I Could Be...   Friday, May 10, 2019

I could be...

I could be racing my
Stutz Bearcat
through the high mountain
of Abrakazam
if I wanted to be, or trading
tequila shots
with the Duchess del Swirl

I could do that...

or I could be riding
hell for leather
across the rocky steppes
of Kerikombati,
or eating
on the pristine white sands
of Jazzamakada de Mir,
or attending a Hollywood
with the bountifully
Hungarian star of the evening,
Lotta Shigotta

I could go
hang gliding over the deep red canyons
of Taihtagankstan, if I wanted,
or I might pilot my
jumbo Lear
to a birthday bash
for the Prince of Cisco-Ferlinghetti...

lots of other stuff
like that
 I could be doing today...

but I have a poem to write first,
then the new Harry Potter movie
that opened just last night, I could
take my niece to that,
and there's my geraniums that need
some watering, and a whole drawer full
of socks needing emergency organizational

important stuff...

real life.

real life stuff
that proves I am living

and not just part
of someone else's
Stutz Bearcat

A few more poems from my library this time, and my own work from 2011, when I seemed to be more often than not in long-winded, deep-think mode.

Reminding me of Eric Severid, who some may recall did a nightly editorial on CBS evening news. Within the news department it was referred to as the "big think" feature. After Severid died, the responsibility for the daily editorial fell to a hereto unknown reporter, was a mousy-looking fella in contrast to Severid's broad-shouldered, square-jawed visage. Following "big think," he was referred to by many as "little think."

I know that is irrelevant, but it's sometimes nice to be old and know stuff like that.

I could be...


fat lady with a parasol passes


coffeehouse beauty

Simon J. Ortiz

I told you I like Indians

Hettie Jones

In the Eye of the Beholder


my Russian lessons

L. D. Knowlton
Luminous Treasure



Kitasono Katue 

Oval Ghost


the atheist defends Jesus from those who appropriate his name


old man on an autopsy table

Sholeh Wolpe

On Reading Rumi

unlike some, I've been born only once


all brothers of all brothers

Bruch Weigl
Blues in the Afterworld


a product of serendipity


unreliable fictions

Julia B. Levine
Rain at Night


why heaven is better than hell

D. A. Powell

[every man needs a buddy who'll do]


there is a field

The saying  "It's not over until the fat lady sings" was coined, complete with the implied opera reference, was coined a long time ago by a local sports reporter with the now defunct daily, The San Antonio Light. It was also the inspiration for this poem from 2011.

fat lady with a parasol passes


then firetruck

then another ambulance

morning rush

becomes morning parking lot

four lanes across

crash on the interstate

going west

fat lady

with a parasol

on a bicycle

fat feet pumping

on the pedals


so I guess it's officially over

for someone

About a coffeehouse beauty.

coffeehouse beauty

high cheekbones
sensuous lips

beautiful hands and feet,
slim graceful fingers,
the thing I notice first, as if
her hands and feet
were the base
upon which all the rest of her beauty

like a model...

exotic looking
in face and form,
vaguely foreign,
South American, light skin,
dark eyes,
I immediately think,
of the vast Argentine
owner of many
fast and handsome

I am usually too shy
to ask people to pose
for me and my camera, but
if ever I did ask someone, I'd
want her to be

she's with her boyfriend,
not nearly good enough for her
I can tell,
and fierce, exuding certain possession
of all that beauty and
to share

a man for whom
there is no abstraction
in life beyond

and my commitment
to beauty
in this instance
is most entirely insufficient

First from my library, two poets from The Outlaw Bible of American Poetry, a huge anthology published by Thunder's Mouth Press in 1999.

First from the anthology, Simon J. Ortiz.

I told you I like Indians

You meet Indians everywhere.

Once, I walked into this place -
Flagler Beach, Florida,
you'd never expect it -
a bar some old people ran it.

The usual question, of course,
"You're an Indian, aren't you?"
"Yes, ma'am." I'm an Indian alright,
Wild, ignorant, savage!
And she wants me to dance.
Well, okay, been drinking beer
all the way from Hollywood.
We dance something.

