Not Expecting Much   Wednesday, October 25, 2017








Starting with a poem from 2011, remembering much earlier years.

















not expecting much

I remember waking up
humid wet
hanging half out my bedroom window

to catch the coastal breeze
blowing in from the gulf,
chilled by the wind

across my sweat-damp sheets...

beginning
another fifteen-year-old's day
in the mid-1950s - a poor boy

as I remember it now,
but in fact not much poorer
than most of the people I knew

a circle that included
only a few people I thought rich,
those who filled a good portion of my restless

before-sleep, cloud-floating rambles
about being
them...

a boy of mostly secret,
mostly imagined pleasures,
lacking confidence,

long on brains but
failing to see anything good
coming from it, wishing I could wish

away my brains for a car,
for a girlfriend, for a fight I could win,
willing to be dumb if dumb

would improve my position
in the small town pecking order, move me up
a rank or two, enable sex with another person,

lead me to a twenty dollar bill blown onto a mesquite
thorn, hanging, waiting for me to find it in the bushy lot
where I made my den, where I could smoke Parliament

cigarettes, look at naked girl pictures, and dream, not always
of sordid things, ennobling dreams sometimes,
big-plans dreams, the great things I would do someday...

could do someday if I were someone else, someone
who had big plans, someone who did great things,
someone who was not me...

but mostly coupling dreams,
imagining how the flesh
of someone else would feel pressed

against mine, dreams of bodies entangled,
my body enwrapped by pale arms with tiny blond hairs
like gold in the afternoon sun, and,..and...then

things happening I could only vaguely
imagine, lacking the experience o specificity,
but knowing it was good and stiffly exciting

whatever it was...

a small town boy,
not expecting much, not sure
what there was to expect

surprised,
always in later years
at how things turned out








 Standard stuff - amazing, as always.



Me
not expecting much

Me
dark morning

Colette Inez
Tunnel Songs

Me
the difference between free will and the will to be free

Richard Howard
Disclaimers

Me
festival

Jack Myers
Mr. Muscle Breach and the Aerobics Instructor

Me
another note on the refrigerator door

Five songs from the Kanginshu

Me
for the old folks

Victor Hernandez Cruz
Islam

Me
damn druids

Charles Bukowski
junk
my failure

Me
transformation

Fadwa Tuqan
Enough for Me

Abu Khalid
Poem

Gokhan Tok
Talk

Me
so much for the end of the world

Gary Blankenship
Arizona

Me
getting on with it

Zbigniew Herbert
A Button
Cat
Country
Drunkards

Me
gray lady

Me
I stood in my natural state

Me
welcome home











Have a raging head, chest, back etc. cold; starting slow with a tiny morning moment.












dark morning

the moon
a silver thread
like a smiley face
on the black morning sky

a bright star
hanging directly below
like a pendant on the breast
of an African queen










First from my library, this from a book of family poems about a family she never had. The poet is Colette Inez and the book is Family Life, published by Story Line Press in 1992.

Born in 1931, Inez is a faulty member at Columbia University's undergraduate writing program.  Her father was a priest, her mother a scholar. After spending early childhood in a catholic orphanage in Brussels, she was moved to America and placed in a foster home. Her first foster mother died an alcoholic and her second was abusive.













Tunnel Songs

Engraved by rain
my father's stone
marks a body
turning in a world
he used as he could.

I was not made lightly
when he and my mother wept
dark tunnels in an iron bed.

Rain on his grave
writes nothing
in a language I can read.

When I was born my mother
hid me in a paragraph.
"No one will notice
if she doesn't cry." she said
running to confess
failure in orthography.

Now she lives like a stone
in her sister's garden.
The rain prepares a speech
to write on her face
in the winter.

When she sleeps I will feel
her turning
in my bed of parentheses
in my house of lost rhymes.













