Wars, Past and Still   Wednesday, October 11, 2017








From around 2002, near the beginning of our
nation's longest war, still going.

The poem, and the art to the left by Vincent Martinez, are from my first book, Seven Beats a Second.














in the last days of March in South Texas

clear sky, bright sun,
the last north wind of the season
pushing hard against me as I drive south,
back to the coast for another week

many weeks I've done this now,
a year and a half of weeks,
north on Fridays to the rocky hills
and quiet comforts of home, home
to family, to all my favorite places,
then back on Sunday to the coast,
until the road is hardwired in my memory,
gray asphalt ahead and behind,
I'll pass a hundred miles sometimes
and not remember any of them...

but today is a day just past the first edge of spring,
a spring just past a wet and mild fall and winter
so that now, spread out on either side of the road,
lies the soft side of South Texas chaparral,
neon green mesquite, mustard yellow huisache,
pastures of bluebonnets, creamy white buttercups,
Indian paintbrushes, red or deep pink
depending on the light, sunflowers
lining the highway on tall green stalks,
and just around a softly rising curve,
a mother and her baby, sitting together
in a deep patch of bluebonnets,
the mother posing, look at daddy, she's saying
as he circles, focusing, getting just the right shot...

seeing this small family reminds me
of a picture in the Times this morning,
a mother, bare feet grimy from her dirt floor,
a colorful blanket laid out by a wall, a treasure maybe,
where just moments before was lying the baby
she holds now in her arms, long graceful fingers
holding the baby tight against her breast

perhaps she heard them coming,
the two soldiers standing in the open door,
rifles ready, three people afraid not knowing
friend or foe,
friend or foe,
the woman, her face under some trick of light,
is a bright frozen mask in the dark interior,
the soldiers, awash in sunlight with backs to the camera,
are tense, their hands tight on their weapons,
their fingers tight, it must be, on the triggers
while the baby sleeps in its mother's trembling arms,
an innocent in a time and place
where innocents will die with the wicked,
where the just and unjust find a common grave

I think of all who have died in my time
and of all those who will die now
in these last bloody days of March and I ache for God,
the God I knew as a child, of green trees and cool winds
blowing soft across a pasture dancing with his colors,
a compassionate God who would enfold
all the mothers and babies and frightened soldiers
into the protection of his billowing robes

but that God, it seems, is not the one in vogue today
so these last days of March will continue without him









Standard stuff, number 575. Good times; bad times; often the same times.


Me
in the last days of March in South Texas

Me
I go to sleep every night ashamed of my country

Wendy Cope
Emily Dickenson
Advertisement
at 3 a.m.

Me
anniversary thoughts on a winter night

Federico Garcia Lorca
Paso
Arrow
Early Morning
Farewell

Me
hope for us all

Bartomeu Rosello Porcel
To Majorca, During the Civil War

Pere Quart (John Oliver)
Songs of Exile

Me
dream weaver

Emily Dickenson
Three untitled poems

Me
avoidance

Bruce Bawer
On Leaving the Artists' Colony

Me
rain dance

Bobby Byrd
On the Transmigration of Souls in El Paso #3

Me
flying blind

Elias Miguel Munoz
Summer of the Body

Me
Halloween, near midnight

Ada Limon
Ways to Ease Your Animal Mind

Me
sitting on empty

Simon Armitage
The Catch
In Clover

Me
s*x

Me
best friends forever

Me
going on 74 years old


















It's a rant, not a good poem, but anger and disgust such as I have cannot be distilled into a good poem.
















