Compromise   Wednesday, November 29, 2017








I start off with this poem from 2008, still, at the time, writing on paper at my since disappeared coffeehouse hangout, Casa Chiapas, on South Alamo.















Compromise

ate
a pancake
for breakfast yesterday

and not with that watery
sugar
free
syrup either -
the real stuff, thick
and sweet

not supposed to do that
so
I only ate half

enough to quell
the cravings


this afternoon
I'm going out to the I-10 expressway
and go 100 miles an hour

since I'm not supposed to do that
I'll probably only go 50

and tonight
I'm going to a wild
loud
honky-tonk
full of promiscuous
cigar-smoking
women
and drink a case of beer

but
since I'm not supposed to do that
I'll probably go to the library
and have a cup of free coffee
with Gladys, the 80-year-old
night-shift librarian

compromise

it's a way of life
when you reach a certain stage
of life

all well
and good,
but my, how I miss
the days when I could have the whole
pancake









Everything was me last week; this week, except for the first poem, nothing is me. Instead it is all from my library.


Me 
compromise

Anna Akhmatova
Tashkent Breaks Into Blossom
Untitled
Requiem - 1935-1940

Czeslaw Milosz
Grateful
The Past

Dennis Cooper
The School Wimp

Gary Snyder
Walked Two Days in Snow, Then It Cleared for Five

Susanna H. Case
Nevada Dunes Sing Low C
Theory and Practice of Fishing

Gwendolyn Brooks 
gay chaps at the bar

Joanna M. Weston
Embarkation
Unknown
Shield

Kevin A. Gonzalez
The Night Tito Trinidad KO'd Fernando Vargas

Paul Monette
Here

Gabriel Gomez
A Slender Chemistry of Wondrous Fiction

Paul Guest
Loyalty Oath

Jorie Graham
Little Exercise

Thom Gunn
Old Meg

Joyce Suphen
From Out the Cave

Bernadette Mayer
Birthday Sonnet for Grace

Kenneth W. Brewer
Death of an Owl

Lorna Dee Cervantes
Cafe Solo

Sally Van Doren
Gephyrophobia
Proposition

Maria Luisa B. Aguilar-Carino
Picture Taking in Besao

Andre Voznesensky
The New Year Tree

David Meltzer
Hero's Mom












I start the week with a poem from the anthology Women Poets from Antiquity to Now, published by first in 1980 and later in 1992  by Schocken Books Inc.

To pick the poem to use I opened the book at random, finding in that random process my favorite Russian poet, Anna Akhmatova, a famous young poet  before the revolution, surviving the revolution through very difficult years.


















Tashkent Breaks into Blossom

As if somebody ordered it
the city suddenly became bright -
it came into every court
in a white, light apparition.
Their breathing is more understandable than words,
in the  burning blue sky
their reflection is doomed
to lie at the bottom of the ditch.

I will remember the roof of stars
in the radiance of eternal glory.,
and the small rolls of  bread
in the young hands
of dark-haired mothers.
                 1944

Translated by Richard McKane


untitled

How can you look at the Neva,
how can you stand on the bridges?...
No wonder people think I grieve:
his image will not let me go.
Black angel's wings can cut one down,
I count the days till Judgment Day.
The streets are stained with lurid fires,
bonfires of roses in the snow.
           1914

Translated by Stanley Kunitz with Max Haward


Requiem 1935-1940

No, not under the vault of another sky,
not under the shelter of other wings.
I was with my people then,
there where my people were doomed to be.
           1961










Next I have two short pieces by Polish poet Czeslaw Milosz, winner of the 1978 Neustadt International Prize in Literature and the 1980 Nobel Prize in Literature. A professor since 1962, and at the time of publication, professor emeritus of Slavic Languages and Literature at the University of California, Berkeley.

The pieces are from his book, Road-side Dog, published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux in 1998.














Grateful

I am grateful for that day when in a wooden little church
between huge oaks I was admitted t the Roman Catholic
Church. As well for my long life, so that, believing or not
believing, I could meditate on two thousand years of my his-
story.

That history was diabolic, no less than heavenly. We built cities
bigger than Jerusalem, Rome and Alexandria. Our ships
circumnavigated oceans. Our theologians contrived syllogisms.
And immediately the transformation of the planet Earth began.
If only we were innocent, but no. No innocence in the expe-
ditions of the cross and the sword


The Past

The past is inaccurate. Whoever lives long enough knows how
much what he had seen with his own eyes  becomes overgrown
with rumor, legend, a magnifying or  belittling hearsay. "It was
not like that at all" - he would like to exclaim, but will not,
for they would have seen only his moving lips without hearing
his voice.
















