Take Three Stooges and Call Me in the Morning   Tuesday, June 30, 2020







take three stooges and call me in the morning

early Thursday morning
(never a good sign)
and I wait at the doctor’s

office, sit in an uncomfortable
plastic chair with a roomful
of other old people -

aches and pains and moans
and groans abide, decrepitude
our common condition, the

final dark horizon
within sight of all of us,
the end for all -

clear and bright
and sure for some,
semi-shrouded in the mists

of uncertain end
and time for others,
like me,
xc
who know how we’re going
to die,
(as if that made a difference)

while the more important
“when”
is hidden somewhere in the fog

~~~

early Thursday morning
(usually not a good sign)
at the doctor’s office

a roomful to old people
hoping to push back their
check-out time

smiling,
store-bought teeth
a-gleam in the florescent light

Three Stooges
on TV -
Larry, Moe and Shemp,

facing with brave farce
the insanities
of life ...

what matters death to them -

just
another pratfall
in the vaudeville of life











Here and Now 
Take Three Stooges and Call Me in the Morning 
Herenow.7beats.com


Me

take three stooges and call me in the morning 
my Russian lessons
old man on an autopsy table 
about these cold winds that blow 
the beginning of the end or the end of the beginning or just another damn day in the life of beginnings-endings 
fulcrum



Naomi Shihab Nye

The Small Vases from Hebron


Me


a curious note 
rear guard



Tony Hoagland


Lie Down with a Man


Me

a new broom 
early 
the lost last Sultan of Samarkand



Thomas R. Smith

Loon’s Flight 
March Wind



Me

Russian winter 
he might be the clown



herenow.7beats.com








my Russian lessons

I was taught
by Russian refugees
from the 1917 revolution,
the most elite
of the Czar’s guard,
defeated,
humiliated by the mob,
fled, most to Algiers,
where many applied their
military talents
to the French Foreign Legion
until that enterprise, too,
was lost,
most of them,
when I knew them,
living in their past, their golden age
that ended fifty years earlier,
living out their last years
teaching Russian to American
Air Force recruits who did not
understand, did not comprehend
their military ethos or of the glory
and honor of their imperial past…

they lived in the past
as their young students
lived in the day, certain -
as the young recruits were
certain their good times would
never end - that their
good time would return, that the mob
would turn, that even after so many years
the tide would rise up, the communist despots
overthrown, and they, the inheritance
of their people, would no longer be relics
at a Midwestern university, teaching
the coarse and unworthy, but
would be once again the princes
of the realm, glittering and golden as of old…

there’s nothing wrong
with enjoying memories
of the best times past, the danger
is to live with those memories,
thinking you can make them happen
again, come again just as they
used to be, unwilling to accept the grinding
turn of the wheel that is time, the grist that
turns all the best and worst of the past
to dust blowing in history’s
unremitting wind…

another fifty years now
from those days of my own youth,
I know there is some of the czarist officer
in me, too much in me,
as in the hour at night when I slip
these days and return to my own best times,
relive those times and, more than that,
extend them to a new day that could be
if memory’s dust could be made a power
beyond the force of gritty and hollow wind -
it is a dead end, that hour,
a repudiation of the real life I have made
and the world
I live it in…

better for me to look to the lesson of
Fyodor, round little white mustachioed Fyodor,
only a cadet when the end came, fleeing
to Algeries like the Colonels, but, unlike them,
putting aside dreams of the glory
that might have been his,
finding his way in music instead of war, becoming
a bandleader, playing for years, leader of an official
ship’s band, a life, with his little mustache,
on luxury liners crossing the Atlantic,
east to west, west to east, then
retiring, teaching, writing his memoirs,
paper piled two feet high
in his closet,
recording a life that always looked forward,
never looked back…

Fyodor, a champion for us who bury ourselves
in past glories, who see too little beyond
the day before last, a life that sees too much
of the sun’s setting, too little of it’s morning
rebirth…

grand old Fedya, teaching me 
my most important Russian 
lessons










old man on an autopsy table

an old man,
long white hair,
large white handlebar moustache,
a cadaver lying
naked
on a table in a human anatomy class

where did I hear of this old man,
did someone tell me a story of their
own experience;
did I read of him in a book…

I don’t remember,
but I remember his long white hair,
his large handlebar moustache,
and imagine him,
naked on a slab,
dead for many years