I go to sleep every night ashamed of my country

for
nine months now
I go to sleep every night
ashamed of my country, watching
the lose of values
as another day
passes, fearing the day's new losses
will never
be recovered
in my lifetime, the legacy
left for the next generation,
left for my son, a small dystopian
remnant of our former
potential, never completely realized
it's true, but the path to what we could be,
to the dream of our founders,
often so painfully
followed
but always, step by slow and painful step,
on track to fruition, never Utopia,
never to be Utopia, but always within
our deepest heart
a Utopian vision that drove us,
each painful step
incremental progress toward
the dream..

the path abandoned now,
to small, hateful, base ambitions
driven by greed and ignorance...

what will be left when these purveyors
of shame are
done
and those who follow us
never know what's been lost,
no longer remember
the dream?

bad poems like this on dusty, forgotten
shelves, hopeless, ineffective
outrage
filed
and
forgotten

poems
for dark days
when hope seems a trivial
obsession












Here are three short poems by Wendy Cope, from her chapbook,  Making Cocoa for Kingsley Amis, published by Faber and Faber in 1987.

Born in Erith, Kent, Cope worked for fifteen years as a primary school teacher after completing university. This was her first book.










Emily Dickinson

Higgledy-piggledy
Emily Dickinson
Liked to use dashes
instead of full stops.

Nowadays, faced with such
Idiosyncrasy,
Critics and editors
Send for the cops


Advertisement

The lady takes The Times and Vogue
Wears Dior dresses, Gucci shoes,
Puts fresh-cut flowers round her room
And lots of carrots in her stews.

A moss-green Volvo, morning walks,
And holidays in Guadeloupe;
Long winter evenings by the fire
With Proust and  cream of carrot soup.

Raw carrots on a summer lawn,
Champagne, a Gioconda smile;
Glazed carrots in a silver dish
For Sunday lunch. They call it style.


At 3 a.m.

the room contains no sound
except the ticking of the clock
which has begun to panic
like an insect, trapped
in an enormous box.

Books like open on the carpet.

Somewhere else
you're sleeping
and beside you a woman
who is crying quietly
so you won't wake.















This piece from January, 2007.












anniversary thoughts on a winter night

the cold night seeps
through the window
beside our bed,
damp, coastal cold
that makes midnight fog
fall to the ground
frozen,
reflecting in the pale light
like the tiny sparkles
of broken glass
you see scattered
on the street
after an accident

the window,
when I brush against it,
is a cold jolt
that pushes me across the bed
to lie closer to you,
to wrap myself around you,
embracing your warmth
like an animal
drawing tight around itself,
seeking the internal fire
of its own beating heart
to protect itself
from the cold hand
of night

you
are my fire tonight
and night's past
and nights to come,
the warm nest that saves me
from cold and loveless nights,
the light that sustains me
through dark and lonely days

you
are the center of life and warmth for me

you are
and so I am










Next, four short poems by Federico Garcia Lorca from In Search of Duende, a New Directions Book published in 1998. Considered by many to be the greatest of Spanish poets, Lorca was one of many victims of the Spanish Civil War, he was born in 1898, murdered by the fascist regime in 1936.

This is a bilingual book, Spanish and English on facing pages.










Paso

Virgin in crinoline,
Virgin of Solitude,
opened like an immense
tulip.
In your ship of lights
you go
along the high tide
of the city,
among the turbid saetas
and crystal stars.
Virgin in crinoline,
you go
down the river o the street
to the sea!

          Translated by Lysander Kemp


Arrow

Brown Christ
passes
from the lily of Judea
to the carnation of Spain

Look where he comes

From Spain.
Sky clear and dark,
parched land,
and watercourses where very
slowly runs the water.
Brown Christ,
with the burned forelocks,
the jutting cheekbones
and the white pupils.

Look where he goes!

          Translated by W.S. Merwin


Early Morning

But like love,
the archers are blind.

Over the green night
the arrows
leave tracks of warm
lilies.

The keel of the moon
breaks purple clouds
and the quivers
fill with dew.

Ah, but like love,
the archers
are blind!

          Translated by W.S. Merwin


It's hard to stop, but here's just one more.



Farewell

If I die,
leave the balcony open.

The little boy eating oranges.
(From my balcony I can see him.)