This piece is by Dennis Cooper, from his book, Idols, a collection of poems on a gay life by a very good poet and novelist. The book was published by Amethyst Press in 1989.
















The School Wimp

In high school
I lived against walls
hushed in dope deals.
My friends: my victims
moped around me
like a weak species.

He used to stand out
like a girl thrown
into our locker room,
a slim novel pressed
to his ribs, horn rim
ships docked at his eyes.

I floated above him,
a prize for cute babes
who shared the
dagwood of my wallet.
Their small pink pouts
opened for chicken feed.

In college, I learned
I could read.
One by one I found
the books he'd poured over.
Mallarme, Colette, Oscar Wilde.
I sat and perused, and
all my friends looked like him.

Then, after eight years
I see him in a bar.
But now his sort attracts me
and later, when the sun
peers into his home,
my hard cock pokes through
his smile like a cigar














Next, a favorite poet of mine, one I would emulate if I could, Gary Snyder. The poem is from his book, Ax Handles, published by Shoemaker & Hoard in 1983.

















Walked Two Day in Snow, Then It Cleared for Five

Saw a sleek gray bullet-body, underwater,
     hindfeet kicking, bubbles trailing.
     shoot under bushes on the bank;

A tawny critter on the gravel bar -
     first morning sunlight, lay down,ears up,
     watch us from afar.

And two broad graceful dark brown leaf-eaters with
     humped shoulders, flopping ears, long-legged,
     cross the creekbed and enter the woods.

A white and black bird soars up with a fish
     in its claws.

A hawk swings low over slough and marsh, cinnamon
     and gold,drops out of sight

A furred one with flat tail hung floating
     far from shore, tiny green wavelets, waiting;

And I saw the turn of the head, the glance of the  eye,
     each gesture, each lift and stamp

Of your high-arched feet

         IX, '74, Thoroughfare Meadow, Upper
                      Yellowstone River















Here are two poems by Susana H. Case, from her book, The Cost of Heat. The book was published in 2010 by Pecan Grove Press.



















Nevada Dunes Sing Low C

Stroke
the dune. I know

that sound
- attentive lover.

Grains burn my toes
like any love song.

After collision,
a soothing

synchronization. Pure
sound. Vibration

of the outer layer.
They say the sand

in China
hardly moans at all.


Theory and Practice of Fishing

Those like me who teach about fish
don't always know how to go fishing,

confused by the swizzle
of actual little fins,
their scaly emotional limbo
so seemingly nonsustaining

in the sharp coral swim.
But I know if I am the lure
your are the fish

the hook elusive, like your gaze.
Such wisp of material
to snag enough of the flesh

that I might hold the ephemeral
in my hand.














Next, a poem by National Book Award recipient Gwendolyn Brooks. The poem is from her book Selected Poems, first published in hardcover in 1963, Perennial Classics paperback edition published in 1999.















gay chaps at the bar

   ...and guys I knew in the States, young
   officers, return from the front crying and
        trembling. Gay chaps at the bar in Los
                 Angeles, Chicago, New York...
                             Lieutenant William Couch
                                      in the South Pacific

We knew how to order. Just the dash
Necessary. The length of gaiety in good taste.
Whether the raillery should be slightly iced
And given green, or served up hot and lush.
And we knew beautifully how to give to women
The summer spread, the tropics, of our love.
When to persist, or hold a hunger off.
Knew white speech. How to make a look an omen.
But nothing ever taught us to be islands.
And smart, athletic language for this hour
Was not in the curriculum. No stout
Lesson showed how to chat with death. We brought
No brass fortissimo, among our talents,
To holler down the lions in this air.
















From her book A Summer Father, three short poems by my poet friend Joanna M. Weston. The book was published by Fronteac
House in 2006.















Embarkation

    Only a few officials holding watches
     Noted the stealthy hour of our departing,
     And, as we went , turned back to their hotel

the train moves slowly
from the station

Father goes without goodbye
into the soldier's comradeship
of linked solitudes

pistons heave, wheels draw them
down the track, out of dawn
to quayside and a somber song
that whispers and lifts
like smoke

war lies
ahead of the bow wave
beyond foam sliding past the ship's hull
beyond arcs of flying fish
out of sight
unimagined


Unknown

his shadow
moves on dark glass
with a voice
that commands
ruined cities
into poetry


Shield

how to shut out explosions

forget his children

find silence and shelter
between bombardments

to write poetry?














This poem is from the anthology The Wind Shifts, New Latino Poetry, published by The University of Arizona Press in 2007.