You're Indian, aren't you?
Yeah, jesus christ, almighty,
I'm one of them.

"There's an Indian around here."
What? And in walks a big Sioux.
Crissake, man, how's relocation brother?
He shakes my hand. Glad to meet you.
I thought I was somewhere else.
We play the ping pong machine, drink beer,
once in a while dance with the old lady.

I like Indians.

I told you
You meet Indians everywhere.

Also in the anthology, Hettie Jones.

In the Eye of the Beholder

Tonight she brings

         little black boys with purple tongues
         in the City College mulberry trees

         in Times Square a Muslim woman
         munching a Mars bar under her veil

These are Kellie's pictures you see

                      she sees
                         her shining
                  black                eyes

A little bit of autobiographical recollection. The old czarists who tried to teach me Russian, had they been still alive, would not have been happy with the immediate aftermath of the fall of communism even though they lived their life expecting it and waiting for it. Not until the rise of Putin, a new Czar to replace the one they lost a century ago would they have celebrated.

my Russian lessons

I was taught
by Russian refugees
from the 1917 revolution,
the most elite
of the Czar's guard,
humiliated by the mob,
fled, many to Algeria,
where they applied their
military talents
to the French Foreign Legion
until that enterpise, too,
was lost,
most of them,
when I knew them,
living in the past, their golden age
that ended fifty years earlier,
living out their last years
teaching Russian to American
Air Force recruits and draftees who did
not understand, did not comprehend
their military ethos or the glory
and honor of their imperial past...

they lived in the past
as their young students
lived in the day,  certain -
as the young recruits were
certain their good times would
never end  - certain that their
good time would return, that the mob
would turn, that  even after so many years
the tide would rise up, the communists
overthrown, and they, the inheritance
of their people, would no long be retired
at a Midwestern university, teaching
the coarse and unworthy, but
would be once again the princes
of the realm, glittering and golden as of old...

there's nothing wrong
wit enjoying memories
of the best times past, the danger
is to live with those memories,
thinking you can make the happen
again, come again just as they
used to be, unwilling to accept the grim
turn of the wheel that is time, the gristmill
that turns all the best and worst of the past
do dust blowing in history's
unremitting wind...

another fifty years now
from those days of my own youth,
I know there is some of the czarist officer
in me, too much in me,
as in the hour at night when I slip
these days and return to my own best times,
relive those times and, more than that,
extend them to a new day that could be
if memory's dust could be made a power
beyond the force of gritty and hollow wind -
it is a dead end, that hour
a repudiation of the real I have made
and the world
I live it in...

better for me to look to the lesson of
Fyodor, round little white mustachioed Fyordor,
only a cadet when the end came, fleeing
to Algeria like the Colonels, but, unlike them,
putting aside dreams of the glory
that might have been his,
finding his way in music instead, becoming
a bandleader, playing for years, leader of an official
ship's band, a life, with his little moustache,
on luxury liners crossing the Atlantic,
east to west, west to east, then
retiring, teaching, writing his memoirs,
paper piled two feet high
in his closet,
recording a life that always looked forward,
never looked back...

Fyodor, a champion for us who bury ourselves
in past glories, who see too little beyond
the day before last, a life that sees to much
of the sun's setting, too little of it's morning

grand old Fedya, teaching me
my most important Russian

This poem is by my poet-friend L. D. Knowlton, taken from his book, Fogartyville Cafe, published in 2014.

Luminous Treasure

Caph, Schear, Nevi,
and Segin slide

northwestward, over Oak Hill
only to elongate as Betelgeuse

Rigel, and Bellatrix rise
to apogee: a stellar tumescence

of the gods. They hunt Cassiopeia's
fabled jewels. The Queen

throne-bound upside down
for claims of being more

beautiful than all Nereids,
I hear her faint laughter.

I can't do anything about the weather, but in 2011 I could write about it. I wrote about it a lot in 2011, a very dry year when every drop of rain was precious.


