Come the Resurrection   Thursday, March 21, 2019








come the resurrection

the path down and back
is steep and arduous, especially
for older people.
through benches along the way
provide a place to stop and rest,
a moment to breathe thin air
and listen to the wind passing
between canyon walls,
the stubby trees
restless in response...

birds call along the way
but go silent
among the ruins,
homage to the ghosts
who patrol the bare adobe rooms,
guarding the ancient walls
until those who left
return again, pull from storehouses
the grain and seed they left
behind
for the coming day of
resurrection...

we are silent visitors,
with the birds, waiting for the
tread of soft
footsteps
so long absent from their
home

(Mesa Verde, 1979)










A quick turnaround for his post, only a week after the last one. Also something different - no new poems, just poems from my library and old poems written in 2014, memories of earlier travels (none of which were used in my book of travel poems, Places and Spaces).



Me 
come the resurrection

Me
a cemetery

Natalia Trevino 
Mexican Bride
The Happy Couple
The Mother Who Tried

Me
cold truths of life and death in black and white

Marcus Wicker
Ars Poetica Rhyme for Sucker Emcees

Me
Animas in the a.m.

Ishle Yi Park
Canasi

Me
caution and commitment

Pierre Martory
Black Diamond

Me
dust to dust to dust

Me
good old days

Carl Sandburg
Fish Crier
Happiness
Muckers

Me
gravity's gold

Me
hanging on

Naomi Shihab Nye
The Passport Photo

Me
history's young victims

Me
moonscape

Kate Tempest
the old dogs who fought so well
Fuck the Poem

Me
remember me the story of it

Me
continental divide










a cemetery

a cemetery
on a low mound
between the highway
and the Rio Grande

the humble markers
of poor people
from the cluster
of casitas
I passed a quarter mile
back, small houses
of native stone, like
the more elaborate markers,
the ones not of rotting wood,
crosses, bowing toward the ground,
native flowers
gathered at the base of some,
stone or wood, or nothing,
stone or wood or flowers
around the indentations
that mark the oldest graves,
the unmarked, the never marked,
those of transient markers
no match for the inevitable
decline of time that leaves these
shallow dimples
over a grave in which nothing
but a few scattered bones
remain, poor people,
cowboys and shepherds
who lived and died,
then faded to nothing beneath
dry badlands
sand...

(Hwy. 170 between Terlingua and Presidio, May, 2003)












These three short poems are from one of two books I bought at the half-price book store last weekend.

The book is Lavando la Dirty Laundry, published by Mongrel Empire Press in 2014.

The poet is Natalia Trevino. Born in Mexico City and grown up in San Antonio, Trevino was raised in Spanish by her parents while Bert and Ernie gave her English. She graduated from University of Texas - San Antonio's graduate English Program and the University of Nebraska's MFA program. Recipient of many honors, she is currently Associate Professor of English at Northwest Vista College in San Antonio.











Mexican Bride

Centered above her king-sized bed
in Nuevo Leon, a large crucifix, a resin-bloodied
crumpling  Body of Christ - the only art
hanging from her smooth plaster walls.

A lamination of Mary, Mother of Sorrows, tucked
across and below the frame of her vanity. Wedding
gifts for all new brides, decorations surrounding the spirit
in the bedroom. As if the dimensions of the body
nailed at the limbs would lead new husbands
to handle the living curves of their brides.
As if a slain nude, thorned at the crown above her
head, could help rigid legs relax, for fire


The Happy Couple

He would spark a joint in the living room
Ask, "Wanna hit?"

He always said he wanted to be good to her.
Share his life. Stuff like that.


The Mother Who Tried

Before bed, my son told me, You're not you anymore.
You're like my shoes. When they're tied too tight.

