Melange   Sunday, June 14, 2020








melange

i was at Einstein’s
this morning, waiting
for my bagel, standing
next to a woman, mid-40s,
blond-but-not-really, victim
of too much sun, too little food,
leaving her looking
like an over-baked chicken leg,
all stringy sinew and gristle
and kneecaps

over done,
excessively ambitious
to deny time,
to be young and beautiful again,
which she no doubt was
in her time, trying to extend her time
as all of us imagine we might do,
if only we try hard enough

like my first poem this morning
piling words on words, like
Yertle the Turtle stacking his turtle subjects
higher and higher,
building a platform of turtles
high into the sky, all
in search of some grand destiny,
a world to see,
to rule,
ending up only grandiose and ridiculous -

the poem started well


summer barely begun and,
already,
i pine for cool fall winds
blowing down from the hills

the rustle
of fallen leaves
pushed down the street
by the wind, multi-colored tide

rising -


then stuttering
and floundering, trying
to find
something else
to say, unwilling to admit
that what i had said was all i had to say,
and that wasn’t enough
coming up
finally

with another poem,
connected to the first only by
its position on the same page,
the second following along
after the first
like the ugly duckling following
the feathered creature
it assumed was its mother

i am a person built
for other places
other climes,
marooned by some comic fate

to live
in someone else’s vision
of a balmy paradise,
the kind of people who find in

