Rise and Fall of the Putzian Empire   Wednesday, May 24, 2017



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allen

This poem is from 2007, the day in question, January 10, 1966, 51 years ago.

If we choose to involve ourselves again in fighting someone else's war, I hope we do with a re-activated draft that puts Trump's kids (all three) at the same risk of call-up as Jose Gonzalez, picking cotton in South Texas.


greetings

on this day
forty-one years ago,
newly shorn
and uniformed
in the middle
of another
bloody,
losing war,
I was  in my fourth day
of learning
the arts of war,
which seemed
at that early point
to be mostly
about getting up
in the very dark
of morning
and marching,
always marching
in god-awful winter
weather
to places we did not
care to go

many of us
would soon learn
more advanced
and terrible
lessons
while others,
like  me,
would find  safe
haven
in specialties
that involved
neither shooting
nor being shot
at

veterans
now
of the they-also-serve-
who-only-stand-and-wait
brigade, we
honor those
who fought
then
and those
who fight now
and thank
god
again
we  are not
them








Usual stuff.

I lost four days out of my normal seven day production schedule, three days getting a new computer and one day trying to figure out how to work the damn thing (on-going). Everything done in a hurry to stay on schedule.


Me
greetings

Me
it's a thunderstorm day, they say

David St. John 
Leap of Faith

Me
let's go shoot a big fat capitalist

Laura Kasischke
from Warehouse of Prayer

Me
stray thunderstorms

Hanshan
from Poems of Hanshan

Me
is this a table? no, this is a poem

Me
Life Origins Get Murkier and Messier  

Me
courage

Rienzi Crusz
Sunday Morning

Me
before the estate sale

Me
Mission San Juan

Me
sketches

Cornelius Eady
Stepin Fechit Reads the Paper

Me
five minutes in the fire with Fiona

Me
sunrise from 6-E

Me
hidden value

Charles Bukowski
wide and moving
demise

Me
in the news: Southern Baptists urge a cure for homosexuality  

Me
trolling

Me  
                             dead still                                 











First new poem for the week, not  that new, a couple of weeks.











it's a thunderstorm day, they say

it's a thunderstorm day
they say
but I say
not today
because I promised my pal
a walk in Breckenridge Park today,
a stroll
beside the river
with the flowing water
and the bossy geese and quacking ducks
and through the forest
with all the chittering-chattering
of forest creatures
and right next to the zoo where Lucy
the old and previously lonely elephant
has tea with her new mate
and the lion roars and the gorilla
grumbles and the hippos  gurgle
and the polar bear splashes
and the snakes slither
and the rhino  farts its mighty
horny farts and the flamingos walk on skinny legs 
pink flaming, and
somewhere, in a place I don't  want to find
an insect house where bugs creepy-crawl 
and I would rather not
if you  don't  mind

and best
the little train that circles  through
the park that Bella likes to sit on a picnic table
and watch as it passes, acknowledging with royal  aplomb
all the waving tourist  children...

it's her favorite place to go
and we  will not have  a  thunderstorm day
because I promised her would  
go there this  afternoon and
that counts more than  any weather-nerd
word








This poem from my library is by poet David St. John, taken from his book, Study of the World's Body. The book was published in 1994 by Harper Collins.

Winner of many awards, St. John was born in California in 1949. He was educated at California State University in Fresno and at the University of Iowa where he earned an  MFA. He has published nine books of poetry. Formerly a teacher of creative writing at Oberlin College and John Hopkins University, he currently teaches at the University of California - Los Angles where he chairs and was one of the founding members of the USC Ph.D in Creative Writing and Literature program.




Leap of Faith

No  less fabulous than  the carved marble inner
Ear of a lost Michelangelo & more
Blinding than the multiple courts & interior  facets
Of a black  diamond held up  in broken moonlight

the final geography acknowledges its trunks of
Ebony & boughs of summer rain

Though  there at the gate where Dante burned his
Initials into the face  of the oak shield
I hesitated before following the switchback trail up
To the precipice overlooking the canyon the abyss
So relished by philosophy & when I saw you
On the  opposite cliff in your long cape & gold
Shoes with frayed thin ribbons snaking up your ankles

Like someone approaching from the foot of a bridge
I simply stepped toward you & below the bones
Of the fallen shone in the lightning & the prayers

& certainly it was there in that country
Braced between twin brackets of stone  I  saw only one
Belief remains for a ma whose life is spared by

A faith more insupportable than air










This is from about 2002 and is included in Seven Beats a Second. Maybe we could include president pig's useless offspring in this









let's go shoot a big fat capitalist

the flack for the Safari Club
defends the sporting ways
of his wealthy employers

look, he begins,
with a nod that says
listen up!!!

you tree
hugging
elephant
kissing
liberal
commie
nitwits

there are
thousands
and thousands
of elephants in Africa,
shooting a few
is no threat to the species

in fact, he adds

shooting elephants
is good for elephants

thins the herd, you know

insures sufficient resources
for those that remain

we love these elephants,
you see

and only do what we must
for the good of the herd...

well...