yet standing as a monument
to the power of story and character
for I remember him now,
have remembered him almost for as long
as I remember anything, remembered him
so long I don’t remember
where the memory comes from…

though I don’t know the name
the students of his body gave him,
I imagine his
voice -

in my time,
he might say,
I was a cowboy,
or a soldier, or a clerk
or a builder of great ships and tall buildings,
or a passer-by on a slow-traveling train,
long hair,
moustaches
blowing
in the passing wind,
a poet,
poems passing in the blowing
wind…

but, whoever
or whatever he was
there is magic in his useful
corpse,
magic in the air of this sterile room
where blood and bones
and flaccid organs
are catalogued, the intricacy of their
functions noted, the secrets
of the spirit’s vessel
marked

magic in the benevolence
in his purposeful death, his physical presence
most respectfully
rendered
into its constituent
parts

















about these cold winds that blow


I was sitting
outside last night
in my lawn chair, about
nine thirty, two
hours past sundown,
all blanketed up, planning
to enjoy the on-rush of the cold front
that was on-rushing in, trees
swoosh-dancing, dingle-dangles
hanging from the eaves
dang-dingling, wind damn-cold-blowing
at fifty degrees
and forty miles an hour
right up under my blanket, near
freezing my tallulahs, not to
mention old satchmo and I gave it up
and went inside and satisfied myself with
just listening to the wind, tallulahs and old satchmo
safe and warm…

but it did set me to thinking about women
wearing dresses in the winter and even though
bereft as they are of tallulahs or even old
satchmo, they must be doing some freezing
when that old north wind whips up their dresses
like a teenage boyfriend beer-drunk
on prom night…

and I’m thinking
that surely explains a lot about
how women get when the weather
gets all cold and blowsy and leaves me
with a whole new attitude
of respect for women and the challenges
of their gender…

and I guess that also applies
to the Scots, maybe even more since
their skirts are so short winter
spring summer and fall

their tallulahs and satchmos
must be wonders
to
behold…

just guessing, of
course










the beginning of the end or the end of the beginning or just another damn day in the life of beginnings-endings

I was going to write a poem
about how miserable everything is

how the lunatics
have taken over the asylum

how good things everywhere
are hightailing it for the low hills and high
gulches

how bad guys
have stolen all the white hats
and posture and preen and pretend
they are the good guys
while the real good guys are all off somewhere
eating crackerjacks
and drinking lattes and smoking rose-tipped cigarettes
mute and blind
to the ravages of their absence
content in their philosophy of okeydokey
pass the smokeys
while the world burns with the riders of the
apocalypse
going yeehaw through the great divide
of hip and hop and spit and spot
and drip and drop and pip
and pop and duck
and fuck
and clickety cluck
and yeehaw
we ride
they say
our grim teeth
gnashing
and you run
your white ass
flashing
in the light of a dying moon

you had your chance
they say
now it’s our time to ride

gnashing
yeehawing
in the light of a dying moon
we are the riders
of you inconsequential doom

youbetcha

and I've gone old
my damn coffee’s gone
cold
and my left foot’s gone sleepy
twitching like jello in a junk-jar from jimjam jarheads
and don’t know jack spratt
garage
sales

and that’s just the beginning
of it…

but nobody wants to hear all that
so I’ll just start over
junk this jerky poem and write a new one
about blue birds and puff-fluffy clouds
and shit like that








fulcrum

birds
gather in the trees
at twilight
knowing all the secrets
of night,
drawing together
as dark draws them in,
settles them into the soft cradle of
a crescent
moon

I feel twilight
and shadows approaching

cannot find the fulcrum
that is my own
ascendant
moon














This poem is by Naomi Shihab Nye from her book 19 Varieties of Gazelle, a National Book Award finalist published by Green Willows Books in 2002.

Born to Palestine father and American mother, Nye is an internationally known poet who makes her home with her family in San Antonio. She writes of many things, including the years she spent when young with her extended family in Lebanon.




The Small Vases from Hebron

Tip their mouths open to the sky.
Turquoise, ambers,
the deep green with fluted handle,
pitcher the size of two thumbs,
tiny lip and graceful waist.

Here we place the smallest flower
which could have lived invisibly
in loose soil beside the road,
sprig of succulent rosemary,
bowing mint.

They grow deeper in the center of the table.

Here we entrust the small life,
thread, fragment, breath.
And it bends. It waits all day.
As the bead cools and the children
open their gray copybooks
