An Exercise in Swine Abatement   Tuesday, October 01, 2019








This was written in 2017 shortly before the swine in the White House began his pig sty rule.



an exercise in swine abatement

I planned to write
something deep and inspiring today

turns out
I don't have anything deep or inspiring
in me

so I thought
I'd write something funny

but my humor these days
turns into Shakespearean tragedy

(but without all the blood
and eloquence and insight into the depths
of the human soul, of course

thought I might write
about the weather but the weather
sucks which would make my poem suck
and as an incredibly talented poet
I can suck without bringing the weather
into it
so
why bother

thinking about writing about
my lovely wife
but it's too early for her
and I'll be damned if I'm going
to write about someone
who won't wake up and make
the bacon while I toil in unrequited
poetic passion

might write about the fella
at the table next to me
but, but truth is
he's a doofus-looking guy 
chewing his fingernails under
a gimme-cap and it seems surely
to be  waste of my valuable
poetry time

or I could write about the tiny
black girl who works here
and who looks so familiar
that I think she may have worked
at a coffeehouse downtown
five years of so ago
except
in this days she was even
younger
and tinier

or,
hell,
I could write about
the chairs and tables
and light fixtures
and the full-toothed way
that girl across the room
laughed
but
that would be just an exercise
in pointless extension

and I'm afraid if I keep
pointlessly extending I might
slip into writing about the pig who will be
president soon and everything
I've written so far was mainly about
avoiding that 
so
it is time to realize the purpose
and original intent
of the exercise
and quit
before
the swine sneaks his filthy effluence into
the poem and
stop
instead

right here









Poems from my library, as usual, and my own poems, and in a twist, all, except one, old poems written October through December, 2007.


Me
an exercise in swine abatement

Me
reminder
tides
skin and bones
it's a zero sum world
study hall
October sunset
game

Bharat Shekhar
Darkness's Love Child

Me
watching the fat man sleep

Me
early lunch

Erika Meitner
Preventing Teen Cough Medicine Abuse

Me
where does justice draw the line

Me
rubbing elbows

David Eberhardt
A Report from the Front

Me
road sign

Me
story time

Me
chess night at the coffeehouse

Charles Bukowski
my last winter
first poem back
throwing away the alarm clock

Me
girl at the coffeehouse with friends

Me
at Starbucks near the mission, 6 a.m..

Jorie Graham 
Prayer

Me
license to carry









Several shorts from (with occasional philosophical insight.




reminder

today
I made
an excellent fire

today
I had charcoal
lighter fluid

reminding me
the secret 
to making an excellent life
lies
in the wherewithal
to start it
properly


tides

October blue
gives way
to November 
gray

and you can
feel
the tides
of an old
year turning


skin and bones

221.4
at seven this morning,
down from a peak of 280
a couple of years
ago

that's
a whole big lotta
Moonpies released
unharmed 
to run
free
in the  wild


it's a zero-sum world

when I was
young,
I celebrated

each new thing

now
I know that
for each new thing

one
long-treasured 
thing is lost



study hall

she 
has brown,
secret-keeping eyes
and perfect teeth
that flash white
when she
smiles

studying 
with three fellow students,
all boys
competing for her attention,
with one well-arched brow,
she controls the
agenda


October sunset

clouds
trimmed in pink
like the center
of a fresh
peach

tangerine
on the horizon


game

her chin
barely topping
the table
a serious
little girl
with hiccups
looks
with big brown
eyes
through her bangs
at her chess
instructor

listens

moves and
takes a bishop

smiles...








Another appearance now by my poet-friend, Bharat Shekhar. He is a free-lance writer, poet, and artist living in Delhi, here with one of his fantastic poems and accompanying doodle.

He is among the two or three best poets  I know personally. This is an example of that.








Darkness's Love Child

That night's dream
was a whirlpool
the boat's paddle created.

It was a tower
leaning over the precipice
to whisper to the waves below,
"move over, move over."

That night's dream 
was wings flying an elephant.
It was an elephant
flying wings.

That night's dream
was the stump
of a tree
fluttering its last leaves
before concrete choked the breeze.

It was a pair 
of Siamese twins,
conjoined such
so that they
only the opposite
of each other.

That night's dream
was a sad eyed fish
trying to dig out moisture
from rocks
with its hooves

It was an hourglass
with a bad back,
which could no longer turn

That night's dream
was the four seasons with amnesia,
which had forgotten
when to make their entry,
or to exit.

