Discussing the True Nature of Things with My Dog   Saturday, February 22, 2020

discussing the true nature of things with my dog

the true nature of things
with my dog
on a brisk winter's day

I find she and I have
only a few areas of agreement
but in those areas our agreement is
intense, like, for example,
the issue of birds' nests hanging
high and alone at the tops
of winter-bare trees, which to both
of us is a lonely sight, yet equally a sign
of hope, for though the home
is vacant during theses months, it remains,
waiting for the spring and spring's
new chicks, hanging there in their
bushy bed, protected and fed by their mother,
singing, preparing them for their life's first flight

dog and I both see life lessons
in the empty nest and the certainty
that in their time they will be filled again
with new life, persistent life, coming
again in good time, not deterred by
the difficulties of a passing season...

dog knows that while there may not be
a soup bone today, the power that governs all
is preparing her bone for tomorrow, that is her lesson
taken from today's empty nests,
for me, I am reminded that tomorrow
is not yet lost,
only waiting for me to find it,
to fill it again with
like a mother bird coaching
flight out  of her chicks,
like her chicks, finding  the courage
to take mother's advice to defy
the seemingly insurmountable force of
gravity, to confront the inertia of fear and
soar among the high clouds
according to creations grand

A short post, coming pretty soon after the last one.

Here's what I have.

discussing the true nature of things with my dog

other trails, other times and places

a girl-child plays in a summer park

Ntozake Shange
just as the del vikings stole my heart

just like my first girlfriend

it's cold

James Fenton

lunatics - a short morning inventory

nimbus moon

David Eberhardt
Like a Steady Sense of Shining

tender is the night

dust to dust to dust

about the great poets of our day

Virgil Suarez
Song to the Sugarcane 

praying for rain

other trails, other times and places

there is a science fiction
that our life
is just one of many
in alternate

that for the me that is here
there are hundreds,
thousands, even
of me in those other times
and other places

a different
for each of the thousands of intersections
in life
where one decision, large or small, was made
over another

(even the smallest have
consequences when extended through time
unforeseen and often later

one of those other versions of me
might be happily married to that high school
sweetheart, the romance that in this life
fell apart the first time we were not
together daily...

and in other lives
I might have spoken my mind and heart
to the girl in Baltimore
our separate planes
returned us to separate places,
in those lives
I would not have stayed silent
as she walked away

I suspect there are a lot of lives
where I am a military
that choice, in this life,
was a close one...

or I might be a thief, a
clumsy cat bugler,
spending my years mostly
behind the bars
of bad choices on a rocky path...

or a bum,
drunk and homeless,
sleeping under a cardboard tent
on mean city streets - I can see
that life easily, victim of ill-serving
chance and my own dim-witted
choices, the alternative as plausible
as the life I have here, today...

in many lives, it is likely
I was never a husband, and in many of those,

even those here and now it most defines me
in life,
never a father...

all those other lives
in places I have never been,
will never visit -

including many lives where I am long dead,
other lives where I will die
and even other lives
where I was never born
and never will be,

blank lines in the alternate
universe of me...


life is a path
through a dense forest,
the only path between
the trees that surround us,
passing all the other paths
that branch out along the way,
trails not taken
in this life,
in this science fiction fancy
as real as the one I walk

a girl-child plays in a summer park

a girl-child
with long braided hair
and deep violet
runs in a park
blowing soap bubbles,
a stream of soap bubbles
caught by the wind,
blowing through the trees

there is your true god

a pretty girl-child
blowing bubbles, each bubble
a universe let fly by winds of chance,
one bubble yours
and mine
where we sleep...

and unaware of all sharp edges
in the matraverse
in which our god runs, blowing
translucent universe
watching them drift in the wind,
watching them pop
as harsh and unwelcoming
space and time
finds them

arbiters of order,
all the mechanics of space
and time, hostile
to such free and open flying

This poem is by Ntozake Shange, taken from her book, Wild Beauty/Belleza Salvaje. The book was published in 2017 by 37INK. It is a bilingual book, Spanish and English on facing pages, with translation by Alejandro Alvarez Nieves. It is not clear to me in which language the poems were originally written.

