Random Ponderables While Dog Pees on Her Favorite Tree   Sunday, May 19, 2019







Some passing thoughts from 2013.




random ponderables while my dog pees on her favorite tree

my dog
makes children
and pretty girls smile

and makes old women
go coochie coo

`````

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

how could that be?

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

`````

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

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

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

how far I recognize I have
fallen

`````

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

`````

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

men...

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

mostly
I'm not impressed

`````

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

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

`````

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

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

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

too long in my life
I have been a
realist

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

then I wake
and am only sometimes
and only temporarily
confused...

`````

my dog
likes country music,
bluegrass
with banjo and fiddle
the best, but with always a soft spot
for Johnny Cash ad Merle...

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

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

but what can I say, she's
still a damned fine dog
and an even better
friend









A bunch from me, including some short ones; a few from my library.


Me 
random ponderables while my dog pees on her favorite tree



Me
sailors on a fading sea



William Blake
On Another's Sorrow"



Me
coffee with a friend
4 kinds
stories to tell
about time
rain-slick
I cannot not speak
bullcorn
the Buddha would approve, unless...
tomorrow's stars



Me
two mornings in a row



Me
random boots

Jessica Helen Lopez - A Note from Lima



Me
out of thin air



Me
freak alley



Me
a night person



Deborah Garrison 
Happily Married



Me 
an ambulance passes, patient cabin lit



Me
how to make friends in Texas



Me
figs



Faiz Ahmed Faiz 
Solitary Confinement



Me
saved by the blonde with long legs and large breasts

Patricia Y. Ikeda
A Card Game: Kinjiro Sawada



Me
waiting our time



Paul Kane
Like Life Itself



Me
rodeo days









A winter poem from December, 2013.




sailors on a fading sea

in the misty
morning
streetlamps pool
light on dark parking lots

brown leaves blow across
the light
like tiny fish
swimming
in a glowing pond

winter night
finding its way
to day
taking me
with it, quiet
as the tiny fish
that swim
in their little fading
seas











First from my library, I have a poem by William Blake from Poems that will Change Your Life, a book of inspirational poems published by Fall River Press in 2017.




On Another's Sorrow

Can I see another's woe,
And not be in sorrow too?
Can I see another's grief
And not seek for kind relief?

Can I see a falling tear,
And not feel my sorrow's share?
Can a father see his child
Weep, nor be with sorrow fill'd?

Can a mother sit and hear
an infant groan, an infant fear?
No, no, never can it be,
Never, never can it be.

And can he who smiles to all
Hear the wren with sorrows small,
Hear the small bird's grief and care
Hear the woes that infants bear,

And not sit beside the nest,
Pouring pity in their breasts;
And not sit the cradle near,
Weeping tear on infant's tear;

And not sit both night and day,
Wiping all our tears away?
O! no, never can it be,
Never, never can it be.

He doth give his joy to all;
He becomes an infant small;
He becomes a man of woe;
He doth feel the sorrow too.

Think not thou canst cast a sigh
And thy Maker is not by;
Think not thou canst weep a tear
And thy Maker is not near.

O! he gives to us his joy
That our grief he may destroy:
Till our grief is fled and gone
He doth sit by us and moan.









Here are some short pieces from 2013.




coffee with a friend

coffee 
with a friend,
a chance meeting,
morning's 
dull routine
broken

sun
passes from behind
a cloud

lights the
day


4 kinds

atomic...

Mick Dee's...

Affordable Care Act website...

Sophia Vergara...

4 kinds of bombs
I am older
than


stories to tell

the moon
slips from behind
passing clouds
like a virgin bride
shyly peeking
from behind her veil

so much seen
in her
continual circling,
like Sheherazade,
so many stories to tell



about time

winter
blows in, four thirty in the a.m.
cold, cold north wind...

I stand in it,
take it in, feel my body pucker
against the cold...

about time!



rain-slick

rain-slick morning...
all that have life in them
raise their heads
to drink


I cannot not speak

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


bullcorn

I know many things about
many things
but don't know bullcorn about 
a lot more

often I can't 
tell the difference,
so be careful
what you ask me



the Buddha would approve, unless...

dropped
a banana peel
on the ground
just in case a fat man
happened along
on a day
when the world was
sad
and in need of a
laugh...

small investment
in future 
joy

even the Buddha
would approve and say
good work
my
quiet
crircket,
bringer of joy and
ego
re-alignment

unless
of course
he was the fat man
that came
along


