginnings
and all endings
until finally
we will see it
the face of it/who/what
started all the dominoes falling
the god of all
maybe/maybe not
for it is what it is unchanging
until before the greedy eyes
of man it will be seen and known
no longer a question
for philosophers and mystics
but a paragraph
in a middle school textbook
a thrill ride in theme park
a comic illustration
on the side
of a second grader's lunch box








From Seven Beats a Second - I wrote this after reading of two very far away galaxies slowly moving in to each other, leading in some very far future, the destruction of both and all that orbits them and all that may or may not live on the orbiters.

Here's an  interesting secondary thought. Since the event we are watching through our telescopes now actually happened in the distant past (speed of light, etc.), the pending calamity from the past we are watching now, might actually be the actual calamity happening now. I love this stuff.






meanwhile, in the Hydra Constellation

a storm of stars
passes soundlessly through the void,
crossing unimaginable distances
to meet, to crash in a flash
of exploding suns and primordial fire
stretching across a billion years,
a furnace unlike any
since the first eruption
that came from less than nothing
to blast a cosmos into being

and around these speeding suns,
orbiters  like our own earth home,
and on some of them, creatures
like ourselves, products of  an evolutionary
trail from muck to self-discovered glory,
inventions of their own  histories, periods of dark
and light, times of cruelty, death, and genius flowering,
people like we are  people, struggling through life,
seeking grace, forgiveness, the salvation of love,
seeking honorable life  and an honorable end

that end comes for them now,  across the void
in a storm of stars colliding an end ablaze
with the light of  creation deconstructing 









Next, Stanley Moss, with a poem from his book God Breaketh Not All  Men's Hearts Alike. The  book was published in 2011 by Seven Stories Press.

Born in New York in 1925 and educated at Yale, Moss  is  a poet, publisher, and art dealer, specializing in Spanish and Italian Old Masters.











Song of Imperfection

Whom can  I tell? Who cares?
I see the shell of a snail protected by a flaw
in its design: white is time, blue-green is rot,
something emerging in the rough dust, the  unused
part of a shape that is furious and calm.
In  aging grasses, knotted with  their being,
the snail  draws near the east bank of the  pond,
not  because that is where  the morning sun is,
but out of coastal  preference, raising
a tawny knotted counter whirl
like a lion cub against its mother's haunch,
anus of a star. But the conch stand
in the warm mud,with  its horn become an eye,
suffering the passion of any snail:
a hopeful birth,a death, an empty tomb.
I'd walk with this horned eye, lip-foot after lip-foot,
beyond the dry wall  of my life, backward
into the sacramental mud,where the soul begins to reason -
as on the afternoon Aristotle dissecting
squid proclaimed "the eternity of  the world."
There is not a thing on earth without a star
that beats upon it and tells it to grow.












More misses than hits early on. Lucky I hit big in the end.













cliche

a child,
skinny-bones, all
long leg and big feet,
sun-bleached
hair,
awkward and gawky,
stumbling over her own feet,
Popsicle \ stick legs, arms 
akimbo
as she walks her middle-school
hallways...

growing
into a beautiful woman,
a tall, proud flower -
among all the garden's spreading splendor,  she
its most special delight around whom
all  others pale...

we might have been
an item,
I was recently told,
but I missed the transformation
as it unfolded, pre-occupied at the time
with Trixie from the Dixie
trailer park

the last time I saw Trixie
she looked dissatisfied and defeated 
by the three young children
hanging on to her
while the other woman, the one
I failed to appreciate, recently did, the young beauty
I'm sure a beautiful elderly woman
to the end

standing tall in a meadow of lovely flowers,
the prize of the meadow I didn't see
and never picked










From Seven Beats a Second - very similar to the earlier poem, but plowing a little different ground as well.










fleshware

blood and gristle
forged from  trash
of exploding stars,
fragile, short-lived,
prone to sag
and corruption,
helpless at birth,
pitiful
in unremitting  decay

such poor use
our body seems
of the eternal elements
of creation

but lightning strikes within

tiny electric jabs that jump
from receptor to receptor
creating art,
imagining love,
finding courage,  honor,
theories of our own origin,
joy and laughter
to mock the truth
of our condition

so much more
than we appear to be

star dust

offspring of unimaginable light
seeking an antidote to dark










From Seven Beats a Second - for a while I was finding weekly inspiration from the New York Times, Thursday science section. Like this one.








 how it all comes about

out there sometime
is the mother of all,
the prime,
the matriverse,
defying all vocabularies
of science and faith,
existing
in  some indefinable dimension
of simultaneous is and is not,
mother-of-all-gods,
creator-of-all-creators,
spewing from her womb
all that is not her,
creating a cosmos
of time and space and energy
and matter such as you and I,
multiplied a million billion-fold,
always creating, brewing elements
for new-born stars,
grains off sand in a desert ever growing,
from the essences of nothing
making all










Here, a favorite, Gary Snyder, great poet and survivor of the later Beat days.

The poem is from his book, Danger on Peaks, published by Shoemaker Hoard in 2005.