Shange, was born Paulette Williams into a upper middle-class African American family. Her father was an Air Force surgeon and her mother a psychiatric social worker. Cultural icons such as Dizzie Gillespie, Miles Davis, and W.E.B. DuBois were regular guests in her home. She is a playwright and poet and identifies herself as a black feminist.

just as the del vikings stole my heart
(for auntie emma)

my fairy godmother retired
with the brown vs. ferguson decision
and she reasoned I waz divested of my separate
but equal status & waz entitled
to whatever lil white girls got
from wherever they got it from
since she waz raised in greener pastures
& knew the devil only in the blues saw-dust
of a raunchy dawn/a cruel dance on the edge of a dime
so she retired/
she waznt about to miscegenate her powers/
integrate em either
leaving me fend for myself

i felt her absence from the moment she escaped
with my love of who i am/conjure myself
thru catcalls & mailbox cherry bombs was not my forte
i learned only by breaking the law/
                     i am separate
                     i am equal
i live my own lil rock/
cover my own back anywhere i wanna go
& i go anywhere i want
crackers are born with the right to be alive
i am making mine up
right here in your face
                      why don't you
                         go on
& push me

just like my first girlfriend

my liberation box
is tight around me today...

feels like I should be doing something
that isn't this...

a drive to the coast, or a slow dance on dusty country roads
or a jaunt
out west, Hondo, Uvalde
maybe all the way
to Del Rio...

or stay at home,
do those things I've  been avoiding
all summer -

fence to repair, the volunteer oak
up front, couple of feet tall now, too close
to the house, perfect place
for it out back
with my other volunteers...

but I'm stuck in idle,
motor running
but going nowhere but here
in the parking garage of good

dead time...

and I hate dead time,
too old for dead time, time too precious
to waste, but brain too clogged
with not-now, not-today, next week, maybe-tomorrow
to figure out what to do with it...

everything sounds great
until the first step
is called

and it's just too damn
hot to take the call...

but that's just an excuse

real reason
is my brain waves have gone flat

like yesterday afternoon

black clouds on the horizon,
the calm before the
the storm
told us to fuck off
and went east
instead of south

a lot like my first serious girlfriend
back in 1962

it's cold

I fight the coming
of this day,
no promise
to it

things to do
I don't want done,
especially not by me

but it's a cold


goddamn it's

This is by James Fenton. It's taken from his book, Children in Exile - Poems 1968-1984. The book was published by Farrar Straus Giroux in 1994.

Fenton is an English poet born in 1949. He was educated at Oxford where he won the Newdighate Prize for Poetry. He worked as a political and literary journalist on the New Statesman and was for a while a freelance reporter in Indochina and spent a year in Germany working for the Guardian. At the time this book was first published in Britain in 1983 he was theater critic for London Sunday Times.


This is the wind, the wind in a field of corn.
Great crowds are fleeing from a major disaster
Down the long valleys, the green swaying wadis,
Down through the beautiful catastrophe of wind.

Families, tribes, nations and their livestock
Have heard something, seen something. An expectation
Of a giant misunderstanding has swept over the hilltop
Bending the ear of the hedgerow with stories of fire and sword.

I saw a thousand years pass in two seconds.
Land was lost, languages rose and divided.
This lord went east and found safety
His brother sought Africa and a dish of aloes.

Centuries, minutes later, one might ask
How the hilt of the sword wandered so far from the smithy.
And somewhere they will sing: "Like chaff we were borne
In the wind." This is the wind in a field of corn.

lunatics - a short morning inventory

ovoid moon
behind a lacy curtain
of thin, translucent clouds

a lunatic bird
sings all alone
at the roundabout...

a lone cowboy
limps in through the door

sharp-toed boots
a hat with a silver band
and a mustache
thick and

settles slowly
in his chair, like a good cowboy
takes off his hat
and stores it under his chair

like the bird
he would prefer
to be alone, howling
at the night sky
as it slips away to another

he welcomes the ovoid moon
with a smile
and a sip
of morning sarsaparilla...

hard-faced woman
across the room, once a beauty,
now a mask of cold indifference,
glares at her eggs,
has no interest in an ovoid moon
even as it stirs the tide

of her discontent...

fella in the corner booth,
fingers a-fly
on his laptop keyboard
as his coffee goes cold

another solitary lunatic,
obsessed with
and ovoid moons

nimbus moon

half moon
so bright thin clouds
appear to pass
behind it

thicker clouds come
to swallow it
like a cat swallows a small bird

dark cloud
laced around by a halo
of bright half moon

morning sky

This piece is by my poet-friend David Eberhardt, taken from his book, blue running lights, published in 2017 by Abcedareian Books.

