Secrets Revealed   Saturday, October 12, 2019





In between retirements I worked as a reader of state assessment test, scoring them according to parameters set by the states.

I scored, usually in very large room of others doing the same thing, tests of probably 25 states, 3rd grade, 5th grade, 8th grade and 11th. I stuck to reading, writing, and social studies. I also scored things like the test to qualify for pharmacy school.

Generally I supported testing, I think they were misused, especially at the lower levels, as advancement prerequisites instead of testing to assess individual students' needs. The difference in the way the test results were used exerted much too much pressure on 3rd and 5th graders.

We did not score Texas tests, but I did help proof them and didn't like them. They seemed to be created by teachers who had for far too long not been in classrooms relating to the students they wanted to test, leading in a couple of instances to questions with references that many students would misunderstand, applying current references that would lead to incorrect answers.
There were also what seemed to me to be purposeful "trick" questions certain to mislead students into incorrect answers.

I offered my opinion at the time and was informed that, as a proof reader, my concern was grammar and spelling and not content created by much smarter people than me.

And so ends my editorial for the week.




secrets revealed

for some days now
I have been reading
essays by 8th graders
for a state that shall
remain unnamed

on the subject
"Freedom and why
It Is Important to
Americans"
many grand and noble
sentiments
had been writ,
sometimes
with great and refreshing
eloquence,
as well as, sadly
evidence that for some,
eloquence
will always be
a mighty
reach

there is excitement
like a burst of fresh air
sweeping the crowded room
when,
from the pen of a 12-year-old
beautiful.
powerful prose
erupts

and, for us professional readers,
excitement
as well when hidden knowledge
is revealed,
as when a student tells us
that
among the reasons
America's founders fought
the British
was the promise in the
Declaration of Independence
of "Live,
Liberty, and the
Prostitute of Happiness"
or
when a student reminds  us
to support our soldiers fighting
for our freedom in
"Elfganistan,"
letting slip the mystery
that has puzzled scholars
for ten thousand years -
i.e. the hitherto secret location
of the homeland
of the Elves...

jeez...


I hope the little fellas
don't get hurt,
trapped
as the are
in the middle of that
stupid
war








No secret here. This is what I got.


Me
secrets revealed

Me
a little bitty woman

Me
I'm thinking about the poem

Joanna M. Weston
six haiku

Me
poor little Pumpkin
the problem with forests
the very thin lady

Me
law and order

Bei Dao
Night: Themes and Variations

Me
tex-no-mex

Naomi Shihab Nye
Even at War
Morning Paper, Society Page
Audience

Me 
too late

Me
six months without rain, four times

Me
the sun was very bright today

Me
China silk

Me
ok, so you're telling me the Malthusian theory of population growth and the inevitability of catastrophic overpopulation wasn't, strictly speaking, my idea?

Gilbert Sorrentino
Who Goes There

Me 
downsizing








a little bitty woman

a little bitty woman,
short
and trim,
gray hair,
sky blue eyes
magnified
by round rimless glasses

she walks the halls
with a loose
sliding gait that reminds me
of a 50s hipster,
too cool to actually put foot
to floor, a little bit of float
and glide, and she cocks
her head to the side
when she talks to you,
reminding me
of a sparrow
eyeing a particularly
fat and tasty
looking
worm.

with a little hint of hunger
in those sky
blue eyes
watching
as you speak.









From 2008, an example of why I always write early in the morning, before the world takes over my mind and my attention.



I'm thinking about the poem

I'm thinking
about the poem
I'm supposed to write
tonight
and about the weather
and whether
it might rain and lord
we do need that
and I'm thinking
about the election
and how disappointed
I am in Hillary
and how much
I really don't like her
anymore
and I'm thinking
about the project
I just finished
and the new one
I'll start next week
and I'm thinking
about the price of gas
and the war in Iraq
and about my mother
and father
both long gone
and about the rental
property
and how much work
there is
still
to do on it before
we try to sell it
and how much money
we're spending on it
and whether we'll
be able to sell it
for enough
to break even
and I'm thinking
about the weight
I lost
and the weight
I'm gaining back
and the steak
out on the grill
I'm probably burning
and I'm thinking
about the next book
and about the last book
and the copies still
crowding
the clothes in my closet
and about the injection
I need to take before
I eat the burned steak
and about the backyard
I was supposed to mow
today
but didn't and about
finding the right poems
to finish
the next blog
and how fine
the music
sounds...

and I can't write a poem
tonight
I just have
too much
on my
mind














Here are six haiku from my Canadian poet-friend, Joanna M. Weston.