I'd been reading discipline books,
experts' rules for four year-olds, and he spoke his first poem.










cold truths of life an death in black and white

atop a rise
a mound of earth
and ancient burial mound
looking out over
a snowed-over field
white field
black skeleton of a winterized tree
thin black line of a frozen creek
five black horses
led by a white horse
ghost against the snow
legs lifted high
above the snow
crossing

(Colorado, February, 2008)
















This is from the second book I bought last weekend. The poet is Marcus Wicker and the book is Silencer, published in 2017 by Mariner Books.

Wicker teaches in the MFA program at the University of Memphis and is poetry editor of Southern Indiana Review.











Ars Poetica Battle Rhyme for Sucker Emcees

     after Adein Matejka

Who shall not be named
Who shall not be coveted
beyond the whatever
well-mannered Hot 100-
UK list. (You pick.)
Who, keep it real, may not
even exist after this
riff, after this rift.Who,
you may not even claim
ten years from this
line when finally the mic
splits from his mitts -
Check it: anyone can strum
da DUM da DUM (no SHIT)
on a ceremonial lute.
Even a classically trained
orangutan, though
most of you be absolutely
abecedaian. Parakeets:
Dactyls. Basic
Bitches, Simpleton Sarahs
& disco loops. Yo!
you gave up on the moon
for a tweed suit &
elbow patches.
Does your heart also
beat watch-slow,
in perfectly fixed
patterns? Does your stroke
not stroke? Poor you.
Who me?
I be your organic turkey
on steroids LL -
straight swole & hard
as hell. Bigger. Blacker.
Deafer, you are auto-
tune & I've already
pressed mute.
I be the Anti-wack
ODB. Big Baby Jesus,
Oiris. Bet our wife
might like it. The anti-
virus of your metrics,
flexin'. Got mine honest.
God-given. Got yours, too.










Animas in the a.m.

5 a.m.
walking main street
downtown

dog impervious to the cold

not me

across the railroad tracks
past the hotel

slick sidewalk
alongside the Animas River

snow deep on both sides
river iced at the bank

solitary duck
climbs frost-glistened
rock
mid-stream

slips
scrambles
no other sound
but the rustle of the river
as it eddies and curls and slides
over rocks

across the river
five deer gather
in a clearing

graze
silent as the morning

a car crosses
the bridge at the end of the block
lights reflecting on snow
all around

tires crunching froze-crisp ice shell on the road

and the deer
flipping their tails
flee
high-leaping

(Durango Colorado, 1997)















Ishle Yi Park is a young Korean American poet. Born in New York in 1977, she was a recipient of a fiction grant from the New York Foundation for the Arts . Widely published, she was a featured poet in HBO's Def Poetry Jam and has performed in the United States, Cuba, and Korea.

Her poem is from her book The Temperature of This Water, published by Kaya Press in 2004.












Canasi

  - for Llane


By the mouth of a river
that dreams of being a sea,
I pick up a shock of flamboyan
and wreathe you in red petals.

you sing Brazilian acapella
armed with 40 pieces of read
rationed in blue plastic bags, We walk

to escape La Habana, who bathed us
in bus fumes, police who arrested you
for kissing a man in Coppelia park,
to shed my skin from hisses of china, china...


At dawn, our skin tight
and scarlet as cold plums
from sleeping in an outdoor train station,
the sky, a ruptured storm blessing

I'm with you,
my face is burning,
How can you look at me
as if I were a sunset a sea, a mirror?

You say an island is not just an island
and a country is as complicated
as its smallest sick child.

Today vultures circled;
we were trailed by hens,
dogs, memories.

Today love was the thin blue blanket
cloaking us on a truck ride,

a honey soda drink
that costs 2 pesos,

the pregnant stray dog
that Occidental bit my fingers
for meat, for sheer hunger,

your cloth turban and pink eyeshadow...
even two soldiers
demanding ID -

love, that long bus home
that could have been a disco.











caution and commitment

fine looking woman,
mid-thirties,
dark hair, dark eyes, shapely,
dressed to kill, or at least
draw serious notice

I'm here for the second day
in a row

she's obviously lonely,
wants to talk, sit and talk,
and talk and more, it seems

and for a moment,
an oh-so brief
moment,
caution and previous
commitment
waver

but do not break

(Silver City, New Mexico, 2006)













This poem is by Pierre Martory from his collection The Landscape is Behind the Door. It is a bilingual book with the original French and English translation by John Ashbery on facing pages.

