A New Year's Resolution   Wednesday, January 24, 2018

A New Year's resolution from 2008, After eight years of promise, and then regression, much of it true again today.

At the time I wrote it, this was about our 9/11 obsession. That's not so obvious now, but that day and the events of that day continue to haunt us, underlying every thing from foreign policy to, most recently, immigration fears and policies.

a new year's resolution

it was a painful
terrible day,
but not the only
day of pain
and terror in our
or likely in our

it is a day
that will long
be marked
in our history
and it is time
now, seven years
after the fact
to account for it
in ways beyond
the murder of innocents
and proud real estate
brought down...

time to consider the
of that day
we have

time to go past
the often repeated
of 9/11 horrors
politician use
to frighten us

time to think of the
of the years since
that day

and that reality
is -

two wars
killing thousands
of Americans, with
hundreds of thousands
of other dead, guilty
and innocent buried
alike under
the rage of war

billions of dollars
borrowed from out
sent to burn
in the desert

our good reputation
bringing shame
to our friends
and comfort
to our enemies

induced in the name
of "homeland security"

that threaten our
freedoms more
than the worst
that could be done
by bearded radicals
in dry mountains
and dark caves
far away

our military
true protectors
of our lives and fortunes
brought to near collapse
by armchair warriors
and ideologues
ready to fight to the
someone else

all this leaving us
weaker at home
and across the world
than we have ever been
in my lifetime

making it time to say
what most do not
want to hear

the cure
has been worse
than the disease;
our response to the evil
of that day
more harmful to us
than the evil itself

it's time
we grow up
as a people
and recognize
we will always have
and the best defense
against them
is not making more
but making more
that the best answer
o irrational hate
is rational love
of freedom and
that is all inclusive
and not limited just
to those who seem
most like us...

I propose a New Year's
that this year will be
the end of our obsession,
an obsession
that has twisted us
and made us enemies
not of a foreign
but of our own

that this year
we set aside fear
and those who would
frighten us
for their own benefit

that this year
we declare
we will not trade
for security...

it is not our way

More standard stuff this week, except for my old poems, I return to my book, New Days & New Ways with poems from sections three and four ("Human is as Human Does" and "Life on the Fifth Planet") of the six sections in the book.

a New Year's resolution

a winter morning in South Texas

David Brendan Brown
King of Wounds

liking every bit of it

squashed armadillos and other mystic creatures of the Texas plain

early promise

David Eberhardt
To David Ellsberg a Prayer

business breakfast

good old days of mid-life crisis management

such a morning

Anna Akhmatova
Native Land
The Last Rose

I used to wonder about the purpose of life

the blonde started it all

sunk in a shithole and trying to climb out

Alberto Rios
Mr. Luna and History

the thin-lipped woman


no one said the study of science is easy

Naomi Guttman
The Gift

fat lady with a parasol passes

Michael Earl Craig
The Motorist

I really have to go now

Sustained cold, unusual for South Texas where the cold snaps come over night and are gone the next day.

a winter morning in South Texas

morning a shining object
to play with, cold
and quiet
like a fresh fried banuelos
under a powder-sugar glaze,
bright lit
and clear, like thing glass
over a sharp-etched photograph,
thin lucent glass
that in the north wind
cuts like as assassin's quick blade,
blinding as it strikes...

a winter morning in South Texas,
the new year as morning ice
cracks over it,
releasing it to proceed
on it's unknown

First from my library this week, a poem from another anthology, American Diaspora, Poetry of Displacement. The book was published by the University of Iowa Press in 2001.

The poet is Sean Brendan-Brown. A medically retired Marine, the poet has authored two collections of poetry and a fiction collection. After graduating from the Iowa Writer's Workshop, he taught writing in the University of Iowa, the University of Southern Mississippi, and Washington State University.