Beginning my old set with this exercise in rueful self-awareness from 2012.


















the difference between free will and the will to be free

I spent the bulk of yesterday
doing something
of no consequence, something
the doing of which would bring me only minimal
pleasure and satisfaction,
doing it
simply because
by god,
once started in the doing
it is not in my bones
to quit before it is
finished

so much for intelligence
and free
will










Again from my library, this poem is by Richard Howard. It is taken from his book Trappings, published by Turtle Point Press in 1999.

Howard is a poet, translator, critic, essayist, and teacher. Born in 1929 in Ohio, he was educated at Columbia where he was still teaching as of his most recent Wikipedia entry.









Every time I turn to this book, I turn to this piece. There is a lot of excellent poetry in the book, but this piece is so funny I can't help but do it over and over again.


Disclaimers

The text of Bach's St. John Passion, performed tonight unabridged,
is largely derived from the Gospels, portions of which are alleged
(by some) to be antisemitic. Such passages may well disclose
historical attitudes fastened (by Bach himself) to the Jews,
but must not be taken as having (for that very reason) expressed
convictions or even opinions of the Management or of the cast.

The Rape of the Sabine Women, which the artist painted in Rome,
articulates Rubens treatment of a favorite classical theme.
Proud as we are to display this example of Flemish finesse,
the policy of the Museum is not to be taken amiss:
we oppose all forms of harassment, and just because we have shown
this canvas in no way endorses the actions committed therein.

Ensconced in the Upper Rotunda alongside a fossil musk-ox,
the giant Tyrannosaurus (which the public has nicknamed "Rex"),
although shown in the act of devouring its still-living prey implies
no favor of public officials to zoophagous public displays;
carnivorous Life-Styles are clearly inappropriate  to a State
which has already outlawed tobacco and soon may prohibit meat.











Rain after a dry spell, the whole world and all its creatures celebrate.













festival

a festival day
for the frogs
as puddles puddle
and the creek runs high,
croaking and
leaping
singing
hallelujah
to the frog king
in his cave,
maker of rain
and sloshy, slooshy
mud
ah,
dismal day,
day the frog
and their wet and sloppy
festival

rainy day,
frog king's delight

rainy day rainy day
hallelujah
hallelujah













This poem is by Jack Myers, from his book One on One, published by Autumn House Press in 1999.

Myers, a poet and educator, was poet laureate of Texas in 2003. He taught in the creative writing program at Southern Methodist University as well as a faculty member of Vermont College's low residency MFA program. He died n 2009.















Mr. Muscle Beach and the Aerobics Instructor

have left each other. They believed deeply
in their Spartan diet, the satori-like clang
of their weights, in teasing each other
like the miniature shaggy dog they co-owned
running obsessively back and forth between them.

I loved being amazed at their bodies,
the sheen of their flawless skin,
as if sheer belief in working out
and the exhilaration of exhaustion
had sculpted minarets out of their bodies.

But tonight I found them all moved out.
The ascetic intensity of right devotional thinking
had swept through their apartment, leaving behind
only a set of weights in one corner, and the puppy
who wouldn't come out, trembling under them.
















Well, what can I say?


















another note on the refrigerator door
      after William Carlos Williams

this note
is to tell you
I will not be writing
a poem today
and will be having breakfast
with a friend
instead

I'm sorry,
but it will be delicious













Following are three short poems from Simmering Away, Poems from the Kanginshu, published by White Pines Press in 2006, translated by Yasuhiko Moriguchi and David Jenkins.

The Kanginshu is a classic collection of songs of love and wisdom which appeared in Japan in the early 16th century. I can't find a reference on line identifying the poets who created the original collection.














