The Voice of Experience Whispers in My Ear   Saturday, September 15, 2018







A note to readers: I am the entire staff here at "Here and Now" - meaning, among other things, I type and proof each issue myself. There is no denying age is affeccting my typing fingers and my eyes so I'm aware perfection is not on the "Here and Now" menue. Meaning, if you see an error, I hope you'll tell me about it via email, allen.itz@gmail.com so that I can fix it.




                                                





I wrote this poem in 2005 and included it in my first book, Seven Beats a Second. I'm sold out of my initial supply of 500 copies, but, if you're interested, it's available at Amazon and at Cyberwit.com on a print per request basis. Unlike this piece. there's a lot of humor in the book.


Thirteen years later, I continue to feel more invisible than ever, slipping day by day a little further into the shadows,.













slipping away

i.

my mind is blind
to the crisp autumn sky
and the creek running clear
and the squirrel
teasing my dog,
a backyard clown
mocking the quivering
puffed-chest forward
self-righteousness
of a small dog
facing a large world

my eyes see none of this,
for like a fist
clenched tight on itself
I am closed to all but anger,
a simmering constant
since the last election,
anger,
not just at the loss
of mine against theirs
but at the outcome
as a symptom
of the nature of my life
in these later years,
like a lifetime
of being on the wrong side

ii.

I feel the passage of time now
like never before,
time ad opportunity
slipping away,
life space lost
like water squeezed
from a cloth,
disappearing in an eddy
down a drain,
leaving an approximation of me
to fill the place I had before
until the day I need no space at all

iii.

as I read the obituaries in the morning
or stand at the grave of my father
as I did last week in a park
green with the growth of recent rain,
I cannot reconcile the contradictions
of death and life, how the life I see
in the obituary photos and the light
I remember in my father's eyes
can disappear in an on-rush of dark,
one minute to the next, life to death,
how it is that I too will someday slip
into that vortex of night and never return

iv.

I think of the eternal nature of atoms
and how they combine and recombine
over uncountable eons to create
illusions of form and
in some of those illusionary constructs
a spark of life and consciousness
and beings like you and me
and all those whose obituaries
I read every morning
and my father, dead 40 years,
the illusion of him gone forever
to seed the soil he lies in
and the grass and trees and clouds
over his head and, someday,
when the great recycling that brings
all the old to something new,
perhaps another form with life
and a sense of self and universe
outside of self that is the cradle
where rests the truth, for life to last
forever, we must over and over die.







As usual, this post includes poems from my library and my own poems, all new, except the first one, written last month.


Me
slipping away

Me
just a taste

Margaret Randall
Imagining a Body

Me
military maneuvers

Anne Sexton
When Man Enters Woman

Me
to be like Tom Cruise

Joanna M. Weston
When Days Run Together

Me
about the young woman with wrinkled feet

Paul Muldoon
an old pit pony

Me
Brynhilde at the lead
it is the man I watch

Pablo Neruda
Integrations

Me
wisdom of the aged

John Ashbery
Local Time

Me
it all worked out, despite my failings

Demise Duhamel
Dinner Party Horror

Me
a little girl, three days old














This small piece written in early August when it seemed like it might never rain again. After the past couple of days it feels more like it's never going to stop.













just a taste

the orange light
of sunset immediately
after a taste of rain,
the air shimmering
golden in the half light,
smelling of wet dirt
after long dry days and
nights...










This poem is by Margaret Randall from her book Their Backs to the Sea, a collection of poems and photographs mostly from Easter Island. The book was published by Wings Press in 2009. (Poems and photos, a book I would very much like to do myself.)

Randall is a feminist poet, writer, photographer and social activist. Born in New York City in 1936, she has lived and traveled throughout the world, authoring over 80 books in the process.













Imagine a Body

I say it is fear. Long way down
from this rocky ledge,
imagine a body
hurtling through air
its years shrinking to seconds
view of the world cut clean,
never, or never again.

I say it is hunger gnawing
at bellies and bones
simple arithmetic
between the teeth
who decides
who deserves to eat
and who to die.

I say what happens to them
can happen to us, you, me,
change of direction
no severance pay
or clean sheets
water salving
lips peeled horizon dry.

I say denial, self-satisfied
suits, dash of color
the expensive tie.
I say greed
speaking to greed
pointing recognition's finger,
thank you and good day.

