Anything Green is a Flower   Monday, April 29, 2019








anything green is a flower

freeze warning
last night
and people all over town
were hustling,
digging old blankets
and plastic covers out of their garages
to cover their plants,
to protect their plants from the ravages
of winter's late arrival

not me

I figure
any growing thing tough enough
to survive our fifteen month drought
ought to be able
to survive a little chill

and if they don't?

well, 
too bad

I don't believe in coddling
the flora -
this is Texas
for crying out loud -
no place
for sissy plants around here

I used
to be one of those exotic plant
enablers,
spending hundreds of dollars on water
in dry times like today,
spoiling them
with fertilizers and plant foods,
even when my own refrigerator
was near broke,
rushing to protect them
from all the normal weather systems
that make native plants strong

no more

if something dies
from drought it goes on my list
of plants never allowed to be in my hard again

same
for things that freeze

at some point
my yard
will be entirely flowered
by plants
with a history
of flourishing
through normal South Texas trials
and tribulations

in following this gardening philosophy
it is important to believe
that a weed
is just a flower someone doesn't like

I have banished weeds
from my lexicon

in my yard
anything
green
is a flower 








Several poets from my library and a few old poems from 2008 from me.

That's it.

Me
anything green is a flower

Me
the sun was bright today

Eka Budianta
Family Portraits

Subagio Sasgrowardoy
The Word

Me
loose coins rolling on the floor at midnight

Pablo Lopez del Castillo
The Renovation

Me
of mice and men

Me
Sunday breakfast at IHOP

Sappho
Surviving fragments of her poetry

Me
Gwendolyn

Me
fragments

Me
making tamales on Christmas Eve

Bernice Zamora
El Burrito Cafe
Denizens
State Street
Situation

Me
raindrops in sunshine
normal
grief
no reason for it
ahhh...
the problem with forests
poor little Pumpkin
the shortest poem









I don't know if it's good or bad when you recognize crap when you're writing it.




the sun was bright today

the sun
was bright today
and the sky
blue
as an ocean sigh

while 
we toiled
in a garden
of dark
obsession, 
harvesting shadows
and sly glances
and blossoms
of dark distrust

the sun 
was...
.
.
.
...such painstakingly
constructed
bullshit
this is,
every word dredged
like a lead weight
from some toxic depth,
like the sludge at the bottom
of a ship channel
where diesel fuel and dead cats,
industrial waste
and the shit of a city's worth of human
defecation
lays a coat of muck
on once pristine sand,
spew of
toxic
waste
is this poem,
no heart, no soul

no balls...

deadly to the poet
and to the reader

I
would burn this poem
but just as there are good days
and bad days
there are poems good and bad,
precious
all
for the tick-tocks of a clock of a lifetime
spent living and writing them

to throw them away,
to throw away even the worst,
is to throw away time
from an already
too
short life









Next, I have two poets from Walking Westward in the Morning, a selection of seven Indonesian poets, published by Lontar Foundation, Jakarta, in 1990. It is a bilingual book, English and Indonesian on facing pages.


The first of two poets from the collection is Eka Budianta. Born in East Java in 1956, he studied Japanese literature and later history at the University of Indonesia in Jakarta. He then studied journalism in Los Angeles before working as a reporter for a period of time. Later he participated in the Iowa Writer's Program before working for the BBC in London. He also taught Indonesian Literature at the International School London and Cornell University in New York. He has published numerous collections of poetry, beginning with his first Ada in 1975.




I am like Jojon, the farmhand from Tegal
Who left his wife and two children behind
To pedal a pedicab in Jakarta.
Like Salka, the fisherman in Cilincing
Separated from his family on Madura Island.
Every three months or twice a year
We meet out wives and children to free ourselves from longing.

I  am a contract coolie, far from the family.
That is common, sir, common. Very common.
We are the hundreds of thousands of coolies at the city's construction sites
who have left our families behind in the village.
When looking at the clouds in the bright sky,
We do not cry, but neither are we delighted.
White clouds that pass over my village
Tell them that my life in the city's all right.

I'm just Jojon, on contract in London
You and the children live quietly in the village
When you see the mist descend from the sky,
Or when it rains for days before Christmas,
Relax, sleep in peace
In  your dreams I will send millions of stars,
As long as you, in you prayers, also mention my name




This short poem is by the second poet I'm taking from the anthology.

The poet is Subagio Sastrowardoyo was born in East Java in 1924. He made his debut as  writer with a collection of short stories in 1957. After publishing several short story collection, he switched to poetry in 1966 after an extended stay in the United States, which became his main creative outlet.


