Alive, Alive-o,    Friday, July 31, 2020

alive, alive-o

I was walking
my dog yesterday
(this being another dog
poem so all you cat people

and snake people and gerbil people
and lizard people and bird people
and cricket people and centipiggler
people can just accept
that it is not, except
maybe indirectly, about you
and your choice of furred, finned,
scaled, or feathered creature)

this is a dog poem
about Saint Reba about whom
I have sprake before
and our walk yesterday
down by the creek, still high from
several days of rain, scrubbed
by fast-running water all the way to its
pale, flat limestone bottom, the water
clear as freshly Windexed glass

and I was walking across
a little dam that holds the water
form passing too fast
further down the creek bed,
a tiny little dam about a foot
and a half across and
instead of doggishly following
me, Miss Reba decided to go
around me which ended her up
asplash in the creek

white-eyed panic
at first as she dog-paddled furiously,
then a gradual relaxation of her eyes
as she found sufficient purchase on the bank
to allow a sloshy clamber out of the creek
with the realization that
this splash-splash thing
even at 40 degrees is fun
and she climbs up the bank
jumping and running and leaping
about, let’s-do-it-again, let’s-do-it-again
as clear in her leaps as if she were yelling at me over
her shoulder, let’s-do-it-again

and when I finally got her home
and dried off, she,
this old lady who can hardly
get out of her bed in the morning
because of all her aching bones,
was running in circles in the back yard,
alive, alive, alive-o
like she was six months old again
with vim and vinegar
and life, a-live-o

like a good morning swim
to get the old

Here and Now
Alive, Alive-O


alive, alive-o
about those Pletamanians
signs of a new dark age approaching
finding my book in a second-hand bookstore
nights on southern beaches
bench-sitting, people-watching
the Buddha would approve, unless…
there he goes again

Charles Simic

In the Library


eastern sky
medicated meditation
something to do as you wait for the endless dark

Arthur Rimbaud

Mornings of Drunken Ecstasy


the night I got chased out of Mexico
the fella in the booth across from me
a soft beginning
my simple poems
an ambulance passes, patient cabin lit

about those Pletamanians

early scouting reports
from the Pletamania Galaxy
indicate a highly advanced
recently recovered from the
deprecations occasioned by
to a political system much
like our own

such system
being divided into two
primary parties
and various outlying
third, fourth, fifth and sixth parties
that never amount to much
because their leaders and most followers
are of very poor taste

the principal parties,
the Dimginches and the Mittens
battle fiercely
for dominance and the right to name
the Great Overlord of all Things Material or Not-for-Life, such life
ending when they are skinned, parboiled and eaten
to celebrate their party's victory

this occurs promptly and precisely
every afternoon at 5 pm,
Central Pletamania Time (CPT)

over a period
of several thousand
pruncyclical doodlebuggels
(about 1,047 years as measured
by our calendric system)
this elaborate electoral system
began to severely
the number of Pletamanians
willing to stand for election as either
a Dimgintch or a Mitten,
leaving the two major parties
in such difficulty in their daily vying
for the august office
of Great Overlord of all Things Material or Not-for-Life
that both the Dimginthces and the Mittens
began to raid the third, fourth, fifth and sixth
despite their being of poor
in order find volunteers willing to accept
the honor

ropes and chains and various caged
conveyances were eventually required
to get the victorious
Great Overlord of all Things Material or Not-for-Life
to his victory dinner

until there were no more
third, fourth, fifth, or sixth party
nominees to elect,
moving the two major parties,
to develop a new political
based upon thumb-wrestling,
but since the issue of which of their
twenty eight digits were thumbs,
though long and laboriously debated,
was never settled,
a state of anarchy
described in their language
as squiqual, squack, and 5-cent cigars
(sex, drugs, and rock ‘n roll
in standard American English)
and there was no longer need
for victory celebration dinners,
except at weddings
where mother-in-law were
the most frequently selected
guest of honor

a political compromise that,
though inadvertent
and unforeseen
was satisfactory to all


signs of a new dark age approaching


Old World Delicatessen
ten blocks from my house,
bratwurst (my favorite of all the sausages),
sweet red cabbage,
and the best pom frites
ever oven-fried…

