Admiring the Dark   Wednesday, August 16, 2017






This is another poem from my book Goes Around, Comes Around.










admiring the dark

the dark is
staying dark
longer every night

as July
heads for the back door
and August

impatiently
taps its fiery little feet
our front, waiting...

I enjoy the dark
in the morning, eating
breakfast

by the big window,
looking out to the dark of night
waning

watching
the new day gathering
in the east

just a hint
a bare little shadow of light
remembered

almost lost in the ambient glow
of clouds softly lit
from below

by the city's night
illuminations,
clouds always glowing

from below in a city
of a million and half people
fearful of the dark -

porch lights
lit all night, motion lights
flashing bright

with ever rustle of leaves
by the wind,
every twitter of a bird -

street lights,
security lights, night lights
that let us sleep

in semi-dark, certain
that whatever lurks
outside the luminance we wrap

around our sleeping body
will be frightened
by the light as we are by the dark

and will stay
away - it is the way
we have lived in the dark

since
fire-tenders
maintained the flames

that kept us safe at night
from the earliest history of our
kind...

meanwhile,
sitting in my well-lit cafe, typing
in the glow of computer electrons

I admire the beauty of the night
while looking past the dark
to each pool of light around me

calculating the distance between
pools, clocking how quickly
I could race the dark from one bright pool

to the next
if I had
to..








Standard stuff, with extra poetry discussion by poet friend David Eberhardt.


Me
admiring the dark

Me
dearth of moon-calling dogs

Joan Loveridge-Sanbonmatsu
garden of Isabel

Me
cold truth of life and death in black in white

Barbara Tran
Lineup

Me
stumblebums

Ilpo Thhonen
Septet to the Great Bear

Me
pale rising

Allison Eir Jenks
The Dressing Room

Me
dry as Bond's martini

Lou Xiaoge
Drizzling Rain

Me
who do we call?

Jeffrey McDaniel 
Lineage

Me
my dream

Pablo Neruda
XX: Tonight I Can Write

Me
next time a democrat chicken or no chicken at all

Kamau Braithsaite
Trane

Me
didn't know what I would be missing

Duane Niatum
Drawing of the Song Animals

Me
come the resurrection

Ilse Tielsch
I Walk Through the Old School

David Eberhardt
Manifesto

Me
the best poem of all...












First from the week, from the first of August.













dearth of moon-calling dogs

haven't seen the morning
moon
in my part of the neighborhood
sky
for 4 nights...

the dearth
of moon-calling dogs
not to mention the silence
of the missing
rooster's
morning command
to arise
is getting worrisome

hope
it's nothing 
serious








First from my library this week is a short poem by Joan Loveridge-Sanbonmatsu, poet, writer and professor of International Communications, Women's Studies and Intensive English at SUNY Oswego.She has published intensively,  including both scholarly books and poetry and short story collections.

Her poem is taken from Risk, Courage, and Women, an anthology of "contemporary voices in prose and poetry." The anthology was published by the University of North Texas Press in 1984.

The poem is presented in both English and Spanish, but no translator is named and it may have been translated by the poet herself.





garden of isabel

a tiny bird, brilliant green
perches on the branch of a fig tree.
In Cuernavaca, Mexico, where it is always
spring, always spring.
Se sits among the blossoms,
white, fuchsia and rose,
and lemon trees laden with fruit.

A different vista draws this
small green bird away for a moment.
But the beauty of the garden beckons her:
come back,come back, you are the jewel,
the emerald,  among the flowers.

     For Isabel Munoz Escobar, Cuernavaca, Mexico,1999











From 2008, one of my drive-arounds through the southwest.  Wouldn't normally be doing it in February, not being a confident snow-driver. Must have been something special going on.










cold truths of life and death in black and white

atop a rise
a mound of earth
an ancient burial mound
looking out over
a snowed-over field
white field
black skeleton of a winterized tree
thin black line of a frozen creek
five black horses
led by a white horse
ghost against the snow
legs lifted high
above the snow
crossing

(Colorado, February, 2008)










Next, from another anthology, poet Barbara Tran, born in New York City in 1968, with a bachelor's degree from New York University and an MFA from Columbia.

Her poem is from Language for a New Century, anthology of "Contemporary Poetry from the Middle East, Asia, and Beyond." The book was published by W.W. Norton in 2008.








Lineup

     For the woman from Msuzffargarh, Pakistan, whose rape
          on 22 June 2002 by four men was ordered by a jury


I am 30. I am 18.
There were hundreds

watching. There were none
My brother is old

enough to pay
for his own

sins. My brother
is 11. The girl

consented. The girl is,
as the jury says, too

high class
for my brother. The verdict

comes. No crowd
hears it: not the protests

spewing, not the prayers
rising, not the disbelief

dribbling
from my father

cracked lips.
My heels

care riverbeds. Still
the men

push. There is no
evidence

of anything
I am telling you.

There were 4 men on me
There was an army.

