In the Grander Scheme of Things   Thursday, March 14, 2019







in the grander scheme of things

in the grander
scheme 
of things
the world is
wet
today
or
at least my port of the world
is wet
which is wet enough
for me
since non-wets
in other parts of the
world
don't affect
me 
here 
where 
wet is
the grander
scheme
of me and mine
and
your not-wet
has entirely
no affect
on my wet
which is the
grander
scheme of my thing
today
which 
you may have guessed
is wet 
and it is cold too
which is another part 
of my grander
scheme of things today
and if you're hot
and dry
in the Gobi Desert
well
big fricking deal

since I can't see
how that has anything
to do with 
me 
since cold and wet
is my grander scheme
of things
today
and searing desert 
sands
have not part in
it

any questions?









A little quicker posting this time from last, but it's the same as all the rest, new poems by me, poems from 2013, and several from my library.

Here's how all that works out.


Me
in the grander scheme of things

Me
in the life-cycle of cities

Luis V. Quintana
Duck Lady - El Paso
Drunk in English

Me
I cannot not speak
charcoal cat
bight day

Me
a day to fool you
it's cold
the kind of silence

Page Richards
The Gulls

Me
random ponderables while dog pees on her favorite tree

Me
T-bone
a fine time
morning sky blue

Matsuo Basho
Haiku

Me
at the Chat and Chew

Me
thinking right is good

Rodney Jones
Sacrament for My Penis

Me
epic poetry

Me
the season

Pablo Neruda
VI 
(from "The Heights of Macchu Picchu")

Me
in a Mexican courtyard, 1959

Me
at the end of an ordinary day
a score of young women









The Interstate 35 corridor between San Antonio and Austin is one of the five or ten fastest growing metropolitan areas in the country. Construction cranes, like giant praying mantis dot the Riverwalk's Museum Reach section from downtown to the Witte Museum, an area which I am in the center of at my coffeehouse, a repurposed warehouse and part of the rebirth, every morning. It is going on all around me as old comes down and new springs up.

I'm all for it, since every condo building built is acres of hills not leveled, meadows not asphalted.










in the life cycle of cities

wrecking balls
swing
as bulldozers grind
along the river,
grinding to dust
derelict warehouses
and obsolete manufacturing spaces
as the great re-development
of this long-neglected portion of the city
continues - new and beautiful buildings,
housing for a new and prosperous generation,
rises from the rubble...