A multi-book author, you can get more information about Joanna's books at her website - http://www.1960willowtree.wordpress.com/.




sunset ripples in the cornfield

`````

sunlit river
your hand
on my thigh

`````

the roar of combers scuttling sandpipers

`````

shells
broken by gulls
childhood

`````

early summer
the river and the well
run dry

`````

the bride
in white and gold -
sunflowers










Three just for fun, endng with a salute to e.e. cummings.




poor little Pumpkin

little
Pumpkin,
Texas -
hiding out
amongst the tree

KoKo's
Gas-n-Grub

Faith
Evergreen
Baptist Church

poor
little Pumpkin

population
43


the problem with forests

the problem with
looking at a forest
is that
all
you
can
see
is
trees


the very thin lady

the incredibly
thin
thin
la
d
y
sits across
the room
eating
straw
b
e
r
r
y
pie
with
whipped
cream
and a
d
o
l
l
o
p
of
sy
r
up
my
good
ness
how 
does the
everso
thin lady
stay so
t
h
i
n
just plain
s
k
i
n
n
y
she'd
blow
a
way
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
if it wasn't for her big fat feet and oversized
tennies
lord a'mighty
that's 
one
l
e
a
n
wo
m
a
n









This event, eleven yeas go. I haven't gotten any faster since.




law and order

closer to boy
than man,
long hair,
thin, and
blond,
hits the door
with a basket
full of books and CDs

runs

close behind,
Arizona,
the stand-up
comic
and TV writer,
followed by
Crystal,
the barista
and far
far
behind,
me

fat, old
me

knowing I'll
never catch them
but putting on
a good show anyway
and if the others get him down,
I'll get there in time to kick him

but no,
he's gone
and the coffeehouse
returns to normal,
each of us
quiet,
with our own "Law and Order"
scenario
playing in our
mind

CHA
CHANG!
















This poem is from The Anchor Book of Chinese Poetry, subtitled "From Ancient to Contemporary, the Full 3000-Year Tradition." The book was published by Random House in 2005.

When selecting poems from this book I have usually gone to work from early in the tradition. For this post I have chosen, instead, a contemporary poet, Bei Dao, born in 1949.

When young, Dao participated in the student movements of the cultural revolution. The Red Guard would raid the houses of intellectuals and others for counterrevolutionary materials. A cache of books he stole in one such raid became essential to his education, introducing him to Western  literature in translation. From that education, he says he especially influenced by the imagery of Federica Garcia Lorca, the surrealism of Vicente Aliexander and Georg Trakl, the pastoral of Antonio Machado and the sentiment and delicacy of Rainer Maria Rilke and believes that influence shows in his work.

His work, including much of his poetry, essays, and short stories have been translated  and are available in English. At the time of publication, he was living in the United States and has taught at the University of California, Davis, the University of Michigan and Beloit.

He is often mentioned as a candidate for the Nobel Prize.

I really like this poem.




Night: Theme an Variations

Here is where roads become
parallel light beams
a long conversation suddenly broken
Truck drivers' pungent smoke suffuses the air
with rude indistinct curses
Fences replace people in a line
Lights seeping out from the cracks of doors
tossed to the roadside with cigarette butts
is tread on by swift feet
A billboard leans on an old man's lost stick
about to walk away
A stone water lily withered
in the fountain pool, a building deliberates collapse
The rising moon suddenly strikes
a bell again and again
the past reverberates within palace walls
The sundial is turning and calibrating deviations
waiting for the emperor's grand morning ceremony
Brocade dresses and ribbons toss up in the breeze
and brush dust from the stone steps
A shadow of a tramp slinks past the wall
colorful neon lights glow for him
but deprive him of sleep all through the night
A stray cat jumps on a bench
watching a trembling mist of floating light
But a mercury lamp rudely opens window curtains
to peer at the privacy of others
disturbing lonely people and their dreams
Behind a small door
a hand quietly draws the catch
as if pulling a gun bolt

(Translated by Tony Barnstone and Newton Lin)








tex-no-mex

it's on the main street
of Bandera, Texas,
a little place west
of San Antonio
which bills itself
as the cowboy
center
of the universe
and you gotta
believe it
today
with their Mardi Gras
parade
down all ten blocks
of main street
with horses and wagons
and real cowboys
in chaps and big paint ponies
and cowboy clowns
and cowgirl clowns
and little sports cars
and we just missed
it but it must'a
been great
cause
everybody has
about ten strands
of pretty-colored beads
around their neck
and everybody's laughing
and it's about noon
and, like I said,
it's on main street
it being the Old Spanish
Trail Restaurant
which advertises
itself
as the best Tex-Mex
cafe in the universe
and I think they
might be right
cause the enchiladas
and tamales
and tacos
and frito pie
with saltine
crackers
sure
is what I remember
as Tex-Mex
from back when
except
the only Mexicans
I see in the place
are my wife, two town
police officers,
and  a dishwasher
and I'm thinking
this seems more like
a Tex-no-Mex place
to me















From A Quartet, "Texas Poets in Concert," a favorite, San Antonio Poet and world traveler in the cause of poetry, Naomi Shihab Nye.

The book was published by the University of North Texas, Denton, in 1990.

Nye, born in Missouri of a Palestine refugee father and American mother, spent her adolescence with  family in Jerusalem and San Antonio. A graduate of Trinity University in San Antonio, she is recipient of many awards and honors. Her many books of poetry and short stories bridge vast cultural divides between Palestine and America, California to Texas, and Mexico to South America.





Even at War

Loose in his lap, the hands.
And always a necktie,
as some worlds are made complete
by simple things.
Graveled voice,
bucket raised on old ropes.
You know how a man can get up,