I say, of course

all for the good of the herd








These short pieces are by Laura Kasischke, taken from her book Lilies  Without,  published in 2007 by Asuable Press. They are taken from a series in the book titled "Warehouse of Prayers." I'd love  to  do the whole series, but it's just too long.

Kasischke is both a poet and a novelist, author of three books all of which have been adapted to film. Born in Michigan in 1961, she earned an MFA at the University of Michigan and is currently professor of language and literature at the same university. She received the National Book Critics  Circle Award in poetry in 2011.




from Warehouse of Prayers

42.

"oh, to  the teeth,sweetness
is the medium, but the message
is decay. Like

the soul, a hunch,  wrapped in disintegration. Sweater

wool, sin cells,carpet
fingers,ash,  a gray

breeze;Virus,

and pollen and ourselves

blown to breathing pieces."

43.

and then
at the petting zoo
I knew

animal terror
for the first time.

Animal 

despair:
The trembling of the lamb
under my trembling hand.

44.

Suddenly, God
answers me!

I am made of the same thing  as you  are, after all, and you

are made of me:

Some darkness, a supplication, a moral silence breezing

over the glassy stubble in a vacant field 

45.

"And let us not forget the petty prayers.
The insatiable hunger of seagulls. The sunset

in the blood, and those

birds turning

in on themselves,
crying,  reeling,  happiest
hungry. Let us be

your amphetamines! they scream. The market

full of fruit
out of season. The locked

door of the embassy. The high

gate surrounding spring:

Please, God, I want all of it for me"



















Another weather  rant.











stray thunderstorms

the weather channel's prediction
for the day,
"stray thunderstorms"
and
I don't know  what that means

is it thunderstorms
like
stray dogs, house pets
escaped through a hole in the fence
for a run in the wild
or maybe
a cur,  loose always, born wild,
grown ferocious 
in a life-long scratch for survival?

a thunderstorm
to be corralled and brought home
for some tender loving care
and maybe a favorite 
treat,
maybe one of those pork rib
bones you've been saving
for  special 
occasions
or
a  thunderstorm stalking angry
down an alley, a close and  lock the door
thunderstorm, huddled  and safe behind sturdy walls
until
it passes?

I wish the weather channel
would do a better job
of telling me what
I should prepare myself for

otherwise,
what's the point?







Next, a few short pieces by Hanshan, translated by Peter Hobson. The book, Poems of Hanshan, was published by Altamira Press, Rowman and Littlefield Publishers hers, in 2003.

Hanshan was a legendary figure associated with a collection of poems from the Tang dynasty in the Taoist and Chan tradition. No one knows who he was or when he lived and died.

Apparently thought of as a happy fellow, since all the artistic imaginings of him show a happy, smiling face.







from Poems of Hanshan

5

"What a yokel!
what a scarecrow!
what a
silly
little hat!
and how tight
his jacket is!..."
What's
really tight
is cash - not
so much out of
fashion as
out of
basic
means; just
watch me when I'm rich!
I'll wear
a whole
pagoda on my head!


37

This cold crag is high
and steep, and so much
the better for that, for
no men come this way;
the high white cloud
covers my cave in silence
save when a monkey howls
across the green mountain
summits; let we stay
solitary; to grow
old in solitude!
Cold and heat bring
changing appearances,
but let the pearl of the heart
remain inviolate!


103

The people of our times
are trying to track out
a path to the clouds
but the cloud-path is trackless -
high mountains
with many an abyss,
broad valleys
with little enough light,
blue peaks
with neither near nor far,
white clouds
of neither east nor west.
You wish to know
where that pathway lies?
It lies in utter emptiness.








I  wrote this is 2004. A bit of a brag. Or maybe I was just hungry.