The love I feel
is like the firefly
         flickering
         by the waterside,
              silent
              sorrowful
              firefly

~~~~~

There is no time
I do not have you
in my heart

there is no night
when gently drowsing
I forget

~~~~~

Who is this
        (you naughty boy!)
that hugs me tight
and bites me,
a married woman?

        but it's fun
        we're in full bloom
                 at seventeen
                 we're at full bloom
                 at seventeen

but nibble gently -
if your teeth leave marks,
then he will know


~~~~~

My hair
that I had just tied up
has loosened,
       gently tumbling,
       as my heart
       has fallen for you

~~~~~

The cock crows
        the moon stands
        above the thatched roof
        of the tea house
and on the frost-laden bridge
footprints
made him think it
time to leave

         already footprints
               on the frost-laden bridge

         but if I were now
         to cross that bridge
         then all would know
                 my footprints

         so let the tide ebb
         and I can cross
         at the river-mouth

         beneath the bridge
         the tiny fish
         dart to and fro
                    they too
                    not wanting
                    to sleep alone










I think it's harder for us old enough who remember better times and bigger dreams.















for the old folks

we 
yearn
for the kind of leader
that would make us want to count
again
years
after
our days of relevancy
are passed

or
maybe
it's just me








This poem is by Victor Hernandez Cruz. It's taken from his book, Red Beans, published in 1991 by Coffee House Press.

Cruz was born in Puerto Rico but moved to New York City with his family when he was five years old. He didn't learn English until two years later when he entered school. He started writing early and at seventeen self-published his first book on a mimeograph machine. Many books later, he was one of the founders of the Before Columbus Foundation, a non-profit organization promoting multi-cultural writers. In 1981, Life magazine named him one of America's most important poets.









Islam

The revelation of the revelation
The secrets offered in rhythms
The truth of heaven entering through chorus
Yourself runs into yourself
Through a crack of understanding
As if Falcons landed on a
shoulder of your thoughts
With a letter from your guardian angel -
Like Caribbean mambo dancers
The whirling dervishes go off
spinning into the arms of light
Across a floor of endless squares and circles
Calligraphy brushed into tiles
Painted inside the names of God
Love
Compassion















2012 again, a disappointing day.




















damn druids

back from
Brownsville, came early,
hurried back
cause computer repair
druid
said my computer
would be
ready
today
but they're
closed,
turkey holiday,
damn
druids must think
they work
for the Post Office

well
crap,
I'm going to
bed














Here are two poems by Charles Bukowski, very much in Bukowski, called "Laureate of American Low Life" by Time magazine, mode. The second a bit more introspective than usual. The poems are from the massive posthumous collection, The Pleasures of the Damned, Poems, 151-1993.
















junk

sitting in a dark bedroom with 3 junkies
female
brown paper bags filled with trash are
everywhere.
it is one-thirty in the afternoon.
they talk about madhouses,
hospitals.
they are waiting for a fix.
none of them work.
it's relief and food stamps and
Medi-Cal.

men are usable objects
toward the fix.

it is one-thirty in the afternoon
and outside small plants grow.
their children are still in school.
the females smoke cigarettes
and suck listlessly on beer and
tequila
which I have purchased.

I sit with them.
I wait on my fix:
I. am a poetry junkie.

the pulled Ezra through the streets
in a wooden age.
Blake was sure of god.
Villon was a mugger.
Lorca sucked cock.
T. S. Eliot worked a teller's cage.

most poets are swans
at one-thirty in the afternoon.

the smoke pisses upward.

I wait.

death is a nothing jumbo.

one of the females says that she likes
my yellow shirt.

I believe in simple violence.

this is
some of it.


my failure

I think of devils in hell
and stare at a
beautiful vase of
flowers
as the woman in my bedroom
angrily switches the light
on and off.
we have had a very bad
argument
and I sit in here smoking
cigarettes from
India
as on the radio an
opera singer's prayers are
not in my
language,
outside, the window to
my left reveals the night
lights of the
city and I only wish
I had the courage to
break through the simple horror and make things well
again
but my petty anger
prevents
me.

I realize hell is only what we
create,
smoking cigarettes,
waiting here.
wondering here
while in the other room
she continues to
sit and
switch the light
on and off,
on and
off.