You believe in justice. I believe
in revenge. The only man

in the moon
is smiling













A reflection on current world events.











stumblebums

when I was young
it was nuclear war that frightened us,
a real possibility, we thought,
and maybe it was true and might have been
had not the awfulness of it frightened
both sides out of more aggressive ambitions

today
we fear, it seems, everything,
our neighbors, our food, our air,
the truths of our condition,
and, again,
war


this time, when
our fate in the hands of
insane, irrational,
terminally stupid leadership
on all sides,
it is hard to be reassured
by the innate rationality
and fear of consequences
that protected us before, this time
what frightens me most
is the history I've read of events leading to
the First World War, the war no one
wanted, the war the killed the best
of a generation, the war that was stumbled into
by the ineptness of the world's leaders

like today,
lost in a world of stumblebums with too much power,
too much ignorance, too much allegiance
to fake news and skewed history,

and needy, incomplete egos with too much
to prove...











From the anthology, New European Poets, this poem is by Finnish poet Ilpo Thhonen,born in 1950 and recipient of the Eino Leino Prize in 1991.

The anthology was published in 2008 by Graywolf Press.








Septet to the Great Bear

Night's trailing its blue tongue,
the lakewater's racking its ice roof
with a vocal pulse
and, fallen from their path, a couple of clouds
are drifting the shores with snow.
A thin shriek,

and a diamond writes
an icecrack like a sentence graved on a window
and the black signs on the earth's lines go silent

Maneuvering three machines in a stone cleft
a caretaker's shifting
the autumn leaves

The little one's sleeping.
The eldest of the eider ducks has gone
and come back again

The littlest is eating her porridge herself.
Most of it

stays on the spoon.

      Translated from the Finish by Herbert Lomas












From a morning in 2014.










pale rising

early morning...

the fly-over lane
connecting
Loop-410 to I-10

the dichotomy of a quiet morning
starting

to the west

night retains its dominion,
pinpoint
lights against
the black
still holding

to the east...

a pale sky slowing lighting,
a no-drama
day break, as if in its passage
of the night, the sun
sets aside its bright orb,
diffused
its morning burn
to welcome
slowly
a kinder, gentler
day







This poem is by Allison Eir Jenks, taken from Under the Rock Umbrella (an anthology of "Contemporary American Poets from 1951 to 1977"), published in 2006 by Mercer University Press.

Jenks was born in Chicago in 1972. Her work has appeared widely. Formerly an assistant professor
at North Central College in Illinois, she was a Ph.D. candidate in poetry at Florida State University at the time of publication. She has also produced a documentary about "women redefining femininity through artistic expression" and has stared in several independent films.








The Dressing Room

The obese lips of mannequins guzzle the air -
their wobbly legs spread with everything in'' between
for sale. The whole world is in love with itself.
Spineless, sexless dolls have given birth to us all.
Their anemic eyes lure you to the dressing room
where mirror and mirrors of naked women
twirl around like battery-operated show girls, all lit up.

Some have carved exquisite design in their pubic hair -
geometric butterflies, hallucinogenic diamonds,
and have dazzling stones glued onto their toe nails.
Others have lamp-tanned skin and chrome white hearts
on their stomachs. Mothers tell their daughters the look fat.
And fathers wait outside the curtains, stroking the mannequins
as they have a pulse and a brain,
as is there is no dust between their legs.













Another from early August.












dry as Bond's martini

two months
dry as Bond's martini,
and now this gloriously
dim and murky morning,
rain promised
in every breath you take

we watch the sky
and wait...








Next, a poem from a much smaller anthology, Women of the Red Plain, a collection of "Contemporary Chinese Women's Poetry" from Penguin Books, first published in 1992 in The People's Republic of China by Chinese Literature Press. Translations in the book are by Julia C. Lin.

The poet is Luo Xiaoge, a native of Hubei Province born in 1952. She worked on the agricultural farms and did factory work after her graduation from middle school. After successfully passing the entrance examinations, she enrolled in the Chinese Department of the Hunan Teacher's College. She is professor in the Chinese Language and Literature Department of Hunan Business College and Director of the Center for Women's Studies. She has published numerous poems and a first book, The Village Wind.




Drizzling Rain

1

Drizzling rain is like a comb
Smoothing my thick, dark hair.
Once ready, I walk out
Into the wild to meet with spring.

In the wild there's a lilac bush.
When its white blossoms brush over my hair
Suddenly the petals in my heart unfold.
Spring blossoms are the language of poems
Written by the drizzling rain to bless the earth.

2

Invisible wind sees its own dance
In the graceful movement of the swaying willow.
Silent cloud hears its own music
By the cadence of rain on banana leaves.

The have enriched nature's beauty
And nature has fulfilled them in return.

3

Over the muddy mountain path
The drizzling rains hurry along,
Picking up dewdrops scattered among the fallen leaves,
Recovering the tender sprouts buried in the snow,

The rain infuses life its life into the leaves,
The rain entrusts its smile to the flowers,
And to the sun rising from the horizon
It has entrusted a world freshly rinsed
Upon leaving
It takes nothing that belongs to itself.

4

Raindrops fall upon my eyelashes.
Like a child's tears at parting
I carefully tap them off
Into the quiet mouths of spring blossoms.
Child, Mama is leaving
For lovelier blooming.

5

Ah, the drizzling, drizzling rain...
You've made the bird songs quiver on new buds,
You've made the trampled grass leap up again,
You've made the blossoms reopen their colorful parasols.
But please don't ever let me drown in a shower of flowers.

Ah, the drizzling, drizzling rain...