In an almost perfect world
they would have to answer
for their crimes.
In the world we have
we are grateful
for comforting discourse
hiding more of the same.











A coffeehouse observational, mostly what I'm do these days since it's too hot to actually go outside and look for something else to write about.

The picture is one of many of my coffeehouses shut down because it's really hard keep and independent house open.

This one was a special place, downtown, about 5 stair steps up from the Riverwalk.

My current coffeehouse is on the edge of downtown, half a block from the Riverwalk.











military maneuvers

two young soldier women,
early to mid-twenties,
at the coffeehouse when I get there,
all squared-away in their snug-fitting
fatigues, one, a Kansas farm girl-looking
blond, draws little attention next to the
other, dark, deep-mocha skin,
dark hair, bold black eyebrows,
dark gypsy eyes, a million dollar smile
and blazing-white teeth...

South American., maybe, Aztec from another
time, the time when kings ruled the earth
and Quetzalcoatl hunted from the sky..

or maybe, Middle-Eastern, Egyptian feels right,
the Pharaoh's favorite concubine, or maybe
even his queen...

the women talk, quietly, lover's talk,
I think, a gentleness to it
even in the garb
of war...

they pass another young soldier woman
on the way out, they don't acknowledge
each other, which I think is strange,
not even a nod...

the third woman seems almost too short
for her uniform, feet tightly laced
in the smallest combat boots
I have ever
seen

















This poem is by Anne Sexton, taken from her book The Awful Rowing Toward God. The book was published by Houghton Mifflin Company in 1975.











When Man Enters Woman

When man
enters woman,
like the surf biting on the shore,
again and again,
and the woman opens her mouth in pleasure
and her teeth gleam
like the alphabet,
Logos appearsmilking a star,
and the man
inside the woman
ties a knot
so that they will
never again be separate
and the woman
climbs into a flower
ad swallows its stem
and Logos appears
and unleashes their rivers.

This man
this woman
with their double hunger,
have tried to reach through
the curtain of God
and briefly they have,
though God
in His perversity
unties the knot.

(I have to admit ignorance when it came to "Logos" (capitalized) in the poem. I thought I knew what it meant but I couldn't see how it might make sense in the context of the poem. Turns out it does mean what I though it meant and does fit, giving me a lesson as to where it comes from in the process.

Logos is one of three words coined by Aristotle, Ethos, Pathos, and Logos, the three modes of  persuasive rhetoric in argument. (according to Aristotle) 


I should have known that having studied a semester of rhetoric in the course of my short-lived graduate studies career.)















Same coffeehouse, different target of my curiosity.











to be like Tom Cruise

young woman
in jeans,
rings on her index fingers,
tattoo on her thin left arm

a tiny woman,
suggestion of Asian heritage,
long black hair
cut in bangs over forehead

even with her happy eyes
she reminds me of a villainous
in a Jackie Chan movie
so I just say hello as she passes,
nothing more
that might encourage her
to kick my ass
like
she does
in the movies...