even
just across the street from the coffeehouse,
a brick and concrete warehouse,
seemingly strong and secure for the ages
like the great pyramids of the desert,
I can hear the walls tumbling
even as I sit here and write

```

I love to watch the new buildings
in their building, the grinding concrete mixers,
the craftsmen, the carpenters and electricians
and plumbers and, my favorites, the masons, the bricklayers,
so precise in their work, creating new spaces for people
to live in, shop, play, the great crushing and building
power of capitalism, new markers of civilization
and a city growing more diverse and beautiful...

as well, I like to watch the craftsmen as they
save the most beautiful of the old, restoring the best
of generations, like the place I write from, while one old
warehouse crashes to the ground outside my door, this old
warehouse is reborn a beauty of glass and red brick and green
landscaping inside a three-story atrium  a place for sun
in the summer, shelter when it is cold...

as I like to watch the rebuilding I enjoy the destruction too,
watching as walls fall, revealing the secrets inside,
leaving me to imagine all the stories that once animated
the space where many lives could be told
if only we knew their stories












Here are two pieces by Leroy V. Quintana, one of my favorite poets, from his book the Great White Whirl of Exile, published by Curbstone Press in 1999.

Quintana was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico, in 1944. Raised by his grandparents, he served in Vietnam during 1967-1968 where he kept a notebook that became the source of many of his poems. When this book was published he was Professor of English at San Diego Mesa College.














Duck Lady - El Paso

A woman, a fat woman
with a big ass,
is walking,
a bucket in one hand.

Furthermore,
she is heading
towards the pen,
a bucket swinging
From the other hand.

Also,
the long white
blouse she is wearing
rises, then falls
over her ass
like a duck's tail.

And,
most importantly,
there is a duck
behind her,
waddling just like she does.
And behind the duck
a string of ducklings.


Drunk in English

Whenever Don Andres got dunk with an Anglo
he'd tie the reins to the saddle horn,
let his old horse lead himself home,
and, slowly rocking in he saddle,
nod to everybody along the way,
mutter he was borracho en Ingles.












Here are several short poems from 2013 and a photo from the same  year.














I cannot not speak

cannot
not speak
of this moon
so full
and bright
in the cold early-morning
night
companion
stars
drowned
in the wash
of its light


charcoal cat

charcoal cat
a shadow in the dark
her plush gray
coat fades into the night
shifting between trees picking
her hidden way
between
bushes
finding all the dark pools
along her way
a mysterious early-hour specter
a presence unseen
until she steps too close to the light
and I see her choose her soft lurking way
behind

she is so surprised


bright day

bright day
morning clouds
burned away, sunshine
folds itself around
afternoon shadows















We've had more than our share of weird weather this year, like these days in January.















a day to fool you

if December
is the month of beautiful winter days and nights,
January is a month of take-your-chances...

yesterday,
cold and wet,
poster boy for ugly, bad-twin winter,
today, sharp and clean,
like an angel choir singing,
cold, but under a sun-blazing blue sky,
bright enough to fool one into going outside without a coat

but
not for long...


it's cold

it's cold
by local standards,
just 35 degrees, but wet,
wet hanging in the air, wet
that slips under your skin
to your bones, pervasive wet,
that ices down your spine,
makes you shoulders shake
and you jaw shudder, wet that
makes the streets shine with it,
trees hang low wit it...

the day
stretches long ahead with it...

the kind of day that makes babies
and long afternoon naps



the kind of silence

deep
silence
at the coffeehouse

the kind of silence you get
just before you see the dust
from a band of raging desperados
about to ride over the ridge...

the kind of silence you get
just before the creature from the Black Lagoon
leaps out of the water, mouth agape, teeth shining sharply,
to grab a busty brunette in a revealing bikini...

the kind of silence you get
just after the first faint rumble of Vesuvius, just
before the grand and glorious city of Pompeii is engulfed
by hot dust and spewing lava...

the kind of silence you get
before the shot is fired after you see the long silver barrel
from a high window at the state book depository...

the kind of silence you get
just before she says goodbye and you know
it is forever...

silence,
just like that














This poem is from my library. It is by Page Richard, selected from her book Lightly Separate, published in 2007 by Finishing Line Press.

Richards studied at the University of Pennsylvania, Harvard University and Boston University. Recipient of several awards and grants, at the time the book was published she was teaching at the University of Hong Kong.












The Gulls

no moral here no house of sticks,
no stick man or stick woman,

no tricks buried overnight
but a slow wincing way of admiration

for their beaks, bills, boots
grey-red maroon,

no chance of convincing
but in between full feather.

this sequence of gulls treads
near the edge, crystal-footed.

No ghosts to comfort, no corpses float
to light our way past the ordinary day.

We pull the lantern close,
kinship draws our coats across the ribs,

we meet, then home, I find myself
back in the seat waiting on them.

They'll take me down, wrap me up,
redress my face just by looking at them.















This is another from 2013.











random pondearables while dog pees on her favorite tree

my dog
makes children
and pretty girls smile

and makes old woman
go coochie-coo

```

a man dies
on TV
and I think of my dad,
dead going on 34 years now

how could that be....

dead at 65,
what a young age
that seems now
for a man to
be dying

```

young women
in my own youth
were such a mystery,
silken creatures
from a different universe

young women today,
so lean and beautiful
and smart and strong,
different creatures
even than
before

I smile and I speak
to them,
the cute old man
at the coffeehouse

how far I imagine I have
fallen

```

I
lust after young women
like Jimmy Carter did,
a little bit for their sex, mostly
for their youth

```

where
women have evolved
it seems to me
to be even better, to be even more mystical
and mysterious than they were before

men -
I don't know about young men,
dull and seeming thick

mostly
I'm not impressed