From 2014, a bleak morning for a poem-a-day poet










who do we call

let's face 
it
there will be
no poetry today
too much
more
piled on too much 
Miss Muse
out of sight
co-habituating
with Phil
famous
celebrity
Phil
I never knew her
to be so
shallow
both
possibly out of action
until Spring
leaving me with visions
of My Own Miss Muse leaving me
behind
I said
I just need sometime
in a dark place
where all contrary visions
go blind
but I',m still here
and she left
me
behind
finding a new 
flame
knocking
knees
with Phil
oh my god
do groundhogs have
knees?

oh my god
who
do we call?








The Outlaw Bible of American Poetry is a huge anthology, 643 pages of poets and poems, plus more than 30 pages of contributor's photos and  biographies. It was published by Thunder's Mouth Press in 1999.

From this massive collection of mostly Beat poetry (with a few late comers and bows to Beat's godfathers  Walt Whitman and William Carlos Williams), I chose this poem by Jeffrey McDaniel. Born in 1967, McDaniel has published five poetry collections and was a recipient of a creative writing fellowship from The National Endowment for the Arts.




Lineage

When I was little I thought the word loin
and the word lion were the same thing

I thought celibate was a kind of fish.

My parents wanted me to be well-rounded
so they threw dinner plates at each other
until I curled up into a little ball.

I've had the wind knocked out of me
but never the hurricane.

I've seen two hundred and sixty-three rats
in the past year, but never more than one at a time.
It could be the same rat, with a very high profile

I know what it's like to wear my liver on my sleeve.

I go into department stores, looking suspicious,
approach the security guard and say
what, what, I didn't take anything.
Go ahead. Frisk me, big boy!

I go to the funerals of absolute strangers
and tell the grieving family: the soul of the deceased
is trapped inside my rib cage
and trying to reach you.

Once I thought I found love, but then I realized
I was just out of cigarettes.

Some people are boring because their parents
had boring sex the night they were conceived.

In the year thirteen hundred and thirteen,
a little boy died, who had the exact same scars as me.













Another from a couple of weeks ago, about the way dreams and reality can merge when first waking.











my dream


running running

running
not fleeing some nefarious villain
not chasing after the end of a rainbow
just running
running
running
steps growing longer
leaps going higher
and higher
and higher
and higher
until I'm flying
flying
flying
flying

and I wake
thinking
I can
fly









With over 670 pages of poetry and 30 pages of contributing poet's biographies, this anthology, the GSG book of Twentieth Century Latin American Poetry, published in 2011 by Farra, Straus and Giroux, is about the same size and heft of the last anthology.

With all that to choose from I feel a little guilty for going to,  Pablo Neruda, a poet I use often. Born in 1904, the greatest writer of love poetry ever, Neruda won the Noble Prize for Literature in 1971. The greatest of all Chile's poets, he died in 1973.

The book is bilingual, the original Spanish, with English translation on facing pages. This poem was translated by W.S. Merwin.





Poem XX: Tonight I Can Write

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.

Write, for example, "The night is starry
and the stars are blue and shiver in the distance."

The night wind revolves in the sky and sings.

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.
I loved her, and sometimes she loved me too.

Through nights like this one I held her in my arms.
I kissed her again and again under the endless sky.

She loved me, sometimes I loved her too.
How could one not have loved her great still eyes.

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.
To think that I do not have her. To feel that I have lost her.

To hear the immense night, still more immense without her.
And the verse falls to the soul like the dew to a pasture.

What does it matter that love could not keep her.
The night is starry and she is not with me.

This is all. In the distance someone is singing. In the distance.
My soul is not satisfied that it has lost her.

My sight tries to find her as though to bring her closer.
My heart looks for her, and she in not with me.

The same night whitening the same trees.
We, of that time, are no longer the same.

I no longer love her, that's certain, but how I loved her.
My voice tried to find the wind to touch her hearing.

Another's. She will be another's. As she was before my kisses.
Her voice, her bright body. Her infinite eyes.

I no longer love her, that' for certain, but maybe I love her.
Love is so short, forgetting is so long.

Because those nights like this one I held her in my arms
my soul is not satisfied that it has lost her.

Though this be the last pain that she makes me suffer
and these the last verses that I write for her.








                                                             




From 2014, another bad election.











next time a democrat chicken or no chicken at all

so Monday
'bout midnight
I cast the bones
and studied carefully
the innards
of the chicken from whom
the bones were extracted, and it was clear
from reading, 100% scientifically determined.
that one of two thing was going to happen on Tuesday...

either the Democrats were going to sweep the elections, or
I was going to win the Mega Million lottery, $154 cash-option million...

well, you know what happened (or didn't)

it's what happens when you count on some lying son-of-a-bitch
Republican chicken...

next time it's a Democrat chicken or I'm switching
to frogs, or beavers, or otters, or squirrels,
or platiypi, or koala bears or a trout or a weasel
(no, wait, weasels are all republicans and not to be trusted)
or some other appropriate
creature
(but definitely not a weasel)
of a democrat disposition









And now another anthology, this one The Norton Anthology of Modern and Contemporary Vol. 2, published in 2003.

The poem I selected is by Kamau Braithwaite. Born in 1930, Braithwaite is a Barbadian poet and academic, widely considered to be one of the major voices in the Caribbean canon. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of Sussex and was formerly a professor of Comparative Literature at New York University.








