Trying to Stay Rational, Afloat in Seas of Insanity   Wednesday, June 14, 2017


This is an old poem from 2013. Who could  have imagined it would get worse.


to rant , to scream to kick some ass

it is my job
to write a poem this very minute

but after
reading today's newspaper,
piled on newspapers from the past several weeks

I don't want to write a poem...

I want to scream,
to rant
to register my discontent
with suitable
impolite action,the one
to raise hell,
to be offensive,
to shout obscenities,
to kick some ass,
to get into a bar fight with a pool cue
and busted beer bottle as my
weapons of choice,
the one
for severe blows about the head of the subjects
of my rage
and he second to
castrate those same evil, political motherfucker lowlifes
so that there is no possibility
that the scourge they bring can be biologically reproduced...

that's what I want to do,
a rant, a scream, a waste of time
for me and for any reader
so unfortunate
as to stumble across this early
beautiful day
when
rants should be restricted to crazy people...

which I am not,
though greatly tempted
by this insane, paranoid time
to join the crowd
of loose
nuts
roaming like rabid dogs
through
the plains and woods and mountains high
of my country...








Same ol' same ol'.


Me
to rant, to scream, to kick some ass


Me

more is less


Sharon Olds

A Five-Year-Old Boy
The Mother


Me

about a poem by Alberto Blanco


Jeanne McGahey

Oregon Winter


Wendell Berry

Kentucky River Junction


Me

sad stories


Gregory Corso

Dear Girl
Writ When I Found Out His Was an Unmarked Grave
Happening on a German Train


Me

an instruction in the grander scheme of things


Rabindranath Tagore

Recovery


Me

supposed to write a poem


Maxine Kumin

Subduing the Dream in Alaska


Me

fear not, Pancake Queen


Pablo Neruda

White Bee
Every Day You Play


Me

urban sunrise


Philip Levine

Fire


Me

hell no! I won't go


Paul Guest

To-Do List


Me

Memorial Day morning


James Laughlin

Poets on Stilts


Me

you tell me yours, I'll tell you mine


Kathryn Stripling Byer

Quilt


Me

from the heights












First for the week. A confused couple of weeks, not sure I haven't already posted this.












more is less

feeling
tentative on this tentative day
of promised rain
and spotty sun and how
like my life, days of rain-making
past,
looking now just for a place
to rest old bones
in the sun

in my days of rain-making
this would have been a much longer poem,
lines and lines, adding words and words
to this stray morning thought,
pushing for something
much more than ever meant to be,
and much less than the quantity
of lines and words might
suggest...

luckily 
the sun has come out
and brightly waits
for me to lay out
my bones for
its blessing








I begin work from my library with two poems, both by Sharon Olds and both on the subject of motherhood. The poems are from her book Satan Says published by the University of Pittsburgh Press in 1980.

Olds, born in 1942 received the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 2013, the National Book Critics Circle Award in 1984 and numerous other awards and honors. She teaches creative writing at New York University.





Five-Year-Old Boy

My son at five is leaning on the world
the way a factory foreman leans on
a slow worker. As he talks, he holds
a kitchen strainer in his hand. At the end of
the conversation, the handle is twisted;
the mesh burst - he looked down at it
amazed. Mysterious things always
happening in his hands As he tells a story,
he dances backwards. Nothing is safe
near this boy. He stands on the porch, peeing
into the grass, watching a bird
fly around the house, and ends up
pissing on the front door. Afterwards he
twangs his penis. Long after
the last drops fly into the lawn,
he stands there gently rattling his dick,
his face full of intelligence,
his white, curved forehead slightly
puckered in thought, his eyes clear,
gazing out over the pond,
his mouth firm and serious;
abstractly he shakes himself
once more
and the house collapses
to the ground behind him.


The Mother

In the dreamy silence after bath,
hot in the milk-white towel, my son
announces that I will not love him when I'm dead
because people can't think when they're dead. I can't
think a first - not love him? The air outside he
window is very black, the old locust
beginning to lose its leaves already...
I hold him tight, he is white as a buoy
and my death like dark water is rising
swiftly in the room I tell him I loved him
before he was born. I do not tell him
I'm damned if I won't love him after I'm
dead, necessity after all being
the mother of invention.