Sunday morning,
pert new waitress,
young and pert, highly pert,
exuberantly pertish,
by the time I finish my two eggs over easy
I'm feeling myself
the world's first victim
of perticide...

not that I have anything
pert, its just that pert
is like oysters,
okay at the right time, but
never okay
first thing in the morning

works best in the early stages
of morning, then rejection and rage
at the chirping crickets and singing birds,
easing into dispassionate
disapproval of daylight, followed by the slow
settling into acceptance, then, moments of tentative
cheer, and, finally, no earlier than 10:30 a.m.,
flashes of pert

that's the morning routine, as approved
by all manner of foreign and domestic early
risers of whatever race, whatever religion, whatever
ethnic and cultural presumptions - that's just,
in other words


in a position of authority
needs to have a word
with this


the side issue of premature pertocity
plumbed to its depths, this is the
place in the poem where a skilled
and experienced poet would gracefully
lay out a transitional bridge to the true
subject of this poem -

or rather,
lack of same...

perhaps a cleverly articulated transition,
such as:

as the great Roman philosopher
Plasticus the Elder
in his great treatise
on falling water,
"rain don't count
as rain
unless it falls on your house"

while there are numerous
pertly exuberant people in this city
who claim it rained here
for the past two days, that misunderstanding
is solely the result of rain
falling on their houses, while it has not rained on my house
meaning , as far as I'm concerned, it hasn't rained
and probably won't ever again

and that is why the pert young waitress
who probably had rain on her house for the past two days
shouldn't be rubbing it in to those of us upon whose house
rain did not fall by being
so damn pert at such an early

Next, also a huge anthology, Language for a New Century, subtitled "Contemporary Poetry For The Middle East, Asia, and Beyond"

The book was published by W. W. Norton in 2008.

Surrealist Japanese poet Kitasono Katue is the poet I selected from the book. Born in 1902 and died in 1978, he was the best known Japanese poet/artist in Europe and the U.S. during the middle twentieth century.

Oval Ghost

white straightline
pierce through
yellow cylinder
beside it
listening to
blue egg
like your

of opera
of eternity
wearing Turkish-red corsage
peppermint moon
non existent

(translated from the Japanese by John Solt)

For several years there were four preachers who had their breakfast near the table where  I had mine. The were religious scholars with knowledge and opinions that would not have sat well a t the church where I misspent my Sundays (not of my own accord) as a youth.

I always found their talk very interesting.

an atheist defends Jesus from those who appropriate his name

the church is a creation of Paul,
not Jesus,
says one of the religiosos
to the others

and in a flash
my mind is cleared
as all the contradictions
between the two thousand

of Christianity
and the thirty years
of Jesus

are explained -
Jesus, on one hand
claiming for himself no divinity,
(for how could he claim divinity

instruct us, the least divine
in all of creation,

to be like him),
claiming the god of the Jews
not as his father,
but as love, and peace,

and forbearance,
for it is through forbearance,
he taught,
that freedom and justice will come,

the inheritance
of the meek
a joyful heart
and peace of the just -

the revolutionary Jew,
the greatest danger to his ministry
not the Roman or the other Jews,

but the church founded in his name
by the tax collector, Saul, who became Paul,
the evangelist, the mystic,
the counter-revolutionary

denier of the flesh
and human will...
and so, in Paul's church's teaching,
the favored creation became the lowest,

subject to the will and approval
of a revised Jesus,
an anti-Christ Christ
who calls upon his faithful

to grovel prostrate before
the ascendant
of quarreling sects

and the dogmas
that debase

old man on an autopsy table

an old man,
long white hair,
large white handlebar moustache,
a cadaver lying
on a table in a human anatomy class...

when did I hear of this old man?
did someone tell me a story of their
own experience?
did I read of him in a book?