```

tellers
at our drive-in
bank
include dog biscuits
with receipts if they see
a dog in your car

my dog
is very smart,
knows this, moves to the front seat,
presses head against the
windshield
to make sure she is seen

```

I am past the age
where I don't want to act my age

I see old men now
trying so hard to be the studly gent
they imagine they were in their
youth

I'm quite happy now,
being old and slow
and have no illusions
I was any more enhanced
in days long ago...

too long in my life
I have been a
realist

(except sometimes on
a slow day
I am the hero in a mid-afternoon
dream, and the girl is
beautiful
and she wants me to do
all manner of speak-able things
to her ripe and luscious
body

then I wake
and am only sometimes
and only temporally
confused)

```

dog
likes country music,
blue grass
with banjo and fiddle
the best, but with always a soft spot
for Johnny Cash and Merle

she sings along in the car
on long afternoons, especially when driving
through the desert -
she's a Marty Robbins dog
in the desert
and Patsy Cline on fresh-scented
country roads

we share our taste in
music, but
I'm of a better voice...

but what can I say, she's
still a darn good
dog















More observational fun.












T-bone

tall blond,
her long legs stretching
step by step
through the coffeehouse

scurrying behind,
a short fella, legs pumping
like a puppy after a T-bone steak

if he had a tail, he would
wag it


a fine time

two older ladies
at the doctor's office,
deaf mutes, they talk for the whole two hours I waited,
fingers flying,
the one had a cell phone, finding funny things
to show her friend, laughing like sea gulls at the beach,
cawing, circling overhead, waiting for that piece
of mustard smeared hot dog to fall...

a fine time was had by all...


morning-sky blue

a substantial woman
in blue jeans and a pull-over sweater
with morning-sky blue toenails
the color of an 83' Thunderbird I had years ago...

 I miss whatever she says or does,
instead,
her toes overcome me with nostalgia
and I am lost for several minutes
in my car, my beautiful blue
low-flying bird, doing 110 on I-10
between Sierra Blanca and Van Horn,
the sky as early-morning blue as my car,
desert sands flashing past as if I am a dust storm
stirring swirling diablitos on a raceway,
Mexican mountains getting closer
as I watch the world fly...














Next, a small selection of haiku by the 17th century master Matsuo Basho. These are taken from the Poet's Choice - Poems for Everyday Life, a collection of poems selected by Robert Hass. The book was published by Harper Collins (ecco) in 1998.













Summer grass -
all that's left
of warriors' dreams

```

As for the hibiscus
by the roadside,
my horse ate it.

```

A bee
staggers out
of the peony.

```

A fishy smell -
perch guts
in the water weeds

```

Even with insects
Some can sing,
some can't

```

Napped half the day -
no one
punished me










I really like The Spoon River Anthology a small town epic by Edgar Lee Masters. I particularly love how Masters can get the essential elements of his characters in so few lines, the exact right word to nail a character.

I try to emulate Masters with this, rather long poem (unfortunately I don't have his talent for brevity). No one at the place where I normally post my poems seem to think all that much of this, because it is bad or because it is too long, I don't know. But I'm a stubborn fella and I like it and here it is.

The title, by the way, is named after a real, long gone, diner in Corpus Christi. Texas, where I lived for many years. Though named after that diner, the diner in my imagination is in a lonelier place, a small town in the Panhandle.











at the Chat and Chew

grizzly looking fella
in a John Deere cap
drives the tractor that mows the roadside grass,
comes in for grits every morning, thinks
every waitress who flirts with him
is the new love of his life...

````

Valentina
has worked at the diner
since she was 15 years old,
starting as a dishwasher, then a cook
back when the sign in the window
was clear that no dogs or Mexicans
were allowed inside...

Fifteen years passed and the owner at the time
got religion and changed his ways and his perceptions
just as the community was changing
and Valentina got a new job up front as a server...

Another 15 years and she's plump
and still beautiful with a mouth full of white teeth
and broad smiles...

She is a favorite of the farmers who come for breakfast
every day, much better, the say, than the young ones
who can never get anything right...

Though there are a couple of older guys,
still their minds back in the day, who
are maybe a little friendlier and more touchy-feely
than they would be if she was a middle-aged
Anglo woman...