An observational, notice of someone rarely noticed by anyone.















transformation

she's
small,
thin-
skinny and angular
to the point
its uncomfortable to see her
because it looks like it must be
so uncomfortable to
be her -

broad forehead,
small,
sharp
chin, fingers
like spider legs,
fingernails
never quite clean...

she dyed her hair blond
last night

waiting all day
for someone to notice,
mention
her transformation...

no one has
and
no one will













Next I have three short poems selected by San Antonio poet Naomi Shihab Nye for the anthology The Flag of Childhood, Poems from the Middle East.

The book was published in 1998 by Aladdin Paperbacks.



















Poem by Fadwa Tuqan, translated by Salma Khadra Jayyusi and Naomi Shihab Nye.


Enough for Me

Enough for me to die on her earth
be buried in her
to melt and vanish into her soil
then spout forth as a flower
played with by a child from my country
Enough for me to remain
in my country's embrace
to be in her close as a handful of dust
    a sprig of grass
             a flower.



Poem by Abu Khalid, translated by Salwa Jabsheh and John Heath-Stubbs.


Poem

Without paper or pen
    into your heart I reach
Listening is more poignant
    than any speech.



Poem by Gokhan Tok, translated by Yusuf Eradam


Talk

You never hear it
but at breakfast the sweetest talk
in between the jam and the honey.
















From 2012, on the occasion of another of the periodic end of the world predictions.



















so much for the end of the world

I
expected
a bigger
bang

burning clouds

blue-white
lightning
ozone hissing
prairie-fire
world

wailing...

gnashing...

true
hearts
ascending

the rest of us
tumbling

fiery
pits
blazing
like the sting
of
a quadrajillion
angry
bees

wailing

gnashing

maybe
next time












These two pieces by my poet friend Gary Blankenship.

I've been on this highway, I-10 through Arizona, a contrast of desert and mountain (like most of the great Southwest)


















Arizona

Washout

On a straight stretch of Interstate 10
about halfway between Blythe and Phoenix,
as the driver can practice speeding,
you wonder if any land is more desolate
and if any cactus is uglier than a Saguaro
(exempting the Mojave Joshua tree).
Descending the Harquahala Wash,
you read a road sign that says,

In the event of a flash flood,
drive to higher ground.

Western movie lore teaches
flash floods originate
from rain storms in the mountains and
are upon unsuspecting travelers
before they have a clue, which leaves
the question of why the I-10 warning.

Or maybe it is like the cries
of those who predict
global warming,
disaster in Iraq,
the housing bubble will burst,
the southwest will be annexed to Mexico,
there will be a shortage of Tickle-Me-Elmos...

We won't credit the prophets
until it is too late or lack the ability
to tell which sign in bogus
and which we should heed.


Sunbonnet, Meeting

Broad wings of calico hide her plain face,
the bill of a ragged cap hides his eyes.
Rough hands browned from years under the Tombstone sun
touch a blow holding sheaves of flaxen hair.









Well over 3,000 daily poems now, day after day, coming up with something, each morning a challenge, a discovery. Until those mornings when it feels like it's all been said, that there's nothing new to discover.

Time to either quit, or soldier on. I choose to soldier on.











getting on with it

I seek
to write a poem not including mention of
politics, the beauty of the morning, or the strange
characters who seem to cross my path
daily...

a serious case of been there,
done that ensues

and
now
that I've put my nose to that particular grindstone again,
I find I have nothing left
but what I've done so many times before

I can't even come up with an idea
for a long rambling humorous
poem like I used to do before
when in a slump

it seems
my comic muse, my last-ditch
fallback has
died

nothing
reminds me of anything
new or remotely interesting

so I might as well just
stop here
and get on with the feeling sorry
for myself








Next, several short poems by Zbigniew Herbert from the collection, Elegy for the Departed, published in 1999 by the Ecco Press, with translation from Polish by John and Boddana Carpenter.