I did discover several years ago while doing a periodic Google search on myself that the poems was published in a foodie blog. The name of the blog I do not know; I didn't know of its publication until I found it in my web search.











is this a table? no, this is a poem

this is not a table, no great feasts
of delicacies are laid  upon it,
no melons, no honey, no  rich, dark bread
spread thick with golden butter,
no tender roasted essence of beast or fowl,
no fish from the sea or fruit from a tree,
no sweet wines crushed
for the fullness of sun-fed grape,
no, this is not a table
laid out to feed our fleshy needs,
it is a poem, set full with nourishment
for every weary spirit, sustenance spread
wide, with joy for every questing heart

it is a poem, fully-laden for our feasting,
a banquet set our for all who wish to join
a celebration of the richness of our kind











This poem is from June, 2000. Even 17 years ago I was ready to slam the door on the world and tell it to leave me alone.







Life Origins Get Murkier and Messier
      Headline, New York Times, 6/13/00

things keep getting
     so damned complicated,
     a frayed string of knots and tangles
at a time when, in my hart and mind,
     I begin each morning
     with a cry for simplicity,
     clarity, surety,
     simple lucidity.

I don't need any more intricate
     swirls of color and abstract design
     in my life right now,
I want some plain old
     black and white,
     straight lines,
     clean choices
     clear horizons .

I keep trying to simplify life
and life keeps fighting back.


   








Each day a challenge and a chance. You just have to face up to it.












courage!

the moon
overhead, full and bright,
dark smudge of its canyons and mountains
clear in the early-blue sky

a day begins
vivid and clean

through
the window beside
me I see the restaurant
atop the Tower of the Americas
turning
as the day turns from the shadow blanket of night 
to this new  day of new  moon
on blue skies

the girls  asks me how I'm doing
and as usual I say,
"amazing"
and she says, well,
I'm awake and alive
and I say,
"courage!"
you have to start
somewhere on the road
to awesome

as this day has started
and is now  well
on its
way







The next poem is by Rienzi Crusz, taken from his book, Gambolling With the Devil. The book was published in 2003 by TSAR Publications.

Born in Ceylon in 1925, Crusz immigrated to Canada in 1965 at the age of 40 and immediately began publishing poetry. He earned an MA in History at Waterloo University where he remained as senior reference and collections development librarian until he retired in 1993.






Sunday Morning

Separate sounds,
church bells         bullets
intersect in the same man;
a black harbinger dog
limps across the Sunday sky.

The old wino's bottle
cries in its dregs,
alley walls soak in his pain,
wet stones
silently smudge a new grave,
and bodies in Sunday clothes
are slowly moving their limbs to pray.

The sun
without discrimination
warms the forgotten pulse,
the black smoking head,
Christ slumped against a garbage can,

and Sunday clothes
are slowly moving their bodies to pray.










My first and last estate sale - it just seemed too weird.

The poem is from 2005.








before the estate  sale

quiet  walk
through
a dead man's house

soft steps
echo
in this husk
of a life

seashells
whisper
of a falling tide

end
of the end
beginning







This is a San Antonio poem about one of the five missions that line the San Antonio River, beginning in the middle of downtown with the mission now known as the Alamo and extend to Mission Espada, one mission further down from San Juan. Since I wrote this, the missions have been designated World Heritage Sites and will the one of the centerpieces of the city's 300 anniversary next year.

I wrote the poem in March, 2000.





Mission San Juan

Swirling whirlwinds dance
across the chapel plaza,
tossing clouds of caliche dust
into the simmering air,
little diabiltos skipping
across the sun-baked ground
como los muchachitos al jugar,
untamed by the afternoon mass
and the pieties of the parish priest.

The first shadows of summer dusk
edge slowly across the grassy composanto
and up the crumbling convento walls.
The cool of the river wood
spreads with the falling sun
through the shaded waters
and the thickening shadows
of pecan and oak willow and cypress
that surround the mission grounds.
A fresh evening breeze
breaks the afternoon heat as the
long summer day slips away.

Under the yellow rising
of the solstice moon,
the silence of centuries past
falls across the broken stones.












A few odds addends from a couple of weeks ago.












sketches

like a bright moon
on  a blue morning day
she's a beautiful woman
who gets away
with saying things
a merely pretty woman,
lost on a cloudy day,
never  could

~~~

I've shaved my head
a couple of time
in the past few years
and was told by some people
that I have a good heard 
for bald, good to  hear for the day
bald is  not by choice
but by nature

and that makes me think
of a fella I saw  
with a shaved head,
pasty white
scalp,
big ears,
tiny teeth,
and a small pointy chin,
looking
like  a bald ferret

absolutely the wrong head
for bald