The reaper is harvesting the wheat.
(From my balcony I can see him.)

If I die,
leave the balcony open!

          Translated by W.S. Merwin















There are downer days, luckily there are also days that find our better spirit.

















hope for us all


I walk Bella

just
as the sun slips
through the crack
at the edge of the
world

the morning cooler
than the last few,
and wet,
puddles at the street corners
from the rain
I slept through last night

there's
hope
for us all, I think,
as the universe of this street
takes a quiet breath,
prepares to fashion
its wonders













As I write this the central government in Spain is trying to impose its will on the people of Catalonia, trying to stop them from having a referendum on potential approval of independence. I don't know now how it will turn out, but hope however it is resolved it is done peacefully.

Accordingly, whatever happens it seems appropriate to feature several Catalonian poets taken from the book, Modern Catalan Poetry: An Anthology. The book was first published in 1979 by New Rivers Press.












The first poet I selected from the anthology is Batmoeu Rossello-Porcel. Born in Palma de Majorca in 1913, he was considered the most promising of Catalan poets. His poem (included below) For Majorca, During the Civil War has practically become the island's national anthem. Suffering from tuberculosis, he wrote the poem in 1937, shortly before his death the following year.



For Majorca, During the Civil War

Those fields still turn green,
those groves remain,
and my mountains are etched
above the same azure.
The stones always invoke
the difficult rain, the blue rain
that comes from you, bright ridge,
my mountains pleasure, brightness!
I'm greedy for the light, lingering in my eyes,
that makes me tremble when I remember you!
Now the gardens are like music;
they trouble and tire me like some slow tedium.
Autumn's heart already fades
fixed with delicate smoke-clouds.
And the grass turns brown on hunting party
hills, among September dreams
and dusk-tinted fogs

All my life is bound to you,
like flames at night to the darkness.



The next piece is by  John Oliver. (pen name, Pere Quart) Born to a wealthy family, Oliver was an active leftist beginning in the 1920s. At the end of the civil war he fled, fist to France and then to Chile. He was allowed to return to Catalonia in 1948 under a government amnesty, but for many years was denied a passport and could not legally leave Spain. He died in 1986.


Songs of Exile

One night when the moon was full
we crossed that hill,
slowly, not saying a word...
If the moon was full
so was our grief.

**

My beloved beside me
of dark skin and serious air
(like a Virgin Mary
found in the mountains).

**

In Catalonia
the day of my departure,
I left half of my life slumbering;
The other half came with me
so as not to leave me lifeless.

**

Today in French territory,
and perhaps still further tomorrow,
I won't die of longing
but longing will make me live.

**

In my country of VALLES
three hills make a mountain range,
four pines a thick wood,
five towns too big a world.
"There's no place like Valles"

**

Let the pines ring the inlet,
the hermitage on the hill
and on the beach a cloth for cover fish
beating like a wing.

**

A hope undone,
an infinite regret.
And a homeland so small
that I dream of it whole.


















A coffeehouse poem from April, 2007.
















dream weaver

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

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












I mostly ignored Emily Dickinson, imagining her as a stereotype old maid with twelve cats and a flowery journal with pink and cream pages.

My mistake!

Here are several of her poems illustrating the depth of my ignorance.

The poems are from a Shambhala Pocket Classic published in 1995.













"Hope" is a thing with feathers -
That perches in the soul -
And sings the tune without the words -
And never stops - at all -

And sweetest - in the Gale - is heard -
And sore must be the storm -
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm -

I've heard it in the chillest land -
And on the strangest Sea -
Yet, never, in Extremity,
It asked a crumb - of Me.

c. 1861


***


I'm ceded - I've stopped being Theirs -
The name they dropped upon my face
With water in the country church
Is finished using, now,
And they can put it with my dolls,
My childhood, and the string of spools,
I've finished threading - too -
Baptized, before, without choice,
But this time, consciously, of Grace -
Unto the supremest name -
Called to my Full - The Crescent dropped -
Existence's whole Arc, filled up
With one small Diadem.