Herbert, Polish poet, essayist, playwright, and moralist, was a member of the Polish Resistance movement, The Home Army, during World War II. Born in 1924, he died in 1998, one of the most widely known and translated of post-war Polish writers.












A Button

     The best fairy tales of all are about us, how once we were
small. I like most the one about how I swallowed an ivory button.
My mother was crying.


Cat

     He is all black, but has an electric tail. When he sleeps in the
sun he is the blackest thing one can imagine. Even in his sleep
he catches frightened mice. One can see this in the little claws
that area growing from his paws. He is terribly nice and naughty.
He picks birds off the trees before they are ripe.


Country

     At the very corner of this old map is a country I long for. It is
the country of apples, hills, lazy rivers, sour wine, and love. Un-
fortunately a huge spider has spun its web over it, and with
sticky saliva has closed the toll gates of dreams.
     It is always like that: an angel with a fiery sword, a spider,
and conscience.


Drunkards

     Drunkards are people who drink at one gulp, bottoms up.
But they make a face, because at the bottom they see themselves
again. Through the neck of the bottle they observe faraway
worlds. If they had stronger heads and more taste, they would be
astronomers.














A peculiar kind of moon poem, from 2012. Also, another experiment with right margin.



















gray lady

gray lady,
round-face drifting,
lightly veiled
by wispy clouds
passing

her
cold-shadow
light
like frost
in the 
air...

gray lady
breaks 
the dawn
like cracking
a pale
egg

and then it's
morning
and still she hangs,
gray lady
over another
gray
day














Tired of transcribing the work of others, here's another old poem from me. It started out a morning ramble, buy ended up political, as much in 2012 did. Little did we know how much worse it could get.

















I stood in my natural state

I stood
in my natural state
in my backyard
at midnight,
watching
the moon in its natural state
pass behind a thin veil
of faster passing
clouds

now,
this morning
I am surrounded
by voluptuous women
who smile
and ask me what I want...

my favorite part
of breakfast...

but that is not this morning's
poem
for this morning's poem
will be a weighty
thing
and about much more
important
and interesting
things
than being surrounded
by voluptuous
women,
though that might be hard
to imagine...

instead,
this being a political
moment in the universe of the human
comedy, I will write of
stupid people,
who,
like gophers in soft sand
poke their heads into the open air
and go, aaawk, aaawk,
like they know something the rest of us
don't

like
how in a political season
stupid people
strut and preen
seeking to impress the rest of us
at how they can walk
and chew gun,
though, being a work in progress,
their attempts
to apply simultaneity to the walking
and gum chewing
process
leads to more comic
pratfalls
than success

oh, how they seek
to expand the realms
of their stupidity,
bounding up against he borders
of us regular folk
who cannot escape except
through cross-Atlantic
passage
to Greece or Italy
where the numbnuts are institutionalized
and politics makes relative,
if surreal,
sense

~~~~

'tis the season, no doubt,
for a Mediterranean
vacation, where
the moon shines bright
in its natural state
and voluptuous women
are abounding...

that's my answer to our current
political crisis
where stupid, like the Great White of "Jaws"
is on endless and merciless
hunt
in the shallow waters
of good sense...

time to close the beaches,
that's what we need
to do










I missed a day at my poetry "house" - a most unusual occurrence. So unusual, in fact, that I thought I should welcome myself back with this poem.













welcome home

it
is the small, familiar things
that stand out to you when arriving
home for a long absence

the screen door, too tightly sprung,
that squeaks with every time it's opened
or closed. the sun through the bedroom window,
so bright when early rising, the tree, it's long hanging
branch scratching against the shutters
when the wind blows from the southeast, the wet smell
of that wind, blown a thousand miles across
the gulf, the smell in the kitchen, reminder of years of bread baking,
the small, happy dog that greets you when you step out of the bathroom door,
her tail doing a thumpa, thump, thump rumba,
the smile of your first early awakening on the first morning home
again









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, Sonyy, 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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