Trane

Propped against the crowded bar
he pours into the curved and silver horn
his old unhappy longing for a home

the dancers twist and turn
he leans and wishes he could burn
his memories to ashes like some old notorious emperor

of rome. but no stars blazed across he sky when he was born
no wise men found his hovel. this crowded bar
where dancers twist and turn

holds all the fame and recognition he will ever earn
on earth or heaven. he leans against the bar
and pours his old unhappy longing in the saxophone

                                                            1977











I have an office at home, but rarely use it because I'm rarely at home, spending most of my time out, my favorite diner, my favorite coffeehouse, or just out, always watching, seeing people all around that would be easy to miss if you weren't watching for them.











didn't know what I would be missing

I wonder
about the homeless artist
I used to see every morning
at the diner where I have breakfast

loaded down always
with his supplies and portfolios,
looking over his shoulder as he worked,
I saw some of his sketches
and they were quite good...

moved on,
I guess,
like the sign-slinger
except I think the sign-slinger might have died,
the old man declining rapidly,
barely able to walk
last time I saw him but still
he slung his sign

FACTORY FURNITURE WAREHOUSE
CLOSING SALE!!!!

the "closing sale"
a perpetual event, a permanent
sign-slinging job or the old man,
the way he danced, the way he waved,
the way he smiled, I always imagined
he was a old actor, fallen
on hard times...

and they remind me
of the "autumn lady,"
dressed in homemade clothes,
beautifully made, draped in beautiful colors
of autumn, brown and gold and red,
always outside by the coffeehouse
on the river where I used to spend my morning,
paranoid, schizophrenic, whatever,
sullen and crazy as hell, refused to say good morning
to me even as I tried, Queen of the River,
is how she thought of herself, I think,
no time for people who spend their mornings
sitting in coffeehouses...

Characters -
I can think of at least a dozen more,
crazy some, just down on their luck, some, 
losing their struggles with fate 
and their own addictions, determinedly
out of the mainstream, often for reasons I might be able
to imagine. but never understand...

the advantage 
of big city living, people every day
I would never see in the little town of 2.500
where I grew up...

didn't' know what I would be missing
until I put it behind
me









This poem is by Duane Niatum, from Harper's Anthology of 20th Century Native American Poetry. The book was published in 1988.

Niatum, born in 1938 is a poet, playwright, and author of Klallam descent. He is considered to be a leading poet in the second Native American Renaissance.







Drawing of the Stone Animals

I
Treefrog winks without springing
from its elderberry hideaway.
Before the day is buried in dusk
I will trust the crumbling earth.

II
Foghorns, the bleached absence
of the Cascade and Olympic mountains.
The  bay sleeps in a shell of haze.
Anchorless as the night
the  blue-winged teal dredges for the moon.

III
Thistle plumed,
a raccoon pillages my garbage.
When did we plug its nose in concrete?
Whose eyes lie embedded in chemicals?

IV
Dams abridge the Columbia Basin.
On the rim of a rotting barrel,
a crow. The imperishable remains
of a cedar man's salmon trap.

V
Deer crossing the freeway -
don't graze near us, don't trust our signs.
We hold your ears in our teeth,
your hoofs on our dashboards.

VI
Shells, gravel musing from the deep,
dwellings from the labyrinth of worms.
Crabs crawl sideways into another layer of dark.

VII
Bumblebee,
a husk of winter and the wind.
I will dance in your field
in the void is in bloom.

VIII
A lizard appears, startled by my basket
of strawberries. In the white
of the afternoon we are lost to the stream.
Forty years to unmask the soul.












                       


 One of our earlier visits to Colorado. We made annual trips for a number of years, basing ourselves in Durango and ranging from there. It's been a couple of years since, stopping off in Santa Fe instead, without going further. Travel wears me out more than it did in 1979.










come the resurrection

the path down an back
is steep and arduous, especially
for older people,
though benches along the way
provide a place to stop and rest,
a moment to breathe thin air
and listen to the wind
passing between canyon walls,
the stubby trees
restless in response

birds call along the way
but go silent
among the ruins,
homage to the ghosts
who patrol in bare adobe rooms,
guarding the ancient walls
until those who left
return again, pull storehouses
the grain and seed they left behind
for some future day of
resurrection
know only to them...

we are silent visitors
with the birds, waiting for the
tread of soft
footsteps
so long absent from their
home

    Mesa Verde, 1979)









This is my last anthology for the week, a bit off the beaten path for most "Here and Now" readers I suspect. It is German Poetry in Transition 1945-1990. The book was published in 1999 by University Press of New England.

It is a bilingual book, German, with translation to English by Charlotte Melin, on facing pages.

The poet I selected is Ilse Tielsch. Born in 1929 in what is now the Czech Republic and moved to Austria in 1945, as the final battles of the WWII approached.  She taught at a vocational school from 1955 until 1964 and has been a free lance writer since, publishing poetry, novels and non-fiction.




I Walk Through the Old School

The windows are broken.
Wind slams the doors.
The director
took his own life.

All the lockers are open.
Slate and hematite.
Class registers and red pencil.
In solitary splendor
a Bohemian garnet.

Principle's office.
The caretaker didn't lock it.
Report forms are lying about.
I dip the pen into red ink,
cross out a life
and in my best calligraphy write
under it.

Not satisfactory.








An interesting examination by my poet friend David Eberhardt, with a little bit of me thrown in.