to shape the letter that looks like
a chimney rising out of a house.

And what do the headlines say?

Nothing of the smaller petal
perfectly arranged inside the larger petal
or the way tinted glass filters light.
Men and boys praying when they died,
fall out of their skins.
The whole alphabet of living,
heads and tails of words,
sentences, the way they said,
"Ya'Allah!" for "I mean" -
a crushed las under the feet
still shines.
But the child of Hebron sleeps
with the thud of her  brothers falling
and the long low sorrow of the color red.









a curious note

“I'm disappointed - having just read of the latest judicial murder in Texas - carried out despite plea for clemency from one of the victims that lived - I hoped that you at least were a different sort - I know realise you're a prick and want no further contact with you.”

This
is the curious note
I found this morning
on Facebook -

sent to me
by an English poet
I’ve published in the past
but with whom
I haven’t had any contact
in months
and with whom
I have never, that I remember,
had any conversation
regarding
capital punishment…

the execution
in question was of a certain
Mark Stroman, 41 years of age
who targeted three South Asian men
he mistakenly thought were Arabs,
killing two and severely wounding
the third, who, in accordance
with his Muslim beliefs, asked
the execution to be cancelled…

I am not, as my former poet friend
seems to surmise, the State of Texas,
nor am I the agent of the State of Texas
who performed the lethal injection

though, in truth,
as fulfilment of a civic duty
i would have done so
if asked

because, as a moral position,
I believe some individuals
through their actions, forfeit
their right to continued life
among the human community,
and because, on a practical basis,
I know that this State executes
a relatively very few of the total
number of its convicted murders
(only eight so far this year),
giving me confidence (well-publicized
exceptions aside) that prosecutors, judges
and juries of the state are conscientious
and careful as they do their job of separating
the most grievous murderers
from those who simply murder

and, because, as a matter of good
and efficient and decent government
I cannot,
at a time when innocents
are hungry and in need,
condone the money spent
over the past 40 years
to keep murderers like
Charles Manson
alive...

though
I will not respond
to this curious note I received,
I could, and if I did
it might be in the extended form
above,
or,
I might more briefly say,
as we in Texas often say when crossing
a pasture
whereupon cattle
have recently grazed ,

“Bullshit!”


  








rear guard

it’s about
age 50 when men
begin to lose their butts

nobody knows why
and nobody knows where they go

maybe they all go to Vegas
and spend the rest of their days
flat-cheeked on a bar stool, or

maybe there’s an old men’s butt
graveyard, like the elephants
have,
just instead of ivory tusks
scattered across
a valley of final elephantine rest,
there’s piles and piles of Sans-a-Belt
pants like Ed McMahon used to pitch
on the Johnny Carson show, just laying around
butt-less on field of white cotton
underpants…

well past that age
of backside backsliding
I have, so far,
maintained my posterior,
mostly through careful and constant
monitoring, making sure said body part
does not get away from me by,
several times a day,
grabbing my ass
and whistling Dixie

it is clear,
in hindsight,
that this was an effective prescription
for protecting my assets,
seeing that it has worked very well
for me,
having still,
even in these later years,
my own carry-on
cushion
whence ever
I roam













The next piece is by Tony Hoagland, taken from his book Donkey Gospel, 1997 James Laughlin Award of the Academy of American Poets, published by Graywolf Press. 

At the time the book was published, Hoagland taught at the New Mexico State University in Las Cruces.




Lie Down with a Man

In those days I thought I had to
do everything I was a afraid of
so I lay down with a man.

It was one item on a list -
sleeping in the graveyard, under the full moon,
not looking away from the burned girl's stricken face,
strapping myself into the catapult
of some electric blue pill.

It was the seventies, a whole generation of us
was more than willing to chainsaw through
the branch that we were sitting on
to see what falling felt like - bump bump bump

Knowing the worst about yourself
seemed like self-improvement then,
and suffering was adventure.

So I lay down with a man,
which I really don't remember
except that it was humorless.

Curtains flutter in the breeze
from the radio's black grill. Van Morrison
filled up the room like astral aftershave

I lay my mass of delusions
next to his mass of delusions
in a dark room where I struggled
with the old adversary, myself

- in the form this time, of a body -
someplace between heaven and earth,