Martory worked at odd jobs and writing novels and theater and music reviews. He never published his poetry and never showed it to anyone who might have been interested. Consequently, his poetry was completely unknown in his native country until the publication of this debut collection in America by The Sheep Meadow Press in 1994.













Black Diamond

The peaceful harmony of a Sunday morning
Filled with the colors of an apparent silence,
The landscape outside green and blue, the sun
And in the bedroom a presence that is leaving.
A goodbye floating in the air like
The last ribbon of cigarette smoke...

Once the door has shut one is back before the sea
Mirror that reflects neither the window nor the world
Brutally impenetrable where one can nonetheless paint
The music that words the unreal and the true
The breath of life fleeting vapor
The burning heart burnt in the sparkle of a black diamond.

There is a bed in all our days
a sudden fall, a difficult descent
Always as many days as we live
in the hour when we leave day to begin the never finished
Apprenticeship of night.

Stagnating in this leisure of our vigil other
Pictures that lose us, broken landscapes, forgotten
Faces and the monsters of our previous meetings
With the image of the bedroom wall beams back on us
Facing the window of which it is not the reflection.

The enclosed garden of iris and roses of Sharon
The water in the birdbath where the fat robin fusses
The train whistle, the country down to the river
The full moon and its eddies of blue cloud
All the earth and only we to know that we sleep
Always alone, once our eyelids are shut,
And the nothingness which will leave off lasting...









dust to dust to dust

wind howling
outside the car

sand popping
against our windows
like tiny fingers tapping,
blowing across the highway
thick as mid-winter fog
on a gulf coast morning

tumbleweeds
fly in front of us and behind
like prickly missiles
shot from a silo somewhere
in Iowa or Kansas

a big one,
the size of a small car,
rushes at us broadside,
tossed airborne,
right over the top of us
one side to the other

(Texas Panhandle, March 1981)











good old days

shack
in a pasture
below a green mountain forest

wood for fire
stacked high against one wall

ready for the next cold
and lonely
winter

very large
iron pot beside the house,
like the one my mother
used to heat wash water
over an open fire,
my older brother's job every
Monday morning -
fill the pot with water from our well
and light the fire
while I fed the chickens
and gathered their
eggs
for breakfast

reminder of early days
long gone, this pot,
like the shack
in the pasture under
a mountain forest

old days...

good old days
some would say

my mother
stirring clothes
in our large iron pot
would not agree

(Colorado, 2008/South Texas, 1948)











                                                               




Next, three short poems from America's early twenth century poet radical, Carl Sandburg

You would think this wold be a time of Sandburg's rediscovery, but it seems today's radicals, quasi-radicals, and fresh-faced wannabes lack the wit to realize they are not new, just the latest in a long line, who, in my mind, they will never equal.












Fish Crier

I know a fish crier down on Maxwell Street with a
     voice like a north wind blowing over corn stubble in
     January
He dangles herring before prospective customers evincing
     a joy identical with that of Pavlova dancing.
His face is that of a man terribly glad to be selling fish,
     terribly glad that God made fish, and customers to
     whom he may call his wares from a pushcart.


Happiness

I asked professors who teach the meaning of life to tell
     me what is happiness.
And I went to famous executives who boss the work of
     thousands of men.
They all shook their heads and gave me a smile as though
     I was trying to fool with them.
And then one Sunday afternoon I wandered ou along
     the Desplaines river
And I saw a crowd of Hungarians under the trees with
     their women and children and a keg of beer and an
     accordion.


