Everything That Will Be Must Be   Sunday, July 07, 2019





Ten years now since I wrote this piece and I have accepted for myself to a life of days, no planning beyond the day I have and, sometimes, the day next.




everything that will be must be

just a few
months
shy of 65,
I think often of
time
and the nature
 of it passing -

thinking of that
again today
led me to realize
that for the first
time in my life
the future
is dark to me

I've
always been
able
to look ahead
five years, ten
years even
confident
that I
understood
where I was
going
and what I
needed to do
to get there

so this is new,
this blindness,
this knowing
only
that everything
that will be
must be
very different
from what I
know today

with luck
the path ahead
will be a long
one,
but it could also
be a path
measured in
inches
not miles,
like the famous
journalist
who died this
week,
planning lunch
one minute,
dead,
the next

a wickedly
twisted
journey
this winding
down is;
getting it right
the hardest
thing
we'll ever do









My stuff, new and old, and from my library. Normal days.


Me
everything that will be must be

Me
winter night

Tu Fu
Leaning on a Cane
Outside the City
Restless Night

Me
they came from beyond

Me
games people play

Philip Levine
First Love, 1945

Me
purple dark haze
the chase

Me
revisions
the happy-faced woman
a friend of mine

Margret Reckord
The Journey

Mwna Kupona Msham
From Poem For Her Daughter

Mehati
Quatrains

Me
welcoming the return of a long absent friend

Me
looking for a fork in the road

Me
the senator exposed himself

Donald Justice
Men at Forty

Me
part of the secret of successful poeming

Me
come the resurrection









A winter night to cool me on a warm summer evening.




winter night

winter night,
in the last moment
before dusk falls
the sky is clear,
light blue,
like the "it's a boy"
blankets you get at the hospital
to warm
a new born son

thin,
almost transparent blue...

moon bright
in the soft sky,
not full,
flattened a little
on one side like a globe
flattened
at the South Pole
so it won't roll off your
desk

Antarctica folded in on
itself....

a chill wind
blowing from the top of
the hill,
raising a shower
pf golden leaves
from trees along
the creek

light winter-home taste
of chimney smoke in the
air

ten degrees
cooler
than the numbers on the
thermometer reads

very quiet...














For over a thousand years, Chinese literati have considered High T'ang dynasty poet, Tu Fu (712-790 A.D.) to be their greatest poet, making formal innovations in language and structure, as well as extending the range of acceptable subject matter to include all aspects of public and private experience.

Here are several of his poems, taken from The Selected Poems of Tu Fu, a New Directions book published in 1988. The poetry in the book was translated by David Hinton.

At the time, this was the most comprehensive collection of the poet's work available in English.




Leaning on a Cane

Even in the city, come leaning on a cane,
I gaze at stream-side blossoms. Here,
Mountain market close early, and riverboats
Gather at the bridge in spring. Lighthearted

Gulls flutter among white waves. Returning
Geese delight in blue skies. All things shade
Together in earth's passion. But I, all
Desperate chill, I brood over years gone by.


Outside the City

It is bitter cold, and late, and falling
Dew muffles my gaze into bottomless skies.
Smoke trails out over distant salt mines
Where snow-covered peaks cast shadows east.

Armies haunt my homeland still. And war
Drums throb in this distant place. A guest
Overnight in a river city, together with
Shrieking crows, my old friends, I return.


Restless Night

A bamboo chill drifts into the bedroom,
Moonlight fills ever corner of our
Garden. Heavy dew beads and trickles.
Stars suddenly there, sparse, next aren't.

Fireflies in dark flight flash. Waking
Waterbirds begin calling, one to another.
All things caught between shield and sword,
All grief empty, the clear night passes.









