My Iron Cross   Wednesday, March 27, 2019








my iron cross

     (for Michelle)

I have a cross made of two rough iron nails,
each about 4 inches long,
hanging over the door to my office, given
to me by a friend, a believer
who has affection for me and who wished to share with me
the peace she finds in her faith

though I am not a believer
I do also have similar affection for my friend
and respect her unassuming and deeply held beliefs
and was honored by her gift
and the peace she hoped to bring to me

and pleased, also, because the cross is a beautiful piece
of rough-hewn art, the long iron spikes,
elemental truth in the integrity of their coarse construction,
as if the hands of their maker, the purpose and life of the iron worker artist
is imprinted on every ridge and groove of their irregular surface

and because it is an illustration of how art
can embody the essence of meanings, the iron nails,
old and heavy and sharp and crude as the nails belief says pierced
the hands and feet of Jesus Christ, relics almost, placed on my wall
a great story hanging over my head every time I pass through the door -
a reminder to the poet that, true or not. believed not,
great stories have great power...

and that is the poet's job, to find the stories that bring the power to all who read them

one does not have to believe the stories in order to respect and honor them,
because they are a reflection of our human desires for s better place
and a better time, our search for a better self, a glimpse
of the divine...

some stories are bloody and cruel, but the need to believe, whatever the story,
reflects the human thrust to find a place beyond the restrictions
of our evolutionary heritage, to find a more humane way
to be human...











In this post - new poems, old poems from 2015, including what was originally intended as a chapbook, and poems from my library


Me 
my iron cross

Me 
as I pay my dues

Me
free write

Edward Vidaurre
poetic drive-by

Me
old-timers taking it easy together

Me
some kind of business meeting

Roy A. Young Bear
From the Spotted Night

Me 
just following orders

Me
Sunday morning at Starbucks

Raquel Vasquez Gilliand
The Tale of La Nieta

Me
the demons who torture my soul

Me
whoo diddie whoo, or something like that

Miriam Mcfall Starlin
The Dance Rehearsal
Narcissus
This and That

Me
philanthropy

Me
findings so far

Steve Healey
bless you

Me
Time and the Tide
(first intended as a chapbook, complete here in 12 parts)

Me
the morning opens











This poem is from 2015.




as I pay my dues

the sun,
lost in the dark for three weeks,
returns in the early morn,
the previous night's rain ranges
in droplets on brown leaves late fallen
like diamonds flung across a muddy field

umbrellas at sidewalk restaurants
are unfurled, welcoming,
the sun lovers to return, to have their lattes
and everything bagels outside, saved
from another day in dank and dark rooms...

but
just for one day...

 this winter, long in coming,
is not over, all of us due for only a one-day reprieve