It was Anubis,
protector of the underworld,
enigmatic, at ease,
resting
before the floodgates opened

Oh that night
dreamed many dreams,
some for you,
some for me,
and some for the way
things were going to be









An observational about five coffeehouses ago. (I'm coffeehouse poison; they all close just as I get really comfortable in them.)



watching the fat man sleep

several years older
than me,
five or so inches
shorter
and 100-150 pounds
heavier,
he's sitting a a table
in the coffeehouse,
across the room
from me and
catty-corner
to the chair,
legs wide apart,
belly
hanging between them,
a little white slice
of skin
showing
between his tee-shirt
and his pants

waiting
for his wife
would be my guess,
eyelids droopy
until finally they close
and his breathing
settles and
slowly,
so slowly,
he begins to tilt
to the side
until finally he's
very close to
that point
where gravity
will exercise its full
force,
but
just then
he wakes, blinks,
straightens in his chair
and just as quickly
his eyes begin to droop
again
and we're in a race
between
his wife's need to shop
and that old devil
gravity

I wait
for him to hit the floor
(and notice I am not the only one)
but he gets a break
this time
and his wife shows up, just as
gravity prepares to announce itself again,
and shakes him
impatiently
until his eyes clear,
stuck wide open
like eyes do
when surprised or
when working very hard
not to close
and
together
they walk out the door









early lunch

I've been sitting
on my favorite
porch here in
Southtown
since nine this
morning,
sucking up
as much as I can
of blue skies
and fresh
like clean white
sheets
when you first
slip under them
at night

I've done
the work I came
to, a poem for today
and another for tomorrow,
but don't want
to go home
so I call Dee
for an early lunch,
maybe walk across
the street to
Madhatters
where we can split
one of their good
for more than one
club sandwiches,
or maybe walk
a block to Rosario's
for some high-end
Tex-Mex
or another block
to the real McCoy
(featured in the Times
food section this week)
El Mirador for some
pollo en mole
or maybe a block
the other way
to Cascabel
for their little
Brazilian tacos
(not really tacos
but something like
taco with a
Portuguese
accent)

anyplace
with a patio
so we can
eat outside,
ready to do
anything we have
to do to void
indoors
on a day like
this, hell, I
might even
to home after
lunch
and mow the yard














This poem is by Erika Meitner, from her book Ideal Cities, published by Harper Collins in 2010.

Meitner is winner of the 2002 Anhinga Prize for Poetry, is anthologized frequently and is assistant professor of English at Virginia Tech. At the time of publication she was completing her doctorate in religious studies.




Preventing Teen Cough Medicine Abuse

the poem  started with you in a motel
plateaued the poem I started with you

in a motel started spending evenings
at home with a rapid heartbeat we were not

in a motel the poem was in that place
with my hair draped across your chest

and something was wet it was unclear
what did I mention there was a rapid

heartbeat there was a raw unfinished
form there was an out-of-body skittling

with the distortions of color and sound
which is to say that you were

so beautiful in those dangerous
side effects that I couldn't

help it there were no programs
I couldn't help it no matter

how many pamphlets I couldn't
help it could be abused the

combination we left the bedspread
on I just (dextromethorpan) swooned








My opinion on the matter is informed by the death of a friend at age 14, murdered by his father who then killed his mother before killing himself.

My friend was trying to stop his father from beating his mother. Had there not been a handgun handy, these murders would probably not happened. So this also informs my opinion on gun control.




where does justice draw the line?

I want to write
about the four
children
murdered
by their parents
in this city
in the last two weeks,
to memorialize them
somehow, but
cannot...

I don't have the language
to say what I want to say
and my mind drifts
to other things,
to evil,
for example...

I don't believe
in any god,
but I do believe
in all the faces
of evil,
the diabolic
evil
of mass murderers
and the casual
evil of parents
who kill
their children -
the mother who
smothered her baby
because it would not
stop crying,
the father,
angered in madness
by his wife,
who shoots their
two daughters,
ages 10 and 5,
in the head
then kills
himself,
the woman
who swings her
baby like a baseball
to strike her lover -

what do we do
with these people?

I'm a believer
in capital punishment
because I believe humanity
has the right and obligation
to protect itself against
the most evil among us,
some born that way
I am convinced, evil
from the moment
they leave their mother's
womb, others who learn
their evil from the circumstances
of their life...

born or made, I don't care,
it is the consequence
of their act
not the consequences
of their lives that matter

as a consequence
of their act
they do not deserve
our solicitude...

