Too Damn Much Fun   Tuesday, May 28, 2019







Fun can be hard on old people.




too damn much fun

as usual,
Clint said it best,
a man just has to learn his limitations,
he said,
and I think I learned mine
yesterday...

a very long day, but lots of fun, good
food, walking through happy, boisterous crowds,
talking to everyone I see, taking
pictures - pretty women in summer dresses,
the young, gangsta-looking dad, wife-beater tee,
tats on every inch of visible skin, holding his baby, making
blubblubblub noises with his lips to make his baby
laugh, so many smiling, happy babies,
boy and girls in strollers and little red wagons,
friends to sit with when I'm tired, with laughter, and
good music and a chair to rest my weary feet
on...

````

that was yesterday...

this morning
everything hurts, every muscle
crying out in protest,
aches
and pains
and maybe the kind of revelation
Clint recommended -

it could be I'm too old
for that much
fun...

something to think about, time, perhaps
to learn limits, better in the future,
maybe should be bingo in the
morning, a couple of games
of shuffleboard in the afternoon, then
an hour of Lawrence Welk reruns
and a glass of warm milk
before I shuffle off to bed as the sun
does the same, while
the moon rises in its own slow and easy
splendor

````

too damn much fun

that just might be the problem
today








I have a few poems from several anthologies in my library for this post, but mostly I have my old poems from 2014. It appears that 2014 was a good  year for, finding, as I looked through the  year's work, that it includes some of my favorite work, better stuff, at leas, than what I've done for the past couple of years. The kind of stuff that makes you feel good writing it.


Me
too damn much fun



Me
it's August in South Texas



Me
if my mind was geography



Chao Chih-hsin
A Mid-Autumn Night
Fireflies
Presented to a Mountain Dweller



Me
discussing the nature of things with my dog



Me
an excess of normal (or, the oppression of every day)



Me
french fries



Kathy Fagan
Elemental



Me
next time a democrat chicken or no chicken at all



Me
slow day at the flapjack emporium



Me
you'd think they might have mentioned this sort of thing



Duane Niatum 
Snowy Owl near Ocean Shores 

Me
what we found in Grandma's attic



Me
Neena at LensCrafters



Alejandra Pizarnik
Pilgrimage

Me
a regular guy









Spring is ending around here; summer's starting. Damn, time to move to a mountain somewhere.




it's August in South Texas

it's August
in South Texas
and ain't nobody doin' nothin' they don't haf'ta...

like me
for example. I can think of a bunch of things
I could do today
but I ain't doin' none of 'em...

too many memories
of when it was August in South Texas
and I was outside working
cause  didn't have no choice...

was a beans ad cornbread thing,
if I wasn't outside working in South Texas in August
I wouln' have no money and if I didn't have no money
I couldn't buy me no beans and cornbread
and I'd haf'ta eat dirt
or something...

but I don't have to eat dirt these days
cause I gots plenty of money
for my beans and cornbread so it's August in South Texas
and I ain't doin'
nothin'

and ain't nobody
can make
me









If you're into writing a poem every day, you are often into, whether you like it or not. writing poems about not being able to write a poem. It goes with the territory, though I have to say, some of my favorite poems are about not being able to write a poem. This one is pretty good.



if my mind was geography

I hate to write poems
about being unable to write a poem
but let's face it...

if my mind was geography
it would be the Chihuahua Desert, nothing
but dry sand, angry frogs,
prickly pear cactus,
and ugly bugs...

if my mind was s ship
it would be saying, "What
iceberg?"

if my mind was a parking lot
it would be deserted
but for oil drips and
skid marks where glories past collided
with reality present...

if my mind was a coffee cup
it would be empty
except for coffee scum and a wet cigarette butt
on the bottom...

if my mind was a mountain
it would be underwater, never seen
and never climbed...

if my mind was an ancient Egyptian
it would be a mummy
wrapped
 in sandpaper...

if my mind was a burro
it would be climbing
the Andes on cracked red
toenails...

if my mind was a sentry at Fort Knox
it would be asleep,
dreaming of copper pennies
and the baubles that bought Manhattan

if my mind was a poet
it would be writing about that twitchy fella
in the booth up front, my god,
he won't stop talking,
facing the wall bouncing
in his seat,
perhaps he's the poet
in the woodpile,
twitching with the tickle
of a poem trickling
between his
ears

a poem, I'm thinking,
nothing at all
like this
one












Next here are several poems by Chao Chih-hsin, born in 1662 and died in 1744.