the cold and dark wet will return tomorrow
and stay, near past what we can stand it

````

I am inside
and can only see the sun though my window
as I pay the price of winter defied,
walking in the cold with my dog,
head uncovered, rain on my shoulders,
pretending to be again the invincible I once was sure I could be,
paying the price then as I pay my due
today as well...

suffering again the fool's fever
and chills








This from February. Part parody, part experiment, overly serious people who try to read it will be pissed. Less serious people will either laugh or say to hell with it.



free write

Free witing
Because it's the land of the free
and the home a poets brve bullshit
And i'm resisting the urge
To stop and correct tupo because it's the land of the free
And i can typo any dam time i want because
It's the land of the braffe, poet's bullshit
And i can and i can and i can
Like the little engine that could
this ime mnest time i'm sure i can
cause jit's the lasnd of the free
and brae poet's bullshit
and i don't think this is workinf
u hell it's ghe best ive  gpt
tpdau
so suck it up you victim of he land of he feree
and brae political  bullsit

may tomorrow
whoknows
exccept i know i can i can ican
or could have tody if i could maybe i can i can can
kick my legs like a can can dancer
show my indies except they idn't wear any
so why else do you think any one
care bout can can dancr, but bck
to the little engine who could
in the land of the fre and home of poetcall
bullshit which should reque
no editig or typo corection
caus the little engine tht could
never put up with it because he wa
to busy doing what he cold
to sto for a spell ck
in teh home of the free
and the land of political bussdhit

at least thatls what i hear
d

look mama,
no hands...
look mama
look
look
look












This poem is by Edward Vidaurre, taken from his book I Took My Barrio On A Road Trip. The book was published Slough Press in 2013.

Vidaurre was born 1973 in East L.A. and writes principally about  his upbringing and experiences living there. He was nominated for a pushcart prize for his poem Lorca in the Barrio and is founder of Pasta, Poetry & Vino and Barrio Poet Productions. He currently lives in Edinburgh, in the border region of Texas.











poetic drive-by

dandelions
blowing in all directions
planting seeds
near the rose bushes
sprayed with bullet holes
from the night before

the dampness in July
giving moisture to my garden
is of blood
his blood

blood-type ink

it was a clear night
oldies played in the background
Jaime smiled as he opened the
cap from his 40
it was a good day overall
somewhat

the sun set
and his mistake
was to give the barrio a chance
to end in perfect fashion

the prelude to
the ghetto birds
shine
was inevitable

the sirens of the police car
were polished

the yellow tape
had ordered
and put in the trunk

the donuts
and hot coffee
filled the tummy
of the officer
that would go home later
that night
holding his daughter tight
her cries
would haunt him for life

the vato got a haircut
and the scent of
-Tres Flores
carried away with
the trailing breeze

before Jaime could write
about the candlelit nights with
-you
by his side and drinking red wine
slow dancing
and whispering "I love you's"
sharing dreams
and traditions

the bullet pierced
through his hands
spilling ink

in a daze
-her lips
mouthing
"tee amo"
as she caressed his head

they caught the culprit
before the chalk outline
was traced over his hands

a poet died, pobre vato
a blank page was read at his wake









From February.




old-timers taking it easy together

my computer
is old and slow this morning

years past I would have
complained and been angry
at the syrup-slow movement of its
bits an bats and buts and bogles
and whatever else is supposed to be
producing instantiations
of digets and widgets and perilously perched pigets
of usable information to sate my demand
for light-speeded informational
response...

but, today,
the day before my 75th birthday
I recognize our time-borne fraternity
and sympathize with my slow-road
companion









From 2015.

Turned out I stayed in the poem business since there seemed no immediate demand for me to return to any other business.

.


some kind of business meeting

some kind of business meeting
going on
at the big table by the windows

usually
it's pretty easy to tell who's in charge
by the meeting dynamics, this group,
it's not so clear...

three men and two women, I pick the one
with his back to the window in the blue dress
shirt as the in-charge, mainly because
of the blue dress-shirt, no necktie, which suggests
a more easy-going culture, which would explain the guy
most obviously not in-charge who sitting
at the head of the table...

(I always sat at the head
of the table,
a power position that sends a clear message
as to who's going to drive the meeting, plus
the best position to see everyone
and be seen by them - important because
we communicate by face and if faces can't be seen,
messages lose focus, intent is clouded
and imperatives muddled)

it is interesting to study such meetings, especially since
I am considering a return myself to the early morning
meeting culture, observations that hone the rust
off old skills atrophied through
disuse, synapses corroded and long un-fired
needing to be polished and prepared...

opportunity to consider - do I really want
to do this?

is this poem-work really so bad...









This poem is by Ray A. Young Bear, from the anthology Against Forgetting, Twentieth Century Poetry of Witness, published by W.W. Norton in 1993.

Young Bear, born in 1950, has lived much of his life in the Mesquakie Tribal Settlement (Red Earth), in Iowa. He has taught at the Institute of American Indian Arts, Eastern Washington University and the University of Iowa. He is also a singer and co-founder of the Woodland Song and Dance Troupe.










From the Spotted Night

In the blizzard
while chopping wood
the mystical whistler
beckons my attention.
Once there were longhouses
here. A village.
In the abrupt spring floods
swimmers retrieved our belief.
So the spirit remains.
From the spotted night
distant jets transform
into fireflies who float
towards me like incandescent
snowflakes.
The leather shirt
which is suspended
on a wire hanger
above the bed's headboard
is human-less; yet when one
stands outside the house,
the strenuous sounds
of dressers and boxes
being moved can be heard.
We believe someone wears
the shirt and rearranges
the heavy furniture
although nothing
is actually changed.
Unlike the Plains Indian shirts
which repelled lead bullets,
ricocheting from them
in fiery sparks,
the shirt is the means;
the shirt is the bullet









From 2015.




just following orders

more like the sharp edge
of new winter
than its trailing end -
