The People's Republic of Austin   Monday, June 24, 2019






The People's Republic of Austin

I was going
to write this poem
about Austin, Texas,
back in the day,
back when the hippies
and hillbillies
decided
if they could swim
naked
together
at Hippy Hollow
they could get together
on some other stuff, too,
like music and drugs
and  damn good time,
back when you could find
on any given Friday night
most of the most
important
left-wing Democrats
in Texas
down at Shultz's Biergarten
getting drunk
on Lone Star and
insurrection
against those conservative
Demopublicans
who'd been winning elections
around the state
since reconstruction

(thirty year later
they finally got one of their own
elected, but she didn't drink
anymore and got her ass busted
four years later
by another ex-drunk,
scion of what would,
be in the future the first family,
a personable fella, with a much larger
what-next than anyone could
imagine at the time)

but, mainly,
I was writing about
back when I was young
and then I realized
this poem is not about
Austin, Texas.
it is about me getting
old and missing the good
times
and how everything
tastes better when
your mouth is fresh
and your teeth are your own
and how it isn't
Austin that's gotten
old and conservative
and creaky
and cranky
it's me

goddamnit
me









My stuff and poets from my library.

Don't be put off by the large number of poems. They are all from 2007 and almost all short to very short.

Apparently I had a knack for brevity in 2007, unfortunately I seemed to have misplaced that skill since then.


Me
The People's Republic of Austin

Me
at just dark

Me
spring storm
green pastures
old men talking
ordering chicken at Popeye's
division of labor
it's the next to last day in May

Ishmael Reed
General Science
Report of the Reed Commission
Untitled II
Untitled III
Mystery 1st Lady

Me
blink

Me
flashing

Joana M. Weston
Tidal Pool
In the Wind

Me
4barku4u

Me
algebra 1
big news
bubble
echo
family jewels
women telling secrets

Anise Koltz
from The Fire Eater

Me
up the banner up the flag

Me
fresco on the other side of sunset
portrait of a girl at night
I investigate brevity
small dreams pass unnoticed
memory of a dream
black
blue
green
red
yellow

Monica Youn
Ersatz Ignatz
I-40 Ignatz

Me
post it notes

Me
s*x










Brief observations at twilight.




at just dark

birds unfurl
from trees
black flag
swirling
flailing
cloud of dark
rising

`````

end of shift
nurses
green scrubs
soft shoes
circle
at Starbucks
complain
in secret voices
of doctors
and patients
and extended
hours

`````

car lights
lined
on the loop
one after another
three abreast
in both directions
on this side
those who work
in the east
and live in the west
and on the other
side
the reverse
such is
the state
of our affairs

`````

"-ood fo-d"

"ch-ap"

blinking
neon sign
with incomplete
message
casting
green shadows
on the cracked sidewalk
in front of the diner
at 5th and Grand
three old men
at the counter
for a meal
fit to meet
their meager
pensions
every night
here
then as morning
breaks
breakfast
too
and
sometimes
when they're riding high
lunch
don't care
about the broken
sign
quit seeing the sign
year ago,,,

regulars

`````

whores
don't walk the streets
in this neighborhood
but a little later
when it's not so early
they'll all be at the bar
and in the back booth
over at San Miguel's
across from the barber shop
just a phone all
and cab drive away
mostly young
mostly pretty
the black tar
of too-many tricks
just a small spot
inside
not  yet spread
to their
eyes

`````

hard clunk
of a heavy switch
thrown
in San Pedro
Park
tennis court
island
shines
against
dark tide
advancing