desert lizards

and coastal crabs and
snakes who slither through hot sand
boon
companions -


then stumbling on from there
to a conclusion
that concluded nothing,

proving again that, like a fine gourmet meal,
a good poem is not about
the ingredients
but about the master chef that combines them -

~~~

thus i come to this,
an examination of the mess i made today,
the thin gruel
that was my best effort...

and see what’s happening again -

i’m drifting off again,
unable to face that there must be
and end to this,
unable to bring to a finishing boil
this melange
of half-baked possibilities -

perhaps
it would be best if i were wise enough now
to take the advice
Miles Davis gave John Coltrane
when the saxophonist lamented
his inability to close out a solo
once started

just take the horn out your mouth,
Miles said

i take the horn out my mouth








 

 

Me

 

mélange

fortunately, I’ve had emergency preparedness training

Friday night football

throw in a whole in the ground

promises, promises

Comfort, Texas

 

Abdul Hai Habibi

 

I salute thee, Motherland

 

 

Me

 

things I did not see today

I wanted to write something outrageous today

Mocamuddymacarooniepunietoonies



Lucille Clifton

 

My Momma Moved Among the Days


Me

it’s a coastal morning

 

Vicente Aleixandre 

The Dream

 

Me

fiction preserve us

another theory may be required


herenow.7beats.com














fortunately, I’ve had  emergency preparedness training

 

was having lunch with a friend
at Cappy’s, a little bistro
on Broadway

near
Incarnate Word University -
braised lamb,

something i can only call
a lettuce tamale,
and 12 white beans

scattered,
with care and
artistic intention

around the plate
in some vinergy, spicy,
runny, avocado-looking sauce -

and i was about mid-way
through enjoying my meal,
or the lamb, at least,

(which i calculated at about
$3.87 per standard American bite -
not too dainty, not to pig-at-the-troughish)

when wait-staff
started circulating around the room,
informing diners

that cars had begun to float
out of the parking lot, which
as you might imagine,

emptied the restaurant
in about a spiff and a half,
my friend and i not far behind,

and by the time
i got to my car i was ass-deep
in a brisk cross-current...

but, thank the gods of greater Detroit
for SUVs, even little ones like mine,
that sit higher off the ground

allowing persons in a deep-water pinch
to, as i did, start up and
drive with the current to higher ground -

enough excitement for one day
i was thinking
as i headed home, soaked head to toe,

avoiding all the short-cuts
that tend to flood
in this kind of weather,

but then,
barely home a minute
when the electricity went off,

including all the civilized amenities
like phone, tv, and internet,
leaving me stranded in prehistory...

oh, no, i thought,
another crisis, but fortunately,
i've had emergency preparedness

training, so i knew what to do
in just such dire circumstances as this,
the only thing, really, that can be done -

i ate the melting ice cream
and watched it
rain










Friday night football

 

friday night
football, black and white

suited guys
against red and white suited guys

and the black
and white guys are getting

they butts whipped
and they’re also “my” team

or at least my cheerleader niece’s
team which makes them

my team
by adoption

and they’re getting
their butts whipped, 21-0,

and it’s still the 2nd quarter...

it’s a new school, first year,
new team

no seniors
and they never played together

until their first game last week
when they also got their butts kicked

and the red and white guys’
quarterback is six and a half feet

tall and two hundred fifty pounds
great passer

bulldozer of a runner, five black
and white guys

and the full force of gravity
barely enough to take him down

when he’s got the ball in his hands
largest, but not by a lot

of the red and white guys
except for one of their ends

tiny little guy
weighs less than his shadow

on a cloudy day
and runs like his feet are on fire

and he’s heading for a bucket of water
in the end zone

and the black and white guys
are getting their butts kicked

and their coach his bald head
well past the red danger zone

looks like it might explode any minute
and the guys getting their butts kicked big time

but my cheerleader niece -
she’s doing
great





 


throw in a hole in the ground

thinking about all the people
who don’t know their ass from a hole

in the ground and thinking how i’d like
to write a poem that wasn’t about

that and thinking about
how i don’t know how

to do that, don’t know how to write
a brain-free poem...

maybe start with random phrases
and images

throw in the kitchen sink;
throw in a cat in the kitchen

sink; throw in a wet cat
in the kitchen sink,

throw in
a pissed-off wet cat

yowling
fully extended claws

scratching at the porcelain;
throw in a porcelain

urinal,
(why the hell not - gets

me away from the
pissed-off cat);

throw in a porcelain
urinal

in a bus station restroom;
throw in a bus station lobby,

people sleeping, people talking,
babies crying, old men coughing,

spitting, farting in plastic chairs,
pinball machines clattering

and whistling and clanging
and pinballing

kathunka kathunka kathunka
pinballs bouncing off the rubbers

thacka thacka thacka
pinballs scoring

whanga whanga whanga
thunk - free game

echoing
off concrete walls

echoes echoes echoes...
stone wall echoes

throw in a rock band
guitars and drums echoing

in a tiny room
of sweaty people jumping,

Saturday night
on 5th street; throw in sweaty people

on the 4th of July, walking

dancing, jumping,
a little drunk some, mostly

drunk others, having a
good time mostly not remembered

tomorrow
but why the hell not

there’ll be another tomorrow
after tomorrow

for most of us,
odds are for you and me

well,
me anyway maybe who knows -

throw in a box;
throw me in the box

throw in a hole in the ground;
throw in people who don’t know

their ass
from my hole in the ground

and i’m back where i
started









promises promises


it’s like
being first at the fair,
first to test

the rides
not-lit
and not yet ridden,

cotton candy
not yet spun to pink cloud
perfection

the promise
of hurdy gurdy
that waits for playing -

it’s waking early
to a new day,
the dark as it fades to dawn

another promise,
unlike the dark of night
descending

carrying
threat
of never leaving,

instead
a new sun rising.
burning part of itself

never before ignited,
sending pulses
of fresh-made light

down to us
for our new using,
our fashioning new things

from the old and worn
left behind
as the last day retired to night...

it is the way
of all things from and for
forever when,

day
and night
each the opposite, complimenting the other

each day ending in dark
and each night
giving way to light -

as each day is
death
impending,

the dark arms of each night
cradle the promise of a
new beginning











Comfort, Texas

 

still
too early
for leaves to change

and even it wasn’t
there’s not much to change,
just a few patches of color

on the evergreen hills
of oak and cedar,
red and orange like patches
on a farmer’s overalls

~~~~

downtown,
a block and a half
of century old or more

limestone buildings recycled
for antiques,
bed and breakfasts,

restaurants –
tourists leave at 4 pm,
sidewalks roll up at 5

~~~~

German Freethinker
settlement
in 1845

others scattered
around the hill country,
all established about the same

time, along with Lutheran, and a few
Catholics -
hardheaded skeptics all

~~~~

monument at the edge of town
tall spire set in 1896
over the collected bones

of 42 German farmers
killed by Confederates
as they made their way to join

Union forces -
42 men
killed

at the Battle of the Nueces,
2 of the 42 my great-uncles, my great-
grandfather one of the few who

escaped, heard the story all my life,
didn’t know the monument was here
until today

~~~~

Alamo Springs Café,
down old highway 9
from the railroad tunnel

abandoned
eighty years or more
past -

today, people pay $5
to watch bats
gush from its dark mouth

like a furry black river
into the
night –

second best hamburger in Texas, they say
busy place,
young waitress who treats us

like our walking through her door
the best thing to happen to her
in months