The poet is Kevin A. Gonzalez,teacher of poetry and fiction at Carnegie Mellon University.














The Night Tito Trinidad KO'd Fernando Vargas

I rode in the bed of a pickup truck,
raising a Corona to toast the moon.

Six of us, we dumped ice & case
onto the rugged metal - no Styrofoam relief,

no white custom to keep us cool.
We didn't care the bottles rolled

into each other, their acute chime
beneath the blasting horns & gunshots

echoing off the curb's molded lip.
We didn't care, the numb pool

of ice & glass, that we live in a colony
& the stripes of our waving flag

yield a black shadow under
pirated fireworks. We wanted only

the sour smiles of lemons wrung
into our bottles, our tanned skin

soothed by something cool, the touch
of fingers on a crisp steering wheel.

We wanted the unofficial midnight parade
to wind past the Dos Hermanos Bridge

& Puerta de Tierra, into the Old City,
all a rampage of black shadows

on the faint blue cobblestone pleats.














This song of lament is by Paul Monette, taken from his book West of Yesterday, East of Summer - New and Selected Poems (1973-1993). The book was published St, Martin's Press in 1994.


















Here

everything extraneous has burned away
this is how burning feels in the fall
of the final year not like leaves in a blue
October but as if the skin were a paper lantern
full of trapped moths beating their fired wings
and yet I can lie on this hill just above you
a foot beside where I will lie myself
soon soon and for all the wrack and blubber
feel still how we were warriors when the
merest morning sun in the garden was a
kingdom after Room 1010 war is not all
death it turns out war is what little
thing you hold on to refuggeed and far from home
oh sweetie will you please forgive me this
that every time I opened a box of anything
Glad Bags One-a-Day KINGSIZE was
the worst I'd think it will you still be here
when the box is empty Rog Rog who will
play boy with me now that I bucket with tears
through it all when I'd cling beside you sobbing
you'd shrug it off with the quietest I'm still
here I have your watch in the top drawer
which I don't dare wear yet help me please
the boxes grocery home day after day
the junk that keeps me spotless but it doesn't
matter now how long they last or I
the day has taken you with it and ll
there is now is burning dark the only green
is up by the grave and this little thing
of telling the hill I'm here oh I'm here
















The next poem is from the book The Outer Bands by Gabriel Gomez. The book was published by the University of Notre Dame Press in 2007.
















A Slender Chemistry of Wondrous Fiction

A concern for a crucifix fastened above a threshold.

A suspicion of rain in elderly bones.



These hold themselves in fragments,

standardized thinking.

I surround myself with hindsight over turned earth

beside a paddock of whinnying foals; their wedged

hoofs clipping half- moons in the planks under dusk, where

there is no death nor myth, but crickets lumbering in patterns.



Their faces come apart like anthills in the rain.

Their smoldering voices pluming towards the darkness.














From his book My Index of Slightly Horrifying Knowledge, this poem is by Paul Guest.

The book was published in 2008 by Ecco - Harper Collins.
















Loyalty Oath

Solemnly do I swear and affirm and affix
many foil seals with arcane symbols
to the lividly carcinogenic spirit
of Senator Joseph Raymond McCarthy
of Wisconsin, a state I like
for letting Matt live there in happiness
with his wife, for being the only place of birth
Karri is likely to have. And further
do I tiresomely swear with my face
made up in moral gravity that in most ways
I am fucking awesome
and not a subversive person interested in
or committed to the overthrow of governments
by violence, disobedience or denial
of gym membership. I swear
upon many stacks of leather bound Bibles
of Gideons leave in hotel rooms
where I often went with lovers
to roll around for entire weekends
in sheets we fouled with ourselves and Chinese takeout.
I swear on your mother's grave
and the fresh one beside her
where your father sleeps beneath new sod.
On my children screaming inside me
to hurry up and create them
with a foolish but lovely woman.
On her body's every curve
by which I know how not to get lost
when all there is to see by
is the moon tumbling from the sky
and the alarm clock's red math.
I swear this and avow that
and sometimes I promise
to promise to never violate
the Geneva Convention in all its charming quaintness.
I depose and declare
and many other verbs
which sound wondrously stern.
I lay down with my heart
and my hand above it
and both are filled with blood
and every breath swears its false oath so help me God.














This poem is by Pulitzer Prize winner Jorie Graham. It is taken from her book Overlord.

The book was published in 2005 by Ecco-Harper Collins.

















