Poets On Every Street Corner   Wednesday, August 02, 2017

This is from my second eBook, Goes Around, Comes Around, published 2010 or so.


poets on every street corner

I was going
to write a poem

about what I would do
if I could run the world

but
sitting here now

I realize
I don't know what to to do either

except
I'd like to see rain

every Thursday
and sunshine and blue skies

the rest of the week
except

in the winter
when there should be  snow

and blue skies
and children skating

on iced-over ponds
and cows in the field

blowing clouds
through their noses

and palm trees on beaches
for those who don't like

shad
and big waves for he surfers

and clear, clean streams
slow moving

between tall green trees
for those of us who like to float

and people learning to shake off
bad times

like dogs shaking off wet
a big shake

beginning with flapping ears
passing on down to big

shimmy shakes
of their rear

butts like a Mixmaster
in overdrive

and no icky things
in dark corners

no snakes
and no spiders and no

poison lizards
and animals who like to eat people

and no fatherless children
or old people

rotting in isolation
and

and no one dying
of diseases they couldn't afford to

cure
and no backaches or migraines

or rashes
in hide-away places

and no people who eat too much
or people who never get to eat

as much as they need
and no drunkards or drug addicts

or gangsters
who shoot children from their cars

and no priests, preachers, ayatollahs,
rabbis or other parasites on the human soul

instead
poets on every street corner

proclaiming truth and love and silly songs
for all who will listen

and people who will listen to all the poets
on all the street corners

and return their love
and maybe throw money...








Standard "Here and Now" stuff - library poems and my poems, new and old. And photos, of course.

Me
poets on every street corner

Me
mildly disappointed

Charles Levenstein
The O-word

Me
instruction in the grander scheme of things

Carol Tufts
Naked Ladies

Me
it's that kind of morning

Carl Sandburg
A Million Young Workmen, 1915"

Me
the scrawny, pint-sized guy

Anyssa Kim
july

Me
Christmas Eve at the NCO club

Carl Phillips
The Hustler Speaks of Places

Me
5 a.m.

Campbell McGrath
2. The Clouds (from "A City in the Clouds")

Me
thinking about thinking about stuff

From Haiku Mind
8 haiku

Me
it's all about me (mostly)

Yehuda Amichai
Poems of Resigning

Me
rebirth
the universal shadow

Nila northSun
drag on
ancient yearnings

Me
such a desperado am I












From last week, slept in, very unusual for me. Nothing changed.










mildly disappointed

a sleep-in day,
awake at five as usual,
unable to think of any good reason
to get up (though there are a number,
but such is the power of denial
that I slept until seven)

there's something about being present
for the rising of the sun that is very primal,
very human at the brink of becoming human,
that appeals to me, though beyond
the exhilaration of watching the orange ball
rise above the horizon, there's not much
advantage to seeing it (being awake
while most others sleep carries no particular
reward beyond the any-morning prize of waking up
at all - as potent at any daylight time as in the dark)

so I wake up late,
expecting to see the world in ruins
because of my absence, but, alas, it seems
the world and all its tribes just didn't notice...

I suppose I should be reassured. instead of, as I am,
mildly disappointed










This piece from my poet friend Charles Levenstein, a fellow member of the "O-word" contingent.








The O-word

I have a friend who reacts sharply
To the phrase "senior moment"
(only when used after he has forgotten
Something and has been caught at it)
But he never explains just what it is
That pisses him off so much.

I can guess.

I never to to the Senior Center in my town.
I dread the thought of living in housing for the elderly.
I take discounts offered to "seniors"
At movie houses and hotels but I cringe
At my own miserliness. I am not a senior citizen
And have no desire to be one.
OLD
I suppose I would accept "elder" of the tribe
And when my friends complain about ailments
I always mutter "Consider the alternative!"
When I fall down these days, I am not so quick
To recover; I accept the help of passing Samaritans.

When I say, however, that I am old, all alike say
Oh no, you look so good, amazing for your age!
And to myself I yell, I scream. Old! Say it, OLD!
But that's the O-word in the nervous Boomer world.
Not their fault, they're just frightened.