it's those small Asian-appearing
women with long dark hair
and bangs that hang over happy,
killer eyes
that'll sneak up on your
if you're not cautiously
observant
like Tom
Cruise...


`````

it is often best in life
to be like
Tom Cruise...

(though probably not so short)















This poem is by my poet friend and frequent "Here and Now" contributor, Joanna M, Weston. She has published collections of poetry and several middle readers.

To the left, her most recent book.














When Days Run Together

always it is autumn
leaves falling within
branches breaking
in early storms

here I have no way
of holding the past
only the loosening
of hands on the present
which erases itself
into a blind
and speechless future

thoughts bend
into scented trees
and the taste of salt
licks my lips














It was a tough day at the coffeehouse for a poet looking for inspiration.













about the young woman with wrinkled feet

slept late
today,
making me late to the
coffeehouse too, but no loss
since it's not offering me anything
but a young woman in sandals
with wrinkled feet...

a strange thing to notice
I admit, a measure of how dry
the well is today, so dry
I'm forced to imagine stories
of wrinkled feet
in a young woman's sandals...

it's hard...

and it would be easier
if she was French
and her wrinkled feet were purple
from stomping grapes
doing her wrinkled-feet part
in the creation of a fine French wine
which I would never know about
because wine of any quality
or vintage makes my stomach hurt

or if she was in the middle of some
rejuvenation process, top half of her
rejuvenated while her wrinkled feet
are still a work in progress..

possibly it's a result of her last
vacation in Florida, where,
chased by a 35-foot alligator, she
fell head-first into Ponce de Leon's
Fountain of Youth, pulled out by her ankle
like Apollo, at the last minute
by the alligator before her feet
were doused by the miraculous
waters of the fountain, then immediately
released by the alligator because
it had a rule about not eating wrinkled
feet on Wednesdays, which,  luckily for
the girl with wrinkled feet, it just happened
to be, and  since the alligator just happened to be
the largest alligator in the swamp, it's rules,
dietary and otherwise was the rule of the swamp
and she was able to escape the swamp without being
menaced by any other alligator, snake spider, or
backwoods hillbilly collectors of wrinkled feet...

I suppose there are other possible
explanations - alien abduction, could be a black ops
federal police operation, or cannibals who prefer
wrinkled-foot stew or a mad scientist with a weird foot
fetish, or even a toy designer looking for the perfect
foot model for the next second-life of elderly garbage
patch dolls...

but,
maybe it would be smarter to just quit thinking about
the young woman's wrinkled feet before I descend
into some really outlandish thinking and destroy
any credibility I might still have as a serious-type
poet












This very short poem is by Paul Muldoon, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and , a teacher at Princeton University and Professor of Poetyr at Oxford University.The poem is from his book Moy Sand and Gravel, published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux in 2002.

I think I know what a pit pony is, but am not sure. What ever it is, this poem about it makes me very sad.














an old pit pony

An old pit pony walks
its chalks
across a blasted heath.

Its coat is a cloud hung on a line.

It sighs
for the pit-propped skies
of that world beneath

Its coat is a cloud hung on a line.














Some people take over a room by just walking into it.












Brynhilde at the lead

heavy-set woman
walks into the room
like a sumo wrestler
stepping onto the mat

feet spread wide.
arms hung loosely
at her side...
power and determination
claiming ownership
of the earth she stands on...

the room is abruptly quiet

movement stops...

 I hear hints
of Wagner's Valkyries
passing, all the trombones calling,
Brynhilde
at the lead

and I tremble in her
ponderous
wake


it's the man I watch

he's
probably
not as old as me,
but getting close

having morning coffee
with a woman
of about
the same age as he

both in their bicycling
outfits, ass-tight pants
and slightly less tight shirt
and those funny clackty-clackty
shoes with pointed-up toes
like Aladdin and his genie assistant

he is gray, tall, angular and whip-thin,
dark eyebrows, Clint Eastwood
squint-lines beside his eyes...

the woman is pretty much
standard issue
and doesn't get much of my attention

it's the man I watch...

looks like he'd be a real killer
in a knife fight
















This poem is by Pablo Neruda from his book The Yellow Heart, published by Copper Canyon Press in 1974. The poems were translated by William O'Daly.
















Integrations

After everything. I will love you
as if it were always before,
as if after so much waiting,
not seeing you and you not coming,
you were breathing
close to me forever.

Close to me with your habits
with your color and your guitar
just as countries unite
to schoolroom lectures
and two regions become blurred
and there is a river near a river
and two volcanoes grow together.

Close to you is close to me
and our absence is far from everything
and the moon is the color of clay
in the night of quaking earth
when, in terror of the earth,
all the roots join together
and silence is heard ringing
with the music of fright.
Fear is also a street.
And among its terrifying stones
tenderness somehow is able to march
with four feet and four lips.

Since, without leaving the present
that is a fragile ring,
we touch the sand of yesterday
and on the sea, love reveals
a repeated fury.


















Back at the coffeehouse.














wisdom of the aged

super-quiet
on the coffeehouse front
this morning -
nobody but old people
who I find very boring especially
since I turned old myself

in the process
of which
coming to the wisdom of the
aged

(now where the hell did I leave that?)

taught me many things,
for example, that the aged
must make compromises
if they wish not to embarrass
themselves, like, take the sweetener
they provide here at the coffee house -
tiny little packets, that, if used by
the shaky hands of the aged, leave the
appearance of a passing North Dakota
blizzard covering the tabletop...

so I bring my own larger packets,
leaving a less snowy residue
and accept the embarrassment
of taking my plastic bag
of sweetener packets to the table
and pretending
they are my own, specially blended for me
from exotic Thai sweetness and do not
suggest ad old man probably not more than
a year from his first box of Depends...

I explain all this to the young woman,
so tiny, dark, like a Hindu princess,
sharing the sweetening table with me
and who listens intently and compliments me
on my wisdom...