King of Wounds

He lived on our place
since before I was born -
more uncle than hired hand.
Pawnee, he changed his name
to King of Wounds after Korea
part joke, part serious

because he believed fighting
the Chinese had changed
his vision forever at Chosin:
the vision he had at fourteen
of an owl flying loop-the-loops
in a circle of red moon, talons
clutching a shrieking white
rabbit. His name then had been
Johnny-No-Horses. He returned
from Korea with a box of medals
and as scarred as Frankenstein but enough
disability pension it didn't matter no
one was hiring Indians;
my father hired him.

King of Wounds. Odd even mong
men reluctant to judge. He rode his
circuit of fences at night because that's
when cattle break out or men in.
He loved stars and meteor showers
and considered insomnia a blessing.
A beautiful woman once tried to lure
him to the city - she tried everything.
They had a good time and King of Wounds
wore the pearl button shirts she bought
but at last she went home alone.
When I asked him about it all he said was
            on those barren islands
            they die blamed and blaming

First from New Days & New Ways, the third of six sections in the book, "Human Is as Human Does."

liking every bit of it

came Monday
and in this part of the world

that means
summer will be here
in about a week and a half

and with summer
comes pretty girls
in sunlight

little summer dresses
and shorts and shorter shorts
and even shorter shorts

showing summer skin,
long legs tanning,
little pink-tipped toes flexing

in flip-flops and fancy sandals -
the innocent sex of summer goddess

reminding old men like me
there is still life in the world
and though some might find it unseemly

to say,
this old man
likes every bit of it


A little politics from 2011.

squashed armadillos and other mythic creatures of the Texas plain

I know people
who are so far out
on the right fringe of ideology
they make Genghis Khan
look like a daisy-smoking, fire-splitting,
girly-walking, socialist liberal anarchist freak:

people who are like black holes,
every circling
rightward into another dimension
where the rules of everything from gravity
to the basic laws of mechanics and motion
are altered; where sunshine shines up
from the earth to the sun;
where dry rain falls
from arid skies;
where Glenn Beck makes sense and Sarah Palin
is a rocket scientist;
a place where
tennis balls
and clouds never break to the left -
that kind of people,
people for whom I am a kind of token lefty
among their circle of other true believers...

on the other hand,
I know other people so reflexively left wing
they take forever to get to the supermarket because
they won't make right turns
and can only places they can get to
by making a series of left-turn boxes,
moving squared box by squared box
closer to their goal...

from their perch
high in the clouds of gooey-gooey relativism
they bemoan my troglodyte tendencies,
my insistence on evolutionary theories of
gradual things-getting-betterism;
my understanding that government
is a creature of the people,
including people
who care more about their next paycheck
than they do about
academic theories of the casual effects
of meat-eating on
interpersonal relationships between
prairie grasses and endangered insects,
people who want things to work out
and don't care
if a few cockroaches get stepped on
in the process...

who my left-wing friends care about
only after they're a hundred  years dead
and can be re-configured
as working class heroes
instead of just-plain folks living
just plain lives
they found rewarding in their own
bourgeois way...

my left-wing friends
for whom
I am a kind of token rightist,
good at parties
for the amusing of their ivory-tower friends
who luxuriate in the dirty words
they were too prissy to use
before - like
I'm a mean motherfucker,
they say,
now pass the brie
and hold the ammunition...

I often feel like the squashed armadillo
a former Texas politician
was the only thing ever in the
center of the road -

white stripes
ahead, white stripes
behind, it's and uncomforatalbe
way to live in these dark

A strange winter here, as I said earlier. Being a very early riser, I get the brunt of it.

early promise

misshapen moon,
a small nick on one side
as if, in the very darkest of night,
a high-jumping mouse
took a bite of the cheese

early on,
the day promises

This poem is by my poet-friend David Eberhardt.

David was born in 1941. As a peace protester, he was incarcerated at Lewisburg Federal Prison for pouring blood on draft files in 1967, along with Father Phil Berrigan and two others to protest the Vietnam war. He retired from work in the criminal justice system in 2010 after 33 years of work at the Baltimore City Jail. He has published two books of poetry, The Tree Calendar in 1987 and Blue Running Lights in 2007.

