Life in the Provinces   Saturday, July 11, 2020






life in the provinces

i
did it again yesterday,
spent too much time in
political argument,
discussion,
intercourse,
screaming match
on Facebook…

I am blessed
with friends, including
an unusual percentage
of such
who are, by any rational
definition,
wackos

of either the left or the right

mostly,
they don't talk to each other, usually
to me instead

well-meaning folks all,
prone
to posting their wacko
version of reality
on Facebook, such wacko
versions of reality relating
to actual reality
as a gas cloud in the toxic soup
of Venus
relates to a pecan grove
on a spring-cool hillside in Texas

and
I, subject to my instinctual mission
to correct fuzzy thinking world-wide (lost
cause though that may be) am prone
to responding ,
feeling a need, a duty even,
to shine a ray of rational thought
into their hysterias

a truly stupid
thing to do, I know, but I do it
anyway,
some kind of irrational compulsion
to be rational, and I am always astounded
at how astounded they are (both left and right) to discover
someone who has not yet received all the wisdom
they assume - sign of a kind of intellectual
amoeba life of intersecting cells
of party-line thought

intellectual provincialism, thinking no thought
that isn’t shared by all in their particular intellectual
province

growing up in a very small town
in very south Texas
I know about provincials
of all kinds, the particular shared truths
of a particular place and time and how they define
the way a life is supposed to be lived,
from certainty as to which is God’s preferred
religious practice to how to properly
fry your okra and boil your grits to whose
high school team plays the best football, and,
knowing all that, knowing also
all about the fate or heretics
as well

it’s clear I need to quit sticking my nose
into other people’s alternate reality
bubbles,
perfect instead
the knowing smile
of a zookeeper
watching primates in their mating
frenzy

it’s the rational thing
to do











Here and Now

Life in the Provinces
Herenow.7beats.com


Me

life in the provinces
Bear Creek road after cold November rain
guns and poses
what I would do about the mess we’re in
so much for the end of the world


Bharat Shekar

Somebody’s Love Song, Left Unattended


Me

osculant moon


Joan McBreem

Wild Woodbine
Fall, 1987


Me

another yellow morning
we are the apocalypse
linear girl
gray lady


Robert Hass

After Goethe


Me

the elephants sing
the woman weeps








Bear Creek Road after cold November rain


enough rain
to leave puddles
across the narrow
asphalt road
but not so much
as to rouse the creeks

blue sky
over trees still dripping
from the rain, cold November
wind pushes the collar
of my coat against the back
of my neck

and rattles dead trees, those still standing
their dry limbs moaning in the wind

- oak blight
stripping the hills tree by tree,
leaving a skeletal forest
across the stone-scattered
cactus-cluttered
ground,
stick-figures,
bare arms to the sky,
above the limestone outcroppings
that buttress
sharp ridges rising
on either side of the road -

dead trees, pockets of desolation
scar the landscape, black
and white patches amid surviving
oak and mesquite and cypress,
overlooking valley pastures
sheep and goats and cattle
graze,
fenced around
with stones pulled
hand by hand
stone by stone
to make the pasture
soft and smooth

the largest stones from the fields
taken for the large houses,
built, like the pastures
and fences, over many years
hand by hand, stone by stone...

the Germans who brought the
cattle and sheep and goats,
persistent pioneers, left the green
fields
of home for this, knowing,
even as they looked at this
land so different from the one they left,
so unlike what they had expected,
what had been promised to them
in the new Texas nation,
that they were here to stay, did what they
needed to do, made peace with the Comanche,
hoed the stones from their fields,
damned small rivers to make gristmills
to grind their scanty wheat crops
into flour, bred animals to flourish in
the scorching heat of summer, the freezing
north winds of winter, long dark nights
alone, harsh burning sun during the day…

they came to settle these hills
and small towns like Comfort, (try to imagine
the comfort of having this little place
to come to when the days and nights
got long and sun burning, the night sounds
strange), little Comfort, downtown, four
blocks of old stone buildings, and in
the center a large stone tablet standing upright,
six feet or more tall, a memorial
to the German Free thinkers who settled these hills
and this little town,
believers in reason and science, seeking
a new country where religious freedom included
freedom from the dogmas and schisms of religion…

it was hard people who brought European life
to these hills, I know, for some of them were my
ancestors and I’ve seen their portraits, still-necked
and stone-faced, tough as the land they
bet their lives and fortunes on