```

tomorrow's stars

I have a dream
where no Monday comes,
neither you to me
nor I to you
nor anything else
ever again

tomorrow's
stars
gone today










A winter poem from 2013.




two mornings in a row

two mornings
in a row,
moon above the mist
on Apache Creek,
a button,
bright as a baby sun,
surfing
the stream of the vapor
above it...

two
December mornings
in a row,
Christmas moon
bright
as the star
atop the tree,
watching
over the pale, drifting shadows

of slow winter
night








A collection of boots.



random boots

boot-scootin'
at Floore's Country Store, Willie's place
whenever he wants it
a couple of times
a year

Cotton Eyed Joe
says it's
so

```

if you ain't stepped
your boots
in a fresh cow pie,
you ain't a cowboy
and they ain't real
boots
yet

that's what 
the old cowboy said
and you could believe him
cause his boots told
the truth
of it

```

dress boots
for sawdust
floors

fence building boots, cactus
and rattlesnake rattles
and a a hard day's work under a
merciless Texas
sun












This poem is by Jessica Helen Lopez, taken from her book, Always Messing With Them Boys, published in 2011 by West End Press.

Lopez is a three-time winner of the City of Albuquerque Slam Team and the 2008 National Champion UNM Lobo Slam Team.




A Note from Lima
            (Monday Mornings, Postcards and Assorted
             Pinon and Starlike References)

Like the inside of  pinon
the startled meaty fruit of nut seed
caught between the teeth and by surprise
the seed like a star pops from its boat of skin
to roll around on the tongue
the shell discarded
left to melt back into the earth

that was me when
I received your postcard
tattooed in exotic postage
and dressed in your eager
penmanship and ballpoint poetry
across wind-swept continents and
the expanse of time

your postcard slept inside the iron
guy of my morning mailbox
its long scribbled arms waiting to wrap
their memories around my neck
all the way from Cuzco
all the way from Lima

I popped open from the sleep of my skin
I allowed your words to roll around the tongue
caught between happiness and melancholy
I read and e-read your note from Peru

The individual letters mapped out your travels
spelled out your future plans
the constellation of your heavenly body
tiny crammed script let me
know you
thought of me
crooked little letters spilling
from the tattered corners
falling off the edge of earth
into the mouth of ocean

lingering, I savored the juicy meat
the fruit of your words
the brightly-skinned postcard

startled by the sudden
shooting star of tears
that fell like a light rain
from my naked cheek

I turned my back
then and walked into the wind
back to the warm spot of my apartment
to sip my hot coffee and brush out
my tangled morning hair
like the pinon shell
earthy and dusty
falling from the pine tree
I melted back into the earth









A philosophical question dogs already know the answer to.




out of thin air

stray dog
sniffing at a 
hypothetical
bone

doesn't know
where 
it came from

doesn't know
why
it's there

not sure how
to chew 
on a hypothetical
bone
but 
knows
it's better
than chewing on
nothing
at all

`````

shhh...
hypothetical poet
            at
               work









A memory from a long time ago.



freak alley

the fat man
had the saddest eyes...

carnival midway
freak alley
between the tilt-a-wheel
and toss the rings,
win a prize
games

freaks -
the only one I remember,
the fat man
not so
fat
sitting cross-legged 
his tiny loin cloth
under the dim red light
of a 40-watt bulb...

such sad eyes
that made me sad too...

fifteen years old
then, a sucker
for sad fat men,
bothered when
people laughed at dim-witted
Lou Costello, his chubby face
a mask of innocent
confusion,
embarrassed that I laughed
along with the
rest

like the freak-alley fat man,
he had sad
eyes
too









Not as much a night person as I used to be. Still have trouble sleeping, but tussle with it in bed instead of getting up.




a night person

I go to bed
at sunset and rise
with the morning's opening bid

still
I consider myself a night
person
because I wake often
and, standing in the night's mist,
suck in its dim
mysteries, the night,
the moon, if there is one,
the stars, if there are some,
and the shifting shadows
of tree limbs flexing
in a passing
draft,
a possum clinging
with its pup
to our rickety fence, doves stirring
in their nests, softly whispering
beneath their wings,
bright cat eyes
stalking,
reflecting even the slightest light
the hard odor of a skunk
passing by the creek,
night creatures,
night life, night air
sweet with the enigma of barely
seen

I bed down with the sun
and rise again on the edge of the sun's 
first orange light, taking in my nights
in increments through all the dark hours

making me a different kind of night
person,
the night still
stirring me like the moon stirs
the tides
as I rise and fall
through the shadow
hours













This poem is by Deborah Garrison. Her book is A Working Girl Can't Win, published by The Modern Library in 2000.

Garrison worked on the editorial staff of The New Yorker. At the time of publican she was poetry editor for Alfred a. Knopf an senior editor at Pantheon Books.




Happily Married

Almost home
on the longest day of the year,
I saw two birds on a telephone wire:
two beaks, two sharp-peaked ruffs,
two tails that stuck down stiff
like to closed fans
all matched up neatly ,
and against the faintly
yellow pre-dusk sky
the birds and wire
were all one color,
a fading black
or darkening gray.

Sometimes the smallest things
brings harmony in
through the eye.
Or was it that I
on that particular day
had harmony to bring
to what I saw?
That I'd even looked up
seemed a piece of marital
good luck, and that they didn't
move as I passed by -

I wondered how long in fact
they'd sit that way.









A sight passing late on Interstate-10




an ambulance passes, patient cabin lit

old woman, white hair,
some lying across her forehead
like foam advancing
from an impatient tide,
cheeks sharp-edge, planed
like lava run of the side of a mountain,
asleep, blue
blanket pulled to
her chin, attendant quiet and still beside her,
no lights, no siren, unhurried
passage home,
far-traveled trail-rider
nearing trail's
end.










Some advice for first-time visitors to my home state.



how to make friends in Texas

if it's a man,
admire his dog

if he doesn't have a dog,
congratulate him on his choice
of firearm

it it's a woman,
tell her you like what she did
with her hair

if she has no hair, tell her you think she has great
boots and you're thinking
of getting a pair
for your wife

(being careful to enunciate
clearly - especially if her husband
is near by)