A precocious young man, Chao achieved high office in the dynasty,  until, during a period of mourning for a member of the imperial family, he and another poet made the bad political judgment of attending an theatrical performance of a popular drama. He and other scholars in attendance were attacked and stripped of their positions.

He never held another political office, instead spending the rest of his life traveling widely in southern China, writing poetry and literary criticism.

The poems are from Waiting for the Unicorn, subtitled "Poems and Lyrics of China's Last Dynasty, 1644-1911." The anthology was published by Indiana University Press in 1990.

The poems here were translated by Michael S. Duke.




A Mid-Autumn Night

The autumn air banishes lingering rains,
An empty courtyard invites distant breezes -
One glass of mulberry dew wine,
A midnight in the moon-bright season.
A longtime traveler feels the night is endless,
In early coldness grows drunk too slowly.
Still resigns his bleak and lonely feelings
To  rendezvous with far-off chrysanthemums.


Fireflies

Once more coming though the door with rain,
Suddenly flying over the wall on the wind,
Although they need the grass to achieve their nature,
They do not depend on the moon for light.
Understanding the secluded one's feelings,
I briefly invite them to dwell in my gauze bag.
Just look: falling through the empty space,
How do they differ from the great stars' rays?


Presented to a Mountain Dweller

Looking like wild deer sleeping against the cliffs,
Casually wandering out of the valleys with the flowing streams.
Since the travelers asked him about the frosty trees,
They all came to know his face, but do not know his name.









The best thing about having intelligent friends is the fine discussions you can have.




discussing the true nature of things with my dog

discussing
the true nature of things
with my dog
on a brisk winter day

I find she and I have
only a few areas of agreement,
but in those areas, our agreement is
intense, like, for example,
the issue of birds' nests hanging
high and alone at the tops
of winter-bare trees, which to both
of us is a lonely sight, yet equally a sign
of hope, for though the home
is vacant during these months, it remains,
waiting for the spring and spring's
new chicks, hanging there in their
bushy bed, protected and fed by their mother,
singing, preparing them for their life's first flight...

dog and I both see life lessons
in these empty nests and the certainty
that in their time they will be filling again
with new life, persistent life, coming
again in good time, not deterrent by
the difficulties of a passing season...

dog knows that while there may be
no soup bone today, the power that governs all
is preparing her bone for tomorrow, that is her lesson
take from today's empty nests

for me, I am reminded that tomorrow
is not yet lost,
only waiting for me to find it,
to fill it again with
life,
like a mother bird coaching
flight out of her chicks,
like her chicks, finding the courage
to take mother's advice to defy
the terrifying force of gravity, to
confront the inertia of fear and soar
among the high clouds according
to creation's grand
design








My life is disturbingly normal these days, though at my age, normal may be best for me. Adventure does not well-suit old guys.




an excess of normal (or, the oppression of every day)

the lights outside
go off
as the night fades
to regular light, new sun
reflected off cloud banks to the west

cold outside,
furnace blasting in here

in here only three besides
me this early, regulars
all four of us, seeing each other
almost every day, knowing only
enough about each other to nod
in passing, except that all the servers
know my name and use it in greeting me,
so that the other three know my name, too,
and use it as adjunct to their
morning nod - demonstrating to me
every morning their superior
knowledge of me, though I think one of them
might be a "Dave" - kinda looks like a Dave...