I don't remember,
but I remember his long white hair
and his large handlebar moustache,
and imagine him,
naked on a slap
dead for many years
yet standing in as a monument
to the power of story and character,
for I remember him now,
have remembered him for almost as long
as I remember anything, remember him
for so long I don't remember
where the memory comes from...

though I don't know the name
the students of his body gave him,
I imagine his
voice -

in my time,
he might say,
I was a cowboy,
or a soldier, or a clerk,
or builder of great ships and tall buildings,
or a passer-by on a slow-traveling train,
long hair,
in the passing wind,
or a poet,
poems passing in the blowing wind...

but whoever
or whatever he was
there is magic in his useful
magic in the air of this sterile room
where blood and bones
and flaccid organs
are catalogued, the intricacy of their
functions noted, the secrets
of the spirits vessel

magic in the benevolence
of his purposeful death, his physical presence
most respectfully
into it constituent

These two poem are by Sholeh Wolpe, taken from here book, The Scar Saloon, published by Red Hen Press in 2004.

Wolpe was born in Iran, but spent most of her teen years in the Caribbean and Europe, ending up in the U.S. where she earned a Masters Degrees in Radio-TV-Film at Northwestern University an Public Health at Johns Hopkins University. Her poems, translations, essays ad literary reviews have been published worldwide.


     for Joe

The sunshine brazenly lounges on you headstone.
Three puffs of clouds sit lay in the sky.

I confess: I'm not angry with you - not you,
just with the head that rested itself intimately
against metal so brutal and cold.

I see a tree crying today, shedding her sap like rain.
Our distance so soon graduated to universes and beliefs.

On Reading Rumi

One sky, so many shades of blue.

But that's a lie.

The sky is black.

Light is a mad artist who drapes colors on everything.

But words have no need for light.

They shine on their own.

Here, I offer you Rumi's words.

See how blinding, how brilliant.

Sometimes I'm near struck wonder by the wonder that I am. This is another piece from 2011, a year in which it appears I did a lot of thinking about this kind of stuff.

unlike some, I've been born only once.

unlike some
I've been born only
and seeing as how
I feel like I made a pretty good
out of that one shot, feel
no need to be born

even though I recognize that,
on a deeper level,
I am a being of universal elements
and thus certain to be born
as I have been born
before uncounted, and uncountable times.
for the parts that make me
are as old as the universe
and so must be all the things
I've been, things
near to home and faraway-lost
in the vast unknown regions
where stardust still drifts -
vastly traveled are my parts,
so vastly travelled must I be as well, so
varied and old and well-traveled,
I am a marvel

look around you and the vast everything-ness
that we are, have been and will be
a part of and
consider how marvelous I am
and you as well

sometimes I think of the me that was a
how beautiful I was then, much more
beautiful than I am now,
though rooted and consequently
less curious than the proto-cat I was,
roaming with early felines
newly-created to hunt the me
that was the deer, or the beaver,
or the small mouse, hidden in high grasses,
or the grass I might have been or the wiggling
worm that fertilized the grass-of-me with my
worm droppings...

so many places I have been; so many being
I have been, so much more than twice-born
am I; so much more that twice-born
l will I be in the millennia ahead,
so much more to be,
so much longer to be them,
I can only imagine those who think of themselves
as more limited must be so very

More of my more mystical self from 2011.

all brothers of all brothers

it is true,
I talk to my animals...

even Reba
who can't hear me
but she can see my lips move

and know
she is on my mind, like the blind cat
knows she is not alone in the dark

when I stroke her head as I pass,
like the friendly nod
I exchange with people

I pass on the street
because we all need to know we are not
alone in the dark -

such an acknowledgement
of our shared journey we should
pass on the the creatures around us -

balm to repair the primordial weld that has bound us all
since creation, the weld that is separating now
as all become remote from the others...

if you believe in God, remember he created us all
as part of his plan and it is not our place
the redraw the blueprints of his creation;

if you do not believe in God,
remember instead
that we are all creatures at base

of common offspring, basic elements
that give us,
as our relatives

the snake, the bird, the fish in the ocean
the lion in the field, our neighbor
across the fence, the daffodil growing

wild as any creature on the meadow,
the earth beneath our feet
and the stars that shine over head

all bothers of all brothers
in our most basic

This poem is by Bruce Weigl, from his book What Saves Us, published in 1992 by Triquarterly Books of Northwestern University Press.