```

possibly this advice is pertinent
elsewhere,
but Texas is where I have the most
direct experience
and it is with that stipulation
I offer it









It's okay to borrow, especially if you borrow from the best.




figs

extremely painful
back spasms

enshrouded
in drugs of many
and unpronounceable
names

no walking
less sitting...

let's pretend
I ate
the figs

and,
with apologies to
Dr. Williams,
call this
my poem
for the
day














This poem is by Faiz Ahmed Faiz. It is taken from his book The Rebel's Silhouette, published by the University of Massachusetts Press in 1991. It is a bilingual book, the poet's original Urdu and English translation byAgha Shabid Ali on facing pages.

Born in India in 1911, Faiz was considered the leading poet of the South Asian subcontinent. A two-time Nobel nominee whose evening readings in Hindi and Urdu speaking regions drew thousands of listeners. Associated with the Communist Party in his youth, he became an outspoken poet in opposition to the Pakistani government. He was also a professor of English literature, a respected editor and a major figure in the Afro-Asian writer's movement.

The poet died in 1984.



Solitary Confinement

Wave of light on the horizon:
the city of grief awakes
and the eye too is restless -
but truly the city sleeps, the eye too sleeps.

Here in the dark where separation is endless,
I see dawn: I take it through the bars
and pour it into the heart, the cup
where I mix yesterday's poison with today's exile.
I drink.

A little light on the far horizon:
It brings news of another dawn, farther out, behind the horizon:
a song, the ghost of musk, the ravishing face of love
pass through here where there is no hope;
they pass and I'm again alone, restless with terrible hope

I drink the poison and I drink the faint light
I say, "To life,"
and long for my friends at home
and in countries I'll never see.
With them I used to raise a glass
to this planet
and to the beauty of woman.










A coffeehouse memory.




saved by the blond with long legs and large breasts

breakfast this morning
amid a cohort
of old men, their little convention badges
hanging from their shirt pockets

an old coots' convention
at one of the nearby hotels,
I suppose

a convention chair, I imagine,
calling the convocation to order, loudly,
the hearing in the audience leaning over
to pass the message on to those
whose aged ears
can only hear sounds in two or three
frequencies that only dogs
can hear, certainly not
to the human voice, no matter how loudly
announced...

two by two they came into
the restaurant, wives (usually younger)
in tow, siting with their fellow
conventioneers,tables of old men
leaning across the table to hear,
conversations of "whats?" and "what?" an
"say that again...

makes me think of  years ago
when I was the keynote speaker
at a gathering of deaf people
(yes, I know, what does a hearing keynote
speaker have to say to a room of the deaf?
turned out the same speech I had given many times
about the importance of a practical and moral
education for our children, received there, as it was
usually received, with rousing, though silent,
approval)...