But she lets it pass, understands them, knows
not everyone gets better just because
they get older...


```


Eddie
is a mechanic, owns the garage
at the 83 cut off,
comes in every afternoon at three
for coffee and apple pie with cheese melted on the top...

A friendly fella who likes to talk,
but on one wants to sit close to him because he's filthy,
like he fell into a grease pit, white t-shirt black from grease,
grease on his arms and his fingers like grub worms, hair dirty blond,
sticking up all over his head like a Borneo Wild-man...

He reads at night in the dim light by his greasy bed, his books
ruined after one reading...

He talks about them at the shop while
he's working, tells his helper who doesn't speak English
all about them...


```

Billy Dean Duncan is a local boy made good, football hero at the high school
graduated with a general business degree from the state university,
came home to work as a teller at the Guarantee State Bank, made Vice
President for the farm and ranch division after a while, then, a few years
ago President...

He has mid-morning coffee week days with Charlie Hastings who owns
the hardware store on the corner of Main and Lesser, and Sam Stone
who has the feed and seed store and is president of the Chamber of Commerce...

They talk about business, local and national, the stock market
politics and cultural issues, like about how the queers are taking over
everything...

Billy Dean doesn't talk so much about the queers, he has secrets of his own...

They've been thinking about asking Amos Jefferson to join them in their little
coffee group. He bought the dry cleaners and just moved his family to town,
from Alabama or Mississippi or one of those places.

He's a black man, or an African American man, the fellas are not sure
what they're supposed to call him and probably the first black, African
American man half the town has ever seen in person. He's a small businessman
like Billy Dean and the others and they probably have a lot to talk about
in common, but they're not sure how to do it, afraid they might say something
wrong...

He's a Baptist so the thinking is they'll see him at church on Sunday and maybe
work it out from there...


```


Billy Dean's group comes in about the time another group, the farmers,
who start earlier are leaving...

Jason Hodge, with 500 acres under cultivation, is the de facto leader
of the group, Jesse Delgado and Willis Peters have smaller farms
and drive school buses during the school year to supplement
their small farm income - Jesse also runs a few head of  cattle,
more in keeping with family tradition than for any big money...

They talk about the price of seed and the weather and federal
farm policy and the weather, always the weather that can make
or break them...

```


Jeanenne waits tables for the noon and dinner rush, such as they are..

She's seventeen, left school at sixteen because her boyfriend
told her would take her to California where they could make
a bunch of money making movies, but then she got pregnant
and Jack left without her...

Her baby, Jack Jr., is six months old and stays with her mother
while she works...

She gets food stamps and WIC for the baby and gets along, talks
about going back to school, but knows she never will,
watches Valentina and sees her future...

```


The oldest man in town is Wilburn , 97 years old and never married...

He's also the richest man in town...

He comes in for dinner every evening, the daily special, whatever
it is, with catsup..

Jeanenne always claims him as hers and takes good care
of him, always gets an extra half dollar tip..

She daydreams sometimes about marrying a rich old man
and never working again...


```


Mildred works the cash register. She's very thin, like a bird,
perched  on her stool behind the counter...

She's been cashier through three owners. The first trained her,
the second put up with her, and the current owner
is afraid of her...

She has the job for life, which the current owner hopes
is not too much longer...


```


The current owner goes by Mack. Single, lives in a double-wide on the edge
of town. Originally from the east and still has the accent that farmers
make fun of...

He hated the city and wanted a quieter life and got more than
he bargained for...

Ends each day at Jill's Wet Spot at the county line, never quite drunk,
never quiet sober, usually alone on his way home...


```


There are lots of stories here, for anyone who has the time to hear them.

