This is a continuation of an argument between Dave and I that has continued on for several years. I condense thus - Dave questions the validity of current standards in poetry; I question their necessity.

Posted here as I received it via email. It's very long and somewhat difficult to read (Dave doesn't proof so much, and I don't either, take what I'm sent instead), but worth it if you are interested in poetry.

Re-posted with edits and corrections by the poet.




DAVE'S MANIFESTO (written and revised (many times) beginning 2014)
No mystery, no magic- no music! I like poetry that is surprising- there is very little surprise in poetry these days.
Emily D , with her wry sense of humor, does not speak of Helen of Troy, but “Helen of Colorado”; her hummingbird is a startling “route of enanescense”!
A character in Mcnurtry’s “Lonesome Dove” would say it’s got no “sand”, no “grit.” Do we want “normal” poetry? Poetry “as usual”? I have never thought of that as poetry?
Poetry should make your hair stand on end. Read Rimbaud’s “Bateau Ivre” or the sainted Emily? Our poetry lacks electricity…charge- it’s sly. I like “charged” poetry.
Everybody is (me included) seems to be saying “Look at me, look at me.”- taking “selfies”- writing a poem about him or herself like taking his or her photo by holding up a camera at arms length on a stick.
It is good that poetry is accessible to so many. But that has led to everybody and his/her cousin as a poet. To find the good poem is like trying to eat one fish from a schooSomewhere in the early 2000’s there arrived via internet web sites like “A Poem a Day” and the Writers’ Almanac (Garrison Keillor’s tin hear for poetry despite his beautiful story telling and voice (he doesn’t know what real poetry is) and daily offerings from the Poetry Foundation (Poetry Magazine)- in the American style of making poetry a business and at the rate of having to find a new (or classic) poet every day- offering up loads of execrable crap, stuff from collegians, state poet laureates, mostly, as I have said above- mostly prose. Emily D is turning over in her grave at this desecration- truly defamatory of the rare and beautiful art of poetry.
Prose
So much poetry today is really prose- EXAMPLE people cut lines off a la William Carlos Williams or Ezra Pound- with no sense of rhythm- just try running lines of much modern poetry together and see if it makes any dif There’s too little music; by music I mean a propulsive beat as in a musical piece. Wm Carlos Williams started a movement in American poetry when he wrote his poem:
“So much depends/ upon the red wheelbarrow/glazed with rainwater/beside the white chickens”
He, following Ezra Pound, did not have the measured music of iambic pentameter but he did end lines showing the rhythm of natural speech- where they pause, usually at the commas.
Many persons after that tried to copy it without ending the lines so effectively- and many now, seem to have no sense of where a line should end.
If you are going to chop lines off willy nilly, trying to follow the pauses of natural speech- I hope you have something to say! Williams made a the point out of describing a wheelbarrow or a plum- since he was the first- this was refreshing- THEN! Then it was fresh and surprising. Pound also said nothing in an interesting way. Williams very little- but in an interesting way. Basically following the pauses of naturay speech- Gary Snyder does it well.
QUOTE from Gary Snyder and then say aaron Fagan or any number of poseurs.
EXAMPLE a prosy pome:
BY REBECCA LINDENBERG
The sky. And the sky above that. The exchange of ice between mouths. Other people's
poems

My friend says we never write about anything we can get to the bottom of. For him, this
is a place arbored with locust trees. For me, it's a language for which I haven't quite
found the language yet.

The dewy smell of a new-cut pear. Bacon chowder flecked with thyme. Roasted duck
skin ashine with plum jam. Scorpion peppers.

Clothes on a line. A smell of rain battering the rosemary bush. The Book Cliffs. Most
forms of banditry. Weathered barns. Dr. PeeblesThe Woman's Tonic, it says on the
side, in old white paint.
And another:
 
Sunday, May 28, 2017 
At the Pitch Maxine Kumin
If I could only live at the pitch
that is near madness, Eberhart wrote
but there was his wife Betty hanging onto
his coattails for dear life to the end of her life.
No one intervened when my mother’s brother’s
wife ran off with the new young rabbi
every woman in the congregation had a crush on.
They rose unleashed, fleeing west
into the sooty sky over Philadelphia
in a pillar of fire, at the pitch that is near madness
touching down in the outskirts of Pittsburgh.
Cleveland. Chicago. O westward
Another:
Yet another:
A Dream of the Future
by Joyce Sutphen 

the future that never happens
is the one that makes us do
what we do while we are waiting
for what is never going to come
to take us away from the past,
which is a country that we do not
know anymore, where the language
is strange, only almost familiar.
And yet another:
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 June 6, 2017
Betrayal
Alice Notley
I keep going back to that word
the French like it trahison the French are partly me
in micro-particular disposition I sing
I’m most fascinated by metaphysical
betrayal and its off-color quarter-tones I mean
I mean it      that a bit of matter could humiliate
another like in a beginning when of angels…
No I believe they play me like a winning king but
in a future I know already while scourged
I remember when X and Y made Ted miserable
Until he died? before he died? but that's before the
time of these poems of my emplacement in the zeros
Our verse is academic, or as I say it- acadeemic (as in anemic) Meaning
what?
Sites mostly print poems by persons that teach at Universities or are graduates of University Writing Seminars. It’s a back scratching tribe.
Much current poetry lacks passion- is effete, demure and wan- everybody seems to be channeling Elizabeth Bishop without her wit. Mary Oliver poem- “The sweetness of dogs”- saccharine.
It’s as if folx decided they did not want to be heroic or Miltonic or Shakespearean or Keatsian any more and will only use normal speechifying. But then having nothing to say and saying it in a mild way dressed up with a bit of cuteness- is really sad.
Looking back at the “romantic” poets- one sees passion- and- in the case of Byron an d Shelley- political radicalism. The “modernist” poets at the beginning of the last century, show a passion in their rebellion against the “romantic” poets-especially Browning - but now? Passion has now flown the coop. Our poetry lacks the nobility in the Augustan, Romantic , Victorian and a few modern poets.
EXAMPLE: Here’s a poem that is both prosy and lacks passion:
The Bookstall
by Linda Pastan 