but no more…

yesterday, at my occasional
visit for lunch, shock
and grief
near to manly weeping,
the restaurant
dark and dusty and
another sign of the impending
collapse of world civilization
and decency…

so many signs that the dark ages
approach again,
sneaking around the corner
of Dumbshit and Divine,
tea party cry babies and
other malcontents
on the march, Republicans,
religious fanatics
at home and abroad,
diseased minds
with plans for you and me,
global warming,
ozone depleting,
skies filling
with the wastes of our lives
like a septic tank hanging over us,
glaciers melting,
polar bears starving,
the universe contracting,
and the Old World Delicatessen closing…

the signs are there,
pretty damn serious if you ask me,
laid out for every insightful mind to see…

and I just want you to know,
as the end approaches,
that it’s been a pleasure making
your acquaintance
and, by the stars that fall
around us,
how I will miss you,
and those oven fries, too,
the very best fries
in this universe and any other universe
within 12 parsecs - and though
I’m told there may be no beer in heaven,
these pom frites will be there, I’m sure,
in their rightful place on the menu
at the Heavenly Host Café…

too bad I’ll never get a reservation

finding my book in a second-hand book store

so I found my book
in a second-hand book store
in a city far from home

do I think:

oh, wonderful, someone read my book
and brought it here
so that it might be purchased
and enjoyed by a second reader…


oh, woe, this book, this labor of love,
discarded, done, old news, no
leaves pressed between the pages,
no carefully preservation for poetry-minded
progeny, a remembrance forgot,
not to be cherished and saved for another generation
or maybe for a current lover
who will hold it dear as
they hold you,
oh wonderful and sensitive people
who sleep every night with a book of fine
poetry tucked beneath their pillow
never to sleep over

or, simply,

oh, look, someone bought my book, money
in my pocket, easy-earned cash from a few
small scribbles

on the road to riches now,
let's go out for


taking in the sights
in a new city, finding
the familiar
where never expected

nights on southern beaches

on southern beaches,
lying flat
in the low wet
of a new rising tide, surf
low and lowly rumbling
as it takes back the beach
under a full yellow
rising with small waves
from the water

in my little pop-up camper,
towels to dry
and each other,
a bottle of wine,
and a narrow bed
where we lie together

we smell
of gulf water
and the swimming fish
and beach-crawling
that feed in it

of the close sea
arms encircled
bodies tight
each against the other
as the yellow moon

bench-sitting, people-watching


the day started early

4:30 the dog’s early walk,
coffee from the lobby;
several blocks to the plaza;
around the plaza
and back to the hotel, all the morning
necessaries done

back to Starbucks down from the plaza
at 6, most of the same folks
from yesterday - the woman, tiny woman
with a tiny doll face, beading some kind of jewelry
while her husband drinks coffee and
watches; I saw them later
at their spot
on the square, business less than booming

then, at 7, breakfast at
La Fonda, eggs benedict with their own-made
hollandaise sauce and tomatillo, best

time for the business of the day…

bench-sitting and people watching,
a bench on the plaza facing the sun
and the sidewalk, looking and listening
as people pass -
(learning as I wish I had learned 50 years ago,
beautiful women love to pet beautiful
dogs) -
people stop, scratch the dog’s head, cooing and
coochie cooing, like the beautiful German tourist
and her mother talking to Bella in German, a
multilingual dog, Bella seems to understand…

a month’s worth of attention in just a few hours,
spoiled dog will expect the same daily
from now on…

sitting with my back to a group
of mostly men, homeless, street people, ladies
and gentlemen of extended leisure, habitues
of a park salon, expounding on issues
wide and deep, football, the day’s menu
at the mission, interviews of famous people
heard (it's Santa Fe, after all) on National Public Radio,
the advantage of knives over guns,
the crazy fuck who hangs out on the other side
of the park…

probably the most interesting conversations
I’ve been privy to in a long, long time…