The Word

In the beginning was the word
The universe was made of words
Behind them only
Empty space and a morning breeze

We are afraid of ghosts because of words
We love the earth because of words
We believe in God because of words
Fate is trapped in words

That is why
I hide behind words
and sink
without a trace









Short bits from October, 2008. Apparently, from some of the bits, I was already pissed about politics in 2008 and had no idea at the time the full range of pissed off that would be available to me ten years later.




loose coins rolling on the floor at midnight

I do
dumbass
things sometimes
trying
to get back
to where
there is no getting
back to

a part of my mind
refuses to accept this
no matter
how many times
and how many ways
I try to explain it

*****

I watched
a dance troupe
rehearsing
tonight,
a very sensual
performance

how
warily
unaware
of their bodies
these young women
seem

*****

every
so often
I get a chance
to exercise the control skills
essential to my everyday life
for many years, now long past

and,
like stretching
after too long in a too-soft chair
it just
feels
so damn good

*****

how,
I mean how in
the world
could anyone with more than half a brain
vote
for that Arizona fossil
and his Alaska pony girl
running-mate

I mean,
the choice
this time
is a no-brainer

but
people I know
who are quite intelligent
and knowledgeable of the world
are going to do just that

what is it that moves them,
that causes them to ignore the irrationality
of the action
they intend to take?

in a race
between the tired and a discredited past
and  promising future
why would anyone bet on the past

I am
flummoxed

*****

it sometimes
occurs
to me, usually way
late, like tonight,
that I really did
make a fool of myself
today

and I think,
boy,
I won't do that again

knowing for
certain
I
will

*****

one
of the
sonsofbitches
I hold responsible
for the pool of anger
still simmering in a corner
of my gut, a rage I expect to
carry with me to my grave, plead
guilty today to a misdemeanor count
of political corruption with a $10,000 fine
and I feed on his humiliation, it is not enough
for it should have been a felony and someone else
will pay the fine just as someone else has always paid
the price of his corruption, as did I and so many more I know

*****

revenge
so, so sweet
revenge
even
when incomplete

now
I will sleep









This poem is by Mexican poet Pablo Lopez del Castillo, from his book Memorial del Viento/lWind Memorial. The book was published by Orchard Press at St. Mary's University here in San Antonio in 2005. It is a bilingual book, English and Spanish on facing pages.

Known throughout Mexico as Don Pablo, Del Castillo, born in Guanajuato, Mexico. With a background as a stage actor trained in the classics, he has traveled town to town throughout Mexico spreading the chanted word, creating brief, dramatic and personalized monologues, working from his favorite poets and his own work. He was awarded the American Eagle Award as the most outstanding performer of poetry in Mexico.

This book was his first publication in the United States.




The Renovation

The wind carries
the tiny particles of life.
That mysterious dust
that patiently awaits it agglutination
to prolong the four seasons.

The sprig and the water
Man and destiny
scattered
search for the miracle to coincide.
Every odyssey was educed to dust.
And the dust was fuel for the Gods
that is why the jubilant species
sprout again.

Spring reinaugurates the musical season.
Summer is fruit and shade and placidity.
Autumn undresses and creates nostalgia.
And winter is stubbornness
that hides itself
in the patina of time.

Yet all is dust.
All is life
And the wind
is the renovation of Man.









Thank the mice from whom all blessings flow



of mice and men

strolling
through the Times
today
I saw a story
about how
researchers using stem cells
were able to control diabeties in
mice

good news for the mice
about which
I am sure there must be
high jubilation
in mouse holes throughout
the country

fortunate mice, these, who
unlike their control group cousins
didn't catch cancer
from smoking
or diet pills
or excessive sun-tanning
or eating too much fat
or sweetening too much with "Sweet-n-Low"
or any of those other
godawful things
mice catch
when hanging around too much
with humans in white coats

truly
a banner day for the creme de la creme of
mousedom









A Sunday morning observational.




Sunday breakfast at IHOP

from the booth
behind me
a voice
with youthful lilt
and a full and jolly
laugh
that turns heads,
including mine

to see
an old man
sharp-nosed 
with trembling fingers
and liver spots
on his bald
shining
head
wearing a porky pig tie
that matches his laugh
holding
the pale, still hand
of a dead-faced woman
in a wheel chair
beside him








Next, a few fragments from the 10,000 lines of poetry attributed by the ancients to Sappho. Born in 630 B.C., she was called the 10th muse by her contemporaries, she was highly regarded and widely read in her time. Little of her work remains.

The fragments below are from The Love Songs of Sappho, a Signet Classic published in 1966. I notice the price of the book in 1966 was $4.95. Ah, to live in such a time again.



141

When rage flares up inside the heart
Lock up the tongue with its useless bark


142

Beach smells?
Don't poke among the pebbles

143

Yes
they gave me
true success
the golden
Muses
And once dead
I shall not be forgotten


144

Many have been cheated by oblivion
But by good judges
None:
And afterwards, I say,
I shall be remembered by some.


145

And I said to them: "Sweet women
how you will remember always
till you are old
the things we did together
in shining youth!
For many the things we did then
innocent and beautiful
And now that you go from here
my heart is breaking


146

When the gentle feet of the Cretan girls
Danced in tune round some intimate shrine
Treading the smooth soft bloom of the dawn


147

And the moon rose clear and full
on girls grouped round the altar


148

I remember
That night of ours.
O, I can tell you
I begged it could be doubled


149 (fragment of a fragment)

I see it still and feel it: the
- - - - - passion, yes
- - - - - utterly
- - - - - I can.
- - - - - shall be to me
- - - - - a face
- - - - - shining back at me
- - - - - beautiful
- - - - - indelibly










Another observational, this one from a coffeehouse.