First from the week 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
don'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 ave 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 fricking 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 any part in
it

any questions?










The next poem is by Carol Tufts, taken from the anthology Claiming the Spirits Within, subtitled "A Sourcebook of Women's Poetry." The book was published by Beacon Press in 1996.

Tufts is Associate Professor of English and Theater at Oberlin College.








Naked Ladies
       
         for Ellen

Tonight we toast the naked ladies,
those leafless lilies that flaunt
their fine pink all through
the crush of saucy August,
while you tell me you can see
their name - an impressionist painting
by Renoir, perhaps, those rosy women
all lavish flesh, luscious
as the season. And you're tickled
as a girl swirling the wine
of her first seduction,
you at eighty now, still here
after four operations that tore you
as green hills are torn by ore,
the ruined skin seamed back in place
the way the earth's crust is roughly gathered
after the miners have gone.
Only this time they've had to leave
the cancer burrowing inside you
even as we toast the pink
leafless lilies called naked ladies,
even as you say they were you once,
but not now, not when you see yourself
a crone carved in ceremonial scars
like a map of where your life has gone
in this world that you won't close
its astonishing days upon you.









I have a lot of morning poems because I get up very early every day (between 5 and 5:30) and have my poem for the day written by 8. So if something interesting happens to me after 9 and I happen to remember it, the experience I draw from fits into a small window before most people are up and about.






it's that kind of morning

it's that kind of morning,
sun still at half power, deep shade,
cool breeze

the kind of morning
when I wish I had a bicycle
and a summer lane to ride it on,
a small tree lined road
where traffic is mostly farm tractors
pulling a wagon, no hurry, the fields
will wait, a little road where people like me,
always in a hurry, never go, where cows moo
and horse neigh and sheep baa and chickens cluck,
all that uncivilization greeting me as I pass
and the farmer on his tractor,
Clyde's Feed & Seed gimme cap,
Bull Durham tag dangling from his pocket,
waving as I pass, saying howdy-do and
smiling...

this is the kind of day, still early, a good part
of the day not passed on to the heat
that will come like a desert blanket,
when the breeze turns hot like from
a bread-breaking oven with the odor of sweat
and blasphemy instead of the sweet smell
of bread coming to life, the kind of early day
when I wish I had a bicycle and a small road
to pedal away from the day I know is
coming








This poem is by Carl Sandburg, taken from Good Poems for Hard Times, one of Garrison Keillor's periodic anthologies of American poetry. This one was published by Penguin Books in 2005.

Sandburg, a uniquely American poet, has faded in recent years, as his kind of poetry has faded. Too hot when cool is the quality most admired. Too bad, I think, for he is uniquely relevant in our time.




A Million Young Workmen, 1915

A million young workmen straight and strong lay stiff on the
     grass and roads,
And the million are now under soil and their rotting flesh will
     in the years feed roots of blood-red roses.
Yes, this million of young workmen slaughtered one another and
     never saw their red hands.
And oh it would have been a great job of killing and a new an
     beautiful thing under the sun if the million knew why they
     hacked and tore each other to death.
The kings are grinning, the kaiser and he czar - they are alive
     riding in leather-seated motor cars, and they have their
     women and roses for ease, and they eat fresh poached eggs
     for breakfast, new butter on toast. sitting in tall water-tight
     houses reading the news of the war.
I dreamed a million ghosts of the young workmen rose in their
     shirts all soaked in crimson...and yelled:
God damn the grinning kings, God damn the kaiser and the czar.










I drove a taxi cab for a while in 1965, only for about five months, but long enough to gather up a few good stories.

I drove a frozen chicken truck for two weeks before that. The cab job was better. I worked for a small newspaper after the cab, better pay, not nearly as much fun.

