Poets on Every Street Corner   Monday, December 30, 2019







poets on every street corner

I was going
to write a poem

about what I would do
if I could run the world

but
sitting here now

I realize
I don't know what to do

either

except
I'd like to see rain

every Thursday
and sunshine and blue skies

the rest of the week
except

in the winter
when there should be snow

and  blue skies
and children skating

on iced over ponds
and cows in the fields

blowing clouds
through their noses

and palm trees on beaches
for those who don't like

shade
and big waves for the surfers

and clear, clean streams
slow moving

between tall green trees
for us who prefer to float

and people learning to shake off
bad times

like dogs shaking off wet.
a big shake

beginning with flapping ears
passing on down to big

shimmy shakes
of their rear

and no icky things
in dark corners

no snakes
and no spiders and no

poison lizards
or animals who like to eat

people

and no fatherless children
or old people

rotting in isolation
and inattention

and no on dying
of diseases they couldn't afford to

cure
and no backaches or migraines

or rashes
in hide-away places

and no people who eat too much
or people who never get to eat enough

as much as they need
and no drunkards or drug addicts

or gangsters
who shoot children from their cars

and no priests, preachers, ayatollahs,
rabbis or any other parasite on the human soul...

instead
poets on every street corner

proclaiming truth and love and silly songs
for all who will listen

and people who will listen to all the poets
on all the street corners

and return their love
and maybe throw money









Here's what's here.


Me
poets on every street corner

Me
angels among us

Me
waking to the passing time

Michael Anania
Nightsongs & Clamors I-VI

Me
one scary dude

Me
Saturday afternoon at the supermarket

Bharat Shekhar
Dissolving the Sanity

Me
on the porch at Espuma

Me
ring tones

Philippe Jaccottet
April, 1962
May, 1962

Me
hung over










Poem of a moment




angels among us

sun
like a sword
slashing
the curtain
of smoke and dark

people at tables
between me and the sun
like
haloed
silhouettes









waking to the passing time

waking
to the whisper snore
of my dog beside my bed,
the soft cuddle warmth
of my kitten
climbing into bed
to lie soft against my back

waking
to the bright chill
pf a blue-sky morning,
birds in the tree by my kitchen window
shaking off the winter cold, fluffing their feathers,
turning toward the sun

waking
to the pretty young women
in a pretty young woman meeting
at the coffeehouse,
creatures of morning bright
together, gathering in the glimmer
of raised expectations

all
this
allowing me to forget
for a minute
that I have outlived my world,
making do now with memories
no one else remembers

that is how it is, I suppose,
to be old,
life in a bubble
as a new and unforgiving world
flashes by,
foreign
and disinterested in the sweetness
of the world I have
survived













This poem is by Michael Anania. It is the title poem from his newest book, Nightsongs & Clamors, published by Mad Hat Press in 2018.

Anania is a poet, essayist and fiction writer whose published works include 13 collections of poetry. He is widely anthologized and translated into Italian, German, French, Spanish and Czech. He is Professor Emeritus of English at the University of Illinois at Chicago and a member of the faculty in writing at Northwestern University. He splits his time between the shores of Lake Michigan and Austin where he is an acquaintance of my son, Chris. When Chris mention to him that I was also a poet of sorts, he sent to me via Chris a signed copy of the book.




Nightsongs & Clamors I - VI

I.
and if I tried
     and did try
          there is still no
code I can find
     in the sound
          of the brittle leaves
the live oaks
     are dropping
          this March night,
a rasp not quite
     like breath of song
          a kind of absence
milled from loss,
     a game perhaps;
          we hide an d seek,
press our faces
     toward sleep, the day
          still hissing in our ears

II.
a drop forge, its
     rhythms beat out
          the long night's labor,
the flash at the die's
     edge, its remnant
          dawn chipped away,
beam crane and gantry,
     before 4 and 4:05 a.m.
          the clock slows and slows
"I wish I may, I wish
     I might" see the sun
          streak the gray skylight,
hear nothing for just
     for just a while, listen
          for my self returning

III.
       for Maureen Hunter

at 24th and Lake Street
     Maureen, music heralded
          the night - Joe Turner,
Ruth Brown, The Drifters,
     Little Walter and Otis Rush -
          "all night, all night long,"
something caught there,
     the moment swaying;
          you are, all at once,
aware of your breathing,
     its measured rise and fall,
          the streetcar tracks like
a stream you can not
     cross, should not cross
          overhead, the trolley wires
spit out arcs of light;
     they linger in your
          eyes and bite into your tongue;
red neon melts into
     the damp air, sputters
          and hums along, sin
like a chorus, one promise
     after another, Dixie Peach,
          high-hat and drumhead pulsing