cold and wet, with a wind
that like a surgeon's blade
cuts right out all the pleasures
of a new day...

I had work planned for the day,
pulling weeds, trimming
a scraggly hedge, sitting in the sun
enjoying the imagined shade
of my new apple tree
a few years hence
as it grows up
and I grow even older...

instead,
a day for a last chance
winter nap...

for when such a day comes
it behooves the nature of man
as in all other instances,
to use it as the cosmos
intended









This is from last month. I'm a once a week Starbucks customer (I go to my regular coffeehouse the rest of the week) and usually it is not a good place for people seeing. This Sunday was an exception.



Sunday morning at Starbucks

beautiful young woman
at Starbucks,
delicate face framed
by a deep blue hijab,
speaking in rapid Arabic,
to a girlfriend, I imagine,
on this early Sunday morning

why do all languages
we do not understand
sound so musical when
spoken, Spanish, Italian
Gaelic, Navajo, even
Russian and German,
so harsh and thick on the tongue
yet so pleasing to the ear,
the sound of the classics
singing, grocery lists
and directions all to the nearest
bus stop, and traffic stop,
arguments, sounding like
Mussorgsky opening

his great gates of Kiev, such majesty,
Wagner singing the tragic story
of doomed Tristan and Isolde)

and the hijab, how beautifully
it reveals that which is not
concealed - are there western eyes
so bright, lips so full?...

beyond the attraction
of the exotic,
framed like a museum
portrait,
fresh as a rich green island
on the horizon after a month
at sea...














This poem is by Raquel Vasquez Gilliand, from her book, published in Rattle in 2018, Tales from the House of Vasquez.

The poet earned a B.A. in cultural anthropology from the University of West Florida and an M.F.A. in creative writing from the University of Alaska.















The Tale of La Nieta

The House of Vasquez has the
feet of a puma. And it found me,
baby on my brown nipple, spine
on the old mango tree. The house
said to me, m'ija, where has your 
marrow gone? Let me sit here.
You know the only way to fill
the well of bone is in the tales.
Let me tell you the tales. And as
she spoke, fat came out of her
voice and into all four of my eyes.
And from there, they filled my bones.
My spine unlatched from el arbol
with a sound like the drop of a
plump, soft mango and snaked
back into my body. And la Casa
kept speaking, until the blood dried,
until my baby looked up and smiled.









This is a new piece from last week.



the demons who torment my soul

slept late
and I deserved
it cause
I couldn't sleep
early
and have done
nothing since no
coffeehouse
bare glimpse
of the sun
through
a crack between
my pillows
have seen
done
felt
smelled
heard
experience nothing
upon which
a poem might
emerge
flaccid is my
inspiration
like an old man's
dingus
leaving me
nothing
to write about
but myself
and the demons
torturing my
soul but be not
alarmed for
my demons
are not the snarly-
faced demons
who haunt the
world in the
dread of
night
no
my demons
are smaller than
that
wee
little demons
Bambi and
Flipper
among the
demon ranks
not
worth
even writing about
actually so I won't
except for the
pickup
demon the
parking demon
guy who
always takes two
parking spaces
because he
thinks
he deserves it
it being Texas
and he being
a pickup guy
and all
National Asshole of Texas
that's what he is
sitting
high in his pick-me-up
thinking he's some kind
of cowboy
fantasy boy
more like it
demon wannabe
and I won't bother
you with
him
probably
go back to sleep
instead
so don't bother me
cause bothering me
would raise your
demon status
high on my demon
list
right up there
with the guy
who always tells
you the ending
of a movie
you haven't seen
yet
but were looking
forward
to

don't let this
happen to
you









This is from 2015.

After six months of great pain and near inability to walk across a medium-sized room, the cause,
my thingy in my ankle was not properly attached to my thangy, was finally diagnosed and fixed, for a while, until my thingy and thangy get out of whack again.




whoo-diddie-whoo, or something like that

one hour
of magnetic resonance imaging
and I am assured
that I have one left foot
attached by way of one left ankle
to one left leg
and wiggling upon that foot, five toes,
ranging in size from large to small
(or small to large, depending
upon which end of said foot you star
counting)

overcome with relief
I sit myself down to write a poem
commiserate to the event
and I suppose this is it,
a quiet appreciation
of the moment

much more exuberant would it be,
I admit, had one hour of
magnetic resonance imaging
revealed
not just the presence of such appendages
(after all, is not the presence of such appendages
par for the course, unless of course you are
a wounded war hero, in which case, the very
continuing presence of foot,
ankle, toes, etc. would be an outcome to be greeted
with enormous joy and relief
and possibly a parade)

but in my case, not being a wounded war hero,
the presence of that which is expected, while
happy news, is not celebrated nearly as it would be
were the reason was known the ankle, connector
of left foot and toes to the appropriate leg
continue to be a source of great pain all day, and especially at night,
which interferes with my sleep, which in turn,
interferes with my joy de vivre,  which is French for
I got both feet and neither hurt so
lets go dancing the whoo-diddie-whoo
or maybe just a walk at the park
in the golden glow of twilight, or something
like that...










This is from Wait a Minute, a collection of poems by Miriam Mcfall Starlin.

The book was published by Resource Publications in 2006.

The poet was born on a sheep ranch on the Little Wood River in Lincoln County, Idaho in 1916. She graduated with a B.A. in English and Journalism in 1938 and moved to San Francisco, the first of a number of moves in her life.

Each year the Department of Creative Writing at the University of Oregon gives the Miriam Mcfall Starlin Poetry Award to an outstanding student of poetry.

This poet is not what I expected when I bought the book. And much better besides.












The Dance Rehearsal

In my very next reincarnation
I'm going to be a dancer -
tight, high breasts,
long, fluid legs,
a mound of Venus, well defined.
And though
I could have Nureyev or Nijinsky
as my partner
I think I will choose
the young man with the red suspenders
and the gentle, long-lashed eyes.



Narcissus

Moon yellow jonquils
march up the hillside
nodding politely to each other
like feminist-poets
bowing to their own reflections
in the lily pond.



This and That

So these are the sunset years?
An aged mongrel at the feet
occasionally rising to puppy-capers.
A gentle man dozing in his chair.
Sons gone long ago.
What's left in the dark,