Then I got drafted two weeks before Christmas.








the scrawny, pint-sized drunk guy

2 a.m.
the time when the bars sweep out all the barflies
before they close

this particular barfly
was a scrawny
pint-sized
guy
and very drunk

the belligerence
often associated with each of these condition
multiplied exponentially
presence
of others

I could tell
even before e got into the back
of my cab he was
an
asshole
flagship at high mast

he mumbled something
I couldn't understand as he got n
and I turned around
to ask him to say it again
and saw he had a
knife,
a switch-blade - nine inches long
with the blade out

this dickhead is trying rob me
I thought
and I'd have given him everything
in the cash box,
but in the box was not just the cab company's
money
but my 33 percent as well,
$6.38, my hard-earned reward
at the end of a twelve -hour shift

I kept track of my cut as the day progressed
and there was no way that scrawny,
pint-sized
drunk
was going to get any of it...

but,
luckily,
heroics were not required
as the guy, very, very drunk, like I said,
so drunk
he dropped his knife
in the space between the front and back seat
and in the process of trying to get it
back, wedged himself between the seats

"well, hell,"
I heard him say
as I opened the backdoor
and tossed him out on the street
and drove back to the
garage,
my shift over
for that very long day...

```

but I kept the knife,
sold it the next day for $2.00
to a large, happy-faced guy who I was assured
would do no evil with it -

the $2.00,
good news for me, increased my take
for the long day before
to
$8.38,
enough extra
in those days for a pack of cigarettes
and a beer
which I could nurse
thinking of all the stories I was going to get
out of my god-awful
job














This poem is by James Hoggard, Texas poet, novelist, short story writer, playwright, translator, former Poet Laureate of Texas, and professor of English from 1966 to 2013 at Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls. He was born in 1941.

The poem is from his book Breaking an Indelicate Statue, published by Latitudes Press in 1986.






Arabesque

Hearing the whispering sleet cast
like sand thrown through trees,
I saw a campfire spitting sparks
at the    flammable    night:
                        Animals huddled
                        around it,
                        their cold fur singed.
                        Their paws were logs' knots
                         and their teeth        ice.











Another appreciation of the early morning hours.









the best we're going to get

crescent moon
on a cloud-patched
early morning sky, the day promised hot
but not yet

this moment
the best we're going to get
today

be one with it
while you
can...








Next from my library, Anyssa Kim, from her book, Ovarian Twists, published  in 2003 by Fly By Night Press.

Kim is a poet, writer, self-taught visual artist, performance artist and classically trained violinist, playing regularly with the New York Repertory Orchestra. She was born in Korea and was adopted, raised in a suburban town in New York, and has lived in New York City for many years.

I transcribe this as it is in the book, not certain in a couple of places if I'm seeing intent and don't understand or typos.








july

stab my brain
wake it up

the warm ooze
of yesterday
was something else

entirely of course

his bangs hung low
over eyes

didn't want me to
see his thoughts
how bright they were

how considerate

how bung
to use hair
as lampshade

summer evening
breeze kisseds
f our eyelids

bright lights
attract moths

maybe that's why
I like him













Another memory poem from 2013.










Christmas Eve at the NCO club

Christmas Eve
at the NCO club

dancing like I was drunk
which, no doubt

I was, a pretty girl
my date for the night

someone's cousin
on a European tour, never

saw her before
never saw her again

not like later Christmas
Eves to come

with wife and son,
Christmas wrapping flying

ribbon
and bows flying

first bicycle, training wheels
still to be attached,

waiting in the garage
for Christmas Day unveiling

Christmas Eve at the NCO
club, nothing like what would come

later, but still, a helluva a good time
was had
by all








From my library, this poem is by Carl Phillips. It's taken from his book, Cortege, published in 1995 by Graywolf Press.

Born in 1959, child of a military family, he moved year to year until settling in Massachusetts in his high school years. A graduate of Harvard, University of Massachusetts and the University of Boston, he taught Latin in high school for 8 years and currently Professor of English, Afro and African-American Studies at Washington University in St. Louis.




The Hustler Speaks of Places
  (after Langston Hughes)

I've known places:
I've known places weary as the flesh when it's had some,
       as rivers at last done with flowing.

My soul has been changed in places.

I mouthed a man dry in the Ritz-Carlton men's room.
I built a life upon a man's chest and, briefly, found peace.
I watched a man sleeping; I raised a prayer over his brow.
I heard the stinging, in bars, of lashes coming down on a
       man's bare ass, until it tore the the red in sunset.

I've known places:
shaven, uncut places.

My soul has been changed in places.










And another one.










5 a.m.

bright crescent
moon
and it's companion star

stark

against the black marble
sky

nothing moves

not a whisper
but
for 
a hysterical-sounding
bird
down
the street

triple trills
panic

5 a.m.









Next, Campbell McGrath, from his book Florida Poems, published by Harper Collins - ecco, in 2002.

Born in 1962, McGrath is author of  volumes of poetry, this being one of his early collections.








2. The Clouds
     From the series, A City in the Clouds

Times the clouds were like riven badlands, foils and arroyos and
     alluvial fans, rough country best traversed with safety ropes as if
     crossing polar seas over plates of tilting ice.