To David Ellsberg a prayer

Had you forgot? Tears of joy?
Not just loving one another loving others?
There is someone praying at this very moment!

Carthusians at their mother ship - La Grande Chartreuse -
The grey stone around them ages slowly as if praying -
Alpine pastures - chamois, eidelweiss..prayerful..

Che in Bolivia, Daniel Ellsberg?
Lovely Tennessee River through Knoxville
Near Oak Ridge - the kill zone
"Transform Now Plowshares" 3* - one mile
And into a kill zone to witness
Versus unclear storage,
Dropped enough bombs, Dresden Tokyo
The firestorms and General Le may
Exulting - the American men around you
Today exultant for dead bodies
in Yemen, inner cities.. had you forgot?
Tears of sorrow - human lot.

*Transform Now 3 peace activist who defaced the nuclear storage facilities
at Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

"Stanzas from the Grand Chartreuse" - Matthew Arnold

"Their faith, my tears, the world deride -
I come to shed them at their side."


This, a been there, done that poem.

business breakfast

there is a large crowd,
ten diners
on several tables pushed

a business breakfast
it seems, for a congregation
of insurance agents
(my guess - they look like
insurance people)
in dress shirts and ties
and a couple of women
for lack of male genitalia...

at the end of the table
a very large
red-faced man
who appears to be the boss,
with the assurance of a person
genetically in the dark
most of the time,
telling sleep-deprived staff
all about the Shinola
he don't know
from, and beside him,
a mid-thirties blond, well put together
who has a 17 year old daughter at home
who's driving her nuts
with skimpy dresses and good-for-nothing

all this exposed to the world
before the meeting started and now that it has
she is revealed to be the boss's
carry-on brain, taking over
his Shinola punditry
to put the meeting to order,
providing such business as there
was scheduled to be
at this early morning business meeting...

the other eight at the table know
who knows
what needs to be known
because their droopy-eyed attention
to the boss's Shinola
is immediately replaced by edge
of their chair attention
when she starts talking, chewing
reduced to undertone,
petite and silent little chomp chomps
as eggs and bacon and toast
slide quietly and respectfully down
alert and thoughtful gullets...

I have been to - convened even -
many such meetings, sat
at the head of many such tables
spouting my own Shinola,
killing time
my near-by brain finish
her poached egg and fat-free milk
and sets herself
to take care of business -
my job done for the


Another from the book.

the good old days of mid-life crisis management

deep thoughts
this morning, about
"Duck Soup" the Marx bros
or was it the Stooges'
"Duck, Soup"
or was it Soupy Sales"
big hit
collaboration with Pinky Lee,
"Pink Soup"
or was it John Waters' thing
about pink Flamingos
or is that a cocktail at the
gay bar
on the corner
of Smith and Wesson Oil,

think that might be the reason
nobody takes me seriously,
I'm always forgetting little things,
great on concept
but lacking in details...

like the fellow and the girl
in the booth
in front of me, middle-aged
man, mid-life crisis
in cowboy boots, longish hair
well moussed, curly in the back,
bald on top,
and the girl, pretty,
blond, 15, maybe 20 years
behind him
in the chronological sphere,
has a pink poodle
named Fluffer
or Poots...

I get the concept
but the details, well, I don't know,
leaving me to wonder,
should I pity the poor fool
or envy him...

or should I just admit
he reminds me of me
when I try to go to sleep at night,
minus the boots
and the hair
and the convertible (did I forget
to mention the convertible?)
and the young blond
and with an extra 20 years
added to the old tick-tocker, victim
of the longest continuously
mid-life crisis since
Genghis Kan

I write my poems early in the day and get up even earlier. I guess it's understandable that morning being the first thing I see it's what I write about while it's fresh.

such a morning

being in a World War II
movie, or a La Carre novel,
rumbling over cobblestone streets
of ruined Berlin, a city of lonely
through a fog-bound corridor, misty and cold

life on hold,
lives in the balance.
such a dark and desolate morning
to begin this winter day...

