My Afterlife as a Petunia   Wednesday, June 21, 2017

my afterlife as a petunia

as I've explained
before
I expect to live forever,
at least as forever
as forever
is
and at least in the form
of the most basic
elements
of me, that is, as
the star parts that came
bursting into universal being
when the big bang
banged
all those parts floating about
ever since,
including the parts that created
the illusion of the Me
that people for seventy-three years now
have seen as Me, star parts circling
in the orderly orbits of creation
making an illusion of solid reality
when in fact there is nothing
solid about anything
including 
me

and that illusory Me
is quite satisfied with his state
and his future,, understanding
that the star parts that made the illusion
will make equally interesting
new illusions
when this illusion that is Me
returns to its star-burst state
and who knows
what the afterlife for me might be

maybe all the little bits
floating in forever, never quite
coming together to make
a new illusion,
or maybe creating new illusions
one after another, a tree,
a rock, an alien snorkel bug on a planet
where snorkel bugs rule,
or maybe right here in this very plot
of eternity where my parts 
previously lived
maybe
a plant, maybe a flower, maybe
even a petunia, I would like
that cause I like
petunias and would not mind at all
spending one of my many 
afterlives as one, reaching for father/mother sun,
luxuriating in the damp and nourishing
soil, brother to the earth worms
and other low creatures risen
again
to join me in my life
after life as a
petunia

until
who knows when
or where
or what
the circle circles
again








The usual mix this week of my stuff, old and new, poems from my library, including poet friends, and, though I rarely mention them, my photos, which in my mind, have become as important to "Here and Now" as the poetry.

And speaking of poetry, I was very disappointed when I visited my usual half-price book store and discovered that, in the course of remodeling, they reduced their poetry section from two bookcases to four shelves in one bookcase. This is a chain of half-priced books. I'm anxious to visit the other stores in the city to see if the reduction in poetry is also reflected in their other stores.

It's important to me for a number of reasons, one being that almost 100 percent of the poems I use in "Here and Now" come from used books I buy at secondhand book stores, primarily from this chain.


For the week -

Me 
my afterlife as a petunia

Me 
Mother's Day

David Eberhardt 
Dreams
Tribute to Stephen Hawkins & Rene Descartes ("I think therefore I am")

Me 
dream weaver

Me 
what can we do, they're smarter than we are

Me 
stupid pig

Pablo Neruda 
Four from A Book of Questions 

Me
interesting company

Nikki Giovanni
First Chair

Me
a brief rain (and all around welcome)

Ellen Kombiyil
Primal Kiss
Wave Oscillation as Time Loop

Me
flashing

Me
whispers

Me
scarlet nails

Sunil Freeman
Mescaline, 1971

Me
fresco on the other side of sunset

Juan Felipe Herrera
From Giraffe on Fire

Me
searching for meaning

Me
talent

Me
portrait of a girl at night

Dan Cuddy
A Sadness

Me
rain









A long overdue poem, a confession written and held, thinking I have failed in the past to write the poem I want to write and here again, that maybe if i just hold it I can make it better.

I didn't, but here she is anyway, a mother and proud grandmother.






Mother's Day...

I have come to understand,
over the 20 years since her death,
that my mother was a saint...

the wound of her loss
grown through each of those years,
the regrets,
my failure to understand
the most important
things...

I've never written a proper poem
for her

and I won't today

too much honesty is 
required











Two poems by my poet friend, David Eberhardt.










Dreams

My body stands between me and me
In dreams - I'd rather they ended - the loss in them -
The moosh of storytelling - where DID I park my car?
And yet not to worry - I never arrived in a car to begin with!
The table I'm assembling underwater? Interrupted ineluctably -
The body's imperative that is I HAVE GOT TO PEE!!
All I have to do is wake up and
And I've no longer lost my keys....,
Tomorrow in daylight it all scatters -
"Midnight on Bald Mountain" - Mussorgsky's original version -
As a pink coda of dawn appears in the music;
The ogres of confusion shrink to puddles.
Plus my lover saves me from the evil night:
I move closer to the still center
of my wife - my CLEAR WATER!
The one dream that comes true - the only one that matters!


Tribute to Stephen Hawking & Rene Descartes ("I think therefore I am")

The gold fish in a fishbowl
Being carried by a small girl
In a market, their different
Perspectives, laws of nature, reality in ...
Quarks as if bound by rubber?
13.7 billion year history?
Is your "best fit model"
Mind of the beholder,
Between your ears,
What you choose it to be.