It ain't easy being normally competent human being these days.




they came from beyond

one of the things
I liked
about growing up in the
fifties

was the fact that things
didn't change
all that
much

once you learned
to be a respectably
competent
citizen of the universe

little retraining was
required;

if you knew how to do
something on Tuesday
chances were good that
you'd still know how to
do it

on Thursday -

it is conspiracy I think -
advance scouts from the
planet
Geekopia

come to earth
to screw it all up
by making everything so
complicated

that they became
irreplaceable,
while slowly making the
rest of us
irrelevant and obsolete -

and worst of all
it is hard to keep up
with these agents of
confusion

and catastrophe
and today
as usual, I find myself

losing -

so if it happens
you know
one

please transmit via
email
how I might intrude

upon his fortress of
solitude
with an urgent
request

to fix my computer
which has fallen and
I don't know how

to get it up









Months ago it began to get discouragingly clear to me that my new poems were not as good as my old poems. After months of worrying myself with that and that my current pleasures in writing was a a lower level than in the past. Finally, a couple of weeks ago it became clear to me that a new challenge was required.

This poem explains what happened next.




games people play

when I was a child
I played soldier
and I played cowboys
and Indians

a age seven
I was given an official
Dick Tracy hat
and played cops
and robbers

later on I played
the skinny guy in the school
corridors
who kept his secrets
much too well

then I played student-man
and redneck-beatnik-man
and then, for four years,
soldier-man again

for many, many years
thereafter
I played public big-shot -man
in my pin-stripped suit

then,
for about twenty years
I played poet-man
until that game began to bore me
and now I play
artist-man

at no point in any of these games
did I ever expect to be much
good, even though
in many of those games,
I played
well

but all along
I understood that
the fun of any game
is the playing
not
the score at the end

and from that has come
the most recent game,
artist-man and his
Scrap Lumber Art Gallery

and it is a fun game to play
and I will continue
to play it until
it isn't

(In the past two weeks I've done 18 pieces, spray on scrap lumber. Here are eight of my favorites.)














The blurred piece in the back in my skinny mural, 10 feet X 6 inches)





























The best part this is, much like my poetry, absolutely no skill beyond knowing English and it's variants is required, just a vague feel for color and flow.

















This poem is by Philip Levine, from his book 1933, published by Atheneum i 1981.

Born in 1928 and died in 2015, Levine was best known for his poems about working-class Detroit. He taught for 30 years at the University of California - Fresno and was named U.S. Poet Laureate 2011-2012.




First Love - 1945

March and the snows have turned -
perhaps the war is over -
the gray crust gives
under their weight
and small rivers sigh
in the streets.
Coming home
from the dance
where no one danced, he's
in love with Polly Basil.
Holding her hand
does nothing for it,
breathing beside her
the moon-drenched air,
letting the silence speak
of the slow weight
in belly
does nothing for it.
Against the chain-link fence
going for throat and ears,
breast and crotch,
helps a little.
Hours later she loses her hankie
under the viaduct,
this is love,
his shoes darken
like small struck animals.
The rails above
shudder and gasp under
frozen wheels. A light oil
runs on his back,
runs on her lips and cheeks,
runs of everything,
on bitten ears
that hear too much,
on tongues of machines
that never stop,
on the one eye
of the star
that winks them to their beds.








Here are two short poems from June.






purple dark haze

low tide
pulled back by the invisible moon
whispers
on white gulf sand

beach creatures,
large and small, scurry and scuttle
in the purple dark haze
of midnight


the chase

hot
summer day
saved
by a westerly breeze
whispering through the trees,
caressing my bare back

tiny black kitten
crouches and leaps
twirls in circles
like a tiny ballerina,
flips head over
bobbed tail,
pounces,
chasing
leaves drifting slowly across
the patio









This is a piece from January, this year.




revisions

my night
are full of dreams
of old times and old places,
and people surely dead by now

I write no new narratives,
'just edit here and there
to my satisfaction,
thinking ,
thank god,
if my life is truly stuck
in this row I so diligently plowed,
at least my nights are subject
to revision