`````

I don't mention to her that the other wisdom
of the aged is never to pass up a chance
to speak to a tiny Hindu princess in a
mini-skirt, even if they look at you
funny all the while you"re
talking

















Next, this poem by John Ashbery. It is taken from his book And the Stars Were Shining, published by the Noonday Press in 1994.

















Local Time

What can we do,
                           except
clasp, unclasp the hand that never is ours,
much as it wants to be? Under a gray skylight
the eclipse burns still, there are lilies, perfection
arrives, and then the times
unearth fewer embers. Can it be time to go?

Models, when they undress,
misread the configurations even
while confessing to no version:
the heated or the clad. Tight boy,
you reminded me of dragonflies skulking,
of aromatic fires peaking,
and neither of us gets to know the other.
Next thing you know it's winter.
The skylight, now aproned with white,
is our bare harvest.

But there is good in reappearing:
the flames roar, beaker of scotch, the old way
things were probably supposed to be along anyway.








                                                               






Sneaking a poem into a no-poem day. Tricky fellow.














it all worked out, despite my failings

all
my hips-down
aches and pains
ached and pained
at once this morning
when I went to arise from
my nightly tossing and turning
sleep-like state so I said to myself
"screw this, self" the world will survive
if you don't take your daily place at the gates
of communal defense against the barbarians and
their never-ending attacks against pure Truth,
Justice, the American way and Mom's
apple pie and little league, Little
League so I
didn't
now
here I am
three hours behind
schedule, waiting for the
first crack of a ball against a
hardwood bat, hoping too
hear that summer
sound
to confirm
I did not underestimate
my importance to the world
of good American stuff and that
all is well even though I'm not there
so see it...













Finally, last from my library, this fun poem by Denise Duhamel from her book Ka-ching! published by University of Pittsburgh Press in 2009.

Duhamel is associate professor of English at Florida International University, author of ten poetry collections.
















Dinner Party Horror

After desert, my friends and I try to figure out the order in which we would die in a horror movie.

Stan, the aggressive male, would be murdered first. His macho-ness would lead him out into the woods or up into the attic, unprepared for what he'd find there. Chatty Peg would go next - too innocently boisterous. She'd walk right up to the killer and try to make friends. Then David would go,
through no fault of his own, but because he's black - sorry to say, minorities never make it to the end of a horror film. Susan would also meet a grisly fate because (she admits this herself) she's a bit of a slut and sluts are always punished in movies.

It's down to Mary and me - I think she'd the lone survivor since she's the most likeable. She thinks I'd be the lone survivor since I'm the most likeable. And surely, if one if us is going to die, it would be as she tried to save the other.

Then Stan says, Before your start congratulating yourselves remember  one of you two bitches has to be the killer.

We are horrified. Did he really say bitches?

It's a joke, he assures us.

David chimes in, It's definitely an outside killer. Not Mary or Denise, Susan says her autopsy shows she was molested before she was butchered, so that means her killer was a male, right?

Peg says Wait - maybe Stan stabbed his twin right off to fool us, and is not really dead, but has been lurking as the killer in the movie all along.Stan likes the idea of his character coming back in the final scene. David still thinks it's an outside job. Mary says the whole conversation is giving her the creeps Anyway, she has to get up early in the morning. She gets us from the couch and reaches for her car keys.

Wait! Don't go out there alone!

I try to warn her, but she won't listen.

















New life, new days.

















a little girl, three days old

the young ones
grow up and make tiny new
young ones, the source of life's
greatest joy to the elders,
watching the cycle turn
year after year...

so I will be visiting
an addition to the family
this morning,
a little girl, three days old

I will be telling the parents
and grandparents and everyone else
how uniquely beautiful she is,
a compassionate fiction
for the truth is,
all three-day-old babies look
like the man in the moon, round-faced
and wrinkled...

but I won't mention that
because
by the fourth or fifth day
she'll be just as beautiful as everyone
will claim she is today...

knowing the best is yet to come









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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





                                                            


  Peace in Our Time


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