City of Slow Water and Beautiful Women   Saturday, March 14, 2020







city of slow water and beautiful women

San Antonio women,
long legs
like liquid cinnamon
flowing,
muscles flexing as they
stroll the Riverwalk, languid like
the soft-shell turtles resting
mid-stream,
triangular heads
breaking
the mirror surface
of dark green water

placid afternoon
on the river's Museum Reach,
large pecan trees
atwitch, squirrels
playing frantic games of chase up and down
wide trunks, across, tree to tree, full-leafed branches
that overhang the river's slow flow, blanketing the rumble
of cars and VIA buses
crossing the St. Mary's Street Bridge,
the summer heat of the city above near-forgotten
to the river-walkers like me and Bella
and those San Antonio women, long legs
under short summer dresses, like liquid cinnamon
flowing, muscles flexing as they walk
beside the quietly moving
water...

```

this city of cinnamon women,
city of multiple revolutions
and many flags, city
where history like its green river
flows slowly through it, this city, already old
when the first July cannons
sounded
half a continent away,
celebrates again on this early July afternoon
with those who came late
to it









A short post. Short because it's a second attempt after accidentally deleting the first attempt just as I was finishing it up.


Me
city of slow water and beautiful women



Me
a while longer



Me
the invisible man at work


Siegfried Sassoon
Golgotha
The Subaltern



Me
dispatches from the time of dinosaurs and broad-leafed plants



Me
Baku express



Virginia Cerenio
the revolutionary



Me
strange time, strange place



Me
fear not, Pancake Queen



Me
if we had pumpkins



Me
moonscape



Helena Mesa
Stasis at Fifteen



Me
the best poem of all










a while longer

I woke at midnight
in the dark of middle night
to the memory of a day
long ago, crossing
a parking lot, holding hands as we always
held hands when walking on a street, or, like
this day, crossing a busy parking lot,
and suddenly his hand felt so large and it seemed
the years of holding his hand must be over,
that he was of an age when that tie
must be broken if he was to take his next step
into manhood

so I took my hand from his
and draped my hand over his shoulder
and we walked that way
until the day when it seemed
time for another step had come...

a sad memory, that moment on that
parking lot, of another bittersweet
passage...

sad that I did not ignore
that impulse,
knowing
now how inevitable are such breaks
and separation and how I wish I had pushed back
against the passage of time, how I wish I had held on
to his hand, even if only for a little while
longer...

learning with age how the best moments in a life
come only once, so many of them I wish
I had held on to, even if only for a little while
longer...

so many moments lost in the years,
sad memories now in the darkest hours of night...










the invisible man at work



a bee
in a stripped suit
hidden among the drooping petals
of a flower

unseen

until a photograph is taken
and studied closely

the bee in the stripped bee
suit
right there,
doing 
his bee-work
for me
and
for you














These two short pieces are by Siegfried Sassoon, from his book, The War Poems, published by faber and faber in 1983.

Sassoon is one of a number of excellent poets who found their poetic voices in the trenches of World War I. Many did not survive the war; Sassoon was one of the lucky ones who did. An English poet, he was born in 1886 and died in 1969.

Both of these poems were written in 1916, from the trenches.




Golgotha

Through darkness curves a spume of falling flares
That flood the field with shallow, blanching light.
     The huddled sentry stares
     On gloom at war with white
     And white receding slow, submerged in gloom.
     Guns into mimic thunder burst and boom,
     And mirthless laughter rakes the whistling night.
The sentry keeps his watch where no one stirs
But the brown rats, the nimble scavengers.