This one is from February. (and yes, I'm clearing old, unused files)


the happy-faced young woman

the happy-faced
young woman is a cashier
at my pharmacy
and
she makes me happy
every time I go in to have a prescription filled
because the idea of making such a happy-faced young woman
unhappy by my unhappy presence
makes me sad

maybe it's her eyes,
smiling eyes
that gives her such a happy face,
or maybe it's an inner fire of happiness
that rises from a new morning sun
to infect her countenance
and, in it's presence
for at least a while,
gladden the ailing
spirit all who
see it


a friend of mine

Roy
was a pussy
and Gene was a drunk

but Hopalong Cassidy -

Hoppy
was a friend
of mine













Next, I have several poets from Ain't I a Woman, subtitled "A Book of Women's Poetry from Around the World." The book was published Wings Books in 1987.





The first is Margaret Reckord, from Jamaica, at the time of publication, editor of Arts Jamaica and author of a poetry collection, Upmountain.



The Journey

Moon-soaked
she emitted
a cold radiance
that made all
who loved her
leave her alone

As well
they might -
hers was the single
silver track
upmountain
to the moon


The next poet is Mwna Kupona Msham. From East Africa, the poet was born in 1810 and died in1860. The poem was translated from Swahili by J. W. T. Allen.

Despite its brevity, the poem was held in such high regard that many learned it by heart.



From Poem to Her Daughter

Daughter, take this amulet
tie it with cord and caring
I'll make you a chain of coral and pearl
to glow on your neck. I'll dress you nobly.
A gold clasp too - fine, without flaw
to keep with you always.
When you bathe, sprinkle perfume, and weave your hair in braids.
String jasmine for the counterpane.
Wear your clothes like a bride,
for your feet anklets, braclelts for your arms...
Don't forget rosewater,
don't forget henna for the palms of your hands.



And this one is by Mahati, a 12th century female poet and philosopher in Iran, a first in that country.

The poem was translated from Farsi by Deidre Lashgari.


Quatrains

Better to live as a rogue and a bum,
    a lover all treat as a joke,
to hang out with a crowd of comfortable drunks,
    than crouch in a hypocrite's cloak.

Unless you can dance through a common bar
    with a vagabond's step, you're not going to make it.
This is the road of the reckless who gamble
    their lives; risk yours, or you're not going to make it.










Another from February, this year.




welcoming the return of a long absent friend

I'm
wearing
my most Hawaiian shit today
because
it's by god spring
and if you
don't'
like it
just go stick your head
in  a snowbank
and shake your frosty butt
at the winter moon

I have strong feelings
about this










What writing a poem feels like to me




looking for a fork in the road

writing a poem
is like looking for a fork in the road

some nexus
where the universal forces of

this-is-the-way-things-are-going-to-be-today
can be left behind

for a diversion,
appearing as if from nowhere,

to a less traveled road,
a something-is-different road

a road of unexpected vistas
and sights for sore eyes

needing to mend
from forever seeing

shadows
and slow-moving shapes

that blur all that passes -
that never show the sure sharp edges

of how it feels
to pass the day in the company

of thoughts
unattended by the universal forces of

this-is-what-you-will-think-today,
freed from the forces of

you-will-not-fly-today nor will you delight
in the light bounce

of unleashed and untamed
inspiration, a sneak attack of serendipitous

truth
gaily captured

such pleasures only snared
on that fork in the road

appearing
as if out of nowhere

just in time









This poem from 2007, a good lesson for Pride Week as to what pride's opposite, shame, can do to one. Based on an incident in the news about the time the poem was written. Many may remember.




the senator exposed himself

the senator
exposed himself,
the self
he keeps hidden
from everyone he knows,
the self
he lets live ad breathe
only among strangers
in the echoing tiles
of public restrooms

how sad
it is to live
an incomplete man,
concealing a hidden life
from family
and even from closest friends,
denouncing the life
in others
you must always deny
in yourself

the senator
exposed himself
and was ashamed,
and it is in that shame
where lies
the tragedy
of his life













This poem, last from my library for this post, is by Donald Justice from his book, Selected Poems. The book was published in 1979 by Atheneum.