(maintaining the life of
Charles Manson
for a year
costs as much as or more
than sending a needy
student though a year
of college -
I say kill the bloody
son of a bitch Manson
and send the money
to the kid)

but that's an easy case

three parents killed four children
in this city in the last two weeks

where do we draw the line
for them?

where does justice
draw the line
for these four
children?









rubbing elbows

I bumped into,
literally,
Chet Huntley
in the Indiana University
library and met David Brinkley
at a Chamber of Commerce dinner
many years later, I saw Dwight Eisenhower
and Charles de Gaulle
as they passed in a motorcade,
Ike in Texas and de Gaulle
in Paris, I sneaked into a lecture
by Lyndon Johnson at Texas State University
and had several close interactions
with George Bush when he was
governor and sat behind Ann Richards
once while she was giving a speech
and remember how perfectly aligned
were the hems of her stockings,
I was on the University
of Texas campus when the crazy guy
started shooting people from the UT Tower,
but I was on the north side while
he was mostly shooting south, all the way
downtown, and didn't know anything
was going on until it was almost over,
I met Freddy Fender once when he was
visiting a friend of his who was a coworker
of mine, I saw David Robinson at a
bowling alley and I saw Greg Popovich once
at a bookstore looking at wine magazines...

that's pretty much all the famous people
I've had any kind of contact with

I've seen a bunch of unfamous people
too, but I don't remember
their names














This poem is by my poet friend from Baltimore, David Eberhardt, taken from his book Poems from the Website, Poetry in Baltimore. The book was published by Loch Raven Press in 2011.

David was born in 1941. As a peace protester, he was incarcerated at Lewisburg Federal Prison for pouring blood on draft files in 1967. He retired from the criminal justice system in 2010 after 33 years working at the Baltimore City Jail.




A Report from the Front

    To Charles Stine, Maryland environmentalist

The skinks, the newts, the Allegheny hellbender whose range
has shrunk to next to nothing, Chesapeake Bay
That I would put up there beside Maine/California coast - although a gentler beauty -
The shore not of rock, but rather oaks and holly...

Has also been diminished thanks to new pirates -
Same species as John Smith who saw
We lived with bounty, us - homos, not "sapien" but
Homos Unknowing - new pirate: "developers",

Overfish - it's us - just like
The tribes who warred before us - Suspuehannocks, Cecil Calvert...
Squabbling about Kent land - all this history
You were never taught - and so much more to uncover...

You think ELF wrong to blow up radio towers, was anyone hurt?
Let's stand up for the species that were lost today!
Earth Liberation Front! - that's it: spring peepers,tree frogs send
the message in unison - you humans mark "THE END"









road sign

1
driving due east
directly into the early sun
on a flaming sea of
orange glare
and haloed silhouettes

2
vulture circles
overhead
rising with desert
heat
falling between
shadowed canyon walls

3
snake
crosses ahead of me
head swaying
left and right, pulling
its long body
behind,
slowly slithers
behind a boulder
beside the road








story time

the girl
with the ruined
face,
eyes dancing
as she tells
a story

too low
for me to hear
but her
companion
leans forward
almost touching,
listening
intently

I envy his
proximity
and the
air
he shares
with her
smile









chess night at the coffeehouse

the young chess player,
dark hair spiked
and pointing
in every direction,
concedes
to his older,
more experienced
opponent,
shakes hands,
then moves
to the next table,
standing,
arms folded in front
like the young boys
do
who
were in my younger days
called
eggheads
or bainiacs
or some other
dismissive name
that served to define
a particular class of queer,
boys
never at ease with their bodies
whose ineptitude
shame them in their own minds,
making them always ready
for a challenge in the realm
of the mind, a chance to join
other brainiacs around a chess table
where minds could make moves
without the clumsy
interference of
inadequate
flesh













Chinaski faces the end. Charles Bukowski, from The Flash of Lightning Behind the Mountain, published in 2004 by Harper Collins.




my last winter

I see this final storm as nothing very serious in the sight of the world;
there are so many more important things to worry about and to consider.

I see this final storm as nothing very special in the sight of the world
and it shouldn't be thought of as special.
other storms have been much greater, more dramatic.
I see this final storm approaching and calmly
my mind waits.

I see this final storm as nothing very serious in the sight of the world.
the world and I have seldom agreed on most
matters but
now we can agree.
so bring it on, bring on this final storm.
I have patiently waited for too long now.


first poem  back

64 days and nights in that
place, chemotherapy,
antibiotics, blood running into
the catheter
leukemia
who, me?
at age 72 I had this foolish thought that
I'd just die peacefully in my sleep
but
the gods want they're way.
I sit at this machine, shattered,
half alive,
still seeking the Muse,
but I am back for the moment only;
while nothing seems the same
I am not reborn, only
chasing
a few more days, a few more nights,
like
this
one.