shot with the star shine
and the promise of a sunrise.










Most people don't know it but I am truly a "giving" person. I exposed the truth last week in this piece





philanthropy

it's a day
starving children
in China
would give up their pizza for,
bright sun, beautiful clear sky,
temperature in the mid-70s...

I'm sure I deserve it,
but am not sure why...

meanwhile,
this starving children in China thing -
that's what I always heard
when I was growing up and didn't want
to eat my turnips
while
I was feeling like a philanthropist, an equal
to the Rockefeller's, themselves,
in sparing those poor Chinese kids
from those awful boiled turnips...

we are all heroes in our own minds
I suppose...

however, I do feel twinges of guilt
for how, by denying those destitute
children nasty boiled turnips
I fed their determination
to leap over walls and
take over the world

even though they never
give me any credit for it
at all









From 2015, lost and confused.




findings so far

seeking out
my lost jigger of poetic gin
I resort
to the
abracadabra!
of olden days pen and ink

seeking out
the fresh life
of days of yore, like it was
ten years yore ago when my poems
were more fun, more like
discoveries
of a sharp and agile mind
in concordance
with a sensibility delicate, yet straight
like a shot of tequila (ole) in a Mexican bar
at midnight
(ole)


 I search now, and scribble
finding so far
only the smeared douse of an ink-stained
wretch all over my
blue-black
finger
tips













This piece is by Steve Healey from is book earthling. The book was published by Coffee House Press in 2004.

Healey, born in Washington D.C., teaches writing to prisoners in several Minnesota Correctional Facilities in Minnesota and, at the time of publication, was Associate Editor of Conduit Magazine.














bless you

I say this as the continents continue to drift,
driven by a obscure heat inside the Earth.

I've not been to Antarctica but can tell you
it's the most misunderstood continent,

an apparent imperfection on the globe,
like the bellybutton on a navel orange.

All navel oranges come from one mutant tree
that was grafted with other trees and so o

This is the difficult life of a seedless fruit,
rescued from oblivion and perpetuated
not by itself  but by human hunger.

Empires are meant to expand,
blank calendars absorb the stream
of appointments, but who, if not you
or me, can digest that spongy climate,

and when dust officially exists,
when each thing becomes a fraction of itself
who can make up the difference?

Tonight a book of names arranges s
in alphabetical order. Everyone is a genius.

Then the sun rises and curiosity wanes,
wanting to be mutual but not always balanced
at the right angle to the ground.

By noon I've completed my trajectory,
returned to my crowded half-acre
to feel the fatigue of Presidents.

My ears fill with pressure
my heart with little wings.

I slap a mosquito already injecting
my arm, welling for blood.

The authorities will be here soon
to shred my secret documents.

I hear a sneeze, then another.
It's my neighbor on her front porch.

Bless you, I say, although she can't hear me.








Over the course of twelve days I posted twelve pieces on the old Blueline's poem-a-day forum. Each piece covered a year beginning in 1934, including three sections, a summary of significant world news for the year, a poem responding to the news, and a bit of fictionalized family history for the year.

I skipped 1935, 1936, and 1949 for reasons I don't remember. After 1950, I skipped to the future, 2020.

I had half-intended to make a chapbook out of the project but decided it wasn't worth the effort.

So I include the whole thing here for anyone who ares to read it, this being, probably the only place it will ever be read.

Apologies - this is the only way I can figure out to do it.



Time and the Tide




1934


Alcatraz becomes a federal prison
Nazi Germany passes the “Law for the Prevention of Genetically Diseased Offspring
Over 10,000 die in Indian earthquake
First Jewish immigrant ship breaks the English blockage of Palestine
418 Lutheran ministers arrested in Germany
First high school auto driving course offered in Pennsylvania
Great dust bowl storms cross U.S. prairies
Okaloosa, Iowa becomes first U.S. city to fingerprint its citizens
Bela Bartok’s “Enchanted Deer” premiers


-----------
almost unnoticed
the Aryan Councils
meet,
drummers
prepare to beat
their savage
drums



------------

Fifteen years old, she leaves school, marries a Canadian sailor. Together they live happily by the sea.

Two years older, he plays high school baseball. An all-round athlete, he stutters when anxious, but, tall, dark and handsome, the girls in the small town where he lives don’t care.

The world has not yet come to their doorstep.




1937


Howard Hughes sets transcontinental air record
Second Stalin purge trial, 17 sentenced to death
DuPont patents nylon
U.S. Steel raises worker pay to $5 per day
First state contraceptive clinic opens in North Carolina
Gas explosion in school in New London, Texas kills 294
Fritz Zwicky coins the term “supernova”
Spinach growers in Crystal City, Texas erect statue of Popeye
Debut of Daffy Duck and Elmer Fudd
First commercial flight across the Pacific
“Gone With the Wind” wins Pulitzer Prize
Hindenburg explodes on landing killing 36
Police kill 10 strikers at Republic Steel
Amelia Earhart disappears over the Pacific
Buchenwald concentration camp opens
China declares war on Japan
In a secret meeting Hitler informs his military leaders of his intention to go to war
Nazi exhibition, “The Eternal Jew” opens in Munich
Walt Disney premiers the first full-length animated movie, “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”



----------
Heigh-ho Heigh-ho
the urge to purge
surges
America’s most beautiful
pilot
disappears
barbed wire around
a new summer camp
merit badges
for
killing Jews



----------


A widow, with a son who grows rambunctious and wild, living with relatives as a part-time housekeeper, decorating cakes at a bakery, her life promises little more.

A high school graduate, his father’s business taken by the bank, his sister home from college to stay - the Great Depression sucks life from opportunity and ambition. He applies for work with the Work Progress Administration, but does not get called. He plays semi-pro baseball, loses an eye during pre-game warm up.

The shadows of war clouds darken, but noticed still only in passing.



1939


Frieda Wunderlich elected first woman dean of a US graduate school…
Daily newspaper comic strip “Superman” debuts…
30,000 killed by earthquake in Chile…
First experiment in the splitting of a nuclear atom…
Filming begins on Gone With the Wind…
Germany occupies Czechoslovakia…
7,000 Jews flee German occupied Lithuania…