`````

Millie Sands
afraid
of the dark
hurries
to give Bixbie
his walk
before shadows
converge
yanks
hard his leash
as he stops to check
his mail
at Robinsons' oak

`````

ambulance
passes on Callaghan
fast
siren screeching
like five o'clock
whistle
common
sound this time
of day as
commuters
on the Loop
maneuver for
advantage
still
sets the dogs
to yowling









Some more shorts.



Spring Storm

clouds
dark as the devil's black eyes
behind
as we race to clear skies
ahead



green pastures

cat wants
out

dog wants
in

the rooster wants
the day
off
on
Thursday

isn't anyone
ever
satisfied?


old men talk

old men
talk
and talk
all the time
to anyone
anywhere,
using up words
they hoarded
when young
and certain
to need them
later


ordering chicken at Popeye's

I like the
dark
meat
drumstick's
my specialty
but you gotta
watch them
or they'll stick
you
with a wing

get one of those
scrawny
wings
and you might as well
be eating
feet


division of labor

have
you noticed

when children
set out to play

little boys
pick their noses

while girls
make up the rules


it's the next to last day in May

and
rain passes
puddles
dry
night
sweats
and overdue
summer's
on the rise














Here are some short pieces by Ishmael Reed from his New and Collected Poems, published by Atheneum in 1988.



General Science

things in motion
hav a tendency to
stay in motion. the
most intelligent
ghosts are those
who do not know
they are dead:

something just
crossed my hands


Report of the Reed Commission

I conclude that for
the first time in
history the practical
man is the loon and the
loon the practical man

a man on the radio just
said that air pollution
is caused by jelly fish


Untitled II

that house has
a pall of bad
luck hovering over
head
I told you
not to go there
anyone. see
what you get?

Untitled III

everybody in columbia
heights speaks french
ever go to a party there?
bore you to tears




Mystery 1st Lady

 franklin pierce's wife never
came downstairs. she never
came upstairs either










Now for some even shorter shorts




blink

listen
to the wind
it whispers
but it does not tell

`````

gather
sand
castles
in repose

`````

the sea
roars
at shell-white
beaches
takes tiny
bites
and spits them
back
with every
wave

`````

moonlight
on green
meadows
seeps
to roots
below

`````

the hawk
flies
but not for
pleasure
despite the grace
of its ascent

`````

without
the sun
there would be
no shadows
to tell us
there is a sun-bright
day









Here's a not-so-short, some might say, old man creepy poem. (though I disagree - beauty, even when unexpected should always be noted.




flashing

watch her walk

with each step
the rear of her foot rises
as weight shifts from her heel
while her shoe lags behind
and between the shoe
and the bottom of her foot
the soft pale flesh
of her instep flashes
like a lover's wink
across a crowded room,
this most beautiful, unseen place
inviting a caress,
a kiss,
flashing like a secret
across a crowded room













Next I have two short poems by my poet-friend Joanna M. Weston. Born in England, Joanna lived and worked in London until moving to Canada where she became a citizen.

She has published collections of poetry and fiction, including A Bedroom of Searchlights, a book of poetry centered on the life of her divorced mother and artist.




Tide Pool

the eyes look  large, two washed-out shells
mouth emptied of sand by a wisp of wind

embroideries of sea lettuce tangle broken glass
crushed mussels cut these trespassing feet

do my hands hold enough rocks to make a cave?
darkness frames weeping kelp for dead ears

star-fish rise and fall beneath the tides
salt water stings each open wound

fingers on my eyes close the sky
oyster-clad rocks brushed by damselfish

a yellow crab crawls across my hand
this is the pool where we met in spring


In the Wind

your voice warm and rich
tasting of oak cinnamon and cumin
coils about my head and spills
like aged bandy over my hands

I drink your sound with chocolate
hold it between pages of mystery and fact
thread it in rigging with my sails
as we head into high winds
with your hands on the tiller








A "barku" - in the spirit of the haiku,10 words, 6 lines, designed to fit on a bar napkin, invented by me as I sat at a bar with nothing to write on..




4barku4u

1

cool morning
early June
expires soon
in dusty
summer
heat

2

red flowers
over yellow
flowers
among blue
flowers
rainbow riot

3

rain puddles
leave a muddy
muddle
on clean
kitchen
floor

4

word
missing
for true barku
my invention
(almost)
fails me









More shorts.




algebra 1

I remember
my algebra teacher
in 1959
writing equations
on the blackboard,
her back to the class

at least 40 years old,
ancient, still,
the most perfectly
beautiful
legs


big news

giant
prehistoric bid
found
no sign yet
of companion
Sylvestesaures...


bubble

dark clouds
all around
while we
in a
sunshine
bubble
bask


echo

dry well
echoes

with memories

of water
precious and sweet

`

`

`

old man
sleeps

dreams echo

with memories
precious and sweet


family jewels

flames
illuminate
as they
burn
as
secrets
unfold
in the brilliance
of combustion


women telling secrets

four
of them
at the round table

whisper
laugh

then whisper
and laugh again

oh, no,
says one

oh, yes
says another

whisper
and laugh
at the round table
in the corner














Next, a poem from New European Poets, published by Graywolf Press in  2008.