Bella soaks up all the attention of the passing
crowds, mostly old people in the morning, old
women with red painted toes and old men
with silly-looking hats they think required during
vacation rambling in the mountains - and no,
my hat is not the least bit silly, being, as it is,
the naturally required hat for vacation rambling
in the mountains…

speaking of mountain rambling,
that’s the plan for today, Espanola to Los
Alamos, then through the national forest
and across the Sangre de Cristo range
a five hour drive of lofty heights and wide
vistas, perfectly timed for the leaves
changing as we pass, a wonderful day
of deep forests,
high mountain passes, and clean mountain air…

we don’t know yet,
maybe north to Ojos Calientes
or south to Van Horn, the long way home
on Highway 90, through Alpine,
Marfa, Marathon, Del Rio,
across the desert, skirting the Big Bend’s
border mountains…

two more days of driving

and seeing all the

the Buddha would approve, unless…


a banana peel
on the ground
just in case a fat man
happened along
on a day
when the world was
and in need of a

small investment
in future

even the Buddha
would approve and say
good work
bringer of joy and

of course
he was the fat man
that came

there he goes again


the start of a beautiful morning,
bright and clear,
about fifty degrees or so
with a north wind, our morning walk
a run, as Reba says, yes,
with her l long black and tan  hair blowing in the breeze,
she’s even happier than me
to see the back end of summer
as it passes…

then a message from God
to stay home today…

(as a typical non-believing former-Christian,
I only accept the God-concept
things get really screwed up and I need someone
to blame - some people might call it
karma, or some such, not nearly as satisfying
as imaging an old man with a long white beard,
sticking his finger into my business
and making a big mess
of it)

the one who I call God
when things get screwed up,
that white bearded fella
who claims omniscience, who hears
ever little sparrow’s call from every little tree,
it must be, if it’s true, as he claims,
to have his own personal hand on all the gears
and levers of all the passages of the universe,
it must also be that he is personally
for causing mechanical malfunctions
on both of our cars this
bright morning,
stranding us at home, while demons of the auto mechanic
clan, turn a secret switch under our cars’ dashboard
to activate the money machine
hidden under there
and only for their use, tens, twenties, hundred dollar bills
gushing out, until, the bank temporarily depleted,
they declare or automobiles fixed
until the next time they need
to make a payment on their swimming pool

it’s a conspiracy,
the god who always seems to claim
more then he can produce, accepts his payment
from the auto-mechanic-demons
for the flick of his little
that little twitch of purposeful negligence
that started all this

and if he expects me to show up at one of his little worship palaces
on Sunday,
he can just forget, couldn’t get there even if I wanted to
since he broke both of my cars

This poem is by Charles Simic, taken from his book, Sixty Poems, published by Harcourt in 2007.

Simic, born in Yugoslavia in 1938 and immigrated to the United States in 1994, won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1990 and held a MacArthur "genius grant from 1984 to 1989. He also won the Wallace Stevens Award from the Academy of American Poets.

In the Library 

for Octavio

There's a book called
A Dictionary of Angels.
No one had opened it in fifty years,
I know, because when I did,
The covers creaked, the pages
Crumbled. There I discovered

The angels were once as plentiful
As species of flies.
The sky at dusk
Used to be thick with them.
You had to wave both arms
Just to keep them away.

Now the sun is shining
Through the tall windows.
The library is a quiet place.
Angels and gods huddled
In dark unopened books.
The great secret lies
On some shelf Miss Jones
Passes every day on her rounds.

She is very tall, so she keeps
Her head tipped as if listening.
The books are whispering.\
I hear nothing, but she does.

eastern sky

the eastern sky
like an angry rose
by any other hue
would it sweet
    so smell

end of days
    of 2012
a new year’s ending
        in two

and I have no reflex
for an old year
a new year
an in between year
    a sky
as an angry
        the hue so sweet

no reflex
to measure
the new
    the old
just a day
you know
like any other
no reflex
for seeing new
what I’ve seen
    or new days
        or old days
        or roses
            angry red
no matter how sweet
    the smell
it’s just another damn
in another damn
just another damn
just another damn

and I have no reflex
to understand
or to teach it

must another


medicated meditation



a small boat
on calm seas, ripple
suggests, but forgotten,
lulled by soft tides
that rise and fall such a very
little bit, day to night, night
to day, drifting

small boat calm
day to night
night to


a tiny whirlpool
of nowhere

something to do as you wait for the endless dark

wet morning,
not what I expected,
but the kind of morning
that I always welcome at the end
of this first week of
though half way through the dog walk,
wishing I had known
about the wet
so I could have worn my hat
to keep the rain
off my face and glasses