Muckers

Twenty men stand watching the muckers.
     Stabbing the sides of the ditch
     Where clay gleams yellow,
     Driving the blades of heir shovels
     Wiping sweat off their faces
          With red bandanas.

The muckers work on ... Pausing ... to pull
Their boots out of sinkholes where they slosh

    Of the twenty looking on
Ten murmur, "O, it's a hell of a job."
Ten others, "Jesus, I wish I had the job."











gravity's gold

Bella and I, her golden fur
blazing like the bright
of a second sun shining, and me,
devote disciple of the church
of intermittent napping,
sit together on a park bench
in the central plaza crawling
with people, seemingly all
tourists, the only likely
resident habitues, the aged hippies
sitting behind us strumming
guitars, talking about everything
from starships to moon shadows
on the plaza in the dim early
morning...

the tourists who pass,
old couples, pretty girls
with accents, all stop
to talk to Bella, to stroke
her head, as if she were
indeed the sun with the sun's
gravity, pulling them
to her orbit...

while she, usually so distant
and unwelcoming to anyone
who is not me, normally more
like a cold far star than
the warm draw
of an afternoon sun, basks
in the attention...

doesn't want to leave
when I get tired of
sitting

( Santa Fe, New Mexico, 2013)











hanging on

switchbacks down the side
of the mountain, sheer
drop to the valley below,
shops and restaurants on the two lane
road jilting out on over the edge
on stilts...

an old mining town
hanging on to the side
of the mountain through
boom and bust and back to
tourist boom, attached
to the mountain
by a whisper and a prayer,
out-of-towners
like us
grazing where intelligent
mountain goats
might hesitate to tread...

it is exhilarating,
this high air, this human quest
for destiny and wealth
and life despite all obstacles,
ridiculous
when you think about it,
that beautiful lush valley below
inviting, a place to build
a flat and friendly
Utopia