Waiting for  Ride

Standing at the baggage passing time:
Austin Texas airport - my ride hasn't come yet.
My former  wife is making websites from her home,
one son's seldom seen,
the other one and his wife have a boy and a girl of their own.
My wife and stepdaughter are spending weekdays in town
so she can get to high school.
My mother ninety-six still lives alone and she's in town too,
always gets her sanity back just barely in time.
My former former wife has  become a unique poet;
most of my work
such as it is                       is done.
Full moon was October second this year,
I ate a mooncake, slept out on the deck
white light beaming through the black boughs of the pine
owl hoots and rattling antlers,
Castor and Pollux rising strong
- it's good to know that the Pole Star drifts!
that even our present night sky slips away,
not that I'll see it.
Or maybe I will much later,
some far time walking the spirit path in the sky,
that long walk of spirits - where you fall right back into the
"narrow painful passageway of the Bardo"
squeeze your little skull
and there you are again

waiting for your ride

                                                            (October 5, 2001)












Another coffeehouse observational.












goddamn cheap-assed bastards

four
middle-aged
businessmen, arriving early
for their regular Monday morning
bible-study - well-worn bibles
in hand

this week's lesson -

praise the lord's profits on high
hallelujah
amen...

coffee and breakfast
all around,
didn't leave even a dim in the tip
jar -

goddamn
cheap-assed
bastards









 
From Seven Beats a Second - the wonder of it all seen from where we sit.












dinner plate moon

dinner plate moon
rising round and bright
in the April sky,
spreading pale blush
across the hills and valleys
of my Central Texas home,
casting faint shadows
in the groves of oak and pecan
that grew wild all around us

we watch the stars, flicker on
as night becomes itself,
appearing one by one
until we see it all,
the moon above
and all the 
soft night's stars,
ageless and unchanged
while our time passes,
their glow ever-blazing









From Seven Beats a Second - how we pity the poor beast until we realize that his fate will be ours as well.










Adam, before the fall

an old silverback sits
amid the vines and bramble bushes
of his native rain forest,
a huge creature, but quiet nd slow,
intent in each still moment
of his gorilla life

not knowing of the devastation of his tribe,
of the hunters who prize his met as exotic taboo,
the fetishists who  expect to find in his glands
the secret of some perpetual erotic high,
some eternal orgasm, some brute untamed sexuality,
or some seeker of kirsch, some knick-knack collector
who crowds his walls with  trophy heads and pelts
and, oh yes, how striking, a gorilla paw
for the handy keeping of paperclips and gum erasers

not knowing how few are left,
how he and his family scattered around him
in their dwindling jungle are the last survivors
of the great scourge of life called man

from a second picture

broad face full on, close up,
black eyes shining,
and in those doomed eyes I see my death
and the decline of all my kind

Adam, before the  fall,
great beast, deserted by God










The last poem this week from my library is by Aleda Shirley. Strongly identified with her state, Mississippi, Shirley was born in 1955 and died in 2008.

The poem is from the last of her books, Dark Familiar, published in 2006 by Sarabande Books.









Fin de Siecle

The remote by the sofa, the cell in my bag - I check them both:
no missed  calls. Twenty years ago my phone was red,

the one you called me on, the first time & many times
after that, from a hotel room in New York & I saw in my mind

the city - whole lives going on behind rows of lighted windows -
while I  sat on the bed in my studio apartment,

the one  clean white room I'd wanted  after our bad year.
Fly to me, I wanted to say, but we didn't speak in such ways,

we kept some distance & distance between
Manhattan & Louisville was not enough. I  left the apartment

& you hated the dark blue walls of my new rooms;
you said you hated them, but it was something else,

a rift & all summer I sat at night in a wicker chair,
listening to Sylvia Sims. Back then one rented phones

& I wonder where mine is now, in what lost layer
of a Kentucky landfill. It will not decay in my lifetime.

It did not decay in yours. There are no phones in the other world
& after I dream of you I can spend all day planning

how to respond the next time we speak. How do I measure
distance now? Wreathed in orange & silver leaves

the white-faced cat curls up in the lawn chair.
The Japanese maple appears to die in the throes of great flame,

incarnadine & fever, but the water table will shift
in three or four months, the days lengthen,

the leaves return. A mockingbird, imitating a cardinal,
rouses the cat. I rejoice. Then I remember.












Another memory of times and places and people past.













good golly, Miss Molly

I used to write
sexy
poems but that was ten years
ago, like in my first book, full of sexy
little ditties, back when my memory
was fresher  when it came to
such things

like lovers...

I had a few
in the way-back when,
but what I remember now
or the ones that didn't work out

like Molly,
who I just thought of again
after many year
when she was absent from any thought
of mine...

but she's back
in my head again,
blond, with big glasses
and an attractively situated butt
between her backbone
and her frosty white legs

oh, Molly
the things we could have done
if only you had noticed - 
not visions of sugar plums dancing in my head
now or then, more like your white legs
wrapped across my shoulders,
feet crossed behind by 
neck,
holy moly
oh, Molly,  the things we could have
done
if
you
had just noticed 
when
the time and both of us  too
were ripe
like fat, red tomatoes in and un-picked
field
waiting too long
their time










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



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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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March 2017
April 2017
May 2017
June 2017
July 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