Gwendolyn

Gwendolyn,
I've named her
and I love
to watch
her talk -
American Sign,
with flashing eyes
and Gwendolyn
body
English
that seems to involve
every
movable
part of her physical being

as I watch her from
across the coffeehouse
I have no idea
what she's talking about
but, by god
it looks exciting










Dead time on an overnight shift.




fragments

waiting
for the mercy 
of your smile

`````

the night 
is long
and ever darker

`````

sunshine
in the desert
moonglow
on the sand

`````

short conversation
of
better days

`````

the tides
pushed forward,
sucked back by the moon

````

white
rose opens
swallows
morning dew

````

blue jay
protects her nest,
stares
me down

`````

seven days
too little time
to fill a week
with love

````

children grow...
leave
behind
bright shades
of memory

`````

free
to find the
time
that is my due

`````

I lied...
she knows...
no truth can repair
the breach









Christmas, 2008, the idea was, a traditional family get-together on Christmas Eve. The reality was, though it was good for family gather, it was damn hard work for not very many tamales (and I don't even like tamales anyway).

We haven't done it again.




making tamales on Christmas Eve

well,
even with a Mexican mama
and a bunch of Mexican tias
in the house,
it turns out
the only one who knows
how to make tamales,
the only one who's ever made
tamales before
is my half-Mexican son...

so we all gather around,
the aunts and uncles,
nephew and nieces,
mom and dad,
to watch
him do the magic mixing
of the masa and
the spicing of the meat
(pork and chicken),
then all file into the
dining room
to take our places
around the table,
corn shucks
in the middle,
bowls of meat
in front of each of us
and begin our part of the
night's entertainment,
spreading the masa
just so
on the damp corn shucks,
too much masa,
we scold each other,
no,
now that's too little,
minding everybody else's tamale business,
careful,
careful how you spread,
we remind each other,
from the bottom of the shuck
about two-thirds to the top,
leaving a little shuck tail
to fold over
when the tamale
goes into the steaming pot

and the meat,
the meat strung down the middle,
just the right amount of meat
or the tamale
if too much meat
will not hold together
or too little
and  it will turn out just a masa ball
with hardly any meat at all

then the rolling
of the corn shuck into the little
cigar shaped
masa and meat pie,
careful,
but no need for perfection
(it's just a tamale, after all)
but it's best if they are all
about the same size
so, as they steam, they will
all be done at the same time,
no dried out little ones,
no mushy big ones

then
into the pot
and the wait begins,
checking
every twenty minutes
to make sure there's enough water
in the pot to make steam,
then play Scategories,
until, two hours later,
maybe three hours later,
12 dozen tamales,
a dozen for everyone to take home
and several dozen
for breakfast tomorrow morning,
Christmas Day








Next, four short poems by Bernice Zamora from her book Releasing Serpents, published by Bilingual Press/Editorial Bilingue in 1994.

Zamora was born and raised in Colorado. She holds a Ph.D. in English and American Literature from Stanford University. At the time of publication, she taught at Santa Clara University.




El Burrito Cafe

Through the swinging doors
That lead to your kitchen,
I watch you taste
The menudo you
Prepare for drunks.
Somehow, Augustina
Godinez, the title
Chef does not suit
Your position.


Denizens

at the crossroads
a guitarist winks
to the sun
through trees
             then
asks a squatted
beggar
What color are morning reflections?

            aside
each calls the other
            fool


State Street

It is morning
that cradles the
carriage of a
waning Mexican
and his black young bride;
opium and age
gauze his vision from
twisted legs and
fallen arches
of her stumped feet.

Tottering arm-in-arm
the mortal lovers move
toward Mitzey's Bar


Situation

I accept your proposal,
And it doesn't matter
That you are an undertaker.
Do you mind that I am
A midwife?









A couple of short pieces to end this excursion.



raindrops in sunshine

rain drops
in sunshine
gleam
like diamonds
from the sky

somewhere
there is a
rainbow


normal

some 
will say
normal
is boring

well
still
say,
it'd nice to get
back to 
it


grief

dreamt
of my mother's
chicken & dumplings
last night

though usually
lost in the back of my mind
grief continues
even now



no reason for it

beautiful
black women
along my path
for three day now

random passings

no
reason
for it except
chance
but wonderful
all the same




ahhh...

ahhh...
the smell
of new-mown grass
on a fine September
morning - man
interfering with the natural order
at its best

...as long as I'm
doing the smelling
and someone else is doing
the mowing


the problem with forests

the problem with
looking at a forest
is that
all
you
can
see
is
trees


poor little Pumpkin

little
Pumpkin,
Texas 
hiding out
amongst the trees

KoKo's
Gas-N-Grub

Faith
Evergreen
Baptist Church

poor 
little Pumpkin

population
43


the shortest poem

the shortest
poem
is

the sigh
in a lover's
farewell










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



Also as usual, I am Allen Itz owner and producer of this blog, and a not so diligent seller of books, specifically these and specifically here:

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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