Little Exercise

The screen is full of voices, all of them holding their tongues.
Certain things have to be "undergone," yes.
To come to a greater state of consciousness, yes.
Let the face show itself through the screen.
Let the organizing eyes show themselves.
Let them float to the surface of this shine and glow there.

The world now being killed by its children. Also its guests.

An oracle? - a sniper, a child beater, a dying parent in the house,
a soil so overfed it cannot hold a root system in place?
Look - the slightest wind undoes the young crop.

Are we "beyond salvation"? Will you not speak?
Such a large absence - shall it not compel the largest presence?
Can we not break the wall?
And can it please not be a mirror lord?















Now this poem by Thom Gunn, from his book The Man with Night Sweats.

The book was published in 1992 by The Noonday Press.
















Old Meg

dark as a gypsy, berry-
brown with dire
sticks to the laundromats
in cold weather

                         in the sun
sit near her on the bush bench
and you'll smell something
of dog, something of mold

I've seen her beaming
at concrete, "You didn't make sense
at first I couldn't have known
who you were Extraterrestrial
friends no doubt
                           But to me
venturing once to greet her
she responded with
                               "Blood on you!'














This poem is by Joyce Sutphen, winner of the 1994 Barnard New Women Poets Prize.

It is from Straight Out of View, published in 1995 by Beacon Press.
















From Out the Cave

When  you have been
at war with yourself
for so many years that
you have forgotten why,
when you have been driving
for hours and only
gradually begin to realize
that you have lost the way,
when you have cut
hastily into the fabric,
when you have signed
papers in distraction,
when it has been centuries
since you watched the sun set
or the rain fall, and the clouds,
drifting overhead, pass as flat
as anything on a postcard;
when, in the midst of these
everyday nightmares, you
understand that you could
wake up,
you could turn
and go back
to the last thing you
remember doing
with your whole heart:
that passionate kiss,
the brilliant drop of love
rolling along the tongue of a green leaf,
they you wake
you stumble from your cave,
blinking in the sun,
naming every shadow
as it slips.















Here I have a poem from a Norton anthology, Postmodern American Poetry, published in 1994.

The poem I selected is by Bernadette Mayer.















Birthday Sonnet for Grace

I have always loved (your) Grace in 14 lines, sometimes
I have to fit my love for Grace into either
An unwieldy utopia or a smaller space,
just a poem, not a big project for changing the world
           which I believe
It was the color of your hair that inspired me to try
            to do in words
Since such perfection doesn't exist that inspired me to try
Like the Hyacinth, Royal or Persian blues
That go so well with you.

Now older than we were before we were forty
And working so much in an owned world for rent money
Where there seems little time for the ancient hilarity
We digressed with once on the hypnopompic verges of the sublime
Now more engrossed in hypnagogle literal mysteries of
            our age and ages I propose
To reiterate how I love you any time.       
















This poem is by Kenneth W. Brewer, taken from his book Sum of Accidents. The book was published in 2003 by City Art.




















Death of an Owl

All year she watched
the great horned owl
of her back yard.

Wild and secluded,
the yard hid mice.

Some nights, she would hear
the great wings unfold,
fly like a lover's breath
in the small death of sex.

She would find bones
under the red maple.

One morning , early October,
she lifted the great owl's
dead body into her truck.
The vet said poison -
the sort people use
to kill mice.

Now the yard seems empty.

Nights she cannot sleep,
she opens the back door, listens.

"What is the use of love,"
she says, "if it has no wings
beyond the next breath."















From her book, Emplumada, this poem is by Lorna Dee Cervantes. The book was published by The University of Pittsburgh Press in 1981.

















Cafe Solo

I loved you
with the scientific
excuse of the lonely.
Now I watch the streets
smog out of focus
or zoom in brutality.
My eyes have met no one's
all morning. I have forgotten
the purr of my name.
I remember only the brush
of my cat's teeth
when she tells me
she loves me. For weeks
the only lesson I've learned
is that the leaves of the apple
are finally turning. Everything
has let go. There are days now
that go by without a sound.
I could be anyone.
Once I was a person
who loved you.















These poems are by Sally Van Doren from her book Sex at Noon Taxes, published by Louisiana State University in 2006, winner of the Walt Whitman Award of the Academy of American Poets.

















Gepyrophobia

If there is a bridge,
I cannot see it,
but I know I want
to cross it, to walk
from one isthmus
of the self's fragment
to a peninsula,
a teat leaking
honey milk, sweet
libation from
the other side.
I am slack-mouthed
and breathing
through my nose.


Proposition

Let's say your left breast
Is much larger than your right,
And you are not a fine-tuned
Distortion of a woman as
John Currin makes you out to be,
But you sag as your age.
Why wear the lambswool
Sweater any more?