                       
This poem is from 2011.





about a poem by Alberto Blanco

I was reading a poem
yesterday
by a Mexican poet, a poem
he titled, "Quantum Theory,"
describing the beauty and intricacy
and easy unbelievability of something
so complicated we can describe it only
in cartoons like cave drawings
of stick-figure gods that blessed the hunt

and after all his description
and metaphor he ends his poem -

"And is this not poetry?"


and I think, oh my god, yes, this is
poetry of the world, poetry of the real,
poetry of the essences of all and I think
of the light little drivels I write and call
my poetry and wish I could be the poet
I claim o be and write such beautiful
words about the beautiful core
and quintessences of life, in the world,
and in our hearts, where, if anywhere
quantum theory shapes the contours
of our passage and the base foundations
of the creature we are and could be. the
beautiful and intricate and hardly-believable
truth that is you; the truth that is
me.








Next from my library, two poems chosen at random from Across State Lines, an anthology of poems by a variety of poets, some known, some not, celebrating each of the fifty states of the American Union.

The book was published in 2013 as part of The American Poetry & Literacy Project.




The first poem is by Jeanne McGahey, a poet who published in Circle Magazine in the 1940's. She died in 1995 or 1996, another good poet I never heard of before who also didn't seem to make much of a stir in her own time.


Oregon Winter

The rain begins. This is no summer rain,
Dropping the blotches of wet on the dusty road:
This rain is slow, without thunder or hurry:
The is plenty of time - there will be months of rain.
     Lost in the hills, the old gray farmhouses
Hump their backs against it, and smoke from their chimneys
Struggles through weighted air. The sky is sodden with water,
It sags against the hills, and the wild geese,
Wedge-flying, brush the heaviest cloud with their wings.
     The farmers move unhurried. The wood is in,
the hay has long been in the barn lofts piled
UP to the high windows, dripping yellow straws.
There will be plenty of time now, time that will smell of fires,
And drying leather, and catalogs, and apple cores.
     The farmers clean their boots, and whittle, and drowse.


This one is by Wendell Berry.


Kentucky River Junction
to Ken Kesey & Ken Babbs

Clumsy at first, fitting together
the years we have been apart,
and the ways

But as the night
passed and the day came, the first
fine morning in April,

it came clear:
the world that has tried us
and showed us its joy

was our bond
when we said nothing.
And we allowed it to be

with us, the new green
shining.

               ```

Our lives, half gone,
stay full of laughter.

Free-hearted men
have the world for words.

Though we have been
apart, we have been together.t

                ```

Trying to sleep, I cannot
take my mind away.
The bright day

shines in my head
like a coin
on the bed of a stream.

                ```

You left
our welcome.









                                                                             



Having spent more than 30 years of my life trying, sometimes succeeding, to help people like these two, I've hard all the sad stories. Not interested in hearing more.










sad stories

killing time
before the coffeehouse
opens
I walk Bella
down an alley
about half a block
from the river
and about halfway
down the alley
I come across
an obese woman
in stretch pants
sleeping (I think)
half draped over
the body of a thin
man, also sleeping
(I think),
And I'm sure there
is a sad story
to the lives of these
two individuals
that led to them
sleeping
(I think)
under a bush
halfway 
down an alley
half a block from
the river...

and,
here's
the hard truth...

there is nothing in me
of Jesus Christ
or any of the other Pantagorian
exemplars of virtue
and random compassion

and hat being
true,
it is also the unfashionable
but honest
truth
I don't care about any of their
no doubt
truly
sad stories










Next, three short pieces by Gregory Corso, taken from his book, Mindfield, published by Thunder's Mouth Press in 1989, with interesting forwards by William S. Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg.
 




Dear Girl

With people conformed
Away fro pre-raphaelite furniture
With no promise but that of Japanese sparsity
I take up house
Ready to eat with you and sleep with you

But when the conquered spirit breaks free
And indicates a new light 
Who'll take care of the cats?


Writ When I Found Out His Was an Unmarked Grave

Children children don't you know
Mozart has no where to go
This is so
Though graves be many
He hasn't any


Happening on a German Train

From a fast moving train window
on my way to King Ludwig's castle
I watched pas a recurrence of trees
a white bird fly straight and low;
how extraordinary how it kept
up with the speed of the train
- then suddenly I heard two loud pops
resound in the sky;
the bird disappeared.
The train slowed to a stop
and everyone looked out the windows,
"There it is! There!
Down at an angle
so smooth so sleek so silent
a white American jet fighter plan
CRASHBOOM and billows of orange.

Note: The two pop sounds having been the release of the ejector seat which
parachuted the pilot to safety








A celebration from 2013.





an instruction in the grander scheme of things

in the grander
scheme
of things
the world is
wet
today
or
at least
my part of the world
is wet
which is wet enough
for me
since non-wets
in other parts of the 
world
doesn't affect
me 
here
where
wet is
the grander 
scheme
of me and mine
and
your-not-wet
has entirely 
no affect
on my wet
which is the
grander
scheme of my thing
today 
which
you may have guessed
is wet
and it is cold too
which is another part
of my grander
scheme of things today
and if you're hot
and dry
in the Gobi Desert
well
big fucking deal
since I can't see
how that has anything
to do with 
me
since
cold and wet
is my grander scheme
of things
today
and searing desert
sands
have not part in
it

any questions?