~~~~

back to our cabin in Comfort,
shortcut, less scenic
but quicker


Grapecreek Road to hwy 87,
coffee and buttermilk pie
before bed

~~~~

quiet sunset,
cats
sleeping on window ledges








This poem is by the mystic Pashto poet, Abdul Hai Habibi. Born in 1910 and died in1984, he was a prominent Afghan poet and historian, as well as well as a member of the Afghan Parliament under the reign of King Zahir Shah.

I took the poem from The Afghans, a book of the culture and history of Afghanistan by Professor Mohamad Ali of Kabul University who also translated the  poem. The book was published by the University in 1965.

I purchased the book in 1969 at a small bookstore in the central district of Kabul while on a short visit there.



I Salute Thee, Motherland

I salute the towering peaks of mountains of my dear, dear land;
And salute the fragrant gardens, orchards and its golden sand,
Where the shepherd melts his sound into his melodious flute,
Those verdant valleys, meadows and dates I salute.
The song of others' parrots and peacocks cast no spell on me;
Sweetly sound my little sparrows chirping however feebly.
Where the hawks make sallies in majestic flights;
My head bows doubly to those staggering heights.
My homage to elders, sisters and the mothers,
The fearless youth and valiant brothers.
Nothing to me can be more sublime;
When Ahmasha, Mirwais Nazo are mine,
     To the motherland I bow my head
     To all they living and all they dead.










things I did not see today

 

the beach
on Mustang Island

is dirty
until swept in the morning,

sea weed
and some kind of yellow

plastic cord brought in
and left by high tide...

remembering
cleaner beaches when

i was a child,
when South Padre

was still wild, before
the causeway,

when we went to
Boca Chica Beach instead,

a few miles east
of Brownsville

at the sandy, slow-chewing mouth
of the Rio Grande,

where shells
glittered like diamonds on the beach

in moonlight
and giant conch shells

pushed in by waves
up and down the beach,

and rough fishing camps
built on the sand

by vacation-bearded men,
canvas on bamboo poles

stiff canvas stretched over cooking pots
and bed rolls on army cots,

flaps snapping and popping
in the wind-

and on the other side of the river’s
flow to the Gulf,

Washington Beach
in Mexico

where we matched a fisherman
pull a six foot shark

out of the surf,
the shark lying, gasping,

it’s long gray bulk
dying on the beach,

sea monster brought low
by four strong arms and a cane pole...

the sun seemed brighter then,
the surf higher,

the sand cleaner
and whiter than now -

a sign, perhaps,
of a fortunate life

when days past
seem so much more

alive to us
than days present,

good memories
of a fortunate life...

clean white beaches, tiny
shells like diamonds in the surf...

things i did not see today










I wanted to write something outrageous today

 

I wanted
to write something
outrageous
today

but it’s still too close
to the election
and my outrage
gauge
is hung on empty

so I thought it’d write
something serious instead,
a serious consideration
of the nation and the world’s
condition,
but that only ignites
panic
attacks
and howling hysterical
laughter

then I was thinking
I’d write about
sex,
but I’m getting kind of
old
and my memory isn’t
as good as it used to be,
not so stiffly resistant to the lassitude
of time

so maybe I could write
about love,
no one’s ever too old
for love they say, but that’s
the problem,
poets young and old
have been writing about love
for ten thousand years, longer
than that if you believe the drawings
on the walls in the caves of Poontanghia,
so how could I possibly
compete,
what new is there to be said
about love
except that I caught it and unlike
a three-day cold, it has stayed
with me, fevers morning and night,
for 36 years,
resistant through the liquid
flow of time
to all natural or supernatural events
that might deny and
discourage
it

or
I could write about my lover’s legs
and the amazing way
they join at the
hip
but I don’t want to get too graphic
this morning,
because that would be outrageous
in this august company
and I’m completely out of outrage
since the last
election









mocamuddymacarooniepunietoonies

 

Elvis
with a blue blue blue Christmas
overhead, strange table, strange people,
strange place, strange echoes
of baristas laughing and strange languages
of mocamuddymacarooniepunietooniess and “talls”
that are short and “grandes” that aren’t so
grand…

Starbucks on Christmas Day

and trying to write a poem
in the midst of all that “strange” is..well…
STRANGE! - it’s the curse of a holiday
when none of the places, activities, people
who normally bring the pleasure of regularity to my regular
every-day day are not available, lost in stockings
hung on the mantle with care and
JC Penny gift cards lost in piles
of torn Xmas wrapping and
hot cocoa by a roaring
fire

instead,
I have to do with joy to the whole darn world
and Christmas cookies
and fat old bearded men who smell like reindeer
and in the middle of it all
I am a traveler who forgot his visa, a sailing ship
lost
in unfamiliar currents,
a train who has skipped its track, a homing pigeon,
orphaned and ignorant of home

I hate to be a self-designated
Scrooge
but I will be so glad when this day is over
and the world returns
to its customary