Here are two poems by Anna Akhmatova. Born in 1889, Akhmatova died in 1966, a survivor of the Russian Revolution and the worst years that followed.  Often banned in her own country, she was honored in the West, shortlisted for a Nobel Prize three times.

The poems are from her book of Selected Poems published Zephyr Press in 1997. The book is bilingual, Russian in the original Cyrillic and English on facing pages.

Native Land

        But there is no people on earth more tearless,
        more simple and more full of pride.

We don't wear her on our breast in cherished amulets,
We don't, with wrenching sobs, write verse for her,
She does not disturb our bitter sleep,
Nor seem to us the promised paradise.
We have not made her, in our souls,
An object to be bought and sold.
Suffering, sick, wandering over her,
We don't even remember her.
     Yes, for us it's the mud on galoshes,
     Yes, for us it's the grit on our teeth.
     And we grind, and we knead and we crumble
     This clean dust.
But we lie in her and we become her,
And because of that we freely call her - ours.

The hospital in the harbor

The Last Rose

           You will write about us on a slant.
                                         I. Brodsky

I have to bow with Morozova.
Dance with Herod's stepdaughter,
fly up with the smoke of Dido's fire.
Only to return on Joan of Arc's pyre.

Lord! You see I am tired
Of living and dying and esurrecion
Take everything, bu grant that I may feel
The freshness of this crimson rose again.

August 9, 1962


Investigating the mysteries of  daily life.

I used to wonder about the purpose of life

I used to
wonder about
the purpose of life
and my place in

I wonder
why I'm standing in front
of the Frigidaire
at 6:30
in the morning,
door open,
refrigerated light illuminating
all the staples,
Miracle Whip
Stubbs BBQ sauce
liver sausage and
punkmunser cheese,
along with a week's worth
of leftovers
in varying shades if green...

then I see them...

my keys...

and now I wonder
how my keys got into the
and, further, why I knew
to look for them
in the first place...

and thus begins
another week
in a life of mystery,
my purpose in it
to appreciate the ever-expanding
of my


Coffee shop talk, loud, louder and loudest.

the blonde started it all

the blond started
telling a story, loudly,
not a funny story but
very loud,
like a substitute
for wit,
and, of course, since she's
the two businessmen sitting
in the next booth
have to loud-up to hear each other,
third quarter sales, the one fellow saying
he deserves a raise, the other fellow,
the boss, I'm thinking, pointing to sales,
explaining the wonders of profit-based
should there ever be a profit,
not so far evident
in the subordinate striver's
quarterly sales...

and that's pretty damn boring
at seven in the morning unless you happen
to be the guy trying to get a raise,
but for the rest of us,
in the same boring galaxy as the
three women across the room,
the fat woman, the all woman and
the oriental woman,
talking about the baby shower
for another woman who is not there,
a perfect mess at the shower, they say, gossip,
gossip, gossip,
and who's supposed to be the father,
does anybody know, does
she even know -
pretty nasty stuff, stuff  best
in little conspiratorial huddles, not
spoken out so loudly,
though necessary might be
to be heard over the businessmen
and their talk of third party sales and profits
and never-coming bonuses,
they in turn speaking very loudly in
order to be heard over
the guffawing blond, witless
story teller..

and now I can hear the cook in the kitchen
yelling at the waitresses
and the volume-rises all around, everyone
trying to be heard over everyone else
trying to be heard
and it's like a damn henhouse
at sunset, all the fat feathery-bottomed brooder hens
settling in,
cackle cackle cackle,
bagging about their latest ovoid accomplishment,
look at my egg, no, look at mine,
no look

and the damn blond started it all


Dipping a toe in contemporary politics and resulting angst.

sunk in a shithole and trying to climb out

to determine
if it's because I'm old
that everything sucks more
than it used to or if everything
truly does suck ad I have nothing
to do with it...

it's like I'm living in "shithole" time
like our great shithole president was talking
about yesterday...

either way,
the weather is going to be great today,
cold, bright, and encouraging  to desolate souls
such as mine...

given even a half a chance
it looks like it might work out...