March 1916

Written in trenches. The weather beastly wet and the place was like
the end of the world.


A Subaltern

He turned to me with his kind, sleepy gaze
And fresh face slowly brightening to the grin
That sets my memory back to summer days,
With twenty runs to make, and last man in.
He told me he'd been having a bloody time
In trenches, crouching for the crumps to burst,
While squeaking rats scampered across the slime
And the gray palsied weather did its worst.
But as he stamped and shivered in the rain,
My stale philosophies had served him well;
Dreaming about his girl had send his brain
Blanker than ever - she'd no place in Hell...
"Good God!" he laughed, and slowly filled his pipe,
Wondering why he always talks such tripe."

March 1916

D.C. Thomas killed on March 18. I wrote this about ten days before,
when he had been telling me how my sage advice had helped him
along.









dispatches from the time of dinosaurs and broad-leafed plants

1.
how quaint
this pen and flowing ink thing

will
the inspiration flow
as well
as it flows when electricity couses
in a dry, red stream along that dark wire,
pulling ideas from the dry recesses of sheet rocked walls
where mice and dust bunnies play, pushing the ideas
to my keyboard infecting my fingers
with the electricity of creation, shaking awake
the portions of my mind open to creation, my muse
energized and ready to play
for another
day


2.
approaching downtown
on Interstate-10...

tall buildings
passing through clouds
of light gauze

the sky lowered
to brush the tops
of big-haired ladies
and their Elvis-pomadoured
pimps
settling at the end of shift
for pancakes
at The Pig Stand
on Broadway

long nights
and slow starting days
for the men
and their ladies


3.
intimate
early light

immediate
past-dawn,
vibrant
and clear

the air cleaned
by overnight storms,
not enough to break
the drought, but
chasing from the new day
months of dreary, dry
and vacant

days been nowhere,
going nowhere,
holes
in time
sucking life, leaving for us
only still and sterile
days

a break from all that
this morning

new light infectious
with life


4.
BEDLAM!

crickets cricking
frogs croaking

(the basso profondo call
of bullfrog leader of the pack
ripples the water in the
creek)

rooster from down the street
crowing
and dogs on both sides
barking
and the backyard trees
whispering
in the morning breeze

all life
awake and waiting for the morning to begin
except that single
species
that requires a newspaper
and a pot of coffee at Jim's
(with some first-light sass, Belinda
as she pours out that first cup
of black awakening

that would be me
waiting for my first cup of liquid alert

all that before
the starting pistol can sound...

and even so,
at best only half-awake, still ahead
of the rest of my kind still snug-abed -
waiting or the silence of the morning creatures
to return as they get on with their daily does-its,
shh,
I whisper to Bella, rattling her collar
as we sneak out the front door, eager
to wrap ourselves in the morning bedlam before
the serious silences of day
return

self-aware in our own slow way, and eager for Belinda's morning administration
of coffee-consciousness that will bring us, even in its limited
dawn-orange way,
to the wise-guy antics of another
turn of the universal wheel
of then and now


5.
beginning day six without my computer
and the sands of time
drifting
across the face of
Ozymandias
sinking,
so slowly,
beneath the sands of minutes
turned to hours, sands of Solitaire,
the game of lost minds, trickling
slow card upon slow
card
the sands of time
like the will to live
slowly trickling
waiting
for digital resurrection,
bits and bytes of sand trickling
through my dust-filled
mind









Barku, an invention of mine, 10 words on 6 lines in the spirit of the haiku. The source of the invention, a need to write down a poem before I lost it in my mind when the only paper to write on was a bar napkin.



barku express

night
an envelope
closed
around me -
marked, "return
to sender"