Blues in the Afterworld

I remember a wild apple tree
alone in a field where deer had lain
and made a bed in the long leaves of grass
where I slept with a gun
in my hands
and woke in rain
misting on the leaves
and on the hard apple's redness
abandoned in the rattling branches.
I have to say
I put that gun down
and opened my pants
and touched myself.
The light made me do it,
the loneliness,
and brother crow said something
through the distant, broken trees
that sounded like a warning
and in a wild moment
outside myself
I was trapped in a room of flowers,
their smell too much to bear
like it must be for the dead.
Then the room was a boat
on which I sailed
into the hush of a green jungle.
Out of the time I was jangled,
out of space
but then just as quickly
delivered back to the empty field
to the bed deer had made
under red apples,
the world light now in some places
and in some places dark.

I've had a fairly successful life, achieving most of my goals, though that portion ended sooner than I wanted. A fact for which I am very grateful and for which I take very little credit.

a product of serendipity

am a product
of serendipity

being what I am
by virtue
of being where I was -

on the corner of this
or that
when the universe shifted

and I found myself
or there

like a coin flips
heads or tails. one time
a head

one time a tail
and there your are, heading
or tailing

as chance
provides direction,
all the factors that produce

heads or tails, win
velocity, force of toss,
a random anomaly in the

spin of the earth
in a spinning universe
producing one result or another

each result
producing successive flips,
additional spins

of the wheel
so that
I am here now with you

while elsewhere
I am without you while elsewhere
there is no you

there is no me
both of us disappeared
into the never-been

of colitis interrupters
or an angry spat that killed the mood
or strangers never met...

I know men
who claim the title
self-made -

champions instead,
gold medalists in the games
of self-delusion

An observation from my morning diner, 2011.

unreliable fictions

kind of hefty,
well north of stout,
I'm saying,
but judging from the three eggs,
and stack of buttermilk pancakes
she's packing for breakfast,
it doesn't seem to bother her...

being no lightweight
I stick to my more
with porridge
in skimmed milk
and a single piece
of dry toast

feel quite
at peace with myself
for it,
judging not
the stout woman
for her pleasure in the moment,
finding it admirable
in fact,
to see her fortitude
in the face
of such tribulation
as her continuing absence
of a view of her feet,
jealous, a little,
of her full and hearty breakfast
in comparison
to my prisoner-of-war

and though she seems
such a healthy, happy person,
her disregard for her own well-being
and the feelings
of all the stoutish people
around her
sticking to their
dank dungeon swill
while she engages breakfast
like a skinny person,
it seems she mocks our own efforts
at adipose reduction,
which is why
we all
that fat woman and
her three eggs, scrambled,
and full stack of buttermilk pancakes

fat woman

on top of everything else
she will probably
outlive us

This poem is by Julia B. Levine, taken from her book, Ditch Tender, published by University of Tampa Press in 2007.

Rain at Night

The child's silence wakes you.

And how long has she slept here,
her dream like milk cooling?

Now you stand at the window, shivering
Rain grinds air into sugary phonemes.

Under the streetlight, inside the boundless halo
of light's crumbly grain,
your neighbor bends stiffly, lifts his newspaper.

Three a.m., long past what is legible,

he wears his dead wife's sweater,
too tight to button, sleeves midway p his arms.

Here's something different, a very short story from Sonyador, the Dreamer,"  my book of very short stories published in 2011.

Why Heaven is Better than Hell

Little Sonyador sits on the hard oak pew at St. Phineas Lutheran Church, the
same hard oak pew he sits on every Sunday morning, early church service,
Dad on one side, Mom on the other, Pastor Hardamaelar preaching hellfire
as he does every Sunday morning, every time he preaches.