I remember seeing all the people
crowing the hotel restaurant, signing
to friends at their table an across the room,
the whole room a tidal wave
of waving hands and fingers and silent
laughter, naturally leaving me wondering
what they were saying
about me

but, that's another story...

meanwhile,
just as I was about to
succumb to the contagion of crankiness
certain when too many old people
mingle together
in too small a space,
a young woman entered the restaurant,
tall, leggy and blond, with large breasts like the prow
of a golden galleon pushing softly and proudly
through the creaky curtain that enveloped the room,
the age haze that made it hard for me,
a cranky old man myself, to breathe,
the thick air that exposed all my ego driven
lies and evasions, the ones we tell ourselves
and pretend to believe, the crowd of old men,
like mirrors that tell truths I cannot tell myself,
that, like it or not,
shows  you exactly as you are,
all those secrets that make the me
no one else can see
saved this day
by the lovely, proud breasts and long legs
and blond hair like sunlight in
the dark, allowing back into the room
the magic of this old man's gift
of self-deception














The next poem is from Breaking Silence, An Anthology of Contemporary Asia American Poets. The book was published in 1983 by The Greenfield Review Press.

The poet I selected Patricia Y. Ikeda has degrees from Oberlin College and the University of Iowa and at the time of publication was working as office manager for the Michigan Abortion Rights Acton League.




A Card Game: Kinjiro Sawada

1.
We sit in the basement kitchen, arranging
hana-fuda cards in suites. He's dressed, as always,
in stale blue pajamas. Dead for a decade,
we don't mind. Just one more language
between us. the small stiff cards fan: one year.
Pine, plum, cherry, paulownia, maple.
The words I know are ume and sakura.

2.
He came from samurai and silk farmers.
He shipped to Hawaii.
He rode roan horse through Libby's red fields.
He married a girl who cleaned officers' quarters.
He bought a dry goods store on Cane Street.
He prayed and wrote poetry.
When government agents searched the house
he surrendered his pen-knife.
I met him twice.

3.
The birthday party: his seventieth year
by Japanese count, 69 + 1 in the womb.
He told me I was born in the year of the Horse
but the good, not the ominous horse.
Still, I know no Japanese would marry me.
I'm supposed to be stubborn. I am.
I remember how he sat, hieratic,
weighed down by the lei of silver dollars
won by my Vegas-hopping aunts and uncle.
One more year. The cards are shuffled,
the red-headed stork, the deer,
the empty field with no moon.

4.
Our tie is formal. First grandchild
and old man. we sit on the floor.
His house smells like incense and mold.
He teaches me the name he gave me,
brushing yo-shi-ko in thick black strokes.
Ten years. Over my desk
I've hung the Buddhist prayer he copied.
the Hannyashingyo, is flickering, difficult
characters only a priest can read.









Struck by a common morning sight.




waiting our time

opportunistic moon
does not plan its time to shine
but given a chance
it will

so me
so you
so like the boy on the corner
uniformed for school
backpack in tow

waiting our time















This last piece from my library is by Paul Kane. The poem is from his book, Work Life, published by Turtle Point Press in 2007.

Kane, author of two previous collections of poetry as well as work as an editor and critic. Recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Guggenheim Foundation and Fulbrights and other grants, he teaches at Vassar College.




Like Life Itself

Nulla riposa della vita come
la vita. Umberto Saba

From a table on the terrace the square
opens out in  successive waves of attention.
The woman sits before a glass of wine -
her talisman or offering
to the genius of the place.

                                         She is not young,
but neither is she old enough to know
how rare these moments can become in time.
But for now, the scene in a wash of light
is more vivid than  perception accounts for:
the flower cart with cascades of nosegays,
unhurried couples strolling or sitting near
the little brimming fountain of worn marble,
the pastel buildings wearing balconies,
all are like an unfolding revelation
in the heart.

                   At her ease, nothing could be
easier than this fall into being
or beauty or just life itself - from which there is 
no rest but for moments like these in the square.
                                          








Finishing up, allowing no disagreement.




rodeo days

got my cowboy boots
on today
cause it's rodeo days
in San Antonio
and when it's rodeo days
in San Antonio
you got to let the cowboy
out
and I'm a cowboy
even though I haven't been
on a horse in at least 
twenty-five years
but I know I'm a cowboy
despite that
cause
I have my cowboy boots
on and if I have my cowboy
boots on I must be a
cowboy

it's kinda like me
and poetry

I'm a poet
and I know it
cause I write poetry
and I know it's poetry
cause
I'm a poet
and I write it

it's all pretty simple
if you think
about it
right










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