Spanish Civil War ends, the fascists prevail…
Membership in Hitler Youth becomes obligatory…
Marian Anderson sings before 75,000 at Lincoln Memorial…
“The Grapes of Wrath” is published…
Dixie Clipper completes first commercial plane flight to Europe…
Nazis close last Jewish enterprises..
Frank Sinatra makes his recording debut…
“The Wizard of Oz” premiers…
Netherlands mobilizes…
Hitler orders extermination of mentally ill…
First paper to deal with “black holes” is published…
Germany invades Poland, WWII begins…
Soviet Union invades Poland…
Reinhard Heydrich meets in Berlin to discuss final solution for Jews…
Birdbaths installed in Union Square…
Assassination of Hitler attempted, failed…
USSR invades Finland…
Montgomery Ward introduces the ninth reindeer, Rudolph…


----------
Frank
sings and Dorothy notices
she's not in Kansas
anymore
the world order
crumbles
but Christmas is saved
in America
by a reindeer with a very, very
shiny nose



---------


She works, sees to her son, walks to the movies on shapely legs tanned in the sub-tropic sun, her short skirt swishing, and men along the sidewalk grow silent and watchful as she passes. She is alone, lonely, but shy, withdrawn, does not want what the men ask for with their eyes.

He drives a wrecker truck, picks up the dead and dying along icy hill country roads. Finds a truck and trailer one night, overturned, beautiful white horses lying dead across the road, the owner sits on a rock, crying, beloved horses, his circus act dead, without his horses he is nothing.

A school in auto repair opens, seeing white horses dead and bloody red in his dreams, the wrecker driver decides to be a mechanic.




1940


FCC hears the first transmission of FM radio with clear, static -free signal…
Mass execution of Poles by the Germans…
Britain’s first WWII rationing, bacon, butter, and sugar…
Sergei Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet premiers…
Finland surrenders to Russia…
Mussolini brings Italy into Hitler’s war…
Germany invades Norway and Denmark…
Dance hall fire kills 198 in Mississippi…
Olympics are cancelled…
Winston Churchill becomes British prime minister…
First German bombs fall on England…
German troops occupy Amsterdam, Brussels and Belgium…
Britain and France begin evacuation of Dunkirk…
American Negro Theater organizes…
German forces enter Paris and France surrenders…
Brenda Starr, first cartoon strip by a woman debuts…
Bugs Bunny debuts in Wild Hare…
The blitz begins the first of 57 days consecutive nights of bombardment…
Black leaders protest discrimination in U.S. armed forces…
First Abbot and Costello film is released…
FDR wins unprecedented third term…
The walling off of the Jewish Ghetto in Warsaw begins…


----------
who’s on first
no longer a question
as war loads
the bases

Bugs
shoulda turned left
at Albuquerque
and the Finns admit
they’re finished

the Italians
put the pasta
on to boil

David's star is
put behind a wall
and pinned to every
Jewish lapel



----------

He’s come south, a drag-line mechanic helper, keeping the big machines running, building flood control levees on the river. Snakes, mosquitoes and mud - he will remember best the mud that cakes his boots so it’s hard to walk.

He meets her at the bakery, spending a part of his small paycheck on a cake for his landlords, a middle-aged woman and her middle-aged husband, a jazz trumpeter.

He watches her as she decorates the cake, the graceful wrap of her hand as she squeezes the frosting sack to make curlicues and red roses in a nest of green ivy that hangs across the cake like real ivy on a fence at home.

She rings up the charge on the register and takes his money.

“I’m Sidney," he says, "you can call me Sid.”

She smiles, shyly, looks into his eyes and sees not the hungry eyes of the men on the street, but a friendly smile instead, a friendly smile on a handsome face, a tall man with dark hair, long and swept back.

“I’m Mona,” she says.




1941


The Japanese Imperial Navy with 353 planes attacks the U.S. fleet at Pearl Harbor, 2,304 people killed…
FDR gives his Day of Infamy speech to Congress and war on Japan is declared…
Germany and Italy declare war on the United States...


----------
the world’s misery
crosses both oceans,
becomes America’s misery as well

the righteous fight
is begun



----------


Sid joins the lines at the enlistment centers, but is deemed unfit because of his lost eye. Determined to serve, he seeks to join the Seabees, construction force for the Navy, but is again refused.

He is distraught, Mona relieved.




1942



Rose Bowl played in North Carolina due to Japanese threat…
Japanese troops occupy Manila…
Nazi officials confer to plan the extermination of Europe’s Jews - the “Final Solution”…
Count Basie records One O’clock Jump…
First U.S. force in Europe goes ashore in Northern Ireland…
Archie comic book debuts…
FDR orders internment of all west-coast Japanese-Americans…
American defense of Philippines collapses, MacArthur ordered out…
First day of the Battle of Java Sea - 13 U.S. warships sunk - 2 Japanese…
First cadets graduate from Tuskegee flying school…
Belzec Concentration Camp opens with 30,000 Polish Jews…
FDR orders men between 45 and 64 to register for non-military duty…
U.S. and Filipino forces overwhelmed by Japanese at Bataan…
Stars and Stripes newspaper for U.S. armed forces starts…
First U.S. aerial bombing of Tokyo and other Japanese cities…
First food rationing in U.S. beginning with sugar…
1,500 Jews gassed in Auschwitz…
Bing Crosby records White Christmas…
Japan’s 1st major defeat in the Battle of Midway…
German army defeated at El-Alamein North Africa…
Anne Frank begins her diary…
Dwight Eisenhower appointed commander of U.S. forces in Europe
Execution of Jews by the thousands proceeds across Nazi -occupied Europe…
Tweety Bird debuts…
Casablanca premiers…
First self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction occurs…



----------

the noose
of apocalypse
is tied

the
gallows
prepared



----------


Sid is free of the snakes and mosquitoes and mud, transferred from the levees into town to work in the shop. He knows it is a temporary job, open because the worker who held it is a soldier now, training the battles to come. The job will be his again upon his return. Sid is still disappointed that he can’t join the fight, but pleased, at least, that he has freed up another to fight in his place.

He and Mona have made friends among the pilot trainees at the army-air base on the edge of town. Young men who will be in the midst of murderous air battles in the Pacific or, soon they know, over Europe. But for now, they are just young men with the temporary luxury of having their young wives with them.

Sid and Mona are the only two unmarried among their crowd. Lonely and alone in a strange place before they met, they are good friends now.