orbit













This poem is by Lucille Clifton from It's a Woman's World, an anthology sub-titled "A Century of Women's Voices in Poetry." The book was published by Dutton Children's Books in 2000.

Clifton, born in 1936, died in 2010. From 1979 to 1985, she was Poet Laureate of Maryland. She was also a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for poetry twice.




My Mama Moved Among the Days

My Mama moved among the days
like a dreamwalker in a field;
seemed like what she touched was hers
seemed like what she touched she couldn't hold,
she got us almost through the high grass
then seemed like she turned around and ran
right back in
right back on in












like a coastal morning

 

sun sneaking
up
on a damp day -

like a coastal
morning,
birds flying like pasted-on
cut-outs
against the wet sky, low fog,
warm
from a southerly breeze
blown across the coastal plains
from the rolling gulf,
streets
glistening with morning dew -

a thousand thousand
mornings
like this from 50 years
living on the coast,
my escape 26 years ago
to dry winter hills
of cactus, oak and mesquite,
yellow-blossomed huisache
grown stubborn between granite rocks,
bluebonnets, cardinals, jays
woodpeckers and coyotes,
cedar on the hillsides, and
Indian paintbrush fields and
clear-running creeks

stymied
by this pre-Thanksgiving
blanket
of coastal miasma,
preparing me, maybe,
to the trip back to the coast
later in the
week,
a fast in-and-out, fade-away
dodge’m drive,
5 hours down, kiss the babies,
eat the turkey,
8 hours sleep, then 5 hours
back
pushing all the way
against the arctic front
that will meet me at the door -

30 degrees
crisp and clear,
ice in the birdbath,
time to sleep
under a warm blanket
in a flickering orange
fireplace glow,
dog by my side, cat in my lap…

home












This poem is by Spanish poet Vicente Aleixandre, taken from his book A bird of paper, published by Ohio University Press in 1982. Poems in the book were translated by Willis Barnstone and David Garrison.


Aleixandre was born in Seville in 1898 and was still living in Madrid when the book was published.

He began writing an early age when illness forced him to leave his job with a railroad company.  He won the National Prize for Literature in 1934 and the Nobel Prize in 1977.



The Dream

There are moments of loneliness
when the heart knows dumbly that it doesn’t love.
We have just sat up in bed, tired: the dark day.
Someone is still sleeping innocent on that bed.
But perhaps we are asleep….Ah, no: we move,
And we are sad, hushed. Outside, the insistent rain.
Morning of merciless mist. So alone!
We look through the windowpanes. Clothes fallen down,
stifling air, noisy water. And the room
freezing in this in this hard winter which is somehow outside.

And you keep quiet, your face in your hand.
Your elbow on the table. The chair silent.
And the only sound is someone’s slow breathing,
that woman over there, serene, beautiful, sleeping
and dreaming that you don’t love her, and you are her dream.







fiction preserve us

 

some say
they search for truth
in great libraries,
but I know better;
I know
the truth is not in libraries
but on hard streets
where demons lurk,
black streets
of you should have known better
and fetid byways
of it’s always been too late
anyway

the fact is,
truth is a hard, hard rock
grinding
all who fall upon it
and while the finding of it
is easy,
the living with it
eats
like rust on metal

corrosive truth

or fiction,
soft and malleable truth,
to preserve us,
to protect us
with dreams of life rewarding,
to shield us
from the grasp of our secret terrors,

give us the poetry
of expectation,
assurance that the unspeakable
rage
huddling
in the dark corners of our life
will fade in morning’s light,

that it is all
just a passing phase,

that there is a better
end
than we have any right
to expect







another theory may be required



big family dinner
last night

a table-full and more

brisket, bar-b-cued
Texas style, beans, rice
potato salad, cream corn,
pico de gallo, and guacamole

and a large fruit salad for desert

lots of talking, laughing -
a couple of generations worth

stayed up late,
slept well, but too
long this morning by an hour

the sun came up anyway

a disappointment,
since i have been convincing myself

that i made the rooster crow
who makes the sun rise
that makes the birds sing
who makes the day begin...

now,
obviously,
another theory may be required

explaining
how planetary orbits
and the circumference of the sun
are affected by surfeits of brisket,
bar-b-cued Texas style,
loosing, through the resulting
gravitational shifts,
forces that are,
in Einstein’s words, as yet
unexplained

thus,
starting things without me











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As usual, everything belongs to who made it. You're welcome to use my stuff, just, if you do, give appropriate credit to "Here and Now" and to me



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Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iBookstore, Sony, Copia, Garner's, Baker & Taylor, eSentral, Scribd, Oyster, Flipkart, Ciando and Kobo (and, through Kobo,  brick and mortar retail booksellers all across America and abroad






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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