My second Rank - too small the first -
Crowned - Crowing - on my Father's breast -
A half unconscious Queen -
But this time - Adequate - Erect,
With Will to choose , or to reject,
And I choose, just a Crown -

c. 1863


***


To see the Summer Sky
Is Poetry, through never in a Book it lie -
True Poems flee -
















You cannot walk this world without seeing terrible things. Most days, all you have in you is to turn your eyes away.


















avoidance


a small child's

shoe,
a sandal in an alley,
flattened by occasionally passing
trucks
a small child's
shoe, a baby shoe
in an alley where homeless
sometimes sleep

there is a story here
I'm afraid
that I might tell
on a more courageous day
but it is too much
for today, the sad potential
too much for this
beautiful morning, too likely
to spoil the blue sky and bright sunshine
if I can avoid it,
I will...

I do...













From my library, this poem is by Bruce Bawer, selected from his book Coast to Coast, published by Story Line Press in 1993.

Born in New York City in 1956, Bawer has lived in Norway since 1999. He is a literary, film, and culture critic, and poet who writes of gay rights, Christianity and Islam.














On Leaving the Artists' Colony

The way love rests on coincidence,
the way a sense of family and home
can flow now, like a stream, through several hearts
transplanted from their diverse native climes
by strangers' choices, violates all sense.

If we had been here at different times,
I know wed have formed other loyalties,
drawn other eyes and written other poems,
and I know there are friendships I've never made
with people whom I now may never meet.

But so be it. Heard melodies are sweet,
and unheard melodies are never played
except on the harmonium of art.
This place we love reminds us how immense
the world is, and how small our cherished part,

and why we feel drawn on toward mysteries,
compelled to paint and sculpt, compose and write.
To think of those who'll be here three months hence,
who'll feel just as we do, and find it hard
believing that emotions so intense

can be so commonplace, is to regard
those mysteries as if with second sight.
It is to sense an elemental rhyme
of soul and soul, to feel a river flow
between our hearts and those we'll never know.

















From July, 2007. As i transcribe this, it is exactly this kind of day. Except that now that it has finally started it shows no inclination to stop.
















rain dance

I had just
stepped out
of my car
when the
weather
changed
from
looks like rain
to go ahead
and bring those
animals up
two by two
and my dinky
umbrella
was doing as much
good as a
5-cent stamp
on a 50-lb
parcel
and just
as I go to
the porch
intent on the
pleasure
of enjoying a
cup of Jo
while watching
it rain it stopped
and just as sudden
as the rain had
started
the sun
came out
and I was
the wettest
thing in this
whole
blue-sky
town














This poem is by El Paso poet, editor and publisher. It's taken from his book, On the Transmigration of Souls in El Paso, published by Cinco Puntos Press in 1992.















On the Transmigration of Souls in El Paso, #3

On the corner of Kansas and Rio Grande
is the sacred-blue Aragon Apartments,
so old they have become a shrine to another

time. It was there the quick-witted Monty used to
live before his story started to take off
elsewhere. His friend the newspaper man who

invited him to come down to this old west Texas
town in the first place went back to Chicago.
Monty though did some standup comic routines

at parties and dated a photographer named
Victoria who lives in a wonderful two story
house in Kern Place where all the rich people

also live only to move away when they
get richer, thank God. But Monty, afraid
that is story was getting too long, gave u

comedy and Victoria to become a TV weatherman
on Channel 4 Saturday nights, making it all
possible for him to meet the Indian woman

who with the red chakra on her forehead
led him into paradise which was translated
into Corpus Christi (the body of Christ),

Texas Monty the Weatherman is gone into
that wilderness. Reference the story of John
the Baptist. Anyway, I was downtown tonight

when a prostituted tried to pick me up.
Then John Sansone, a poet I used to know, came by
and we talked about literature on the corner of

Oregon and Missouri Streets while the prostitute,
a beautiful young girl the age of my own
daughter, drove away in a Ford stationwagon.