but dog doesn’t wear glasses
or hats
and couldn’t care less about the rain,
the long golden hair on her back curling
as the rain soaks in, a healthy dog
attitude, that’s what the world needs, what
I’m working on, knowing that wet
when it dries is the same dry it was before
it was wet, mud just wet dirt that will be dirt again
when it dries, all things pass, dog knows,
until the dark comes that doesn’t
pass, and then, the dog says,
when that dark comes, who cares
about wet or

let’s go roll in the wet grass
she says,
while we have the wet grass
to roll

assume the endless night
comes right now,
she asks,
wouldn’t you rather, in that instant, be rolling in wet grass than


my dog is wise,
though looking at her happy, drooly face
it’s often hard to

An old story, one of several from the time when I drove a taxi in a small city. I tell it again.

the night I got chased out of Mexico

is a story
about the night
I got chased out of
by a posse
of Mexican taxi cabs

I was a young guy
just old enough at 21
to get a taxi license
and I was driving
on the Texas side
of the border

I picked up a fare
one of the hotels
who wanted
to go to Mexico
and I said
hell yes
cause it was about
25 miles
and at 35 cents
for the first mile
and 10 cents a mile
it was a pretty good
of which I’d get
a third
which never was
a hell’uv a lot
most nights
but better for a
like this

so we headed out
down 77
for Matamoros
through Brownsville
and across the bridge
from where I knew
how to go two places
boys town
about which we
will speak no more
and the Central Plaza
which was close
to the Mercado
and lots of good
good food
and floorshows
with sometimes
naked women
and that’s where
the fella I was
wanted to go
so we went there
and I dropped
him off at the plaza
and while he paid me
I noticed all
the Mexican cabbies
giving me the eye
and I noticed
when I left
some of those
Mexican cabs
started following
and then I noticed
I had ten to fifteen
Mexican cabs
riding my back
and I said to myself
oh shit
I fucked up
and the way
they were following
close and honking
it looked pretty clear
that they were
about whatever
it was I did
so I took off
for the bridge
as fast as I could
trying to remember
as I flew
which of the many
one way streets
in Matamoros
were going my way
and which were going
to either get me lost
or back to the plaza
where more trouble
was sure to be
and when I reached
the bridge
I tossed my 8 cents
to cross
to the Mexican
border guard
hardly stopping


when I got back
my dispatcher
told me the rules -
cabs don’t cross
fares are dropped
at the bridge
where they can
walk across
and get a local
I really felt dumb
and never did that
though one time
I did pick up a guy
at the bridge
who had been in
in Matamoros
for three days
and was beat
all to shit
and bleeding and
barely conscious

so I took him to a
hospital ,
but that’s another story

the fella in the booth across from me

the fella
in the booth
across from me
is a fair-sized guy, but
his feet are enormous, I mean,
I bet he couldn’t get blown
in a hurricane even if he tried to…

I know a big-footed fella
is not the thing most people
would notice
so early in the morning, and
even though the moon this morning,
a crescent hook in a velvet black
sky, is beautiful and worthy of a pause
and a neck-stretching look
up, so bright and silver, just hanging up there
with no visible means of support,
all of that and still
it was not nearly as interesting as this fella’s
big feet…

now I notice
he has finished his breakfast and is leaving…

I wonder how many eggs it took
to fill those

a soft beginning


gray clouds drift
on black sky

an abstract of a day

one of the dark houses
I pass
a single chime
lightly acknowledges night-passing

always curious dog

sees something in the bushes,
stares until satisfied
solved, ready to move again

gray cat
never stops,
goes on, her soft, deadly feet
padding silently
on the sidewalk, secure,
of all the mysteries
of early morning, she is the
most mysterious


edges treetops,
soft beginning
to a long day starting now

an ambulance passes, patient cabin lit

old woman, white hair,
some lying across her forehead
like foam advancing
from an impatient tide,
cheeks sharp-edged, planed
like lava run on the side of a mountain,
asleep, blue
blanket pulled to
her chin, attendant quiet and still beside her,
no lights, no siren, unhurried
passage home,
far-traveled trail-rider
nearing trail’s


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