get dressed and think
the world is waiting for him?
At night darkness knits
a giant cap to hold the dreams in.
A wardrobe of neckties with slanted stripes.
Outside oranges are sleeping, eggplants,
fields of wild sage. An order
from the government said
You will no longer pick this sage
that flavors your whole life.
And all the hands smiled.
Tonight the breathing air carries
headlines that will cross the ocean
by tomorrow. Bar the door.

        In memory, Izzat Shihab Idais Al-Ze
        West Bank, Palestine


Morning Paper, Society Page

I can never see fashion models
lean angular cheeks, strutting hips
and blooming hair, without thinking of
the skulls at the catacombs in Lima, Peru.
How we climbed down from blurred markets
to find a thousand unnamed friends smiling at us
as if they could advertise
a coming style.


Audience

Always one man reeking of salt
"just off that ship" he waves, wild glint
of seaspray sharpening his eye

Or the Texan who sprawls
in the back row, a man with tight hips
who drove fifty miles, sleeps in a barn
and asks em to sign someone else's book

Always they lean toward that whine of wind
beyond the door
And what I could have brought them
haunts me

Hands, dangling
these three small stones









too late

the geezer table
is one short today

Robert,
of the long white
sideburns
who can quote
from memory everything
Rush has said
for the past 15 years

is absent

which is a worry,
given the average age
at the table
is at least 10 years older
than me,
all subject
to the miseries
and unexpected calamities
of old age

it is not good
when one
does not appear
where and when
one always appears

is he wandering
in his car,
lost on I-10,
heading to El Paso
when all he wanted to do
was make his regular short trip
to the coffee shop

or is he stroke-afflicted,
lying
on the cold tile
in his bathroom
unable to get up unable
too call

or is he dead

telephone calls
are made,
tracking begins

should they do more?

would he be embarrassed
if they went to his house
and he came to his front door
in his pinstrip Hugh Hefner pajamas, awakened
from
a long-lover due late-sleep

but what if the worst has occurred,
should they risk their own
and his embarrassment?

men,
decisive
in their youth,
cannot decide what to do

but
then,
Robert comes in and takes his seat

howdy, fellas,
what's up? he says
as he sits

you're late, they say,
we were going to buy your coffee today

but,
you're too late










six months without rain, four times

-1-

hard blue sky
devoid
of the softness
of even a single cloud
threatens
another day the only wet
a farmer's tears

-2-

grass
so dry
it crackles
as i walk on it,
as if walking
on the dry husks
of dead crickets

-3-

grass 
long gone
now dry gritty
powder
rising
in the slightest
wind

-4-

mesquites
born for the
dry heat
of South Texas
wilt
branches hanging
to the ground
like weeping willow









the sun was very bright today

the sun
was bright today
and the sky
blue
as an ocean sigh

while
we toiled
in a garden
of dark
obsession,
harvesting shadows
and sly glances
and blossoms
of dark distrust

the sun
was.....
.
.
.
.
.
....such painstakingly
constructed
bullshit
this is,
every word dredged
like a lead weight
from some toxic depth,
like the sludge at the bottom
of a ship channel
where diesel fuel and dead cats,
industrial waste
and the shit of a city's worth of human
defecation
lays a coat of muck
on once  pristine sand,
a
spew of
toxic
waste
is this poem,
no heart, no soul...

no balls..

deadly to the poet
as to the reader

I
would burn this poem
but just as there are good days
and bad days
there are good poems and bad,
precious
all
for the tick-tocks of a clock of a lifetime
spent writing them

to throw them away,
to throw away even the worst,
is to throw away time
from an already
too
short life









China silk

everything
I know about
Mandarin Chinese
I learned
by listening
to Chinese movies

there is a soft sound
in that language
that holds for me
a little piece
of the mysteries
of the orient

it's a musical sound,
something like

"sssha"

that purses
the lips in a way
to me
most delightful

the Cyrillic alphabet
has a similar sound

"ssscha"

but it is harsher
and harder
with something
of the Russian winter
in it

while the Mandarin

"sssha"

seems soft and intimate
like China silk









ok, so you're telling me the Malthusian theory of population growth and the inevitability of catastrophic overpopulation wasn't, strictly speaking, my idea?

I decided several years ago
that, being involved
in nothing else of consequence,
I should further my education

so I went to the university
in the city where I lived at the time
and signed up for a Masters Degree
program centered around
English Literature and Interdisciplinary Studies

I took m first class -
"The Rhetorical Tradition"
basically a philosophy survey course
(seems the Greeks identified
Philosophy and Rhetoric as
basically the same thing) -
three hours a
night
four nights a
week
after an eight hour
day job,
it was not a bundle
of laughs,
but I did well,
as well as it was possible to do,
in fact, which reassured me
that, even in a class
with a bunch of kids
who could have been the kids
of my kids, one of such kids could have been
the professor,
I could do better than hold my own

I did not go back the next semester
because it didn't seem my mind fit
the kind of mind
that higher level of education was aimed at,
minds directed toward classifying
and cataloguing
someone else's intellectual
output
rather than the kind of creative
intellectual adventure I was looking for

I am an unconscious assimilator of facts and ideas,
everything I know and think, the
entirety of the contents of my mind,
is the result of interaction with other minds,
but I could no more tell you
how those interactions produced
my conclusions or even with whom
they occurred than I could tell you the chemical
composition of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich

I know
what I know
but I'll be damned
if I know
how I know it

not
higher level education
material
at all