From 2007, another coffeehouse observational.











dream weaver

the boy
in the yellow
shirt
with dark
Latin
eyes
looks for the girl
in the yellow
dress
with broad
shoulders
and hair
black
and flowing

he dreamed
of her last night
and knows
she
will soon dream
of him














The allure of smart-ass cats. From 2007.











what can we do, they're smarter than we are

there are 600
million
housecats in the
world
spread
from pole to  pole
from all the way
east
to all the way
west
and they all
descend
from one of five
female
wildcats who
in the barely
historical
mid-east
noticed
that filthy-
living human-kind
were vermin
magnets
and that living
off the vermin
who lived
wherever
humans lived
was a helluva
a lot easier
than trying
to chase down
prey
in the wild
and
thus did
the cat
domesticate
itself
on its own
terms
&
conditions
and thus
did little
puss
and
boots
assume her
smart-as
air of feline
superiority
and
if you know
the whole story
it's hard
to argue
with them












Just a reminder for anyone who was surprised by the climate accord action.










stupid Pig

Pig
puts a gun to our head
and pulls the
trigger

some people love him
for it

stupid Pig

stupid people who love him
for it










Back to Pablo Neruda, from The Book of Questions, a bilingual book originally published in 1974, my edition published with translation by William O'Daly by Copper Canyon Press in 1991.






XXXVIII

Do you not believe that death lives
inside a cherry's sun?

Cannot a kiss of spring
also kill you?

Do you believe that ahead of you
grief carries the flag of your destiny?

And in the skull do you not discover
your ancestry condemned to bone?


XXXIX

Do you not sense danger
in the sea's laughter?

Do you not see a threat
in the bloody silk of the poppy?

Do you not see that the apple tree flowers
only to die in the apple?

Do you not weep surrounded by laughter
with bottles of oblivion?


XL

To whom does the ragged condor
report after its mission?

What do they call the sadness
of a solitary sheep?

And what happens to the dovecote
in the doves learn to sing?

If the flies make honey
will they offend the bees?


LXI

How long does a rhinoceros last
after he's moved to compassion

What's new for the leaves
of recent spring?

What did the tree learn from the earth
to be able to talk with the sky?












It never made any sense to me. Another from 2007.












interesting company

I know people
who believe that if
Saddam
had just whispered the
three
little words,
"Jesus,
same me"
as the noose
tightened
on his neck
he could have
spent eternity
strolling
in heavenly fields,
amidst all the popes
and preachers
and holy roller
derby servants
of the son...

too
bad, he didn't

and Gandhi, too,
such a simple thing,
three
words
spoken quickly
as the bullets
pierced his flesh
and he could have been
in the clover forever
and ever and even
evermore

but he didn't
either
and it's too late now,
for both, so
Saddam
and Gandhi,
brothers
of the eternal fire,
are ever roasting
in hell, right now,
even as we speak...

now this doesn't
make any sense to me
but who am I to question
such holy folk
as claim it to be true
and,
anyway
there is an upside
to the whole affair:

at least
I can count
on interesting
company
when the time
of my roasting
comes











This poem by Nikki Giovanni, is from her book Bicycles (Love Poems), a Harper Perennial published in 2009.








First Chair

They say I'm too jazzy
For First Chair

I bring something different
And maybe something nice

But the orchestra is Baroque
And I am Gospel

It is Beethoven
And I'm Rhythm and Blues

It's piano
And I'm honking sax

My problem is
     I make my own muffins
     Ice cream
     And music

Not always the best
But all ways my best

I look good
And I dress well

I definitely have
Stage presence

I want to play
I want to play
I want to play












Rain is an event around here. A rainy couple of weeks, wonderful.











a brief rain (and all around welcomes)

brief rain,
the concrete plaza
shines wet,
mirrors the cloud-broken
sky, the small, spring-green
tree, protected, not jet fully exposed
to the new summer's heat

95 degrees
projected for the day,
all life around
welcomes the temporary, passing
relief of even small storms

hopes
for more,
small or large,
through the day's
progression











Originally written in 1969, from the time I spent on Pakistan's Northwest Frontier, reworked in 2007.

Basically stuck behind our own walls due to political unrest, I had to imagine a lot from what I see over the walls and from the local people who worked on our outpost on the edge of the desert.








whispers

shepherds
graze their sheep
in the afternoon sun
as men in the village
rest
in the shade
of a large banyan tree,
the murmur of their voices
drifting through the silence
of the dusty street, whispers
on weak desert breeze













Sexy stuff from 2007.











flashing

watch her walk

with each step
the rear of her foot rises
as weight shifts from her heel to her toes
while her shoe lags behind
and between the shoe
and the bottom of her foot
the soft pale flesh
of her instep flashes
like a lover's wink
across a crowded room,
this most beautiful, unseen place,
inviting a caress,
a kiss
flashing like a secret
across a crowded room












Next, a short piece by my poet friend Ellen Kombiyil. The poem is taken from her book, Histories of the Future Perfect, published in 2015 by The (Great) Indian Poetry Collective.