The next poem is by Alberto Rios, taken from his book Teodoro Luna's Two Kisses, published in 1990 by W.W. Norton.

Rios lives in Arizona and was named the state's first Poet Laureate. A graduate of the University of Arizona, he is author of ten collections of poetry.

Mr. Luna and History

There are many facts in the world.
Most are passengers, but some
Drive the car.
The boy King Tutankhamen caused to be made
For himself the first bed.
In 1340, Thomas Blanket was said to have had
A refinement.
And in 1932 as schoolchildren know,
Teodoro Luna, president of all that had come before,
Invented the making of love.

So went the old joke,
Which was funny but not untrue.
There was talk after his death of a statue,
But the though of it was enough,
Pigeons landing not on  his head or arms,
But rather on his fame,
Two dozen of them.

Some mouths have the custom of food,
Some of words. Most go with food.
Mr. Luna's mouth had the habit of women.

In his later years his wife thought him
Speaking in his sleep,
But that was not it,
His mouth moving, sometimes like a yawn,
Sometimes like a fish.

It is said
A perfect diamond is invisible in water.
How Mr. Luna died is not known,
Nor what happened to his body.
It is said he gave some of himself each time,
From the inside and the out,
Awake but also in a dream.
It is said he became a thousand women.


Seeing the universe of people through my early morning breakfast eyes.

the thin-lipped woman

the thin-lipped
and the wide-eyed man
stare at me from across the room

it seems

and I'm thinking, oh
what the hell did I do now
cause they don't
look like anyone I know
except from the dark shadows
of the very distant past
but I don't look at all like I looked
in the dark shadows
of the very distant past
unless I did something
grievous to them in the dark
of the very distant past
something that imprinted indelibly
and forever in their frontal
and backal
cortex or middle cortex
or in whatever cortex where there
those memories
that survive unto death
and possibly
into eternal haunting
in the dark shadows of dead of night,
but I'll be damned
(It could be, you know)
if I remember
whatever I did to produce such a deadly
stare as though the dark shadows
of a dim night nestled glowingly behind
their eyes...

but, wait..

I think it's not me
they're after... they stare
in the same flaming laser stare
at everyone,
not just

I think they must just be
people with issues
all maybe just bad people
who hate everyone
and not just me,
making me feel much better
now, knowing
it is not my fault
and I will not be eternally haunted
in the dark shadows
of dead of night
and that I can go on with my morning
and finish my biscuits
and gravy,
free of trepidation
and future haunting potential...


I'm an early riser, eager to welcome the new day as it begins.


to wake up god-awful early,
between 3 and 4 a.m.

and sit
listening to the city nigh

an anorexic

for stars
in a city-bright sky

as always
for a night in West Texas

the dark is

and the stars
out of the sky

from a jeweler's black velvet purse...

on the desert where far coyotes sadly howl
and across the scrub and sand

quiet winds blow
from the mountains...

but not here
in the quasi-dark
and never quiet

we make do,
living in the city

what the city
offers, knowing

the desert
and the mountains
are there



gather in the trees
at twilight
knowing all the secrets
of night,
drawing together
as dark draws them in,
settles them into the soft cradle of
a crescent

I feel twilight 
and shadows approaching

cannot find the fulcrum
that is my own

Cocky about managing iced-over roads, I neglected to pay sufficient attention to my feet and the icy stairs.

no one said the study of science is easy

by my preternaturally high levels
of daring-do, I made it all the way across
ice-bound San Antonio to my coffeehouse
this morning, only to find it closed, its owners
apparently preternaturally stuck with high levels
of pussy-limiting daring-don't...