~~~

Times the clouds were umbels
or whale spouts,
fields of coreopsis, a vast mushroom farm.

~~~

Times the clouds lay smooth as a tabletop and children dangled their
     feet as if to fish from an old trestle  bridge
here to one might try his luck, over coastal waters of aquamarine or
     some green, bomb-sighted lake below,
though it took a great hoard of spooled line and a keen eye for
     trajectory and wind shear and then there was

the small matter of fish
to be hauled into the sky!

~~~~

Times the clouds were gongs and temples, a rapture in the pewter, grand
     passions, coffers of incense and precious woods.

~~~~

Times the clouds were battalions of tired oxen, cavalries of manta
     rays, schooled dolphin carving a wake in blue grass,

an army of animals or
a wide plain of chairs and pillows,
a soft-focused Serengeti,
a wilderness of distant billows.

A new land, a new sea.
A new world.

A city.













From July, 2013.










thinking about thinking about stuff

was thinking about thinking about

the situation in Egypt, but decided
I don't know enough about the situation in Egypt
to make it a a productive think
so was thinking
about thinking about the depletion of the ozone layer
or the possibility of life on other planets
or why pie are squared
when nobody I know has ever seen a square pie,
unless maybe you think about peach cobbler
which is often rectangular, not, in itself square
but closer to square than round
and then there's the whole grammar thing
which everybody knows that if something is "are"
it is a plural something, not a singular something, so obviously
it has to be "pies are square"
which, aside from the squareness thing,
makes a helluva a log more
sense

none of which, after thinking about it,
do I know enough to think about
which pretty much
leaves me
with thinking about squirrels and their nuts
which, considering the obvious
parallels to me and Uncle Pasqualle and Great Aunt
Demidondroum and the rest of the familial
crew (which, so that I shall not be eternally barred
for the Sunday meatloaf, shall not be named),
should be something
I know a lot
about












Next, a few haiku by a few poets.

The collection published by Shambhala in 2008.







By Michel McClure

for Allen Ginsberg

MAROON
suitcase
by
a
garbage can.
My
white
breath
in air



By Nicholas Virgilio

lily:
out of the water
out of itself...



By Chiyo-Ni

morning glories -
the well-bucket entangled
I ask for water


By Kyoshi Takahama

he says a word
I say a word:
autumn deepens


By Ippekiro Nakatsuka

summer's morning:
a child of the poor
drags a head of cabbage


By Issa Kobayashi

calmly
he gazes at the mountain -
the frog


By Kusatao Nakamura

along with spring leaves
my child's teeth
are coming in


By John Wills

i catch
the maple leaf      then let
it go










Ah, my favorite subject - me.











it's all about me (mostly)


another poet writes

about obsession with self
and I ask,
what can possibly be
more interesting, to me
than me?

me,
with all my borrowed neurons
flashing every moment,
every second
on and on firing
inside the bony confines of my skull,
neurons
as numerous as midnight stars in the clear
West Texas sky,
their tiny constant electrical bursting in the fullness
of me -
who knows what mysteries
they probe,
what truths they consider,
what plans they make in the making
of me,
the victories they win,
the failing they pass through,
on to the next iteration
of me and the world
I make of it

the thought of their always working
confounds me even as
I confound myself








And now a poem by Yehuda Amichai, from the collection, Yehuda Amichai; A Life of Poetry 1948-1994. The book was published Harper Collins in 1994, with translation from the Hebrew by Benjamin and Barbara Harshav.

Born in 1924 in Germany, Amichai died in Israel in 2000. He is considered both in his home company and internationally as Israel's greatest modern poet. He is also recognized as one of the first to write in colloquial Hebrew.