David lives in Baltimore where he is an activist on many issues and a proud Radical. I am a committed Practical, so we joust often on many issues. It is my opinion I usually win, though I have not solicited his opinion on the matter.

Like a Steady Sense of Shining

My lover approaches
Kind of a Eastern woods
A Buckeye
A meister, e.g.
Texture de meerschaum,
Wings the color of
Dusk in limes, cocoa,
Mahogany burnished,
A roan color
With great blue spots
Changing color like breathing
From dusk blue to light purple

I am deeply
Moved how your
Cunt seats
Just a pinch but
So deeply,
Like a bell,
Breasts deep also,
Tilting forward
Quit a little.

Now I'm walking
In pine woods
Silver before
That old shed smell.
The butterfly
Another brand new lover.
Like that trail head
Down into
Haleakela crater, or
On its ridge,
Silverswords, past
Timberline, cloud line even,
Then the descending
Just that bright
And that cold.

tender is the night

fine curls
wherein nestle
the most tender
lips and within their fold,
the pearl,
delicate, peach-pink and waiting
its perfect mate, a lover's
like a butterfly, nectar full,
silken wings

dust to dust to dust

wind howling
outside the car

sand popping
against our windows
like tiny fingers tapping,
blowing across the highway
thick as mid-winter fog
on a Gulf coast morning

fly in front of us and behind
like prickly missiles
shot from somewehre
in Iowa or Kansas

a big one,
the size of a small car
rushing at us broadside,
tossed airborne,
right over the top of us,
on side to the other...

(Texas Panhandle, March 1981)

about the great poets of our day

I have read the great poets
of the day
and it seems that
to achieve such greatness,
one must live in a place with cool summers,
snowy winters, sandy beaches, full moons thirty-one days a month,
a derelict past and at least five dogs and four
cats, wait, not cats, that's Facebook now poetry where you have to have cats,
and your dogs should be large with long ears
and mournful bown eyes and intense affection
for your presence.

I guess that's not much of a positive outlook
for me among the gtreat poets of our day
since I have to do with only one dog
and none of the rest

but my dog truly is a wonderful dog,
worthy of any five
of the great poets' dogs,
and, as such
may be all I need to acheive the lower levels
in the pantheon of the maybe someday when pigs fly
great poets or our day

This poem is by Virgil Suarez from Burnt Sugar - Cana Quemada, an anthology of contemporary Cuban Poetry.

The book was published in 2006 by Free Press.

Suarez was born in Havana in 1962, He moved to Spain in 1970 and lived there for four years before moving to Florida where he lived when this book was published. He has published four collections of poetry and four novels.

Song to the Sugarcane

At Publix today with my daughters
I spotted the green stalks of sugarcane,

tucked under the boxed Holland tomatoes,
ninety-eight cents a stalk. I grabbed three

left and brought them home. My daughters
born in the United States, unlike me, stand

in the kitchen in awe as I take the serrated
knife and peel away the hard green layer

exposing the fibrous white, pure slices,
"Here," I say, "nothing is ever as sweet as this."

We stand in the kitchen and chew slices
of sugarcane as I tell at hem this was my candy

when I was a kid growing up in Havana,
this was the only constant sweetness

in my childhood. The delicious, sweet stalk.
You chew on a piece to remember how

to love what you can't have all the time.

praying for rain


black clouds
turning in swirly

rain all around
but none where I am or where I've been
or where I'm going

if this is what they mean
by a personal
relationship with
God, I think I understand...

he never did like me
so much

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