Ellen is one of my most favorite poets.












Primal Kiss

            variation on a theme by Marvin Bell

Of the heart on might say that it slows.
The swan's neck unlooses its S
as it does in flight or when caught
on the butcher's block, made to outstretch,
one eye turned to the man wielding the knife
one eye turned to the wood and not blinking.
Fathers look more gray than white in this light
where there will be no more seeing.
For now, the newly blind must compensate.
There's the whoosh of the knife,
a somewhat wild sensation as slice
blooms a carnation. Dank and smell of lake
recalls what swooping tastes like. Look, love is
lava spilling out & cooling into rock.


In fact, I like Ellen so much I decided to do a second poem.


Wave Oscillation as Time Loop

catching a wave or having it
pull you under saltwater up
the nose knowledge that crabs scamper
sideways can't save you now
you've tumbled over seaweed head
sand down you swimsuit bottoms which
way is out for a moment you find
only sky golden orb that blinds
twirling the way astronauts see
sun flanked by black as it flashes past
spinning before reentry
your breath your eyes your face your mouth
agape no time momentary stuck
the blip it takes for valves to open
and shut you speed to a stop
knees scraped tiny sand grains a lost
beach blanket you in the crowd
taking up a carpet's length of space












A coffeehouse observational











scarlet nails

tall
thin
woman
with long scarlet nails
and shoes that sparkle
like the West Texas
sky at summer-midnight

her hair
combed like women
fix their hair when it's Sunday morning
and they just got out of bed
and don't expect to see
anyone they know
or 
at least
anyone they care about

a tattoo,
a cursive statement
of some sort
running up the inside of her
forearm, and another tattoo
I notice under a very expensive-looking
ring on the third finger
of her left hand

there is a story here,
a routine story I think at first
of an every-day woman
having solitary breakfast at a coffeehouse.

but it's the ring and the tattoo
under it that changes
the story,
adds interest and mystery to it

she's in her mid-thirties,
my guess,
a single woman I'm thinking,
square-jawed,
facing the world as she makes it
with a tattoo
on her right arm
and on her left hand
an expensive-looking ring
barely concealing, if that was the plan
a small tattoo

and scarlet nails
red
as the twilight sun
falling over the
Chihuahua Desert

red...












This short poem is by Sunil Freeman, from his book That Would Explain the Violinist. The book was published by Gut Punch Press in 1993.










Mescaline, 1971

The senses are primed go jitterbug
with the things of the senses so I turn

off the lights, crawl into bed,
burrow under a quilt, bring my knees up,
fetal, and close my eyes.

Time forgets to spin itself out.
Nothing but colors and sounds

and something important, maybe my soul,
flowing in and out of a toot
(three left of the left incisor)
like solar flares.

Sounds and dot patterns spin fugues
that shoot form the center of that tooth,
then zoom back into my mouth.

I'm in outer space. There's something
attached to my foot. Oh!
It's the earth.












Twilight time, from 2007.












fresco on the other side of sunset

a ridge of low
clouds
pink
as cotton candy
against billows
of virgin white

above the
clouds, a
Mediterranean
sky








Next, I have a selection from the title poem to the book Giraffe on Fire by Juan Felipe Herrera. The book was published in 2001 by University of Arizona Press.

I love this book, though I don't understand much of it. Luckily, understanding is not required to enjoy the intense flow of words and images.





from Giraffe on Fire

3

Hold up the right corner of the sea, pleated. Lift it and find pleasure
snoring, cu open by crystal and stone. Look down at your shadow by the
sands, by the gilded whiteness of your legs.

Below you:
a wrapped hydrogen scarf, an ink cactus stuck to the dry galaxy below the
sky veils. Touch down. Come to the ground, the talc, this desert - peeled
and washed by distant clouds. My hair reddish down to my jaws. When will
I blow the conch shell? Shall I awaken the sleeper below? Who is he
following with eyes closed? The perfume is solar. My nakedness is
simplistic. As the sleeper searches, I find America rising on his back,
mottled, brownish. Above the water, the stone folds, clutches itself, peeks
through holes and rivets. We are playing. All of us, then just one. The sand
has been swept with a wide brush. The girl - pensive as she lifts the folds of
the water. One hand. One arm and on the other the conch shell waits.
Poised.

I know the stone is the secret. The secret in the shut mouth When I was
five I cut my finger. I cut off my thumb. I delivered ice on the back. Wolves
sang from the mountains. Julian, the violin man next to us, in the Mexican
village paced his floor. Julian knew his wife, Jesus, was shaking and another
man was raising her hair.