It's the simple things that confuse people. This correction is from 2013.















thinking right is good

the East
and much of the Midwest is buried
under ice and snow
while here
the sun shines bright
above a clear blue sky
and the temperature is wandering
about between 50 and 60 degrees
and it is a beautiful day
this morning before the night
before
and I'll try not to be
unnecessarily smug at my good
fortune because
I'm sure there will be a cloud
here some day

and in the meantime
it is a pleasure to be smug
because all those uppity Easterners
and cud-chewing Midwesterners
deserve a dose of humbling outsider
smug
now and then
after all the terrible things
they say about my home
state in the heart of which
I am now deep, hi ho hi ho...

such meanness I demonstrate
here, hardly my normal
self for I find no pleasure
in the misfortune of others,
except when I can contrast
my good fortune to their
otherwise fortune
which
I am completely convinced
they deserve...

bunch of damn socialists
and dairy farmers
who claim Santa Claus
is not white and neither is Jesus
and how stupid is that
cause everyone knows God
is white and Jesus is his son
so he must be white too,
white dude Dad and Jew mother
but we'll forget the mother
part since to talk about that
would be for certain another front
in the War on Christmas which is about
white Christians and is definitely not about
Jew mothers...

how hard to understand is that
hi ho hi ho

no wonder they have ice and snow
and we don't because they think wrong
and deserve it while us thinking
right certainly
deserve
our bright sun and blue sky
and temperatures in the 50s and 60s

simple as that
hi ho hi
ho












This poem is by Rodney Jones, from his book Salvation Blues - 100 poems 1985-2005. The  book was published by Houghton Mifflin Company in 2006.


Jones was winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry.















Sacrament for My Penis

How do I approach it, bald as it is, dangling
Over the urinal to some golden expression
Of lemony bitterness, an old Trappist,
Blind in one eye, kneeling to his paternosters?
Is it mine? It never seemed to be mine.

It was old when I first saw it. A joke
Chaucer might have told but didn't.
A frumpish soldier slumped in a jeep
Above the caption Dejected Nazi colonel
Waits to be transported to POW camp.

Yet even now, in the spatulate dark,
Where it lies all day, secret is escape,
Sometimes it will leap of its own volition.
A young terrorist, sprung from prison
And bound for home, bent on sedition.

No, not that - here was my religion - look
Here, blue in the distances of skin - God
Flowers in this nerve. May it remain
Sovereign, inviolable, and unconfessed.
Honor most delicately this feverish guest.














I wrote this to try to break out of my normal milieu as a poet of young women with attractive butts. I don't think it worked.











epic poetry

I should write
more about men
cause I write about women all the time
and it seems like a world-class poet
should be a bi-gender
creator...

the problem is men,
unless they are cowboys, lumberjacks or cat burglars,
are just not that interesting, mostly wanting to talk about
crabgrass, latest numbers on their IRAs, the time they made a touchdown
in high school, and their dicks, primarily concerning size of same
and the number of times it can be utilized in a single two hour exercise of potency,
and
I don't care about crabgrass, don't have an IRA, never made a a touchdown
in high school or anywhere else and, as to the other, well, champions
need not advertisement their achievements...

so
I'm stuck today -
what I really need to start the ball rolling
are some female cowboys, lumberjacks or cat burglars...

now that would be some kind of epic poetry
writing















Easter, 2013, in San Antonio










the season

it is the most
holy time
for those of the Christian faith,
the culmination of the birth, the pay-off
for all the pain of his life and theirs,
resurrection and eternal life
on God's right hand

for a pagan like me,
who finds his faith in trees
and small creeks running clear
and stars and the moon
and the sun,
benevolent over all
it is just another weekend
when all my favorite places
close and I am deprived of the natural
order of my life

`````

Chihuahua, Senora, Coahuila, Durango, Oaxaca,
Tamaulipas.  Jalisco. Zacatecas. Chiapas, Veracruz,
Nuevo Leon, Gunaajuato, Tabasco,
Aguascalientes,
Colima,
and
all the other 31 states of Mexico,
their license plates lined up
on late-model cars at shopping
mall and hotels and parking
garages, for it is the time for well-off
Mexicans to come to
San Antonio to
shop
& shop
& shop some more

well and modishly dressed
women who talk too loud on their
cell phones and, without their
nannies to intercede,
spoil their
children

tourists, in other words,
and aren't we
all

`````

the time
when dandelions
awake from their warm winter beds
for their annual assault
on my front yard

little do they know
I like dandelions and will concede
their temporary victory
without a
fight

`````

and the trees
explode
their green
in the varied hues
of their varied species

and along my back fence
winter-bared limbs are laden again
with the growth that
provides
privacy
for the joys of bare-skinned
moon-gazing at
midnight

