Hard Times   Thursday, May 14, 2020






A  poem from previous hard times, the Texas oil patch, 1986.

I see what's going on today and have an itch to help because I know most of the people working on the problem have never had to deal with such as this. There are lots of us old guys who have and who know shit these new guys don't. But time for us has run out and the best we can do is watch from the sidelines





hard times


i read
in the papers this morning
about the guy
who killed his wife
and all five of his kids,
the oldest,
a girl,
just 10, a two sets of twins,
the youngest 2

hard times...

hard times, i’ve seen
hard times and stories like this
before

the oil bust
of 1986
when a whole industry
disappeared, unemployment rates
in some South Texas counties
up to 30 percent or more

Houston
high-fliers
selling all their toys,
their sports cars and limos,
their boats, their million dollar houses,
custom shot guns and hunting leases
in the brush and cactus chaparral

(he who dies with the most toys
wins - that had been the life for many)

suddenly,
rich
now poor,
all the toys gone,
living in a one bedroom apartment
on the wrong side
of the wrong place,
driving
a 73 Ford Fairlane,
engine
missing every third stroke,
bumper in the rear near dragging,
rear windows permanently up
or down,
stuck in whatever position
last passed,
side mirror
dangling on the passenger side,
living on Big Macs, hold the fries,
wife gone, kids gone,
adios loser, they might as well
have said,
looking for any kind of job,
willing to flip those Big Mac
patties if nothing else,
but all the burger flipper jobs
taken by kids and old people,
no one wants to hire a ex-rich man
who might still have dreams

and the others
never rich, but always steady,
working the same job since they
dropped out of high school, taken to the job
by their father or their uncle
or a neighbor who vouched for them,
got them hired on,
never done anything else,
never thought of doing anything else,
fifty years old, never out of work,
never had to look for a job
never understood the gut-
paralyzing desperation
of true desperation,
of no prospects,
no options,
no chance,
no way
Jose

hard time...

back again















Here and Now

Hard Times

Herenow.7beats.com



Me



hard times



deep thoughts to be thunk in 2020



a so, so serious man



little Tom Boy’s balls



on the death of a patron and friend



six white-haired men







Charles Simic



Howl (updated)







Me



Reading Li Po



6X6X10





Charles Harper Webb



Perspective





Me



Peas in our time





Semyon Kirsanov



Mayakovski Has Gone







Me



soup of the day



what we do until we can think about sex again





herenow.7beats.com











deep thoughts to be thunk in 2020

dedicated to all the deep thinkers at "National Review," "Weekly Standard" and the like as well as all those deep thinkers formerly occupying high levels of government and currently seeking to hock their MAGA caps.

as with many people
I like to think deep
thoughts
about things I know
nothing
about

an explanation,
some might say,
as to why
all
the world’s problems
I solved
last year are back on the table
today

balderdash,
as we
deep-thinkers like to say

obviously
the world wasn’t paying
adequate attention

meaning
I’m just going to have to
deep-think
louder in

2021











a so, so serious man


man
in the corner
reading a book
under broad leaves
of a banana
plant

moves
his lips, nods
his head, smiles

amazingly
clever writer
it must be
to agree so completely
with this man as to bring a
smile
to his face,
this face
that carries no lines of
frequent
good humor

to make him laugh,
this
so, so serious man,
must require
a master
of the writer’s art

or maybe i am
mistaken
and he is really a clown,
this man
in the corner
reading
under broad leaves
of a banana plant
laughing
at the pretensions
of all the so, so serious
men












little TomBoy’s balls



trapping the cats
was less of a problem
than i expected - seems
even the smartest of them
are suckers for
tuna

the easy part,
i thought,
would be dropping them off
at the spay and neuter clinic
but it turned out to be the day’s
challenge, instead, standing
for two hours in a line
of mostly dogs
mostly interested
in what was going on
inside my three
cat cages full of feral cat, Mama Cat
and her two kittens,
sister Billie Goat and brother Tom-Boy


back at the facility on Laredo St.
at 4 p.m. - about a 20-minute trip
extended to 45 minutes because
of a truck afire on the interstate -
but Mama and the kids were ready
to go, though still a little dopey
from the anesthesia when
i got them home and treated them
to a cup of water and a bite
of premium cat food, $1.79 per
miniscule can

then they slept the
rest of the day
in their little towel-covered cages,
a dark and quiet refuge from the
bright lights
and sharp knives
of the day

relating this story to guests
at dinner in the evening,
they were all aghast
when i mentioned that
when “fixing” feral cats
the practice is to snip off
the tip
of one ear
so that they can be recognized
by animal control people
and others
as a neutered cat that, by ordinance,
is not subject to capture and
euthanasia

what a horrible thing
to be doing to these cats,
they all said,
bloodlust
and barbarism
they all said, and
it was then that i realized
that the feminists had won,
that, while it was now
ok in our society to slice off
little Tom-Boy’s
balls,
clipping
the tip of one of his ears
was a mark
of the callous infamy
of our male-dominated
world