directly in front of me, two booths up,
is the accountant (the possible Dave)
reading his newspaper
and eating his Greek fritata
with great and orderly precision

and one booth behind him
the tiny, baby-faced man in his large cowboy hat,
a two-gallon man in a ten-gallon hat - he's
working away on his computer - we were brothers-of -the-bald
for a while but I notice has broken down in the face of winter
and has re-grown his hair, his gray fringe, truly, is not a lot less
bald then when he was bald

and across the room,
the heavy-set woman in what looks like a high school jacket,
except that the back displays no school logo just her
name, as if maybe self-educated, having learned all
on the streets from the school of herself, the "Lopez" school
of hard knocks and hard ways and proud of it...

~~~~~

an interesting group of early morning diner characters,
made more interesting, I suppose, because
everything I know about them, except how they look,
I made up...

like when I returned to finish my college degree in 1969
after completing military duties, living
in a 30-foot trailer in  small settlement of trailers
on the Blanco River, our self-named "Harper's Bazaar" named after
old man Harper, a drunk in a dry county with, always, a case of beer
in the  backseat of his car, sleeping many nights in his car
outside my trailer, sometimes knocking on my door and inviting
himself in at 3 a.m. to sleep on my floor when it was too cold out in his car...

and m community of brothers and sisters the hippy couple, man and a woman
I used to lust after when she walked by in her tiny bikini, and the fellow
one trailer down, the baby of the group, taught himself first to be a really bad bass
player, next, in the process of teaching himself to be a really bad sitar player,
his k-thunka, k-thanka & k-thinka providing late night musical accompaniment
to the life where nobody ever slept anyway, and the skinny guy who would spend
afternoons running naked on the small island in the middle of the river, sometimes
swimming in the river, the river full of water moccasins but he said he didn't care,
snakes were afraid of him he said and I guess maybe they were because he survived
at least my two years there, though he may have been left floating
snake-bit and dead the day after I moved out...

old man Harper long dead, and the little settlement gone the last time I drove by
ten years ago, a normal house now, ranch style split-level, full of perfectly
normal parents, and children too, I suppose, which is entirely too bad, there is
so much normal in the world these days, too much normal in the world, and
as one who once lived happily among the abnormal, I miss it, manufacture it
now in my mind out of the perfectly normal people I see every morning at breakfast...

little do they know the more interesting lives they lead in my imagination









Who, especially a writer, wants to go out under someone else's banner.




French fries

I have started
writing my obituary

not because
I expect it to be used

any time soon, but
because it will be the last piece of writing

to appear
under my name

and I want it to be right
and well-written...

six pages
so far

and just leaving
Lee Elementary for a new life

as an entry-level
middle school scholar