But, what does it all mean...












searching for meaning

I have a strong urge
to discover the meaning
of things,
any kind of meaning, I mean,
I won't hold out for anything
profound or even necessarily
meaningful..

like is it true
Missus O'Leary's cow caused
the great Chicago fire
by kicking over a lantern
in the barn

I've been hearing that as much
of my life as I remember
and I'd like to know if it's true

that would be meaningful
to me...

like the meaning of life
as we know it or as we imagined
it in our midnight dreams
when when we were young and hormones
reigned

that's the kind of meaning
everyone
looks for and I'm no different...

or the meaning of the last
national election's
insane failure of the brain power
resource of the country
crash
and what does it mean about
my eventual search for
refuge in a country
to be named
when
the boat's not so full
that it sinks 
right
under
me...

it'd be good to know that...

and it's be good to know
the meaning of our first alien encounter
what will it mean to us when a scaly squid
with an intellect vastly beyond our own
steps out of its flashing light
saucer

I think I'd like to be around for that,
as long as death rays
and brain eating by inserting
sharp pointed tentacles
into the back of my
neck are not part
of the 
agenda..

it'd be interested to know what it means
if an alien visits and why in the world
they would bother

I mean 
why would super-brilliant aliens
choose to visit a place
I would leave if I could

meaning,

so much we don't know,
so much I could list here, a long, long
list, like an itinerary for a journey
in search of the various
meanings of here and now and
everywhere and every-when,
a lifetime pursuit
but
my problem
is that I don't have enough
lifetime left
to do justice to the search

so
I'll just settle
for learning the meaning
behind the great Chicago fire
and the actions of Missus O'Leary's
cow and how it relates to
the late nineteenth century
transition from a rural to an urban
society and subsequent
overcrowding and

the place of displaced
terrorist cows
in it












Here's another from 2007 from my 2007 coffeehouse, Casa Chiapas (RIP).











talent

I can see
workers
in the loft
across the street
remodeling
for a new owner

I've heard
it's for that
actor guy,
the one
who had some
success
on TV
then decided
he was god's
gift
to the movies
only to discover
after a string of
really bad movies
that he heard wrong,
that he was really
god's gift to TV
so he's back now
in a third-rate
series
that's a rip-off
of a second-rate
series
that's a rip-off
of the series
he thought he
was too good for

I wonder
how it will be
to sit here on the
porch
drinking my coffee
right across the street
from such an all-around
talent
for downward
mobility











A painting at a coffeehouse in 2007, the same coffeehouse as from the poem before this one.












portrait of a girl at night

winter night
walking
chilled
streets

scarf coiled
in woolen layers
over
neck
to chin

face shadowed
in shades

of gray

eyes
wide in

surprise...

fear...











Last from my library this week, this poem by my poet friend, Dan Cuddy, from his book Handprint on the Window. The book was published by Three Conditions Press in 2003.








A Sadness

The older generations are breaking apart,
forgotten names
in yellowed crumbling newspaper.

There's little violence among them
now,
though wars there are,
differing opinions
and blunt blind stupid hate,
but there's no strength to rise,
much less to fight,
these armies chained
by the dead weight of their bones.

The new violence is within,
fears, cancers,
sharp as knives within,
a life being hollowed out
like a pumpkin,
the grotesque faces,
the gapped-toothed grins,
the yawns.

The sit in chairs or lie in beds,
wasting the embers of their eyes
on the dust floating
in the rays of fading light,
or on he chattering light
from the little box
that has replaced private thought,
private dream.

Dream?

How sad
that life becomes
a box without a screen.












A very fine day.











rain

rain,
finally,
yesterday,
a strong storm pushing through the city,
winds whipping trees, breaking
some, uprooting at least one I saw,
rain pounding like being
inside
a waterfall,
thunder, lightning, god,
was it refreshing
to feel the power, some might say,
wrath of the natural forces we live
so comfortably in most
of the time

my dog,
knowing as dogs do,
the truth of it,
doesn't whine but just sticks
close to me, one step
behind, or, cuddled up next to me
on the couch as, with the patio door open
to the elements raging, I watched the
rage...

a light shower this morning

dry
it's been -

so, 
raging
or soft and sweet,
the rain is welcome,
near beloved
by some of us who are not
my dog











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


Also as usual, I am Allen Itz owner and producer of this blog, and a not so diligent seller of books, specifically these and specifically here:

Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iBookstore, Sony eBookstore, Copia, Garner's, Baker & Taylor, eSentral, Scribd, Oyster, Flipkart, Ciando and Kobo (and, through Kobo,  brick and mortar retail booksellers all across America and abroad

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

  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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