two things I was afraid of.










a new broom

fresh breeze,
a new broom sweeping in
from the northwest,
from the Rockies
and the high plains beyond,
blowing
mountain-blue skies
and first scent of my October
road-trip

I smell
the mountains coming
soon










early

continuing
to wake up god-awful early
3 a.m. - 4 a.m.

sit
outside
listening to the city night

under
an anorexic
moon

looking
for stars
in a city-bright sky

pining
as always
for a night in West Texas

where
the dark is
dark

and the stars
spill
out of the sky

like
gems
from a jeweller’s black velvet sack…

dark
on the desert where far coyotes sadly howl
and across the scrub and sand

quiet winds blow
whispers
from the mountains…

but not here
in the quasi-dark
and never-quiet

where
we make do,
living in the city

taking
what the city
offers, knowing

the desert
and the mountains
are there

waiting





the lost last Sultan of Samarkand







the wanna-be artist
seeks
to overcome the complete absence

in him
of any semblance
of talent

by resorting
to a smaller canvas
and the primary combination

of the dark of no color
and the light of all colors
combined...

he names his piece
"two-lane blacktop" being ever so much better
at the naming than at the doing

- sometimes, when asked by strangers,
he says it is the secret sign
of the lost last Sultan of Samarkand -

he is a poet, after all,
aspiring always
to be more than he is

his spouse,
at such times,
aspires only to be somewhere else













Next, I have two short poems by Thomas R. Smith, taken from his book Horse of Earth. The book was published in 1994 by Holy Cow Press.

A poet, essayist and editor, his work has appeared many journals in the U.S. and Canada.




Loon's Flight
        For Melanie Richads

The loon glides above the lake at sunset,
sharp wings creasing the overbrimming light.
Hers is a life lived best offshore, 
of perfect landings and difficult departures.
Riding low among the waves, she wallops
her watery runway taking flight, her voice
pitched to the quavery frequencies of adolescence,
a beginner every time. Aloft, she steadies,
her black neck tapering after aa airy quick
never to be possessed, touched only by what changes,
found again in each ungainly ascent.


March Wind

Across the channel of the Minnesota River,
a long shiver passes through the body of a pine grove.
Scaly ice shelves up along the waterline,
the walker beside it easily lost in the great silent day of spring.

I walk with you on a sandy path on the island.
In the maple trunks a slender sweetness rises and falls.
The nights are still cold. Maple sap boils dark and heavy.
I catch the clear drops, almost favorless, on a torn branch in the wind.









Russian winter


we have
a week or so
of Russian winter ahead,
cold,
overcast,
dark nights and dim days,
days
blown chilled as from Ukrainian
steppes,
though without
the snow
and the German soldiers
frozen therein
like in the war movies -

gulag
weather,
Solzhenitsyn
and his refusenik
cohort
just around the
corner,
dipping their brown weevil-bread
into their thin ration of
winter gruel …

and I am fit for the day
and fit for the
company…

a head cold
set upon me Friday afternoon,
after I drove
to Austin
in very bad weather

and since then
that head cold has
organ by organ
taken the rest
of my body,
like Wall Street occupiers
building little barricades
and otherwise
disrupting
the normal flow
of my bodily functions,
like breathing
and sleeping and dancing
bare-toed
in the ice-cube puddles
left by last night’s
late rain

so that I sit here
this morning, blowing,
snorting, dripping, sneezing,
coughing, all in a circle of an informal
containment zone
as people come in and head
immediately to the corners of the room
furthermost from me…

I had plans for the day,
as I had plans for the weekend,
a photo expedition
into Conqueso Canyon for pics
for my blog…

yes,
I had plans,
and if there is a god somewhere
watching, he
laughs and laughs,
going
aha-aha
all pouty-red-lipped
like the sexy long-legged back-up dancer
for that rock band
Corndog
and his Hip Hop Huksters

I’ll
probably
stay home in bed
instead,
give-up
give-in
sleep








he might be the clown

chipmunk
face,
and a chuckling,
chipmunk laugh,
always laughing,
low, constant,
sharp little teeth brightly white
in the red of his open-mouth chuck
chuck chucking laugh,
little, black, reptile
eyes
never blinking,
like
the man in the trench
coat hanging out in the park
with goodies for all the little boys and girls...


I
don’t like him

for
he is not a good man

not a man
who house you want
to dig under
unless you are prepared
for the horrors you might find,
the secrets
behind that chipmunk face
and chipmunk
laugh...

chuck, chuck, chuck
he laughs

i
don't know him

but he makes funny
faces

the clown
at your youngest child’s
birthday
party












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