Two short poems from the same funeral.




on the death of a patron and friend

a man
in constant
motion

hard
to think of him as
still





six white-haired men

six
white-haired men
stand around the pit

watch the box
as it is lowered into the hole

think of their friend
and wonder

whose box is next

ahhh, the humanity
















This poem is by Charles Simic, Pulitzer Prize winner, from his book Jackstraws, published by Harcourt in 1999.

Simic was born in 1938 in Belgrade and emigrated to the U.S. in 1954. Recipient of many awards, including the Pulitzer Prize, he lived in New Hampshire at the time of publication of this book.















howl (updated)



did you see
the pictures of the guy
with an assault rifle
at one of Obama’s town hall
meetings?

somewhere in hell,
Lee Harvey Oswald is really
pissed
that his timing was so bad

had his murderous little self
been out on his assassinating way
today
he could have saved cab fare
to the book depository

there being any number
or right-wing Republicans
eager to give him a ride
so as to insure his right
to bear arms
is not compromised

have to protect our rights,
you know

presidents -

well, hell, we can always
get another one of those








I'm thinking he could have said this in 12 words instead of 2 pages. Another reason he's counted among the greats and I'm not and never will be.




reading Li Po


simple poems,
plain language,
celebrating
the joy
of being human

no
grand pronouncements,
no puzzles,
no
bullshit

just the way i like it

each poem
proof
that we haven't
changed so much
over the past thousand
years; that
there is a common thread
stretched through the past
that will continue to stretch with us
into the future - this string
of the all of us extending
through our collective existence,
providing sustenance
to this spirit not directed
to supernatural
reassurance
that,
though created
by the same long line
of accidents
that created all
the other creatures of our planet,
something happened to us,
some special accident that
could have happened to the
elephant or the sand shark
or the mosquito or the toad
or to any of the other creatures
who live or have shared
this earthly space with us,
but happened to us instead

and made us special

not because we were the special
creation of some higher power,
not because it was within us alone
to rise from the ooze
and separate from all the others
who did not

but only because some primitive
predecessor
happened to be at the right place
at the right time

leaving us to find, like Li Po,
a humble joy
in the celebration
of our creation









Some Barku, my own invention, 10 words on 6 lines in the spirit of the Haiku.




6X6X10


thin girl
sweeps
dark hair
curls
across shy
brown shoulders

~~~~~~

dreams lost
remembered
as a dread
feel
lurking
in shadows

~~~~~~

soft
slope
of the singer’s
ass
rises
above
her jeans

~~~~~~

old lady -
small grocery
bag
held tight -
crosses the
street