Just good friends, they say, but they both know, though afraid to say it, that their friendship is not the end. They see a future they so very quietly imagine, for now.




1943


William Hastie, aid to secretary of war, resigns in protest of segregation in armed forces…
Frankfurters replaced by Victory Sausages (mixture of meat and soy meal)…
Hitler declares “total war”…
The Pentagon, world’s largest office building, is completed…
U.S. bans pre-sliced bread to reduce bakery demand for metal parts…
Duke Ellington plays his first concert at Carnegie Hall…
General Eisenhower selected to command allied forces in Europe…
German “White Rose” student group hangs anti-Hitler banner in Munich, are caught and beheaded…
German 6th Army surrenders at Stalingrad, a turning point in the war in Europe…
New volcano erupts in farmer's cornfield in Mexico…
Porgy and Bess opens on Broadway…
Jimmy Durante and Garry Moore premiere on radio…
Oklahoma premieres…
Bergen -Belsen concentration camp forms…
Postal zone system invented…
German and Italian forces surrender in North Africa, one group after another…
Berlin is declared free of Jews…
Zoot Suit Riots -Mob in Los Angeles beats up everyone who appears Hispanic…
Income tax withholding becomes law…
Race riots in Texas and other states…
Allied forces invade Sicily…
Almost 6,000 tanks take part in the greatest tank battle in history with Russian victory over Germany…
RAF bombs Hamburg (20,000 dead)…
Mussolini resigns…
John F. Kennedy’s PT-boat 109 is sunk…
Mussolini captured by Allies, rescued by German forces, starts resistance movement…




----------

tides begin to turn
but even turning
tides
are deadly

the dead wash
out with the retreating surf

as new dead
wash in with each bloody surge

the march of tides and time
is not over



----------


Sid and Mona join his very good landlord friends Matrice and Harry for a night out across the border in Reynosa, Havana on the Rio Grande it's called, where U.S. dollars buy the finest in Mexican foods and floor shows and magicians and where, in the finest of the clubs, El Leon del Noche, an African lion pads through the restaurant on a leash.

And an orchestra that plays the latest in American big band swing. The band knows Harry and he always brings his trumpet so that he can sit in. This night he plays the most beautiful version of Stardust Sid and Mona ever heard.

They sit close at their table, holding hands, breathless in the thick Mexican night. The change in their life they had imagined finally comes, quietly, at a small table in a Reynosa nightclub. They found their song and with the song, each other.

Matrice watches it happen, smiles, winks at Harry. Their conspiracy realized, their plan come together.



1944


Ralph Bunch first Negro official in the State Department appointed...
Eisenhower takes command of Allied Invasion Force in London...
First jazz concert at Metropolitan Opera House, featuring Louis Armstrong, Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw and others...
RAF drops 2,300 bombs on Berlin; 447 German bombers attack London... 
Leningrad liberated in 880 days with 600,000 killed...
Batman and Robin premier in newspapers...
Mount Vesuvius erupts...
Jimmy Steward flies his 12th combat mission  leading attack on Berlin...
D Day, 150,000 Allied troops land in Normandy...
15 U.S. aircraft carriers attack Japanese on Marianas...
Congress creates the CIA...
FDR signs GI Bill of Rights...
First Japanese kamikaze attack...
First German V-2 rocket hits Great Britain...
U.S. retakes Guam...
Anne Frank arrested, sent to Auschwitz...
Smokey Bear  debuts...
Charles De Gaulle walks the Champs-Elysees after Paris liberation...
George H. W. Bush ejects from his burning plane...
Copland's "Appalachian Spring" premieres...
Auschwitz begins gassing inmates...
FDR wins 4th term...
Glenn Miller lost over English Channel...


----------



American
string of pearls
regained in the Pacific

American 
stringer of musical pearls
lost in Europe
as
Mr. Smith bombs
Berlin

the fire of 
explosions
manufactured and natural
light 
global nights

the bat signal
calls
on one such night
for even more heroes
to rise
and fall for the cause
of morality's light 


----------


Mona's son, Vincent (first called "Spud" by his uncle and now Spud to everyone but his mother), is ten years old now, prone to mischief, and a worry to his mother.

He does not take well to the arrival of a new man in her life and misbehaves when Sid is around.  Sid is not a patient man, Mona knows, and has no experience with children. and she worries that as Spud tries to push Sid away, he will succeed. He acts like he wants Mona to choose between the two of them.

"Why do we need him," Spud asks, "why can't you just make him go away?"

Sid worked hard to gain the boy’s trust, but nothing seemed to make any difference until a Saturday afternoon at Sam Hill Park when Spud fell into a canal that flowed through the south end of the park. He could not swim and it was Sid who heard his screams for help and jumped into the water, fully clothed, and pulled him out...

His best pants and shoes ruined, Sid held the boy as he shivered from the chill water and cried and told Sid how sorry he was to cause such a problem.  But Sid quieted the boy, holding him with a gentleness Mona had not seen before, looking for the first time like a father to her son.

That night, after Spud had been put to bed, they went back to the park, alone this time, and on a blanket on a large stone shelf of flat rock under a pecan tree, made love for the first time. Naked in summer moonlight, with long soulful kisses and slow silken caresses, gently rocking as they were for the first time joined.




1945



Pepe LaPew debuts…
German forces retreat in Battle of the Bulge…
Prokofiev’s 5th Symphony premieres in Moscow…
Every Amsterdammer gets three kilos of sugar beets…
Red army continues to liberate concentration camps as it advances west…
Grand Rapids becomes first U.S. city to fluoridate its water…
1,000 American Flying Fortresses drop 3,000 tons of bombs on Berlin…
Andrews Sisters hit number one on the charts with “Rum and Coca Cola”…
Yalta agreement signed by FDR, Churchill and Stalin…
U.S. Marines raise flag on Iwo Jima…
Federico Garcia Lorca’s “La Casa” premieres in Buenos Aires…
First International Woman’s Day is observed…
Firebombing of Tokyo in nighttime B-29 raid, more than 100,000 killed, mostly civilians…
“Going My Way” with Bing Crosby and Ingrid Bergman win best movie Oscar…
U.S. 7th Army crosses the Rhine…
“Glass Menagerie” premieres…
U.S. soldiers liberate Buchenwald…
FDR dies, Truman sworn in as 33 president…
Red Army begins Battle of Berlin…
Mussolini captured by Italian partisans and hung…