Next from my library, Bengali intellectual, poet, philosopher and, Rabindranath Tagore. Born in 1861 and died in 1941, Tagore became in 1913 the first non-European to win the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Anyone whose ever had a true relationship with a good dog gets this poem completely, knows from experience the humility of a good man in relationship with the humility of a good dog and the co-dependency that come with complete trust between unlike creatures.



Recovery

Every day in the early morning this faithful dog
Sits quietly beside my chair
For as long as I do not acknowledge his presence
By the touch of my hand.
The moment he receives this small recognition,
Waves of happiness leap through his body.
In the inarticulate animal world
Only this creature
Has pierced through good and bad and seen
Complete man,
Has seen him for whom
Life may be joyfully given,
That object of a free outpouring of love
Whose consciousness points the way
To the realm of infinite consciousness.
When I see that dumb heart
Revealing its own humility
Through total surrender,
I feel unequal to the worth
His simple perception has found in the nature of man.
The wistful anxiety of his mute gaze
Understands something he cannot explain:
It directs me to the true meaning of man in the universe.








                   
             



My version of pictures at an exhibition.













supposed to write a poem

hiss
of truck tires
running hard
on wet asphalt

~~~

blackbird 
belly-flops
into the birdbath
rolls on its back,
shakes its yellow-stick
legs in the air

~~~

old man
in a suit and jaunty hat
walks his dog
by the river, a small,
jaunty breed
taking in
the scents of river
morning

~~~

beautiful
young 
woman
walks into
the coffeehouse,
tall,
better than 6 feet
with three inch
heels
lifting her further
into the
heights

dark dress
and strong, slim legs
draw
the attention
of male eyeballs
all across the room

~~~

sunlight
burns
claws eyes
like a bird on
corn seed

~~~

six
young women
all
with tattoos
that I can see
and
who knows what else
might be
that I cannot 
see

I admire the art

it's the choice of
canvas
that I don't like

a lover of skin
in all its
shades
and presentations -
hate to see it despoiled
by pin and ink
indelible

~~~

forget
the
spa
today

just 
sit on a park bench
for an hour
and enjoy the odor
of as many sweaty old men
as you'll ever need
or want

~~~

Bella
in the car waiting,
wants to run,
doesn't understand
that old men
usually prefer to walk


today,
this one prefers to sit where I am,
air-conditioned

~~~

was
supposed to write a poem
today

well
 was supposed
to greet Ed McMahon
at my door
with a check for 5 million dollars
in his hand

but
Ed's dead

just like this








The next poem is by Maxine Kumin, from her book Looking for Luck, published by W. W. Norton in 1992.

Kumin was born in 1925 and died in 2014. She served as Poet Laureate of the United States in 1981-1982 and received many awards and honors for her work, including the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1973.




Subduing the Dream in Alaska
at the Beaver Dome Correctional Facility

In the visiting poet's workshop
the assignment is to write down a dream.
The intent, before the week is out,
is to show how much a poem is like
a dream set straight, made rational.
A dream scrubbed up and sent to school.

The reedy boy, so withdrawn
day after day he never gets beyond
printing his name in the upper
lefthand corner, is in for rape.

The big man with the jolly laugh
and beer belly is serving time
for incest. Two swaggers in orange
jumpsuits have records for assault

with a dangerous weapon, which here
translates as a knife. An older man,
exposed to his shame as illiterate,
has ninety days for poaching a moose.

He whispers his dream. The poet takes
it down in a lightning scribble
that will be difficult to read back.
There are caribou and snowmobiles in it,
cascades of antlers and a washbucket
of blood upended i the snow.
They say they dream of their ancestors,
the Inuit villages of their great-uncles,
seals whelping their pups on the ice cap,
the sun disappearing at winter solstice,
the treasure of their happy childhood,
the gift of their first fishing knife.

But in truth each night the conqueror comes in.
At a gallop he rides them, building our highway,
scratching up earthworks, laying our pipeline,
uncorking the bottle and smiling betrayal.