a disappointment for me, especially
or all the the impatient fans
who wake up early
to partake of my Tuesday morning...

it was a lesson I hope they learned
that no one is indispensable and that
surely there is someone from warmer climes
whose poetic expression might be available
to be read...

a more difficult and personal
lesson I learned
when leaving, a lesson
regarding the impersonal and
implacable science of gravity,
slipping, as I did, on an ice-encrusted
metal stairway, ending as a warmly -bundled
heap half way down the stairs as
well as half way up the stairs...

no serious injury, not counting
the embarrassment of lying
on my side half way down
and half way up luckily 
saved from deserved ridicule
since no one else was stupid enough
to be out in the icy outside...

of course
I'll be sore as hell for the next
couple of days,
but that's okay, no one ever promised
the study of scientific principles 
and their real-world
would be

Two more poems from my library, both by Naomi Guttman, from her book Reasons for Winter, published by Brick Books in 1991.

Guttman was born in Montreal where she attended Concordia University. She is widely honored and frequently published in Canada.

The Gift

There will be more, and more
will be broken
but this was from you.

Your colors too: grey,
speckled mauve to blue.
On the floor in pieces
I cannot fix.

We don't talk. Instead
your face appears
in the sockets of my dreams.

I run a finger
along the bowl's interior,
still wet and smooth
as the cavity of an eggshell.

We don't talk.
I cannot fix it.


A war in my dream. YOu
surprise me, though I've
been waiting.

In my mouth
your tongue
is pointed, long
urgently muscular -

We have only a few minutes,
you must go back,

back to the front.
You may not return.

You turn, in uniform,
leaving a hole in my mouth.


Another of the wonderful things to see early in the morning.

fat lady with a parasol passes

then fire truck
then another ambulance

morning rush
becomes parking lot
for lanes across

crash on the interstate
going west

fat lady
with a parasol
on a bicycle
fat feet pumping
on the pedals


so I guess it's over
for someone

This poem, the last from my library this week, is by Michael Earl Craig, taken from his book Thin Kimono. The book was published in 2010 by Wave Books.

Craig, born in Ohio in 1970, earned degrees from the University of Montana and the University of Massachusetts. He lives in Montana where, as a certified journeyman farrier, he shoes horses for a living.

The Motorist

I'm in thee to-be-passed lane sipping a yerba mate, steering with my
knee, trying to open a package of laxatives, checking cell calls,
when past glides a Lincoln

driven by a land in pink sweaters who sits like a turtle hunched at her
wheel. Behind her, in the backseat, rides a mannequin, seat-belted
in, well dressed (jacket & tie) except that his face has been peeled
away or torn abruptly off.

His head vibrates like a lightbulb filament. There's a red, wet smear
where his face was. I can just quickly glimpse this as I'm passed.

I'm listening to the news on the radio. The radio brings me the
news of the day. We live in a very solid country.

It's my schedule that keeps me sane.

I really have to go now

this bright, cold
Sunday morning

have done everything
I normally do by this time,
only done at double-time, skid
marks at every corner, all
with half the enjoyment, like
this little piece of babble,
in two and one half minutes,
panting poetry,
a new genre...

deep breath,

sorry, can't stay to talk,
not like my parents,
standing by a car window for twenty
minutes as guests prepare to leave, continuing
the conversation begun inside
two hours ago,
motor running windshield fogging..

but I really have to move on now...

If you've a mind to, please comment by clicking on the comment button below and let me know if you have a problem accessing the comment section. I've been told there's a problem but I can't confirm it. I do now that I've not been receiving comments for a while now.

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  Just click the "Comment" tab below.


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


Sonyador - The Dreamer


  Peace in Our Time


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Loch Raven Review
Mindfire Renewed
Holy Groove Records
Poems Niederngasse
Michaela Gabriel's In.Visible.Ink
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Camroc Press Review
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