                                The aureole
Puckers under lip's breath like
A sea anemone's spores open.
You can still be wet pain.
Your canvas is the ocean.
Spout gills and watch your nipples
Float like masts in the salted air.













Next, from the anthology, Cartography, a poem by Maria Luisa B. Aguila- Carino, assistant professor of English and comparative literature at the University of Philippines College Baguio.
The book's subtitle is "A Collection of Poetry on Baguio."

The book was published by Anvil Publishing in 1992.















Picture-Taking in Besao

The toothless elder crouches
In the doorway's shadowed skirts.
He is afraid the strange, black
Metal amulet hanging heavy
From the stranger's neck
Will pleat his soul and paper his breath.
The children say it does not hurt;
They laugh to see how he persists
In holding converse with the ether
Of ideas from a trackless land.
"You live in the hollows
Of your cheeks. Come dance!" they mock.
But no - it is enough for him
To sit within the doorway's shadowed frame
And feel the grim and brittle outlines
Of his soul press strange
Reassurance round his bones.
A wild bird, plumage red,
Connives to catch the rheumy eye
As it commits its body
To the wrinkled sky.








This poem is by Russian poet Andre Voznesensky from his book Voznesensky, Selected Poems, with translation by Herbert Marshal. Voznesensky was popular in the Soviet Union and to a lesser extent in the U.S. during the temporary loosening of restrictions by Khrushchev. The poet died in 1977.

The book was first published in 1962 by Sovietsky Pisatel, a publishing house of Soviet writers. My paperback edition first published in the U.S. in 1966 by Hill and Wang.

At the time this poem was written, Christmas was not officially celebrated in the Soviet Union, though New Year's Eve was.

There is a awkwardness to some of the lines in the poems. I can't tell if it because of the translation or reflective of the fascination of the young Russian intelligentsia of the time with American slang and jazz forms.








The New Year Tree

Beyond the windows caryatids,
But in apartments - stiletto heels swing...
The New Year trees
                                 with wings
                                                   reactive
Come seething through the ceiling.

What kind of miracles are prophesied to us?
What kind of charades are here
In this chastity coniferous,
In these spheres?!

O girlie with the mandolin!
Stupefying, rebuking, revealing,
Blazing like a mandarin
Ginger locks unpeeling.

Playing pranks, like school-kid merry,
Nibbling pine needles green...
What will she cherish,
                                     what will perish
Of her year to be

She plays the fool, is filled with fright...
Snow thaws outside the room,
And the sweeper there is white
Is like the man in the moon.

Epochs, goblets, moons weave...
"Blow out the candles, blow!"
Love is always -
                            New Year's Eve.

A New Year
                    of the soul.

But the rising ferment of fir trees
Like  woman in darkness flits -
All's in the future,
                              as in beads,
And the pine needles on her lips!













Last for the week, this poem is by David Meltzer, one of the most respected poets from the Beat and San Francisco Renaissance period. It is taken from his book David's Copy, Selected Poems. The book was published in 2005 by Penguin Books.
















Hero's Mom

Hero's worn-out old mom waits.
Sits by a window watching railroad track
weave silver loops across the plains.
Once great trains bore down heavy on the iron.
Steam speech rich in future brag.

Now it's cowboys, hillbillies,
honkytonk tenors
sing through radios
of love gone wrong,
hard times, cheap booze,
ladies with elusive ways,
constant paradox
Maya dishes-out
into cafeteria trays

Hero's worn-out old mom waits.
Wearily thumbs her dream-book down.
Nothing left to sing or talk about.
At night the wind
hums against telephone wires
sizzling ghost voice choir.

It's all wearing down
like silver lines of rail.
A wearing down until nothing's left.
Mom's empty rocker by the window.
Wind parts lace Irish curtains.
Nobody to turn the radio off.












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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





                                                            


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The Hiss Quarterly
Thunder In Winter, Snow In Summer
Lawrence Trujillo Artsite
Arlene Ang
The Comstock Review
Thane Zander
Pitching Pennies
The Rain In My Purse
Dave Ruslander
S. Thomas Summers
Clif Keller's Music
Vienna's Gallery
Shawn Nacona Stroud
Beau Blue
Downside up
Dan Cuddy
Christine Kiefer
David Anthony
Layman Lyric
Scott Acheson
Christopher George
James Lineberger
Joanna M. Weston
Desert Moon Review
Octopus Beak Inc.
Wrong Planet...Right Universe
Poetry and Poets in Rags
Teresa White
Camroc Press Review
The Angry Poet