~~~

Jim
is an insurance guy,
not a salesman, so I talk to him,
and not a claims adjuster,
but one of those actuarial people
who calculate
the odds of your living past
the  third  full moon  

here
every morning, making little pencil marks
on pages of figures,
deciding my
fate

~~~

gang of four
at the big table,
business types, small business
entrepreneurs of second  or third level managers
at a larger firm

finger the pages of their bibles
while discussing its  message,  chapter and verse,
seeing to their  soul
three mornings
a week 

~~~

very pretty
young
Asian  woman,
very tall, long legs bare
in very short
shorts
long feet bare in sandals

sits at a table with an older Anglo man,
silent,  the pair intent on their
coffee cups,  she obviously bored

as would be, I fear,
a pretty young Asian woman,
bare legged and long -footed if
if she was sitting with me

~~~

burly young man
with a tiny, sissy-girl dog
pass through, the dog struggling
with short busy legs
to keep  up

~~~

a young man and young woman
having coffee together,
both in uniform,
Air Force,
how  I would have stared at them
in 1966 when I wore the same slick-sleeved
uniform

~~~

tattoos
everywhere and jeans
with holes in the knees,  it is the fashion
here 
and I don't get it, 
tattoos
in any circumstance
and pants with holes,these young  women
must  have the money to buy new pants
if they're  living anywhere near here

~~~

another dog,
small, but not a sissy-dog,
pulls an  old man out the door,
gotta pee,
it seems tome,
telling the old man,
who if he doesn't pay attention
will be apologizing to the baristas
for the puddle left on the
floor