Just looking at them
I grow greedy, as if they were
freshly baked loaves
waiting on their shelves
to be broken open—that one
and that—and I make my choice
in a mood of exalted luck,
browsing among them
like a cow in sweetest pasture.
I guess the word “exalted” indicates some passion, yes. The mixed metaphor- loaves and grazed grass is appalling. “Exalted luck” seems a bizarre joining; freshly baked seems overused, to me.
Diction preference: I prefer poems with juicy words, like, kempt or incarnadine or, to quote Hart- “spindrift”; But I also find the plain spoken William Stafford to be OK even though he is awfully garrulous and prosy; he has so much to say. He is electric in that sense, although has little diction or music. Jack Gilbert, like the composer Schumann, has passion. Also, like Schumann, he has surprise in his poetry. Surprise is key in all great art- as in measure 80 of the last movement of the Schumann piano concerto- where the mincing march comes in.
EXAMPLES OF Stafford or Dunn
The issue of obscurity:
BY RAE ARMANTROUT
Where there’s smoke
there are mirrors
and a dry ice machine,
industrial quality fans.
If I’ve learned anything
about the present moment
But who doesn’t
love a flame,
the way one leaps
into being
full-fledged,
then leans over
to chat
Already the light
is retrospective,
sourceless,
is losing itself
though the trees
are clearly limned.
The great poem- say, Wallace Stevens' “Sunday Morning”, or in Hart Crane’s and Dylan Thomas’ work- has music and meaning- who tries to grab that ring now. Who tries for “grandeur”? The confessional poets- Berryman, Sexton, Lowell, Plath- they went deep.
To me, the greatest English lyric is George Chapman’s “Shine out faire sunne” from “The Masque of the 12 Months”. Shakespeare, move over (and Chapman may be the competitor poet in the sonnets).
attributed to George Chapman (1559? - 1634) , a song from "The Masque of the Twelve Months".
“Shine out, fair Sunn, with all your heate,
Show all your thousand-coloured lighte!
Black Winter freezes to his seate;
The graie wulff howls, he does so bite;
Crookt Age on three knees creeps the streete;
The boneless fish close quaking lies
And eats for cold his aking feet;
The stars in isickles arise:
Shine out, and make this winter night
Our bewtie's Spring, our Prince of Light!”
This song sticks out like a sore thumb in the Masque- the rest of it rather plain but this bit seems surreal, as if written by Rimbaud or Dylan Thomas…one has to wonder
Few write political poems-Diane di Prima, Marge Piercy, Ntozake Shange and Alice Walker, slam poets, and even fewer take on the mystical as Coleman Barks does translating and channeling Rumi. I sent this Manifesto to Ms. Piercy- and she responded correctly that I hadn’t read her poems- so I include her out of guilt and I do respect her work. Shelly was a wonderfully political poet. Most writers have not been part of a movement- they are not activists- and their writing shows that.
Carolyn Forche’s anthology A gainst Forgetting sets the standard for collections of politic al verse. Of course- all poetry is political in its way.
EXAMPLE good political poem
Honesty: Our poets don’t generally write honestly, about money, sex, politics, death, ego (I e you have a name- NOW you want more of a name?). It’s as if they are trying to keep themselves out of the work. For example- tell me How does your ego work? What are you thinking about (uncensored) RIGHT NOW?
Alice Notley poem as an EXAMPLE?
Of course we value poetry JUST BECAUSE it tries to go beneath the surface- to go deeper.
But look at poems in the New Yorker magazine, Poetry Mag or the American Poetry Review?- no passion-as I say it “ acadeemic “ Most seem slicked over with a veneer of superficiality. To me the word that describes it is “smug”.
Don't get me wrong – I love poets as persons.
Recent (or recently deceased) poets
Lest you think I am too harsh- I like Gilbert (rip)Snyder, Wilbur, Ryan, Dugan, Matthews (rip), Stafford (rip) , Padgett, Knott and Howe.
As I write this, Billy Collins and Mary Oliver are America’s most popular poets. Collins deservedly- Oliver- a lightweight, one note pony. I know it sounds sexist, and I don’t mind the feminine touch- observation of small matters- but the number of state laureates that are “Dear Diary” women just seem too ordinary?
Jack Gilbert (see two letters below) is my favorite modern since the last great vatic poets Plath or Lowell. (I got instructive letters from Gilbert and Robert Bly) . I applaud John Asbery for trying to make something new- but his thoughts are such gibberish, it doesn’t “light up”. He’s a rebel without paws, or a rebel without a clawse?
I realize sending this out I may not endear myself for future publication- these are sweeping statements- if it does not apply to you- you may excuse yourself (we will meet soon)
Then too it’s partly sour grapes and jealousy because I do not get published- if I did I’d probably change my tune and scratch bax with the rest of them. How about a prize for Dave?