Unconditional surrender of Germany to the Allies and V-E (Victory in Europe) Day is announced…
Herman Goering is captured by U.S. Army; Heinrich Himmler commits suicide…
Abbott and Costello’s film “The Naughty Nineties” released, includes longest version of “Who’s on First”…
The war in the Pacific continues, island by island with massive causalities on both sides; the Japanese ignore several surrender ultimatums…
U.S. drops atomic bomb on Hiroshima; three days later drops second bomb on Nagasaki…
V-J Day; Japan surrenders unconditionally…
Branch Rickey signs Jackie Robinson…
Ho Chi Minh declares Vietnam independence from France




----------

war clouds
part
leave broke and bloody
lands
open to the sky

a time to beat
weapons
into plowshares,
a time to replant
and rebuild

but, oh,
the weapons are so more fearsome
than ever
before
the power of forever burning
stars
in the hands of mortal
man

and
already
on the horizon
new storms can be seen forming

peace
a fragile
and
forever
a passing
moment
in the hands of
temporary
man



----------


Talk of marriage begins.

Matrice and Harry offer a larger apartment, enough for Mona and Sid and Spud, and maybe another when the time comes.

Sid’s father is an open, approving man, happy for his son’s chance at happiness, wherever he finds it. Sid’s mother does not like the idea of her son marrying a widow woman - especially one with a son going on 12 years old.

Her family just pleased that she has someone besides them to depend on.

Sid and Spud spend long Saturdays together; sometimes take in a cowboy movie, while Mona works at the bakery.

Life flows around them in slow and gently ripples.






1946


ENIAC, first large U.S. computer finished…
“Show Boat” opens…
First meeting of the United Nations General Assembly…
“Lucky” Luciano pardoned for his wartime service and deported to Italy…
Juan Peron elected President of Argentina…
Winston Churchill makes “Iron Curtain” speech…
First U.S. rocket leaves Earth’s atmosphere…
Greece holds its first election after WWII…
First election for Japanese Diet…
Tokyo Telecommunications Engineering (later renamed Sony) is founded with 20 employees…
First hour long entertainment TV show premieres on NBC…
“Annie Get Your Gun” premieres with Ethel Merman in the lead…
Truman seizes control of nation’s railroads to delay a strike…
Patent filed in U.S. for H-Bomb…
First bikini bathing suit displayed in Paris…
Supreme Court bans discrimination in interstate travel…
U.S. tests atom bomb on Bikini atoll…
Truman orders desegregation of all U.S. forces…
“Animal Farm” published…
First mobile long-distance car-to-car telephone call…
Herman Goering sentenced to death, commits suicide in his cell…
“The Iceman Cometh” premieres…
Camera onboard a V-2 rocket takes first picture of the earth from space…
John F. Kennedy elected to U.S. House…
“Best Years of Our Lives” premieres…
Led by Ho Chi Ming, Vietnamese attacks French forces in Hanoi…
“It’s a Wonderful Life” premieres…
Truman officially proclaims the end of WWII…



----------

a time of
endings

a time of
quiet

a time of planting
in fields
plowed by bombardments
of war

a time
when first buds
of future days
push
through the torn and bloody soil
of pastures reaching
for life

a time when
all the forces of good and bad
gather
for the next round
of clashing philosophies

a time when blood rises
throbbing
toward
that day



---------

Wedding day at the courthouse.

Harry stands for Sid; Matrice for Mona. Spud stands between them as the vows are said.

Sid and Mona have to work, so their honeymoon is short, Saturday night in a small motel on Boca Chica Beach. They are alone together as Spud stays with Harry and Matrice.

To the sound of tides brushing in and out over sand glowing white under a brightly jeweled sky, they make love for the first time as man and wife.

Monday they go back to work; Monday night they settle for the first time into their new apartment, the first full night together for the three of them. Spud falls asleep quickly; Sid and Mona, in their own bedroom, celebrate their homecoming with the quiet passion of the newly-wed.




1948


Channel 13 in New York (PBS) begins…
First Supermarket opens in the United Kingdom…
First country music TV show, Midwestern Hayride, premieres…
“Treasure of Sierra Madre” opens…
First tape recorder sold…
Mahatma Gandhi assassinated…
Mao’s army occupies Yenan…
First newsreel telecast shown on NBC…
Communist Party takes control of Czechoslovakia…
Supreme Court rules that religious instruction in public schools is unconstitutional…
Congress passes Marshall Aid Act…
Senator Glenn Taylor of Idaho arrested in Alabama for trying to enter a meeting through a door marked “for Negroes’…
Israel declares independence from British…
Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq & Saudi Arabia troops attack Israel…
Milton Berle Show premieres…
Babe Ruth’s final farewell at Yankee Stadium three days before he dies…
USSR begins Berlin Blockade; U.S./British airlift begins…
Ed Sullivan premieres on TV…
Indians sign Satchel Paige…
Alcoholic Anonymous founded…
Professional wrestling premieres on prime-time TV…
“Candid Camera” debuts on TV…
Truman elected on his own in an upset…
T. S. Eliot wins Nobel Prize for literature…
Hopalong Cassidy and “Kukla, Fran & Ollie” debut on TV



----------

peace
and prosperity

soldiers home from war
take wives
have children
go to college and buy little houses
where a new middle class
is born

there are shadows
but always there are shadows

but soon everybody
will have a TV
and a new culture
a new language as old accents
are shed
north south east west
regions meld
into
peace and
prosperity and

shadows?

only the black and white
shadows
of television
of
Uncle Miltie
of Hopalong, of
Gorgeous George
and Wild Red Berry disturb
the night

and any who don’t have the shadows,
want them
Sears
Monkey Ward
low down, easy payments
too…



----------


Sid lost his job when the soldiers came home, but found another one right away. Gets paid every week, cashes his check at the supermarket and takes all but his small weekly allowance home to Mona who makes sure there are groceries in the cupboard for the four, yes, the four, of them, to eat.

With little Annie, just a year old, at her side, Mona works at home, bakes cakes, makes corsages out of old silk hose for high school dances. Helps all she can.

Spud is fourteen, still not a bad kid, but stubborn and reckless and impulsive. Teachers do not like his way or his inattention or his sass. He fails at everything but football.

Money so tight, but still Mona agrees to a hard decision - a private school in another city where, sponsored by their church, Spud can go. It is a place of discipline and accountability. Sid believes that is all his son needs and Spud, who still sees his hero in his adopted father, agrees to go.