Justice, born in 1925, died 2004, received his Ph.D. at the University of Iowa where he went on to teach for many years at the Iowa Writer's Workshop. He also taught at Syracuse University, the University of California at Irvine, Princeton, the University of Virginia and the University of Florida. He published just 13 collections of poetry, a small number for a poet considered one of the best of his time. He won many honors and awards, including the Lamont Poetry Prize of the Academy of American Poets, the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1980 and many others.

As to why I like second-hand book stores, I bought my used copy of the book for $2.98 and notice on Amazon they have a couple of new copies for $176 and some cents.

As to the poem, at age 40 I was busy and missed the experiences written of. But they sure have caught up with me at 75.





Men at Forty

Men at forty
Learn to close softly
The doors to rooms they will not be
Coming back to.

At rest on a stair landing,
The feel it
Moving beneath them now like the deck of a ship,
Though the swell is gentle.

And deep in mirrors
They rediscover
The face of the boy as he practises tying
His father's tie there in secret

And the face of that father,
Still warm with the mystery of lather.
They are more fatehers than sons themselves now,
Something is filling them, something

That is like the twilight sound
Of the crickets, immense,
Filling the woods at the foot of the slope
Behind their mortgaged houses.









Here's one from 2011, revealing the secrets of the trade.




part of the secret to successful poeming

part
of the secret to successful poeming

is patience, lying
in wait

taking the time you need
to contemplate the universal sureties

scratching
where your itch

considering the flow of traffic
on the interstate

the traverse
of orange morning clouds from eastern light

to western dark,
the price of gas, the dietary effects

of burgers and fries
and pecan pie and vanilla crunch

surprise

the politics of remorse
and partisan recrimination

the increasing globe
of your belly

like the planetary explosion
in Star Wars

in slow motion

the fat cats on your front porch
who seem to think every time your drive into your

driveway
you're doing it just so you can feed them,

again,
the same over-fed cats

who won't come within six yards of you
if you don't have their food bucket

in your hand,
the neighbor across the creek

who brings her dog out for a walk
along the fence ever time you want to take some sun...

but what you must never do
is think about writing a poem

for thinking about writing a poem
is the worst preparation ever

for writing a poem
because your mind will twist

into all sorts of poetic poo-poo
shapes

and the essence of you, which
is about regular, real, boring things

and not about all sorts
of poetic poo-poo

will be submerged
and any real poem of the essence of you

will be submerged
as will

until all that's left will be some
highfalutin poo-poo

and by that I mean
the shit

your sixth-grade teacher tried to stuff down your throat
back when you were still learning to read

~~~~~~~

of course a poem that is the essence of the essence
of you

might end up to be shit as well,
but the original, authentic shit of the essence

of your essence
is better, always, than a pale copy

of the highfalutin shit
of some English dude who probably

played
with himself

while eating his morning
kidney pie and Cheerios









This poem, the last of mine for this post, is a memory of an earlier time written in 2014.




come the resurrection

the path down an back
is steep and arduous especially
for older people,
though benches along the way
provide a place to stop and rest,
a moment to breathe thin air
and listen to the wind
passing
between canyon walls,
the stubby trees
restless in response

birds call along the way
but go silent
among the ruins,
homage to the ghosts
who patrol the bare adobe rooms,
guarding the ancient walls
until those who left
return again, pull from storehouses
the grain and seed they left
behind
for this very day of
resurrection

we are silent visitors,
with the birds, waiting for the
tread of soft footsteps
so long absent from their
home

(Mesa Verde, 1979)











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Poetry

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






Fiction


Sonyador - The Dreamer





                                                            


  Peace in Our Time





















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