How poetry is presented: And one more thing- you can teach about poetry but you cannot teach IT! Exactly what most amurikan poets are doing (well, you have to make a living, I’ll grant you). Bill Knott taught at Emerson College for 20+ years,
I will not be giving “workshops” on the “poetic experience”. You either have it or you don’t- are you supposed to experience e “satori”? then maybe take some ahuasca or mushrooms.
Something about poetry readings also is to me, a poet, annoying- I know it's ego affirming - but poetry is the shyest and most reclusive of the arts- best discovered on a page- like finding an orchid in the woods. To have some one, like myself, blatting it into your face? Poetry readings, and I’ve organized at least 6 and read in at least 20, are pretty boring. Unless it’s an interesting poet. At many readings I’ve been to, the audience sits in rapt, stuporous silence (what was that poem about?)
Outlaws I love the great outlaws- who did not give a shit about publication- Dickinson, Rimbaud. People misunderstood or unrecognized- as in “he died a pauper”. Awards are almost universally suspect.
Pray for us, Saint Emily, patron of poets not blabbing in interminable swamps of readings and NON"teachers" of poetry in NON writing seminars at un universities, Saint E who glistens like Indian Pipes in the mosssy forest,(or on the green covers of an E first edition) (actually I think it was beige) and who wait shyly to be undiscovered by other than foundations and endowments and magazines and daily emails- pray for us in our moments of exile from the redccoated trmpbastic state, as we die far from home and are buried in Rome,- Pray for us in our lonely struggles and not becoming laureates or welcomed into acacademies of fellow brayers and bleeters- now and at the moments of our communing with the night jars and night stars- signed in humility- david eberhardt, baltimore,. Dme PROUDLY lonely un published
Was it the French composer Satie? Who said “It was good that he refused the award- but that he received the award in the first place? That is what was disgraceful!! Touche.
The association of poetry with money is particularly odious. O yeh- I’d have to refuse the money.(???) (dave fantasizes winning a money prize. Leave it to amurika to turn poetry into a business- a “Poem a Day” Writers’ Almanac or Poetry Foundation and Magazine production line. Poetry is NOT an industry. Poetry is too special for that.
Readings: I can’t say any reading ever inspired me except if I’m reading or that one at the 92nd St Y with Auden and Moore. Jack Gilbert read at Goucher College, as well Seamus Heany- and those were two good readings. Maybe Alan Ginsberg reading at the Md Institute College of Art ( Joe Carderelli organized exciting readings there, concentrating on beat poets).
Actually, every poet is also inviolably perfect and wonderful in his/her unique way.
Sometimes I wonder if this screed isn’t written about my own verse? Well, not really. I have generally followed my likes, not dislikes.
Often I try to figure out why I am not published more widely. I think editors may dislike my verse as old fashioned- maybe too macho, too monumental, of too obscure and inaccessible?
Has any one actually asked for my verse? True it has been ac cepted by a few reviews and on line zines.
The critics: I enjoy William Logan and Clive James and James Wilson (see their responses below)..
In the horrible criticism department, in the Oct. 19 issue of the New Yorker- a review of poet, Robin Lewis by Dan Chiasson: “ Poems can provide the effaced interiority of these caricatures, but also the backlog of silenced persons is daunting and and the history is by no means safely concluded”
A bit of Ms Lewis’ poetry is quoted: “And then you were fourteen, and you had grown/a glorious steel cock under your skirt.”
I see Emily retching/recoiling- how entirely dreadful?
Mallarme is quoted in Yvor Winters, “On Modern Poetry”: “The pure work implies the elocutory disappearance of the poet, who cedes the initiative to the words, mobilized through the shock of their inequality; they light each other with reciprocal reflections like a virtual train of fires upon jewels, replacing the respiration perceptible in the lyric inspiration of former times or the enthusiastic personal direction of the phrase”.
And do we see any of this in current poetry? Verrrry little!!!!!!!!!! (Of course the Mallarme is over the top rhetoric- just fairly incomprehensible!(only the French) ) (“And the farmer took another load away”)
Few write about poetry with a critical eye- it seems forbidden- but wouldn’t it be fun to have a dialogue about what we like or dislike?
A personal note: By 2014 I had all but abandoned poetry- naturally because I was working on my memoir and prose, but also seemed to be somewhat running out of juice (old age) I contemplated turning down any offers for publication, at least as to poetry. But then, I got no offers (lol).
Of course I don’t think I could ever abandon poetry!!!!!! I actually LOVE poetry!
What follows are
Responses to my “Manifesto” so far- best one first: (b the first on yr block)
 