```

parked bus
rumbles
in the dark,
writing,
my
first poem

```

crossing
the continental divide -
soft snow
drifting, first
snowball
fight

```

walking -
university
to downtown -
snow,
falling cold,
soft angels touching

```

homes carved
in cliffs,
fires, cold
relics,
deserted -
all lost

```

Indian boys
replay Bighorn
revenge -
flatten grass
over
Custer's grave

```

distant
mountains -
white on blue
like clouds
cresting -
first snow

```

dog pees
intently,
doesn't see
rabbits
in the brush
watching

```

journey ends
for the day -
dog snores,
dreams
rabbits -
running














This poem is by Virginia R. Cerenio, a second-generation Filipino-American whose work has appeared in numerous publications. The poem is from her book, Trespassing Innocence. It was published by Kearny Street Workshop Press in 1989.




the revolutionary

he had just returned after a long time
gone to photograph the revolution
how to overthrow a dictator
told in black & white pictures
the streets of maynila breathe quietly now
but still he struggles through life
whether to love his art          his woman        his children       his country
when each consumes another waking moment
and his dreams too
i asked how the revolution really was
his eyes filled with tears like moonless lakes
for the wife still fighting in the hills
for the newborn child left behind
for the little girl calling "daddy, daddy, where are you?
where did you go?"
in his face the revolution has taken on flesh and heartaches
even his photographs could not capture
the battle continues for the delicate balance of his soul









strange time, strange place

damp
jungle smell
at 5 a.m.

before
the sun rises
to burn it off in desert fire

until then
dank dark wraps tight
around me

a black shape
skitters
through the tree tops

strange time, strange
place, jungle
morning before the burn









fear not, Pancake Queen

a rectangular
box...

press a button
and watch a pancake

slowly extrude itself
from one end of the box

crepe thin
and moderately tasty

but Aunt Jemima should fear not
the effect

of Holiday Inn
on her pancake empire









if we had pumpkins

if we had pumpkins
there'd be frost on the pumpkins
this morning...

but we don't have pumpkins

instead
we have the wide stretch of close-cut grass
alongside Apache Creek, frosted like a silver ribbon
along the green, slow-moving water
reflecting the holiday package of
bright blue morning sky...

Christmas morning
in the hills of Central Texas,
ho ho ho's echoing
ridge to
ridge









moonscape

Peshawar to
Kabul

mountains
high and bare

our small DC-3
struggles

as highest peaks
pass below within

arm's reach it seems
from my window seat

life below,
if there is such

must be harsh
and hard

with hard people
harsh and unforgiving

to those who intrude
without invitation...

not to be
messed with

as centuries
of armies and great generals

have learned - from Alexander
to even now, ourselves

ruing the lesson -

if you decide you must fight here

make sure you have
the merciless moonscape mountains

on your side

(flying over the Hindu Kush, April, 1969)

















This poem is by Helena Mesa from her book, Horse Dance Underwater, published by Cleveland State University Poetry Center in 2009.

Mesa was born and raised in Pittsburgh to Cuban parents. She holds an M.F.A. from the University of Maryland and a Ph.D. from the University of Houston. She is an assistant professor of English at Albion College.




Stasis at Fifteen

Mid-August, a steady heat hemlocks.
Boats float on water too deep for crabbing
and when you dive, ripples broaden
but the boats remain still. In the distance a radio
cites today's news, same as yesterday -
another hijacked tourist, another heat record.
What's changed? At eight, the want to flee?
At ten, the restlessness for something else?

Dusk, row to the canal's mouth where
stillness ends in a darkness too large
for hands to steer. There, salt laps the air,
a gauze rag that scratches cheeks and gags
the buoy's clangs. Stop. Tie down each oar.
What you want will come, swallow you whole.












the best poem of all

a morning in which
everything worked and I've finished
my breakfast
and thinking about my poem for the day
and it's still dark
and the moon is still
high on the horizon, big and round
and bright,
the kind of early morning sight
that encourages reports
of alien spacecraft
that turn out to be weather balloons...

alien spacecraft
hovering
in a dark morning sky,
high above the horizon,
round and bright,
white light
against the black night

what a great poem
that would be...

maybe
tomorrow
even better...

abducted,
taken into the alien spaceship
hovering,
white on black,
taken to a far shining galaxy
of planets whirling
and twirling,
an honored
visitor,
to be inducted
into the all-universe-all-star-poet's
hall of fame,
a grand interstellar
convocation and trade show
where my books
are  bought and sold
like the ever-glowing
jewels
I know they are...

now
that, indeed,
would make the best poem
of all












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Poetry

New Days & New Ways


Places and Spaces 






Always to the Light




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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