instead, those early arrivals
decided to build a life in the high clouds
of Olympus...

`````

Dee goes shopping
in the little roadside shops

Chris throws rocks at the valley

still a smoker at the time, I
sit on a rock and try to
breathe

(Jerome, Arizona 1993)

















This poem is by Naomi Shihab Nye, taken from her book, Words Under the Words, published in 1995 by Eighth Morning Press.

Although Nye is a San Antonio poet, she travels the world in connection to her work with poets and poetry.
















The Passport Photo

"The Passport Office welcomes photographs which depict the
applicant as relax and smiling."
            Passport Application

Before they shoot, I think of where I am going,
Chile, the world's thinnest country,
the bright woven hats on the Indians of Peru.

I swallow the map of South America tacked to my kitchen door,
the swarm of strange names, blue rivers
like veins on an old woman's leg.

A continent I know little about, except what I have read
or my Bolivian neighbor's tales. "A School of Thieves,"
she tells me. "I'd stay home if I were you."

Trapped in front of the hot lights,
I try to forget distances,
how far I will be from the ones who loved me longest.

I do not think anything familiar or cozy.
I think coastlines, jagged edges, roads ahead of me
cracking open like coconuts, and then I smile

Because the face you are snapping
is a map to another continent
I have barely begun to learn.









history's young victims

walking beneath
my second floor window
in heir school
uniforms,
walking in a disciplined line
led by their teacher,
I could hear them
singing,
their high light voices
waking the thin mountain air
morning

joyous morning
then,
a sweet and innocent
moment
in a strange and foreign
place

a morning
and a moment
I will not forget

a memory
struggling against the cruel beasts of history

a memory
that did not shield these children
from the blood and death
that came to get them
later

(Kabul Afghanistan, April, 1969)











moonscape

mountains
high and bare

our small DC-3
struggles

as highest peaks
pass below within

it seems, arm's reach
from my window seat

life below
if there is such

must be harsh
and hard

with hard people
harsh and unforgiving

to those who intrude
without invitation...

not to be
messed with

as centuries
of armies and great generals

have leaned,  from Alexander
to even now, ourselves,

ruing the lesson -

if you decide you must fight here

make sure first you have
the merciless moonscape mountains

and their people
on your side

(Flying over the Hindu Kush, April, 1969)












These poem are by Kate Tempest, from her debut collection, Hold Your Own. The book was published by Bloomsbury in 2014.

The poet grew up in southeast London and still lives there. She has had a varied career as a poet, playwright, rapper, and recording artist and winner of the 2013 Ted Hughes Award for Poetry for her collection Brand New Ancients, originally conceived as a performance piece.

This my first exposure to Kate Tempest. Damn! she's good.










The old dogs who fought so well

It struck me that morning. I was in Ireland, terrified in a tiny tent.
Outside, a storm was gathering gale force and I was going out of my mind
     with guilt.
The drugs had made a monster out of my face.
In my head I was listening to Chopin and I was reading Joyce and I was
     in love with them for being so human and for saying it all so well.
I felt myself shrinking and desperate and worthless and I wondered if
     they ever felt like the most alone and despicable people in all of
     Poland, or Paris, or Dublin, or the World.
I could see him, Chopin - thin and pale at his piano stool, sicker every
     day, watching his hands getting older.
I could see Joyce, tearful behind his eye patch - throwing himself into it
     in a room as dark as wet earth and I smiled to myself and stopped
     trying to sleep.
The wind was still making an orchestra out of the tent, But it wasn't
     a requiem anymore.
Three mornings later, I woke up and reached for one of the books by
     the bed.
It was Bukowski. I opened him at random and read a poem I'd not read
     before,  it was called How To Be A Great Writer and in it he said:

remember the old dogs
who fought so well:
Hemingway, Celine, Dostoevsky, Hamsun.

if you think they didn't go crazy
in tiny rooms
just like you're doing now
without women
without food
without hope
then you're not ready

And I laughed out loud. Because it's always the way - when you're alone 
    and feeling like you could jump off the edge of the world,
that's when they find you and tell you they all went through the same
     thing
And it makes you feel specially because you feel like of all the people in all
     the world, these years dead writers wrote whatever it was that made
     the blood run in your veins again, just for you.
And you say their names out loud when you walk the city in the middle
     of the night, and you feel close to something timeless;
you feel like someone just lay you down on your back and showed you
     the sky.


Fuck the poem

I haven't written in ages
'cause I'd rather stare at you than stare at pages.

But what would be great is
making a poem that could be half as courageous
as you when you're naked.
I try for a minute -

Your love is my metal, your kisses my river
You are like the ocean beneath the slick of a spillage

Fuck the poem.

There's a bed here
and you want me in it.











remember me the story of it

she had wanted to see this
most of her life

imagining it
from the backseat
of the fifteen hundred miles
on our way here...

but age brought a great fear
of heights
and she wouldn't get out of the car
to see it

afraid
so afraid
the solid earth
would sink away from her,
would be gone
the moment she put her foot on it

wants me to describe it
for her,
wants me
to tell the story
of it

so I can remember
having been here, she said,
so I can remember it
and what it was
like

(Grand Canyon, 1988)






continental divide

snow field
backed by pine

7 years old,
the first time he's seen
this much snow,
and he's out of the car,
pushing through hip-deep snow...

first snowball
hits me on the chest,
I return fire,
snow battle rages
until we collapse laughing
in the snow...

shadows pass
in forest silence,
behind the thick pines,
deer,
giving no notice
to the strangers
and their loud games
in the virgin snow...

fresh storm coming,
first flakes fall,
fat
wet flakes
hitting with a splat
on our coats,
the windshield...

time to get off
the mountain

(Colorado, late October, 1990)













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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




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Seven Beats a Second






Fiction


Sonyador - The Dreamer





                                                            


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