John Sansone said he likes fiction more than poetry.
The funny thing is John Sansone lives
in the sacred-blue Apartments of Aregon. Reference

here the tales of Christians against the Moors.
I wished him a beautiful wife in Corpus Christi.
The End.
















More coffeehouse people.

















flying blind

flying  blind
this morning,
each word the latest
to stumble across my mindset,
no idea what word
comes next...

Teresa,
that's it...

woman in her late 30s,
early 40s, good-looking in business attire,
been saying anonymous
good mornings
through two coffeehouses,
introduced myself
this morning
so
fro now on I will not be saying
good morning, anonymous woman
but good morning, Teresa Garcia
instead -
a small victory in the humanization
of my world, but every victory
small or large
counts...

besides,
most of my best friends
have always been women

maybe
we'll be friends sometime...

but
enough about my campaign
against the dehumanization
of life where everyone knows
everyone but no one ever knows
anything important
about anyone

and
beside strange women, as in
stranger-woman
not strange woman as in the
woman who hangs out
in the morning by my breakfast diner,
sits outside, smokes, obviously
in a search for good conversation, talks
to herself

they let her come in sometimes
pushing a walker covered by a dirty
jacket, her own clothes, the same she's been wearing
for the six months I've been seeing her,
red sweater, pants steadily becoming more patch
than pants, boots, and a jaunt hat over
dirty blond hair and a pinched
face that doesn't invite conversation
with outside people or forces
but I say hello anyway

it's just the way I am,
flying blind...












The next poem is from the anthology, Paper Dance, 55 poets selected by three of my favorite Latino poets. The book was published by Persea Books in 1995.

The poet I selected for this week's post is Cuban-American poet and prose writer Elias Miguel Munoz. He has a Ph.D. in Spanish and has taught language and literature at several universities.













Summer of the Body

When the Filipino doctor,
soft-spoken and fatherly,
inquires,
Are you close to your grandfather?
(Or did he say were you close?)
And tells me of the necessary end.
(Perhaps he said "inevitable.")
The NO CODE.
The usual resuscitation that
the almost-dead man will not receive.
There's no point, says the doctor.
Because sooner of later
(any second now)
we all must endure
the summer of the body.
No one is exempt.

We are prepared,
I guess.
We have already bought
the burial plot and
we have chosen the lettering
for his tombstone.
(we were so pleased
to see the graveyard;
the tombs were hidden
under welcoming grass.)
We'll offer him a wake,
his velorio.
And we will dress him in a guayabera.
I guess we'll do
What has to be done.

Abuelo's hands
his massive fingers,
still warm.
His skin cannot bear another shot.
That's why we have this perfumed cram,
clean sheets and feather pillows,
this cool air,
for him.

Summers of the body can be merciless.
















A haunting. October, 2007.
















Halloween, near midnight

and I
ain't
scared nobody
yet





BOO!!!




(how
'd
I
do
?)











This short poem by Ada Limon is from her book, sharks in the river, published in 2010 by Milkweed Editions.

Limon, born in 1976 in California and educated at New York University, has published four collections of poetry and is winner of numerous literary awards.














Ways to Easy Your Animal Mind

A cloud of cormorants comes
flooding out of rushed wind,
out of sunned sea-bound waves.

The air is unwound with bird
and you are not lost in the least,
but a deliberate deserter.

Let go the oxcart.
Let go the claw and climb.

This fevered mess of world
is well-done. Lean in and nuzzle
its exceptional need to be yours.