From 2014, another example of the modern age of miracle .





fear not, Pancake Queen

a rectangular
box...

press a button
and watch a pancake

slowly extrude itself
from one end of the box

crepe thin
and moderately tasty

but Aunt Jemima should fear not
the effect

of Holiday In
on her pancake empire








From winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1973 and the greatest writer of love poems of, at least, the 20th century, Pablo Neruda, two poems. The poems are from his small bilingual book, Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair, published in 1969 by Penguin Books.





White Bee

White bee, you buzz in my soul, drunk with honey,
and your flight winds in slow spirals of smoke.

I am the one without hope, the word without echoes,
he who lost everything and he who had everything.

Last hawser, in you creaks my last longing.
In my barren land you are the final rose.

Ah you who are silent!

Let your deep eyes close. There the night flutters.
Ah your body, a frightened statue, naked.

You have deep eyes in which the night flails.
Cool arms of flowers and a lap of rose.

Your breasts seem like white snails.
A butterfly of shadow has come to sleep on your belly.

Ah you who are silent!


Every Day Yo Play

Every day you play with the light of the universe.
Subtle visitor. You arrive in the flower and the water.
You are more than this white head that I hold tightly
as a cluster of fruit, every day between my hands.

You are like nobody since I love you.
Let me spread you out among yellow garlands.
Who writes your name in letters of smoke among the stars
     of the south?
Oh let me remember you as you were before you existed.

Suddenly the wind howls and bangs at my shut window.
The sky is a net crammed with shadowy fish.
Here all the winds let go sooner ore later, all of them.
The rain takes off her clothes.

The birds go by, fleeing.
The wind. The wind.
I can contend only against the power of me.
The storm whirls dark leaves
and turns loose all the boats that were moored last night to
     the sky.







                             




I'm normally up early, 5-5:30 a.m., before the day is quite ready to start.











urban sunrise

the rising of the sun
between the tall buildings downtown
is a moment of quiet discretion,
especially in the dingy gray mornings
when the yellow light
of streetlamps
is replaced by the dim, closeted light
of an unpromising day

the silence of streets
bare
of any kind of traffic
except for the dog, running free,
lost and lonely down a paper-littered alley,
recycle bin
outside El Seguro bar on Houston
spilling over with beer cans,
the sign of the previous night's
desperation revelry,
people chasing meaning
until 2 a.m. closing