Poems of Resigning

1

I resign.
My son already has my father's eyes,
My mother's hands,
My mouth.
No need for me.
Thank you.

The refrigerator starts humming,
Ready for a long journey.
A strange dog weeps for the loss of someone else.
I resign

2

I pay dues to so many funds.
I'm overinsured.
I'm tied up and entangled with everybody.
Every change in my life will cost them a lot of money.
My every move will hurt them,
My death will wipe them out.
And my voice is passing with the clouds.
My outstretched hand turned into paper; one more contract.
I see the world through yellow roses -
Someone forgot them
On my table by the window.

3

Bankruptcy!
I declare the whole world
A womb.
From this moment on, I abandon myself
And deposit myself in it:
Let it adopt me. Let it worry!

I declare the president of the United States
My father, and the premier of the Soviet Union
The trustee of my assets, and the British Cabinet
My family, and Mao Zedong my grandmother.
They must all help me!
I resign.
I declare the sky God.
Let them all together do to me
What I didn't believe they would do












A little strange, this piece from March 2013.












rebirth

in a shaded
evening grove
lying
white shadow
slow
stirring
trees
undulating
white shadow
pale tide
corpse worms
feeding
never-ending
crusade
life in the process
of rebirth


Here's another from March, 2013.


the universal shadow

we live in the universal
shadow
of God's dark forces

our only ally, the light
of Lucifer,
the snake who taught us
to be human -

reason
over magic;
intellect
over ignorance

that is where
we find
our greater humanity...

no new Pope
will ever help us
in our search,
for dark never
concedes willingly
to light

light,
which must shine
even stronger in its
luminescence
if the shadow of
God's dark face
is to ever
lift
from its dominion
over us

God dams the light,
so we must
praise
and protect
it









These two short poems are by Nila northSun, from her book, A Snake in Her Mouth, poems 1974-1996. The book was published by West End Press in 1997.

northSun, poet and tribal historian, was born in Nevada in 1951 to a Shoshone mother and Chippewa father. She was raised in the San Francisco Bay area and graduated from the University of Montana - Missoula. One of the most widely read of Native American poets, she is considered an influential writer in the second wave of the Native American Renaissance.




drag on

i ate flames once
& it was fun
the boy magician at
a theater matinee ate
fire during intermission
& let me lick his burning

i ate flames
enjoyed the sensations
now
he's making me watch
johnny cash talking about
beans & peas & god
while i drink cheap whiskey

the fire is liquid


ancient yearnings

flaming sunsets in the desert
melt into ghostly full moons
petroglyphs luminous but not
giving up any secrets
except to invite the lovers
to use them
as the ancestors did
to pray for good things
to document the hunt
to request strength to carry on
and so it was again
under the moon
as the lovers coiled
the ancestors smiled
and the rocks received
their message











Last for the week - a confessional.









such a desperado am I


it's

Sunday
so I'm at Starbucks,
half-way between my breakfast diner
and
Barnes & Noble
where I will have yet another
cup of coffee
and a free read of
The New Yorker
Rolling Stone
&
Entertainment Today

free stuff certainly worth
another cup of coffee
plus
a look at their new book display
to see if there's anything
I want to steal for my
Kindle

such a desperado
am I,
but just on Sunday mornings
being a much more
respectable
citizen
the rest of the week
when I go to neither
Starbucks
nor Barnes & Noble
and steal nothing but furtive glances
at the pretty baristas
at
my regular coffeehouse
downtown by the
river








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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Scott Acheson
Christopher George
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