The boy listens and imagines how hot and burning must be the fires of hell;
imagines his teacher, Missus Persker in hell - horns and pitchfork tail,
breathing fiery arithmetic problems.

And little Sonyador wants to be good, does not want to go to hell, does not
want to spend forever burning in old Missus Persker's class, writing the
same equations over and over again with her long, red-pointed claws on a
scratchy black-as-midnight-devil's blackboard. He wants to go to Heaven,
about which he knows little, since the Pastor hardly ever talks about it,
seemingly not particularly expectant that his ever-sinful congregants
would ever get there, choosing instead to prepare them for their almost certain
journey to eternal damnation

But Sonyador knows Missus Pesker is a devil -witch and will not be in
Heaven and that makes Heaven a lot better place to be than hell, the
brimstone place where she will surely return.

And then the sermon ends and the recessional song begins and little
Sonyador tries to sing like his father whose deep bass voice is like a floor on
which all the universe could rest, but all the boy can manager is a raspy

"Sing right" his father says, "quit trying to be funny."

It's always best to hang out where your best friends go...

best friends forever

my wife
goes to church
on Sundays

I go to
and think heretical

the reason

most likely

she'll be in

in the end

and I'll be down below
with my best

Last from my library, D. A. Powell, from his book Cocktails, published in 2004 by Graywolf Press.

Every poem in the book includes a reference to a movie. I don't understand the purpose of the reference or what it signifies, but I do not require myself to understand everything.

[every man needs a buddy. who'll do]

                       Making Love (1982,, Arthur Hiller, dir.)

every man needs a buddy.    who'll o
when his wife has gone to the in-laws

the evening had already been lowered.     he crossed
his legs in the manly way: outside

kids who  could have been his yelled
"you're out."    and "no sir!"

eddie's two-bit country-singer looks: not my usual
dish of icecream.     and since he's mom's best friend's
live-in daughter's hubbie.     the danger quickens

in the shed behind the natatorium: everyone knows
the device.     a meeting with the gardener's son

his voice rises and trembles: a steel guitar
the song of inalimengal marriage.     he slobbers

on the part of me that is not woman.     his throat
an undergarment: silky and inviting

"man o man o god o man"    no confusion
about gender.     or the home he boomerangs to:
the good she who holds his place at supper

a man returns to his wife.     I understand the geometry
this is no equilateral triangle: compliments are exchanged

featherriver honkytonk: in the back row I wait
so any life elapses under just such conditions:

no holidays.     no home.     relegated to odd nights
the front seat of his car in lieu of the conjugal bed

he will never take his boots off

*  *  *  *

"the act," he says.     meaning his career

I'm not sure the last six line are part of the earlier lines. They appear on the page following the rest of the poem which ends at the bottom of the previous page, appearing to me to it could be a poem on it's own. To my mind, the six lines certainly could be a very good stand-alone poem.

Closing this post with another religious-oriented poem. For an atheist I suppose I write a lot of these (or at least I did in 2011, but what could be more interesting to think about but the elements of eternity.

there is a field

Rumi says:

Out beyond ideas of wrong-doing and right-doing,
there is a field. I'll meet you there.

When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase each other

doesn't make any sense.

talking to a friend, she
a believer,
and me, not,
about the differences between
the old and the new testaments
of the Christian bible ,
when Rumi
intervenes -

the old testament,
the book of wrong-doing and right-doing
and the rites and strictures
of both,
an earth bound by the rules
of a creator
who lays out rules for everything
from how to pray
to what and when you eat

 the Christ
of the new testament
having no time for that,
a prophet
who has no time
for rules old or new,
a prophet of the field,
where wrong-doing
lie together in the grass,
irrelevant, too much
to spend any of it
talking about them, field where
the great soul  over all
cushions the heads
of both the right and the wrong,
the good and the bad,
only acceptance of that great soul
to nullify all the harsh and vengeful warnings
that came before

a precious dream,
even if not
my own

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New Days & New Ways

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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


Sonyador - The Dreamer


  Peace in Our Time


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