and a single bird, calling from somewhere I cannot find,
its call breaking the passage
between city dark
and city
light

`````

I
am first on the street

if I had the yellow tape,
I'd wrap the city
like police wrap a crime scene,
preserving the
evidence












I have Philip Levine next, from his book What Work Is, published in 1999 by Alfred A. Knopf.

Born in 1928, Levine died in 2015. He was a Pulitzer Prize winner for his work, as well as Poet Laureate of the United Stares 2011-2012. He taught for more than thirty years in the English Department at the University of California, Fresno.





Fire

A fire burns along the eastern rim
of mountains. In the valley we
see it as a celestial prank, for
in the summer haze the mountains
themselves are lost, but as the night
deepens, the fire grows more golden
and dense. On this calm ground
the raw raging of burning winds
that cuts the eyes and singes the hair
is seen as a pencil-thin of light
moving southward I know my son
is there, has been for four days,
moved in and out by helicopters
with his squad of firefighters.
By now, without sleep they've
gone beyond exhaustion. Some can't
waken, some are crazed, a few go
on - the oldest - working steadily.
I know this from the stories he
has told me of other famous fires 
from which he returned as from
a dream, his eyes glazed with seeing,
his sense of time and place gone.
He would raise his shaking right arm
above his head, and with his palm
open sweep it in toward me again
and again and speak without grammar,
sometimes without words, of what
has taken place. I knew it was true.
Now in the cool of the evening I catch
a hint of the forest, of that taking
of sudden breath that pines demand;
it's on my skin, a light oil, a sweat
born of some forgotten leaning into fire.








It was a cold day in 2015 in South Texas. 






hell no! I won't go

it's warm in here
and very cold outside and
looking through the wide coffeehouse windows
it even looks cold
and I need to go out and walk the dog
but I don't
want to
because its cold enough out there to freeze my macchiatos
right plumb off
and I would feel right distressed
if my macchiatos were to freeze and fall right off
and go bouncing down the street
so I'm going to sit right here and pretend I'm writing a poem
cause it's just too damn cold out there for a South Texas fella
with tender macchiatos

so
hell no! I won't go








This is by Paul Guest, from his book, My Index of Slightly Horrifying Knowledge, published in 2008 by Harper Collins.

Guest, born in Tennessee and a quadriplegic as a result of a bicycle accident when he was young, earned his MFA at Southern Illinois University and is currently assistant professor of Creative Writing at the University of Virginia.



To-Do List

A lot you should do; hurl invective at dawn.
Stop at dusk. Stop all attempts
at rhetorically complex valentines
as timed to the sun or any star
available for general reference. Mow the lawn
or at least remove the rust
clotted bear traps from the thicket
all the lawn has slowly become
in a kind of melancholy art installation
you want to watch forever. Definitively determine
the distance between thinking 
and doing. Once and for all. For it is vast.
And submit the results
to many peer-reviewed journals
hoping to give so much thinking and doing
to oblivion. For it too is vast.
And full of fondness for however much
you're content to ignore
its tab for the ruin it keeps running up
everywhere you care to look. And those places
you don't. Don't think
there isn't a spot for you
in all this abstraction; you'll fit right in
and never look back at that
world again. How her skin
and your skin, how both were one world
while her red hair burned
you though the chest, through to the bone
and to the well of blood
where she held you
up and all you carried, all that you had in you
like an ore, you gave. Give
again









A brief acknowledgement of the day.




Memorial Day morning

sky dark,
promised storms
on the way

thunder
rolling in,
lightening behind
the hills

a day for wars
and dying

foreign 
and domestic...






The next poem is by James Laughlin. The poem is taken from his book, The Secret Room, last published in 1997 by New Directions, the publishing house he founded.

Born in 1914, Laughlin died in 1997.




Poets on Stilts

Writing on stilts is in vogue
these days. The taller the stilts
the easier to be in fashion.
Very few poets now want to walk
with their feet on the ground,
they might get their shoes wet.

These poets buy their stilts
at some beanery. Stilts from a
creative writing course are
especially prized. Such stilts
are the tallest.

Stilts can give a superior view
of almost anything the poet
wants to write about. Altitude
makes the poet feel important
and it gets him into the club.

But a word of warning to
stiltwalkers. The higher they
fall from their stilts, the
bigger smash when they
hit the pavement.








Sunday morning at my old coffeehouse.
 







you tell me yours, I'll tell you mine

the biker gang passes,
turning right on Broadway
from Pearl, pedaling in their funny hats
and tight stretchy pants, cruising,
terrorizing children
and pregnant ladies, well,
not so much, but in their minds
no doubt, visions of Marlon roaring
into the little village, leather jacket, leather hat,
leather boots, cigarette hanging with a death grip

everyone has their fantasies...

mine involves '57 Chevys, Dion on the radio singing
about the wanderer, girls at the drive-in hang-out
giving me the once, twice over, running
their fingers over my black Naugahyde seats,
imagining the soft, smooth feel
of them on their bare-naked bottoms,
oh my, I do have my fantasies too...

me
and the biker gang, easy riders on this cold Sunday
morning slight-of-mind legerdemain,
legends in our own
work-a-day
minds










Last from my library this week, a poem by Kathryn Stripling Byer. The poem is from her book Wildwood Flower (one of my favorite country/folk songs). The book, a 1992 Lamont Poetry Selection by The Academy of American Poets,  was published by Louisiana State University Press. 

Born in 1944. Byer was North Carolina Poet Laureate from 2005-2009.




Quilt

What I see out the door
is a tree trunk
my arms cannot span
and a trough where the mule drinks.

I see many birds eat the crusts
I have scattered.
I see their wings shiver
like eyelids. I see the trail

disappear downhill,
no sign of you on it,
you dust rising toward me,
the flash of your bridle.

I see my front yard as a jumble
of shapes I have never succeeded in piecing
together. The empty pail. Tracks
over new snow. The rats in the woodpile.

What else can I call it
but Waiting for Spring?
That old patchwork. The dead
sleep beneath it forever.








President Pig dropped out of the Paris Climate Accord. I'm buying up beach umbrellas before the demand jacks up the price.




from the heights

from the heights
the bowl that is downtown
is covered by fog
like a grey, post-apocalyptic sea,
the Gulf pushed across
coastal plains by world-wide
disaster, a new flood
leaving me here, my house
on Inspiration Ridge, the new shoreline,
the sad as brittle limestone crumbles
a beach for survivors of the end of the world
as we know it now, 
cabanas and umbrellas pending...

a dark day
for all
without a beach
concession








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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Links
Loch Raven Review
Mindfire Renewed
Holy Groove Records
Tryst
Poems Niederngasse
BlazeVOX
Eclectica
Michaela Gabriel's In.Visible.Ink
zafusy
The Blogging Poet
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The Comstock Review
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Beau Blue
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Layman Lyric
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Desert Moon Review
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Wrong Planet...Right Universe
Poetry and Poets in Rags
Teresa White
Camroc Press Review
The Angry Poet