```

and the river runs

and the river runs

past the tourist umbrellas
and the hikers and the bikers
and past the six mission
brought to the river
to convert the heathen
who, for all their years before
had found the river sufficient
for themselves
and the guiding spirits
of their gods and
ancestors

but the river still runs,
timeless and serene

waiting
for the return
of it near-forgotten
people and their
adoration















Last from my library for this issue, here is the magnificent Pablo Neruda from his magnificent book, The Heights of 
Macchu Picchu, published  in 1966 by the Noonday Press.














VI

Then up the ladder of the earth I climbed
through the barbed jungle's thickets
until I reached you Maccchu Picchu.

Tall city of stepped stone,
home at long last of whatever earth
had never hidden in her sleeping clothes.
In you two lineages that had run parallel
met where the cradle both of man and light
rocked in a wind of thorns.

Mother of stone and sperm of condors.

High reef of the human dawn.

Spade buried in primordial sand.

This was the hesitation, this is the site:
here the fat grains of maize grew high
to fall again like red hail.

The fleece of the vicuna was carded here
to clothe men's lovers in gold, their tombs and mothers,
the king the prayers, the warriors.

Up here men's feet found rest at night
near eagles' talons in the high
meat-stuffed eyries. And in the dawn
with thunder steps they trod the thinning mists,
touching the earth and stones that they might recognize
that touch come night, come death.

I gaze at clothes and hands,
travers of water in the booming cistern,
a wall burnished by the touch of a face
that witnessed with my eyes the earth's carpet of tapers,
oiled with my hands the vanished wood:
for everything, apparel, skin, pots, words,
wine, loaves, has disappeared,
fallen to earth.

And the air came in with lemon blossom fingers
to touch those sleeping faces:
a thousand years of air, months, weeks of air,
blue wind and iron cordilleras -
these came with gentle footstep hurricanes
cleansing the lonely precinct of the stone.

















A memory, remembered in 2013, from many years before.














in a Mexican courtyard, 1959

a Mexican courtyard
under a rhinestone studded sky
on a black border town night..

she dances,
slowly, like a cat,
around the courtyard,
pausing before every table
to stretch, again, like a cat,
perfect in its shadow body,
feet barely brushing
the dirt floor, compact,
sleek, full breasts,
dark Indian nipples
erect,
no burlesque,
no go-go dance, nothing overtly
sexual, more like
a cat stretching, except she is
naked and it is a whorehouse
and it has to be about sex,
sex as a cat can be like sex,
slow and sensual in every step,
every smooth, silky step
a caress of the night...

15-year-old boys
clutch their tight crotch under the table
and wonder if the girls
they know
could ever be like this
















Here two poems suitable, maybe,for the end of this issue.















at the end of an ordinary day

overcast
at dusk, the sky a black cloak,
the light below, not so much dark
as light with a dark filter,
everything, every object near and far
clear, precise, boldly drawn,
the stoplight a blazing red,
wind rustles the Exxon sign, blows
leaves across the intersection...

an extraordinary moment
at the end of an ordinary day


a score of young women

a score
of young women
in the coffeehouse
this morning
and a couple of stern businessmen
in bunny suits

actually,
that's not true

only three young women
are in the coffeehouse
and no stern businessmen in bunny suits
at all

but,oh
how much fun it would be
if it was

and not just another rainy day
wishing I had somewhere else to be










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Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iBookstore, Sony accusatory, Copia, Garner's, Baker & Taylor, eSentral, Scribd, Oyster, Flipkart, Ciando and Kobo (and, through Kobo,  brick and mortar retail booksellers all across America and abroad

 I welcome your comments below on this issue and the poetry and photography featured in it.

  Just click the "Comment" tab below.






Poetry

New Days & New Ways


Places and Spaces 






Always to the Light




Goes Around Comes Around




Pushing Clouds Against the Wind




And, for those print-bent, available at Amazon and select coffeehouses in San Antonio


Seven Beats a Second






Fiction


Sonyador - The Dreamer





                                                            


  Peace in Our Time



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