The poem I selected from the anthology is by Anise Koltz from Luxembourg. Born in 1928, Koltz is known for her original poetry and her translations.




from The Fire Eater

III

In the churches slaughterhouses
we are transformed
into vultures

We devour
the body of Christ
thrusting our necks
into his blood
with unavowed violence

`````

I am looking for a baptismal font
to hand back my name
to drown it
in its holy water

I take original
sin upon me
once again
like a force
a carapace
that makes me invulnerable

`````

None of our complaints
will be heard

God is a deaf-mute
No one has taught us
sign language

`````

the fallen angel
who looked at himself
in the water
drowned
in his image

`````

on the seventh day
God fell asleep

The earth is still trembling
form his snoring

`````

God

lights a fire
in the darkness
to discover
in the blue of the flames
another darkness

`````

I no longer believe in God
henceforth
He has to
believe i me

`````

Wasn't it written
that he who'd drink
the blood of Christ
and eat his flesh
would be reborn like Him

But his blood coagulated
in our mouths
his flesh spoiled
under our eyes --

We will live on
dust
ad rain

Because our death
will be a death
that lasts

(translated from the French by Pierre Joris)









Taking a break from the short piece to start a rebellion.




up the banner; up the flag

where does it say
the proper position of a toilet seat
is down?

it's not in the bible.
I've checked,
chapter and verse

it's not
in the constitution,
the federalists papers

the Magna Carta,
or the political philosophy
or any seer, sage, savant

or social science crackpot
I can find in any of the learned journals,
including Wikipedia...

how do this things like this
become law then
when not precedentially established?

men are taught from their earliest years
to check their target
before getting down to business

if men, so often deemed insufficient
in so many ways can do this, why not also those
persons of the femalien persuasion

who so readily complain
when this law of toilet seat alignment
is disregarded  by those brutes

who dribble
when they piddle
from the evolutionary advantageous upright position

up the banner; up the flag,
let the toilet seat rebellion
commence









Having settled the toilet seat issue in my previous poem. I return to short bits




fresco on the other side of sunset

a ridge of low
clouds
pink
as cotton candy
against billows
of virgin white

above the
clouds, a
Mediterranean
sky


portrait of a girl at night

winter night
walking
chilled
streets

scarf coiled
in woolen layers
cover
neck
to chin

face shadowed
in shades
of gray

eyes
wide in

surprise...

fear...


I investigate brevity

I've
been getting
really tired
of my going
on and going
on poems
and think maybe
readers are also
so I decided I
oughta
write a short
one

this is it


small dreams slip past unnoticed

don't
dream
too large
tonight

they know
who
the dreamers
are

and
they are
watching


a memory of a dream

I have a
memory
pf a dream
that through
constant dreaming
has become a memory
of another life
that with constant
remembering
seem as real
as the life
I might have had
with you tonight


black

black
was the life
that drove
the knife
that pierced
the heart
of my
darling
mad
a
line


blue

blue eyes
under clear
skies
ice
on crystal


green

salt water
and concrete
collide
froth bubbles green -
dragon scales
in the gulf


red

blood
on white paper,
bright red,
like an apple
on a bed of
snow


yellow

lemons overflow
a pewter
bowl,
roll across the floor,
crying
caution...caution















Krazy Kat was  newspaper comic trip by cartoonist George Herriman that ran from 1913 to 1944 in the New York Evening Journal. The strips two major characters were Krazy Kat and Ignatz Mouse.

Monica Youn wrote a collection of poetry centered around Ygnatz the mouse who lived, as in the book, a very interesting, adventurous, and human-like life. Ygnatz, a National Book Award Finalist, was published by Four Way Books in 2010.

At the time of publication, Youn was an attorney at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law where she was Director of the Money in Politics project. She as been awarded poetry fellowships from the Library of Congress, the Rockefeller Foundation and Sanford University, and has taught creative writing at Pratt Institute and Columbia University.




Ersatz Ignatz

The clockwork saguaros sprout extra faces like planaria stroked by
             a razor. Chug

say the sparrows, emitting fluffs of steam. Chug chug say the piston-powered
             ground squirrels.

The tumbleweeds circle on retrofitted tracks, but the blue pastboard welkin
             is much dented by little winds,

The yuccas pulse softly under grow-light sconces.

Here is the door he will paint on the rock.

Here is the glass floor of he cliff.

He'll enter from the west, back lit in orange isinglass, pyrite
              pendants glinting from the fringes of his voice.


I-40 Ignatz

The tanker
trucks

gaily caparisoned:

rows of red
and yellow lights

o night

of joy
and blitz

a cop car drowses
in the scrub

cottonwoods. Utmost.

Utmost. There is
 a happy land.

Far, far.

The bleaching fields
The silica-coated trees.

Some plain

browns. The girl
at the CITGO

station says Don't 
you come here

all the time?









Here, the tiniest of the tiny, what I call them post-it note poems, written to fit on a post-it note. I wrote them at my second after retirement jobs, while scoring state assessment tests. They were a welcome break after scoring the 77th of the day high school junior essays on sports in high school, good or bad?





post-it notes

small dogs
nip
at heels
with tiny
yips
&
yaps
and sharp
little teeth
white
shinning