```

I wasn't aware my life
was so interesting

so I'm thinking maybe
this isn't just

an obituary, maybe I'm
writing a memoir

which impresses me
because "memoir" sounds like

a French word
and I've always admired French writers

```

or maybe I ought to just
take my six pages

and cut it down to
a more reasonable length

like maybe half a
page

because of me - except for French fries -
not having much French stuff

in me














This poem is from the anthology Under the Rock Umbrella, subtitled "Contemporary American Poets from 1951 to 1977." The book was published in 2006 by Mercer University Press.

The poet I selected for the post is Kathy Fagan. Born in New York City in 1958. Winner of numerous honors and awards, including the National Endowment for the Arts, Fagan was professor of English at the Ohio State University at the time of publication.



Elemental

like light
or dust
like lit dust around
a door frame
like vermin or water pressing
round that door
like oil or smoke or voices
like  a strong
smell yes
an odor
like winter like hiding like
stories with their edges
glowing
not gilded no
but the blow before
the page turns black
that line where the fire
is and was and is again
tha glissade
like lightning
a city come upon
after dark
that petal fold
the peeling a blossom does
until it is not
a blossom
blown they call it
up in smoke yes
light pressing inward
from the brief burn
then out
that it's both at once
the racing toward
away
a living thing they call it
for its breath I think
from that center which is not
the center but a door
or the movement through it
from which
toward which
around
and for its odor
and for its carriage on the draft
and for the cinders that will visit
what is spared
and what is chosen that
dust that door that
light








From November, 2014, post-election.




next time a democrat chicken or no chicken at all

so Monday,
'bout midnight,
I cast the bones
and studied carefully
the innards
of the chicken from whom
the bones were extracted, and it was clear
from my reading, 100% determined,
that one of two things was going to hapen on Tuesday...

either the Democrats were going to sweep the elections or
I was going to win the Mega Million lottery, $154 cash option million...

well, you know what happened (or didn't)

it's what happens when you count on some lying son-of-a-bitch
Republican chicken!

next time it's a Democrat chicken or I'm switching
to frogs, or beavers, or otters, or squirrels,
or platypus, or koala bears, or a trout or a weasel (no wait,
no weasel, for weasels are all Republican and not to be trusted)
or some other appropriate
creature
- but definitely not a weasel)
of a Democrat disposition









Every day pretty much the same, exactly the way I want it.




slow day at the flapjack emporium

slow day
at the flapjack emporium

just me
and a couple of nurses
and the tiny blond police officer
with her partner

outside,
the day shrouded
in a dim curtain of premature light

and I'm thinking -
a busy week,
sitting here eating my 387th biscuit with gravy,
writing my 4,000-something poem of the day,
finishing work later today
with my 400 and sometime weekly blog,
preparing for a reading later in the week, squeezing a few
fair poems
into 30 minutes of entertainment for family
and friends, maybe selling a book,
maybe selling a photograph,
but probably not, payment, almost certainly, in fun
or no payment at all

thinking,
what is it I am doing, what is my purpose, what is my
meaning?

a slip of truth...

I'm not thinking of that at all,
quit thinking about that kind of stuff
long ago, understanding
that my life's purpose is and will forever be, or at least until
it's too late to make a difference,
unknown to anyone, including me...

and the meaning of what I'm doing
is that what I'm doing all these same-same days
is filling a chest of me that will come to rest, dusty and forgotten
in an attic until someday more room is needed
in the storage space and it is put out on the curb for trash collection day,
until, by chance, it is rescued by an otherwise disinterested
passer-by and taken home, all the scrapes of me
dumped in the recycle bin and the chest itself painted pink or blue
and plastered with decals of cartoon figures of the time,
turned into a toy box for a child
who will forever have to be reminded to put his toys
in it instead of scattered on the floor, wall to wall...

and, at first, this saddens me,
to think of all those slips of me
scattered while the chest of me becomes a toy box
for forgotten toys,
and then I think - well, is that not so appropriate,
the chest of me always a toy box, filled daily by me
with my latest toy of the day, so many by the time it is over,
things I played with and forgot, just as
this toy will also be soon
forgot...










The year  2014, seems to have been a time of deep thinking, like this.




you'd think they might have mentioned this sort of thing

considering
all aspects of the differential
astropolurgical
pluses and minuses
of the proliferation of petunias
in Patagonia...

it's
a dirty job,
but someone has to do it

your turn tomorrow.....


`````


speaking
of astropolugical
pluses and minuses -

there's that tiny old
priest again
getting another free breakfast,
this time

from the blond lady
who comes her, usually
on weekends, with her husband,
a big bald guy with a crooked
nose and I think she's talking to the priest
about her crooked-nose husband, troubles maybe,
about his renewed interest in sex
with toys and batman and batgirl costumes,
seeking advice of the astropolurgical type
on whether or not she should respond
when the bat signal flashes
and whether the priest
believes the batgirl costume might
show off her fanny
to its best and fullest advantage...

all in the price of a free
meal, thinks the old priest, thinking, also,
you'd think they might have mentioned
this sort of thing at the
seminary














This poem is by Duane Niatum from Harper's Anthology 20th Century Native American Poetry, published by HarperCollins 1988.

Niatum, born in 1938 in Seattle, is a Native American of mixed descent and a member of the Klailam tribe, whose ancestral lands are on the Washington coast. Following military service he completed an undergraduate degree in English at the University of Washington and later received his M.A. from the John Hopkins University and a Ph.D. at the University of Michigan. His poetry, short stories, and essay have been widely published.




Snowy Owl near Ocean Shores

Snow Owl, storm cast from the arctic tundra,
sits on a stump in an abandoned farmer's
field. Beyond the dunes cattails dance as steady
as the surf, rushing and crashing down the jetty.

From two-hundred feet away he seems to spot
a meal crawl from mud hole to grass patch.
When half an hour passes nothing darts,
a North Pole creature shows us to last.

The wind ruffles his feathers from crown to claws
while he continues gazing at the salt-slick rain.
So when a double-rainbow arced the sky
before us, we left him to his white refrain.