IV.
"are we alone? and here?
     and here alone?" Rameau's
          consoling symmetries,
residual city light,
     its ingathering ash;
          night is a space, a precinct
of self we curl into;
     things rush past us, spin
          away like corn stubble,
fallow fields the highway
     reels past us, constellations
          distance holds in place;
what shall I wish for?
     "pleasant dreams," she says,
          reaching for the light

V.
to find a pathway
     through a field of doubt,
          one measure at a time,
determined as crystal,
     perhaps, or as unlikely
          as signs; guide me now,
Calliope, heel and toe,
     a step in prelude, words
          and weather persuade us,
move the night along;
     sparks our eyes flash
          against the darkness;
empty is its own space
     defined by what surrounds
          it, tremors and memory

VI.
voices splinter against
     brickwork like shells, first
          tumbled and polished, then
shattered; sirens we know
     by heart coil and strike, elms
          flail serrated leaves here
and there, "mercy" someone
     cries, "have mercy," rain
          like a chorus, tree locusts,
the pavement's breath slow
     and uncertain, "lord, lord,
          I don't know what's gonna
make everything alright";
     one wheel on the mobile
          stretcher, clattering by










one scary dude

like a refugee
from a Scorsese movie,
third thug from the left, the one
with the tommy gun, shined black shoes,
dark suit. grey tie, silk handkerchief, purple,
cragged face like the hard face of Mont Etna,
hair the color of blackest coal, combed
back in a widow's peak, eyes just as black,
a red reflection in the corner of his eye, and
intense as Vesuvius about to blow,
his head down, square jaw close to the table
as he talks in whispers to his coffeehouse
companion his voice near inaudible
in a sibilant hiss...

a business meeting...

whatever he's selling,
I'm buying









Saturday afternoon at the supermarket

pretty young woman,
dark like a movie gypsy,
tangled black hair,
shoulder length, falling
across the left side of her face,
and, under the ebony hair,
dark eyes,
black
as a stormy night, intent,
as if unseen lightning
flashed
behind shadow eyes
like a dusky laser
that seemed to flare
as we pass
and the air between us
smells of ozone
scorched
by the heat...

I am both shaken
and stirred













Here's another poem and fantastic doodle are from my poet-friend Bharat Shekhar.

Unfortunately Bharat's country is suffering from the same problems as our own. This poem, a political protest, has much to say about our own country. Important they are especially his final lines

Their utter insanity
lies in the unshakable faith
that they alone are sane.
And once we can shake that,
this sanity of the insane,
this insanity of the sane
shall indeed end.


Dissolving That Sanity

Our madmen
no longer tilt at windmills.
No. they are the mills
with burning wings
of imprisoned butterflies
turning round and round
to make the winds catch fire.
Our madmen
can crack open continents
like eggs,
and imprison their own countries
by tying down borders barbed with hate.
They can drive a stake
through their own hearts
to exorcise from them
the impure blood of the other,
turn their eyes into searchlights
and surveillance cameras,
so that they can hunt down the "unfaithful".
Ah, these madmen
can cast aside their own leg
because it wants to walk
in another direction.
They preside over
a mad melee of fingers
of hands at war with each other.
Diving deep
into the well of hatred,
they turn the "Persian" wheel
over and over again,
to irrigate the land with blood,
even as the earth cracks open
its intestines with hunger and famine,
even as greed grabs
everything,
even as jackboots
perform the usual routine
that jackboots do
to stomp over rebellion
of hungry bellies.

II

But look, LOOK
the flower of love
crosses the boundaries of hate,
and the ass
carrying the bathtub of the madmen
is beginning to arch its back
as its belly feel the burn of hunger.
Soon it will tilt
then back into the dark abyss
from whence they emerged

III

That is the hope,
the true hope.
For it tells us
That our madmen are not mad.
If they were,
they would be far more sane.
No. Their utter insanity
lies in the unshakable faith
that they alone are sane.
And once we can shake that,
this sanity of the insane,
this insanity of the sane
shall indeed end.








on the porch at Espuma


I'm sitting on the porch
at Espuma on South Alamo,
enjoying my coffee and
sweet potato empanada,
watching the early traffic,
a few cars, a delivery truck
on its way to the mercado
a few blocks north of here,
school kids in their uniforms,
tan pants, white shirts,
heavy backpacks swinging
first form one arm
then the other, morning walkers
with their dogs, poop bags
at the ready, big dogs, little dogs,
expensive dogs, registered
pure bred with long names
that sound like they belong
to the illegitimate offspring
of deposed Polish royalty...