A poem-a-day poet feeling sorry for himself.
















sitting on empty

another poet
spoke this morning
of the empty head that greets
us poem-a-day poets
every morning, nothing there
but the sound of silence
echoing, too bad, too bad, prideful
poet, thinking I'm always there for you

the dry well,
remembering those mornings
when a cool spring rises up
to greet us, the grace of temporary
inspiration - how we reach for it,
hold tight to it, hoping it won't go away
overnight

but it does...

each day a new struggle to find the source,
dowsing the dry flats of every day
for the moment, the flash, the something
so mysterious and welcome
that gives us
the day...












Next, two short poems by Simon Armitage from his small book, Kid, published by faber and faber in 1992.

Armitage, born in 1963, is an English poet, playwright and novelist. He is currently a professor of poetry at the University of Sheffield.

The second poem bothers me more than, as a confirmed meat and pudding eater, it ought to.













The Catch

Forget
the long, smoldering
afternoon. It is

this moment
when the ball scoots
off the edge

of the bat; upwards,
backwards, falling
seemingly

beyond him
yet he reaches
and picks it

out
of it's loop
like

an apple
from a branch,
the first of the season.


In Clover

This winter, six white geese have settled near the house.
This morning as she polishes the furniture
and peers across the river to their nesting place

she finds the gaggle floating off downstream, and there
instead is one white egg sat upright in the sand.
The geese, distracted with a crust, are unaware

as Rose, her eldest, in ankle socks and sandals
cradles the egg in the lap of her pinafore
and picks a safe way back a safe way back across the stepping-stones.

She cracks the contents on a bed of cornflour
and paints policemen on the empty halves of shell
to sell as plant-pot-men in the next month's flower show.

Later, the six white geese will crane their necks to smell
the fine egg-pudding cooling on the window-sill.


















From November 2007 - such an innocent poem compared to the current days of our Pervert -in-Chief.














s*x

I was thinking
about sex, maybe
a weird thing
to be thinking
about at 4 p.m.
o a Sunday
afternoon
but it's not
as bad as it
might seem
since it was
just a piddly
little
non-prurient
internal
discussion
of a
philosophical
nature
concerning the
onset of sexual
maturity, attitudinal
that is, nor hormonal,
arising from the viewing
of a movie trailer
for one of those
teenage
grope-a-dope
movies
it just got me
thinking about
how some kids
grow out of their
natural fifth grade
obsession with sex
early, while others
of great age and ex-
perience
die with that
obsessions still
driving
their
lives

having considered
the question,
I have concluded
sexual maturity
arrives at that
moment
you realize sex
is not something
done in the dark
that nobody else knows
about, that, in fact
everybody
you see on the
sidewalk
at the supermarket
at work
at the park
wherever you are
does it or did it
or wants like crazy
to do it, that
presidents and
prime ministers
do it, that ship
captains do it,
that lawyers and
judges do it,
that the barber
who cuts you hair
does it, that the
prim and proper
lady at the library
and the people
on Fox News
for crying out
loud do it and
that your preacher
does it and your
Sunday school teacher
and even some priests
do it (though they're
not supposed to tell,
and your mother
and your father did
it and maybe even still
do it, that
their mothers
and fathers
and their mother-s
and father's
mothers and fathers
did it, back
10,000 generations
to two monkeys
humping in a tree,
all of that doing
and thank god for
it or you wouldn't
be here to do it
today...

what's the point
of all this I can't
say, its just once
you start thinking
about all these people
doing it, doing it,
doing it
everywhere
you turn, you have
to wonder how
the earth doesn't
just get knocked
to a wobbling
right
of its
axis
















Here's another old poem by me, a short one from 2011 posted here because, at the moment, I'm tired of transcribing other people's poems.














best friends forever

my wife
goes to church
on Sundays

I go to
breakfast
and think heretical
thoughts

the reason
why

most likely

she'll be in
heaven

in the end

and I'll be with
my best
friends
for-
ever



















Last for the week, a reminder that priorities are important.
















going on 74 years old

going on 74 years old
and thrice
retired

I spend my days
writing books
and taking
naps
````
haven't done
a book
in a couple of years

never
miss a nap...











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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Loch Raven Review
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