~~~~~~

blue sky
sliced
into electric
corridors
by crackling wires
overhead

~~~~~~

my red car
soaks in
autumn
sun
a transitory
fireball















This poem is by Charles Harper Webb from his book, Reading the Water, winner of the Morse Poetry Prize, published by Northeastern University Press in 1997.

Webb was educated at Yale University, the University of Washington, and the University of Southern California. He worked for fifteen years as a rock singer and guitarist. At the time of publication he was a licensed psychotherapist and professor of English at California State University, Long Beach.







Perspective



A planeload of insurance salesmen, blown off course,

Discovers a tribe who believes an elephant

In the distance is the same size as a gnat-in-the-eye.



This should cause trouble in the hung. But tribespeople

Merely flick the pesky trumpeter a way,

While the gnat – felled by clouds of arrows – feeds



The tribe for weeks. Faced by a lion, the tribesmen run

Until its head is small enough to squish. Muscular

Warriors are found dead, pierced by mosquito needles



Ear-to-ear. Everything here is as it seems.

The stick-in-water, drawn out, remains crooked

As a boomerang. Mountain and molehills are identical.



Tragedies that crush Americans – love’s waterbed

Popping parents dropped into the scalding pot of age –

Require  only that the sufferer walk away. “It’s not so awful,”



Tribal healers say “With every step, troubles shrink;

Their howling dwindles to a buzz; their fangs shrivel to the size

Of pollen grains. Reach out. Brush them away. You see?”









peas in our  time

dinner
last night
at Grisinis’

Italian
penne pasta
with some kind
of orangish sauce

tiny pieces of ham
mushrooms
&
peas

&
the peas
did it for me
since peas are
my second favorite
vegetable -
peas & corn
being my favorite

&
someone mentioned
that it was strange, my
liking peas so much,
since no one was
eating
peas
anymore

&
that’s hardly
a surprise to me
since the world slips
further
into decline
with every passing day












I took the next poem from Red Cats, published in 1962 by City Lights Books.

I recently received the book from a friend who studied Russian with me for the U.S. Air Force at Indiana University in the mid-sixties. The book is an anthology of three Russian poets from that same period, Yevgeni Yevtushenko, Andrei Voznesensky, and Semyon Kirsanov. The three poets acquired varying degrees of attention in the U.S. during the period of the short-lived cultural thaw in the Soviet Union of the period. The three were greeted in the U.S. as forerunners of a new and better relationship with the communists. Yevtushenko, in particular, was widely popular on American campuses, reading to stadium-sized crowds. It didn't last, but it was great while it did.

The only one of the three that I am completely unfamiliar with is Kirsanov, I've chosen one of this poems to post here.

All the poems in the book were translated by Anselm Hollo.

To help me understand the poem I looked up Mayakovsky. Here's what Wikipedia told me.

Vladimir Vladimirovich Mayakovsky was a Soviet poet, playwright, artist, and actor. During his early, pre-Revolution period leading into 1917, Mayakovsky became renowned as a prominent figure of the Russian Futurist movement. A strong supporter of the revolution, he begin to get in trouble with the regime as it became more and more oppressive. His satire on the new system led him into more an more trouble. In 1930, he committed suicide. 

This poem illustrates the temporary loosing up of the system which allowed for at least partial rehabilitation of artists whose names were previously not spoken




Mayakovsky Has  Gone

                       “The Poem -

                        all poetry - 

                       a journey to the Unknown”

                                      Mayakovskiy

                      

The Polytechic Museum

   News stalls

         A tram-car

A poster:  

    “MAYAKOVSKY”



 The evening is over.

A hundred steps

    down,

         he is coming

                down.

                    Surrounded by fans

A glowing butt

    In the corner of his mouth.

He is staring

    in front of himself

             with burning

                 eyes.

                           Notes in his hand.

                               A blanket over his arm.

Screeching

    is time

torn off

      the two engines…



In his pocket

    the crimson passport

and ticket

    already punched

for the journey

    Into the future,

MAYAKOVSKY

    is opening his eyes

        to the sky,

            it is dawn –

                his chestnut

                      eyes,

                      coming out of a hundred years’ wake….



At last – he gets up.

    he gets up, he gets going,

he is on his way

    around the world,

    and for ever.

He gets on the plane,

     followed

          by stacks of airmail,

now

   his feet

       do not touch

            our globe

                any more.



But still

    from the

hermetic

    door:

-          Remember  

keep in touch –

one way

or the other

And he was gone.

    was it to the new

or to the old world?

    No matter



No letters came,

    ten,

        twelve,

             thirteen,

                forty years



-          1950











soup of the day

people believe
what is convenient
to believe,
facts,
fungible things
easily replaceable
with other facts when
needed, truth
a river that
flows
from port to port,
adapting
as it makes its way
out to sea
by the pull of tides
and current
along the way

we are each
an illusion,
a spinning eddy
of minute forces
to small to see
except as we
agree to describe
them, a common
myth of being
that substitutes
for reality

how could
truth
be otherwise



w






what we do until we can think about sex again



i was working
away
at my poem
of the day
when
she walked
in, about five-
four, long dark
hair, long, long
hair hanging
almost to the
beginning curve
of her butt -
and a very nice
butt it is i notice
as she passes -
tight white dress,
short, about mid-
thigh, and did i
mention
tight
so tight
i can see
indentations
of the freckles
on her rear,
yes, that same
rear end, the
very same
slightly above
which
hangs her dark
straight hair

i know
it is a moment
in her life
when every man
she passes
has to stop
and breathe
deep, lost
temporarily in the
momentary
fantasies that
male nature
produces
at even the
slightest
provocation,
the natural
horniness
of the human
male firing
on all eight
cylinders, the
secret of our
rise from the
brutishness
from which
we came, the
lingering imp
of that brut
that hides behind
all our best
intentions
and will not
leave us
until the day
we die

i don’t think
women
get this about
us, rational
beings that
they are, they
view life
as an entirety,
sex a part
of that whole
thing called
life and living -
men see life
as what
you do to
kill time
until you can
think about sex
again

like me
this morning -
i could have
written a poem
deep in meaning
and purpose,
in fact i really
meant to do
just that -
but
one young woman
in a tight dress
with a well-shaped
rear twitching
when she walked
and long hair
and legs
up to, well,
you know where
walks past me
and i end up with
this












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