let's get out of here,
the dog is 
saying

~~~

all  this before 8:00 am
at the coffeehouse,
the crowds of late arisers
and yuppie bicycle gangs
and the courtyard yoga flexers
in the still warm-up
stretching

the day barely started...

and
as I prepare to shut down this seemingly endless
ramble,
my candidate for mayor comes in
for a meeting,
a progressive visionary, supported
by two of our most visionary
and effective former mayors,
he has at least a 50-50 chance
to unseat our lackluster
incumbent...

I shook his hand and wished 
him luck, a little break 
in the morning

and now it's
done








This poem is by Cornelius Eady, taken from his book Brutal Imagination. The book was published by G>P. Putnam's Sons in 2001.

Eady, born in 1954 in Rochester, New York, is author of seven books of poetry. He currently lives in Columbia, Missouri, where he is professor of poetry at the University of Missouri.






Stepin Fetchit Reads the Paper

Not the dead actor,
Historically speaking, but the ghost
Of the scripts, the bumbling fake
Of an acrobat, the low-pitched anger
Someone mistook for stupid.

This so-called bruiser rattling the streets,
Heavy with children, I'd like to
Tell him what a thankless job
It is to go along to get along.
All the nuances can and will
Be rubbed smooth and by the time
It's over,

By the time you're dead and people
You thought you were doing this
On behalf of are long forgotten,

There's only an image left that they
Name you after, toothy, clown,
Worthy of a quick kick in the pants.
I used to have bones, I'd tell him.
It was a story that
Rubbed out my human walk.










One of a series I did inspired by women's names. Written in 2001, it was published in Muse Apprentice in 2004.

A little mini-story.









five minutes in the fire with Fiona

     under the table
     her leg
     against mine
     moves
     slowly
     up and down

reaching for a paperclip
     her hand
     brushes mine
     long red nail
     leaving a trail
     of fire, a scar
     smoldering

peering intently
     at the paperclip
     turns it over
     passes
     her fingertip
     slowly over
     the rounded
     end, tongue
     pink against
     her lip in
     concentration

     does she
     sneak a
     sidelong
     glance
     me?

I hear my name called..

     for the third time
     I realize
     and look to the end
     of the table, past
     the double rows
     of staring eyes

yes sir?
     I ask

your report...
     he says

my report?
     I ask

your report
     he says
we're waiting
for your report

a low laugh beside me
     like a whisper
     like breath of
     warm air in a
     frigid room

     later
     she said

or

     was it just
     another
     laugh...










I wrote this in January, 2002. It is a remembrance of a time in the winter of 1977 when my wife and I, just married, lived in Corpus Christi an apartment within sight of Corpus Christi Bay.








sunrise from 6-E

the sun is a red-orange smudge
on the horizon, rising
over bay waters black with night,
waters shifting,
with the hint of daylight,
to a dark blue
that will come and go in minutes
before washing out in full sun
to a light, frothy green,
like watercolor mixed too thin...

around the crescent shoreline
hotel lights line the far side of the bay,
beacons to the gulf, showing the way
to the high arch of Harbor Bridge lights
that frame the narrow ship channel...

sailboats rest in their berths,
while bay shrimpers begin
their working day, the lights of both
swaying with the gentle waves
of the protected marina, pinpricks
in the fading cloth of night












From July, 2003. Another coffeehouse observation, a story to lovers planning a life together.













hidden value

clouds close
across
the moon
like 
a sleeve
covers a hand

no matter 
how beautiful
the hand
it is the ragged clouds
that tell the story
to a world
seeing always
the ugly surface
of  things,
seeing no value
in hidden
beauty










Finishing up my poems from my library with some fun with Chuckie, Charles that is, Charles Bukowski from his book what matters most is how well you walk through the fire, published by Harper Collins, Ecco, in 2002.

A man after my own heart.









wide and moving

it is 98 degrees and I am standing in the center
of the room in my shorts.
it is be beginning of September
and I hear the sound of high heels biting
into the pavement outside.
I walk to the window
as she comes by
in a knitted see-through pink dress,
long legs in nylon,
and behind is
wide and moving and grand
as I stand there watching the sun run through
all that movement
and then she is gone.
all I can see is brush and lawn and pavement.
where did she come from?
and what can one do when it comes and leaves
like that?
it seems immensely unfair.
I turn around, roll myself a cigarette,
light it,
stand in front of my air cooler
and feel unjustifiably
 cheated.
but I suppose she gives that same feeling to a
hundred men a day.

I decide not to mourn
and remain at the window to
watch a white pigeon
peck in the dirt
outside.


demise

the son-of-a-bitch
was one of those soft liberal guys
belly like butter who
lived in a big house, he
was a professor
and he told
her:
"he'll be your
demise."

imagine anybody saying
that: "demise"!

we drove in from the track,
she'd lost $57 and she said:
"we better stop for something to
drink."

she wore an old army jacket
a baseball cap
hiking boots
and when I came out with the bottle
she twisted the top off
and took a long straight swallow
a longshoreman's suicide gulp
tilting her head back behind those dark glasses.

my god, I thought

a nice country girl like that
who loves to dance.

her 4 mad sisters will never forgive me
and that soft left-wing-son-of-a-bitch
with a belly like butter (in that big
house) was
right.













From July, 2003. A coffeehouse observational, lovers planning a life together.








in the news: Southern Baptist urge cure for homosexuality

Vivaldi from the speakers overhead,
a good way to start the day,
music alive with the morning,
a corner table to catch the sun
and a cup of rich Costa Rican blend
to help me focus on the latest news

the regulars are here,
and three I haven't seen before,
a middle-aged man in a dark suit,
red tie on sky-blue shirt,
black loafers shinned to a high gloss,
trying to sell something
to two young women, girls, really,
mid-twenties at most

the girls are a couple,
obvious from the way they sit together,
from the way they look at each other,
the way they touch, hands brushing
lingering as they reach for their coffee cups

an unmatched pair, one tall and trim,
with a large open smile, a cheerleader smile,
an in-charge smile, like the drum major
leading the parade down the street,
a real firecracker-fourth of American beauty;

the other, voluptuous, with a dark Latin look,
high cheekbones, ebony hair drawn back,
la charra girl on a great white horse, prancing,2
a proud look, a look of influence and privileged
from the days when the Spanish king ruled here,
another kind, an earlier kind, of American beauty

both of them listening closely to the salesman,
investments, insurance, whatever he's selling
that couples for a life together, whatever
lovers by as meld two lives to one,
as the set aside the singularity of lives alone,
find a cure for the isolation of lives lived apart











 A coffeehouse observational from 2001. This was during the time when my coffee shop writing hangout was Borders Books & Music.









trolling

the woman
with very large hair sits
in the bookstore coffee shop

middle-age
with a thin, upturned nose
and pouchy cheeks red
with a puff of rouge,
she and her brown tweed
suit are out of place
among the pre-meds
in their reeboks
and sweat shirts, bent
over their anatomy texts, sipping
their mochaberries and chai
while the Brazilian and the Arab,
both already doctors,
at table six replay
the world's greatest chess games,
laughing loudly with every move

while she sits in the corner
where she can see everyone
in the room, crossing her legs
over and over again,
right leg over left leg,
then left over right,
over and over again,
knees swinging
in wider and wider arcs
with every shift,
eyes flicking up from her book
with every shift,
watching for someone
to be watching her...

I'm thinking about her hair,
piled in a bun high on her head,
and how long it must be when
she takes it down at night...












Last for the week, another coffeehouse consideration.












dead still

dead still
and cool, a might-be-rain
morning

I feel much the
same

waiting for resolution

this is not about
politics

but it could be...








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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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Loch Raven Review
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