it's a good neighborhood,
one of the city's oldest,
with royal Polish dogs and
yuppies, poop-free sidewalks
and kids going to school, and
here and there, the old men
and women, the abuelos and
abuelitas, who made this
neighborhood after the Germans
and before redevelopment

all this
under a blue sky
and a light north wind
that has blown away
the past godawful summer
so it's like the air is born-again,
like the religious people say,
the past gone, denied, forgotten,
forgiven, and a new beginning
with this clear light and clean sky
and even someone like me
wants to say, thank you god,
for this day and as many more
like it as you will allow this
old sinner and non-believer


and I'm thinking this
when the little waitress, Allie,
brings my change, seven dollars
and forty-eight cents, and I think,
what a great life it is to sit here
in this beautiful morning
and drink coffee and eat pan dulce
while people bring me money
and say thank you for being here
and be sure to come back tomorrow










ring tones

little man
on a cellphone
advertises
with booming voice
there is more to him
than appears

```

business suit
charcoal gray
pin stripped
red neck tie
on pristine white shirt
whispers
to himself
as he picks
at his Blackberry
with a plastic
stylus

I read his lips,
"beam me up, Scottie"

I swear

```

two girls
on the sofa
under the Starbucks sign
each with cellphone
talking
each in private
conversation
ignoring the other

it's only as I pass
I realize
they are talking
to each other

```

fat woman
in a pink jogging suit

two kids
one on each
tree stump leg

receiver
on her walkie-talkie phone
set to maximum loud
public address system
mode so that man
on the other end
echoes across the store
like a sonic boom
and she yells back
sure, I guess
that he's as deaf
as she

```

woman behind me
at a high school band concert
talks on her cellphone,
taking calls and making calls
all the way through the hour and a half
concert, Wagner, Sibelius, Sousa,
Hindemith, Joplin and all the rest
less interesting than her girlfriend's
report on the new hairdresser

and the concert ends
and the children come out
to meet their parents
and she tells her child
as they leave, good work, she says,
you were really good

I'm so glad I came













Last for this post from my library I have two prose poems by Philippe Jaccottet, taken from his book, Seedtime, Extracts from the Notebooks 1954-1967. The book is a New Directions Book published in 1971. The book is the first version translated into English, with different translators for the prose and poetry portions. The translator for the sections below was Andre Lefevere.

After his work first began to appear in 1947, Jaccottet published six volumes of poetry, two of criticism, three if prose poetry like this one, and several translations from German.

The books is organized by years and months of years. I chose 1962 at random, and from that year two months at random.




1962

April

     Monument to the impossible. The best of yourself given,
to total loss, to what will never be obtained.

     Flowers of the peach tree given to the bees of fire.

     No more turning away: go back like a whip to its mark.
Looks, words like whips.

     From the coals of the night, on the black branches of the
night, that  blossoming, that pink grace, and soon after the
humming bees of the day.

     Let whoever wants to, recognize what is most beautiful in
the world in this heraldic scene - what man discovers when
insomnia wakes him at the end of the night - and what lifts
him later, like a wing, above himself.


May

     Rain on thousands of leaves and what burns deep down
in man. Fire, twisting.

     Eight o'clock. At night. Above the chestnut trees laden
with flowers, above those perfumes, those emanations, that
agitation, that activity, the surprising  blue of heaven, luminous
and dark at the same time, profoundly blue, much bluer than
during the day, and the clouds with their blinding domes.

     Also that water running in the earth, right in the sun;
memory of a mountain stream. Water, and its facets, its blades
or scales of sun. Its clues. Burying its mirrors.









hung over

I have the kind
of hang over that comes
from sleeping too well and waking
before you're done

and the day
outside,
dark and deadened
reflects my mood and mental condition

winter

morning slightly above or below freezing
for the past couple of days -

but the kind of winter
we have in these parts
which give no clue from the inside
that it's freezing cold outside...

I've lived places
where you look out your window
in late December
and see the snow and see the icicles
hanging from your eaves
and know,
damn,
it's cold out there

hell,
ain't' no way I'm going out in that,
you say to your dog,
itching
for a walking

instead
I'm outside in the normal-looking morning
walking my dog
at 5 a.m.

north wind
bitter cold on my face,
making my eyes burn and my nose run
fingers like popsicle sticks
in inadequate gloves,
wanting to walk, walk, walk and go home
while the dog wants to stop, stop, stop and sniff
at every bush, every tree, every crack in the sidewalk,
all the very same places she's stopped and sniffed
every morning for the past two weeks...

but she's a good dog and I am
a good master
so I just pretend there's drifts of snow all around
and I knew what I was getting into
when I stepped out the door
this morning...

at least I'm hoping
the cold will cure my sleep-leadened
hangover
so I can face the day anew
as the human I know
deep down
I am










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City of Slow Water and Beautiful Women
Discussing the True Nature of Things with My Dog
So Much For the End of the World
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