Memories collected, some to hold close, some to pass on.



what we found in Grandma's attic

memories,
boxes of memories,
trinkets and seashell treasures
from county fairs
and rodeos
and neighborhood garage sales...

a straw hat,
a guitar with three broken strings
and two missing frets,
a cane pole with lead sinkers
and a red and white bobber, a catcher's mitt
and a wooden bat, a
tiny ring inscribed
"Baby Charles"
and none of us know who
Baby Charles is or was, a train ticket,
Laredo to Del Rio,
never used,
a sun bonnet, yellow
with purple flowers,
a collection of Comanche arrowheads,
old maps
with lines drawn in dark, soft pencil lead
tracing county roads long since abandoned,
rebuilt for faster, sleeker cars
than ever drove there before, an
old wallet  with two five dollar bills
tucked away in a secret pocket,
a bundle of letters
written in a fine, feminine hand -
we read the first
and no more, for from the first
it was clear the thin, jasmine-scented
letters, still smelling so sweet
after so many years since
sent and received,
were saved for her to read again
and not for
us...

and
photographs,
like memories, old, faded,
torn, and blurred

forget-me-nots mostly
forgot

the only one who might remember
now lying still beneath soft
grass in an after-life park of the dead

all
left behind for us
to try to understand,
to try to know a person
familiar to us all our life,
but still at the end,
unknown...

a last chance for her to speak...

a last chance for us to
listen








An observational from a place different from my usual observational.




Neena at LensCrafters

a community college
student
getting the basics
before dental tech school

a little large
for the glamour magazines,
country-girl large,
shapely,
but substantial,
a woman to hold on to you
and be held

and,
the first impression,
not her size but
a wide smile reaching
all the way up to her dark eyes

then her hands,
fingers long and strong
and capable, beautiful in their
dexterity as she maneuvers
the little screws
that hold my eyeglasses together...

and we talk
as she works and I pose
for the various
measurements and adjustments...

thirty minutes,
enjoyable, conversational,
so different
from the drudge
that usually moves you through
such required processes...

her beautiful hands
and capable fingers, no ring, no sign of attachment -
some where out there in the world,
a lucky someone
who does not yet know the treasure
that will come to him
in time















Last from my library is Argentinian poet Alejandra Pizarnik with a poem from the anthology FSG book of Twentieth Century Latin American Poetry. The book was published by Farrar, Stras and Giroux in 2011. It is a bilingual book, Spanish or Portuguese and English on facing pages.

Pizarnik, born in 1936, was the daughter of Jewish immigrants from Russia. She lived in France during the 1960s and socialized in the Parisian literary world. She committed suicide at an early age in 1972. Her life and her work are often compared to that of Sylvia Plath.

The translation of her poem is by Frank Graziano.



Pilgrimage

To Elizabeth Axcona Cranwell

I called, I called to the lashing waves
which know the true name
of death
like a happy shipwrecked woman

I have called the wind,
I confided to it my desire to exist.

But a dead bird
flies toward despair
in the middle of the music
when witches and flowers
cut the hand of the mist.
A dead bird named blue.

It is not solitude with wings,
it is the silence of the prisoner,
the muteness of the birds and wind,
the world mad at my laugh
or the guardians of hell
tearing up my letters.

I have called, I have called.
I have called toward never.









Regularity, a cherished goal of old people, in more ways than one.




a regular guy

so her I am,
6 a.m. -
my regular time
at my regular restaurant
eating my regular biscuit and gravy and egg over easy,
writing my regular poem
on my regular
laptop

outside
my regular dog
waits in my regular car
for her regular morning sausage
and our regular walk
around the block

after that,
we will make our regular drive
downtown
to my regular coffeehouse
where I will drink my regular coffee
and write my regular
blog

these are the regularities
that are the reality parameters
within which I will indulge my creative
life

you're welcome to watch
if you want,
but I'd prefer you didn't talk

and if you must, don't be surprise
if I don't respond

cause
I'm busy...

it's my regular way
on a regular
day,
building the fences
that give me the free range
I need to
roam











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.


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Who Will Be the Poet Then?
Discussing the True Nature of Things With My Dog
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