`````

so what does this poem
mean?

I don't know,
except sometimes I feel the urge
to talk to myself
and if you do that sort of thing
out loud certain
negative
assumptions
are made about the state
of your mind
















This poem by Gilbert Sorrentino is taken from his book Selected Poems 1958-1980, published in 1981 by Black Sparrow Press.

Sorrentino, was born in 1929 and died in 2006. A novelist, short story writer, poet, literary critic, editor and professor, Sorrentino published over 25 works of fiction and poetry.




Who Goes There?

The vicious tight curl
of the pubic hair in the
bathtub, or a mass of black:

birds measuring the limbs
of a tree, these box in
a world full of demons

who are arrayed in black
in back of the world made
manifest in lusterless

porcelain brass pipes
turned black and greasy
green, God damn those

nervous birds, the demons
possess them! They sway
- how long is that limb,

what grinning face inhabits
the friable leaf that
determines its tip - ?

Someone prove to me what
tender strategy will over-
whelm it, scrub it all

bright with the silvery
cable of bridges, tides
of love without logic

cracking the brittle
shapes the demons inform, forms
burned clean in a gout of flame.









I wrote this in 2008, have not made much progress. Life keeps getting more complicated even as I struggle to simplify.



downsizing

the horizon
narrows
as the dark
closes in

marking the hour
to sort out
the truth
of the time remaining

time
to free myself
of the baggage

of goals
unmet

dreams
foreclosed

time to set a course
that recognizes
the reality
of time

time
to downsize
to fit the days

between
the horizon
and the final dark









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.


As usual, everything belongs to who made it. You're welcome to use my stuff, just, if you do, give appropriate credit to "Here and Now" and to me



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Poetry

New Days & New Ways


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Always to the Light




Goes Around Comes Around




Pushing Clouds Against the Wind




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Seven Beats a Second






Fiction


Sonyador - The Dreamer





                                                            


  Peace in Our Time








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Secrets Revealed
An Exercise in Swine Abatement
Who Will Be the Poet Then?
Discussing the True Nature of Things With My Dog
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