Mona weeps as she sews name tags on his clothes and packs a large trunk for him. Sid takes a day off from work so they can all go to the school together, so that the boy doesn’t have to get off a bus alone, so that this separation, their first, is done together.

It seems such an empty house that Sid and Mona return to, silence a presence of laughter missing. Annie cries for her brother as Mona cries for her son. Sid sits quietly in his chair mourning the responsibility of fatherhood.




1950



Now the world’s second nuclear power, the Soviet Union flexes its muscle…
Ho Chi Minh begins offensives against French troops in Indo China…
Britain recognizes Communist government of China…
The Great Brinks Robbery makes off with nearly three million in cash and securities…
First TV broadcast of “What’s My Line”…
Senator McCarthy charges 205 communists are in the State Department…
Walt Disney releases “Cinderella”…
Dylan Thomas arrives in New York for his first U.S. poetry reading tour…
Sid Caesar and Imogene Coca premier “Your Show of Shows”…
First woman officer assigned to U.S. naval vessel…
Silly Putty invented…
Bob Hope’s first TV appearance…
“Peter Pan” premieres…
Dutch police seize condoms…
North Korea invades South Korea, captures Seoul, Truman orders American Air Force and Navy into the conflict…
U.S. and North Korea forces clash for the first time…
The Law of Return guarantees all Jews the right to live in Israel…
“Sunset Boulevard” premieres…
U.S. gives military aide to anti-communist regime in South Vietnam…
Earthquake in India kills 20,000 to 30,000…
Beetle Bailey debuts…
South Korean troops enter North Korea…
Charlie Brown debuts in “Peanuts” precursor…
U.S. forces invade North Korea, occupy Pyongyang, capital of North Korea, approach Chinese border and China responds with massive counter-attack into Korea…
Puerto Rican nationalists attempt to assassinate Truman…
William Faulkner wins Nobel Prize for Literature…
Eisenhower takes command of NATO…



----------

not a war
for us at first,
plenty war
for those dying
cities falling
and more people
dying
on both sides

a line on a map

thousands of lines
on thousands of maps

a time of redrawing lines
making obsolete
maps
of failing empires

another war starts
as relics of French empire totter

this one starts also
without us, barely noticed
by us, but a tar baby war
that inexorably draws us, three generations
of little tar baby wars
pend
stealthily
growing like the tiger cub
that grows its claws and its fangs
and is nobody’s baby
any more

and the big one, the last one, the-end-of-all-wars,
the end-of-the-world that
keeps us awake at night,
the bomb-shelter big one, the-duck-and-cover
big one, Armageddon passed
like a low hand at poker, too terrible
for anyone to win with it
so
all
bluff and pass



----------

Spud is 16, going on 17, back at regular school, impulsiveness contained, mischief restrained, unhappy, seeking an outlet. He lies, enlists.

It’s his war and he doesn’t want to miss it like his dad missed his.

It is done.

Annie cries as he leaves. Mona cries as he leaves. Sid does not approve, will not acknowledge his departure, will not shake his hand.

Nevertheless, he is in the army now, and off to fight his war.






2020


President Trump resigns; celebrates the U.S. rapprochement with Russia with official opening of his new casino on the Volga - The Trump-Putin Towers…

Vice President Kardashian takes the oath of office as the new President of the United States…

The end of history, as prophesied 40 years ago, finally arrives…



----------

history
becomes the fool;
the court jester in a pork pie hat
with fluff-ball bells on strings
that bob and bounce
with every faltering step,
the Ministry of Silly Walks sets the pace
as reason limps to the sidelines,
“take me out, coach,” the hero pleads,
“take me out…”

space aliens, tinfoil hats
and pyramids beneath your bed,
the force be gone
and already forgotten…



---------


My name is Spud, or, used to be, but nobody’s called me that for years.

The fellas down at the VFW call me Colonel, my rank after Khe Sanh, the rank I kept for the next 20 years. A wise-ass who was right too often, a career killer in Uncle’s army. Sid was right way back, when he told me I didn’t have the discipline to be a soldier.

But I did all right, fought my wars well, got my ribbons, got my medals, just never got the rank I deserved.

Sid, well he finally forgave me for joining up without talking to him, then got all mad again when I re-enlisted for Vietnam. He’s dead now, a long time now, a car wreck on his way to work. That same damned old job, never got the promotions he deserved, never the pay rises he deserved, years of watching lesser men take the rewards he earned.

Like father like son, I guess, wise-asses both of us.

Mona died about ten years ago, in a home, alone, I’m afraid. I was in Europe, then Asia, the Mid-East for all the sand wars and just never paid attention. Annie was in California, another never-to-be movie star serving eggs and burgers at Denny’s. She never paid much attention either. Neither of us, I guess, came to much good as children.

At least neither of us made the mistake of trying to be parents.

It’s a helluva world and a helluva country. I figure I’d be fighting another war soon if I wasn’t so old. Too bad for all the young fellas and girls who’ll soon be starting their own string of wars to fight.

What can I tell you, an old soldier playing dominoes and drinking beer at the VFW. It’s a helluva world.



Sorry this got a little out of hand. But once I decided I wanted to do it, I'm hard to not do it, even though it seems I lost a couple of years in the process.







Here's the last of me for this issue, written early this year.



the morning opens

the morning opens,
dim and doubtful,
fog-bound downtown
begins to open up,
the turning top
of the Tower of the Americas
clear, but floating above the
gray clouds...

here on the river, two
layers, one hugging close
to the slow-moving flow,
the other, risen, leaving
a clear break in between...

the day,
perhaps, between
the last of winter and the first
of spring...

but we are who we are,
and where we are, meaning
no old thing is necessarily over,
no new thing waits at the door,
and we are, again as always,
in between...









my comment button no longer works, so if you would like to comment on this post, email me at allen.itz@GMail.com. I appreciate hearing from readers.


As usual, everything belongs to who made it. You're welcome to use my stuff, just, if you do, give appropriate credit to "Here and Now" and to me



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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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