Chinaski going down, but still not ready to surrender to regret.

throwing away the alarm clock

my father always said. "early to bed and
early to rise makes a man healthy , wealthy
and wise."

it was light out at 8 pm. in our house
and we were up at dawn to the smell of
coffee, frying  bacon and scrambled eggs.

my father followed this general routine
for a lifetime and died young, broke,
and, I think, not too
wise.

taking note, I rejected his advice and it
became, for me, late to bed and late to rise.

now, I'm not saying I've conquered
the world but I've avoided
numberless early traffic jams, bypassed some
common pitfalls
and have met some strange, wonderful
people.

one of whom
was
myself - someone my father
never
knew









girl at the coffeehouse with friends

she's
self-conscious
about her slight
overbite
and presses her lips
together
over and over

gives her
a little chipmunk
aspect

but when she
smiles
it's like
opening
the curtains
in a sickroom
bringing
sunlit day
to the gloom
and her eyes
pick up that
light
and it dances
above her
smile










Seattle, early morning.




at Starbucks near the mission, 6 A.M.

Smiley

no teeth

bushy gray
mustache
hanging over
his upper
and lower lips

that jumps and dances
when he chews
like a squirrel
flicking his tail
in the crook
of a tree


Slick

short pants
and hiking boots,
in a page boy
cut

straight, gray hair
combed back
to end square
at the nape
of his neck

smooths
his hair
and smiles

a lot


Grover

black man
in a tan
work shirt

sits
in a corner
by himself

and talks
about his mother
and the other women
who screwed him
over

never stops


Steamboat

also saw him
yesterday,
screaming
at people
as they passed

screamed
at me too
a I ate at a sidewalk cafe,
so close
I could see his eyes burn
and the spittle
from his mouth

fucking people
eating, he yelled

fucking people
always
fucking eating


Margie Marie

short
mid-fifties
I'd say,
though
where she's at
it's hard to tell

friendly sort

bums cigarettes
and talks to everyone,
even me

also
has no teeth
so hard to understand,
but if you smile
she'll smile
back


Doc

long white hair
almost to his waist,
thin
and very clean

looks like a
prophet
or a professor
of Latin
studies

asks
everyone
he sees
for a cigarette


Bossman

large
muscular
black man

stays out
on the sidewalk

calls others out
one at a time
to confer,
huddles
with each
outside

serious talk
but nothing
seems
to change


Lyndon

Larouche man

sits on the corner
at a table
with pamphlets

extols
the wisdom
and virtue
of his inspiration

comes in
for coffee
then returns to his table

standing
his post

gonna
make some changes
he says

gonna
be somebody
real soon

kill
all the motherfuckers
been keeping me
down


Patsy

college student
by appearance

assistant
to Lyndon
but more ambitious

he just glowers
as he pushes pamphlets
to people

she follows them
half way down the street,
pleading for dialogue

pleading for attention

validation


Javier

thin man
in a tee-shirt

says he does
specialty work

painting
dry wall
hangs
suspended ceiling
saw a board
drive a nail
wash your car
cut your grass
fuck your sister

(just seeing
if you were paying
attention, he says,
smiling)

but I can

I can do it
all
he says

cheap





















This short poem is by Pulitzer Prize winner Jorie Graham. She lives in Massachusetts and teaches at Harvard University.




Prayer

(From Behind the Trees)

The branchful of dried leaves blows about at the center
of the road, turning on itself is its path:
snake: gray-brown updrafting drama:
whole affair played out between the wind's quiver, wind
dusty haste, an almost  impeccable procedure,
bit of scenery from which all fear
is deleted. So time
is right here where I am peering, where I am supposed to
                                                                           discern,
how the new god walk behind the old gods at the suitable distance







The law has change since I wrote this so that concealment is no longer necessary, a change I favor for reasons explained in the poem.





license to carry

that's what we have
where I live

that means your
normal
everyday
psychotic
whack'o
can carry a gun
as long as they keep it
concealed
and as long as they can pass
a test developed by the NRA
to insure that every
normal
everyday
psychotic
who wants to carry
his own personal
six shooter
can
by god!
buy one at the weapons
and murder store
of their choice

and I think that's
plain stupid

it seems clear to me
that if you're going to let you
normal
everyday
psychotic
whack'o
carry a gun
you don't want the sucker
concealed

instead you oughta wanta be
fuckn' sure they're required
to carry it
right out in plain sight
maybe with a red arrow
point right at it
with flashing neon lights saying
"WHACK'O WHACK'O WHACK'O"
so us regular people can
get out of the way
when we see them
moseying murderously
in our
direction









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the end


































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