`````

pitty pat
pitty
pat
little baby footprints
fresh from
the bath

`````

this is like
a note
I would pass
when I was
fifteen
in fits of
abbreviated
angst

`````

I love
you
in little
yellow
flashes of
sticky note
passion

`````

crowd murmurs
in a large room
hundreds
of stories
shattered
into random
word pieces

`````

if you find this
know
I was
thinking
of you
way back
when









Now, to finish this post with a poem about a subject important to most all of us.




s*x

I was thinking
about sex, maybe
a weird thing
to be thinking
about at 4 p.m.
on a Sunday
afternoon
but it's not
as bad as it
might seem
since it was
just a piddly
little
non-prurient
internal
discussion
of a
philosophical
nature
concerning the
onset of sexual
maturity, attitudinal
that is , not hormonal,
arising from the viewing
of a movie trailer
for one of those
teenage
grope a dope
movies
which just got me
thinking about
how some kids
grow out of their
natural fifth grade
obsession with sex
early, while others
of great age and
experience
die with that
obsession still
driving
their
lives

having considered
this question,
I have concluded
sexual maturity
arrives at that
moment
when you realize sex
is not something
necessarily done in the dark
and that nobody else knows
about, that, in fact
most everybody
not only knows about
it, they do it,
most everybody
you see on the sidewalk
at the supermarket
at work
at the park
or wherever you are,
does it or did it
or wants like crazy
to do it, that
presidents and
prime ministers
do it, that ship
captains do it,
that lawyers and
judges do it,
that the barber
who cuts your hair
does it, that the
prim and proper
lady at the library
and even the people
on FOX News,
for crying out
loud, do it  and
that your preacher
does it and your
Sunday School teacher
and even some priests
do it, though they're
not supposed to tell,
that your mother
and your father did
it and maybe even still
do it, that
their mothers
and fathers
and their mothers
and fathers
mother s and fathers
did it, back
10,000 generations
to two monkey
humping in a tree,
all of that doing
and thank god for
or you wouldn't
be here to do it
today

what's the point
of all this I can't
say, it's just once
you start thinking
about all those people
doing it, doing it,
doing it
everywhere
you turn, you have
to wonder how
the earth doesn't
just get knocked
to a wobbling
right
off its
axis










I appreciate hearing from readers. Although they do not appear here, your comment,, if you choose to make them is available to me. So feel free to pass on any reaction, comments, or opinions by clicking on the "comment" button below.


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