David Taylor Nielsen10:07am Oct 17
I take no offense. My best poems are about underwear, but there is no subject that is closer to me. ;)
William Logan-I have received several comments from this great critic:
 
William Logan3:33pm Jun 21
Thanks, Dave. I disagree with little that you say, but among those things: (1) I wouldn't call Bly or Oliver or Coillins "treasures"--to me the last two are lightweights; (2) Every generation for the past six or eight has thought that the following generation was composing prose (or, to make this more nuanced, that what they were writing wasn't poetry, in which case we can go back a few centuries; (3) Pound has a fine ear for rhythm, and I'm surprised that you can't hear it; but, yes, we seem to be in a goofball time, where attitude is more important than content. Still, I admire poets like Michael Hofmann, Henri Cole, Angle Mlinko, Gjertrud Schnackenberg (the first three books, and I return to Hecht, to Merrill, to Justice, to Heaney, among others. / Cheers, Wm
 
James M Wilson:
Dear David,
Thanks for sharing this and for the kind notice on amazon.com, which I just noticed after I sat down to write you.
There aren't many of us who care about poetry, and unfortunately fewer people care about poetry than write and publish it.  I hope someday it will become once more a popular and civilizing art, where free men will go to learn the truth about what it means to be human.
I do think, in partial departure from your position, that rediscovering poetry as an occasion for refined rhetoric and language rather than as the burning locus for the expression of our passions would advance this goal.  As Jacques Maritain writes, art that sets out to affect us is part of the great lie.  Art that seeks to manifest the well made, that's something we all can get behind -- in truth!
Following from Aaron Fagan whose poem I had criticized for being prose- I need to take his words to heart.
“I welcome criticism when it is clear and well-reasoned. Logan is a brilliant critic. I only wish I could feel as strongly about his poems.
Unlike Logan's prose, your manifesto is lazy: clouded, confused, and cliched. The poor grammar, typos, and shifting trains (to nowhere) of thought make the (at times) engaging ideas impossible to follow or fully appreciate, which I wish I could. So you might consider paying less attention to my side of the street and a little more to your own.”

———————
Aaron Fagan
aaronfagan.com
Response from poet Allen Itz: a poem a day forum, i've done over 3,000 consecutive days. good poetry is great when it happens, but the objective is greater than that. the objective is learning the craft and discipline of writing, doing it every day, fulfilling the purpose and job of writers which is to write. too many "poets" I know have been writing the same damn poem for 20 years. i consider them failures. you should try the poem a day sometime, dave. perhaps you'll be less judgemental of what everyone else does, perhaps even find a grander definition of poetry than that cramped, academic, passionless thing you follow now.
Unlike · Reply · 1 · 3 mins
David Eberhardt "cramped, academic and passionless"- chuckles- that's a keeper- am adding to my manifesto (have collected many fine? comments- how many people do you see who even care abt poetry? i don't
David Eberhardt i am glad to get any response- how abt yu? even the negative means some one cares abt poetry- i think yr comment was a bit more negative than it needed to be- hurling insults like throwing up
Like · Reply · 18 hrs
David Eberhardt don't u think i have a point tho? poetry should be, in part, a craft- not just barf- i actually read a poem a day and the writers almanac and poetry foundation- they have set the bar so low- are they in it for the money? there's no standards- look at ted kooser's american life in poetry- read the poems? they are mostly prose- just becuz you scribble stuff all the time does not m ake you a poet
Like · Reply · 18 hrs
Allen Itz write a poem a day and you will find the good ones. but first you have to set your ego aside, accept that you will write a lot of bad poems and that from that collection of bad poems an occasional good one will appear. also understand that the pas...See More
Like · Reply · 17 hrs
Allen Itz i enjoy receiving comments, but i don't change anything in response to them. i do what i do.
Like · Reply · 17 hrs
Allen Itz all above is as a writer, as a reader i want a narrative that explicitly or implicitly, directly or indirectly tells a human story. i don't care about flash, or even much about writerly talent. i've read whole series by really terrible writers who grab me with their characters and their stories. Harold Robbins comes to mind.
Like · Reply · 16 hrs · Edited
David Eberhardt a low bar in my book- as a contrarian, you must find fault- "if you chase the passion...every poem is a good one"?????me i value readers and the immortality that is surely mine (lol)
Like · Reply · 12 hrs
Allen Itz you continue to see determinations of good or bad as the province of the reader. but everything that serves its purpose is good. if the purpose of a poem is to serve the creative passion of the writer and that passion is served then it is good in the view of the only critic that counts, the writer.

There being no objective standard for good or bad in poetry, we must choose whose subjective opinion we will count on. i give precedence to the opinion of the creator, with the understanding that no opinion has any great importance or relevance to anyone but the the one who proclaims it.
My reply- the “sublime” as in Brahms Second Piano Concerto or J W Turner- it’s just a preference.








                                      




One more poem from me, an old one from 2014. A kind of tongue in cheek response to Dave's "Manifesto" above.
















the best poem of all...

a morning in which
everything worked and I've finished
my breakfast
and thinking about my poem for the day
and it's still dark
and the moon is still
high on the horizon, big and round
and bright,
the kind of early morning sight
that encourages reports
of alien spacecraft
that turn out to be weather balloons...

alien spacecraft
hovering
in a dark morning sky,
high above the horizon,
round and bright,
white light
against the black night -

what a great poem
that would be...

abducted,
taken into the alien spaceship,
hovering
white on black,
taken to a far shining galaxy
of planetary whirlings
and twirlings,
an honored
visitor
to be inducted
into the all-universe all-star poet's
Hall of Fame,
a grand interstellar
convocation and trade show
where my books
are bought and sold
like the ever-glowing
jewels
I know they are...

now
that indeed
would make the best poem
of all











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 accusatory, 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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