***

the creeks
are scant but running glass clear
along stone creek beds, worn smooth
by the flow of time and slow moving water,
life in the hills,
hard,
but still it flows









guns and poses


they are quite funny
posing with their guns,
like posing with a pretty girl
all dollied up for the prom,
or posting photos of their favorites
on Facebook, silvered desire,
murder in a shiny box…

there can be great beauty
in a gun,
I’ll admit that, but unlike some,
I never confuse them
with my
dick






what I would do about the mess we’re in



thinking
of starting a new religion,
“The Church of My Way or the Highway”
is the name I have in mind…

I’ll be the Pope
of My Way or the Highway,
and maybe I’ll secede
from Texas and start a new country,
and I’ll be President,
maybe call it “The Republic of My Way or the Highway, You All”
a little change in the name
so as to maintain separation of church and state
which will be very important to keep in mind
when the Pope and the President
meet to determine how the rules of ME
(this will be after I complete my long overdue
coup behind the Pearly Gates and send old White-Beard
packing, so full of himself since he got that picture
painted on that ceiling in Rome, and what a screw-up
he’s been - check with any of your Sodomite
fiends, they’ll tell you - Old My Way or the Highway
Fire and Brimstone himself - overdue for several millennia, at
least, for permanent reassignment - possibly
with the circus in their parade maintenance department,
sweeping up after the elephants as we have been
sweeping up after his self-proclaimed One and Onlyness
all these years)

anyway, it is important that the Pope-Me
and the President-Me and the Big Enchilada-Me
get together and hash out how the ecclesiastical and
governmental that will have to be adjusted to conform
the new Enchilada rules of universal dynamics, the
usual stuff, tax rates issues, such as who screws
and who gets screwed, general issues of foreign
and domestic policy, social policy, such as marriage
issues (included under the who screws and
who gets screwed policies rubric) - lots to think on…

we’ll have our assistants’ assistants’ assistants
begin that discussion, decide on where we might meet
for breakfast and we how should have our eggs
and whether biscuits or toast, and what kind of jam,
or should we stick to bagels and cream cheese -

the important stuff that has to be resolved
before the fate of mankind and assorted other creatures
can be discussed.








so much for the end of  the world

 

so much
for the end of the world…

I
expected
a bigger
bang

burning clouds

blue-white
lightning
ozone hissing
prairie-fire
word

wailing

gnashing...

true
hearts
ascending

the rest of us
tumbling

fiery
pits
blazing
like the sting
of
a
quadrajillion
angry
bees

wailing

gnashing…

maybe
next time













I'm happy to have back my poet-friend Bharat Shekhar, along with his accompanying doodle. Bharat, a free lance writer from Delhi turns doodle-making into fine art and poetry, as Ferlinghetti described it, into a cony island of the mind.





Somebody's Love Song, Left Unattended


I want to lay myself open
to the beast,
to the priest,
to what I am,
and to what I am not.
I want to witness sunrises
before they are born
in their invisible blush,
when it is the darkest before dawn.
I want to slip on sunsets
to the end of my days,
so that I can see
them bruising purple the sky,
and not miss them out altogether
as I drag the taillight
of some profit curve
through my cubicle
in the paid hiring
of a corporate slave's quarters.
I want to catch those conversations,
which will never leave your lips,
because they only exist
in the sudden, suffused dilation
of eyes,
and the flutter
of my immediately,
utterly,
erratic heartbeat..

What I am trying to say
is that I am everything

that has fallen through the cracks

of our beings,
and in that falling
felt the pain and
the liberation
of your falling,
and cracking too,
through the same fissures...







osculant moon

haze over a
moon
three quarters full

damp
in the air,
tiny drifting drops
of heavy fog
inviting
bare embrace
of the primordial night
and
all its cool charms

I am
my grandfather’s grandfather’s
grandfather, 100
generations
back,
barefoot
and naked in all the dark
mysteries of
legend
told
beneath an osculant
moon

head thrown back
in silent, civilized howling














Next, I have two poems by Irish poet, Joan McBreem, from her book, The Wind Beyond the Walll. The book was published in 1990 by Story Line Press.


McBreen trained as a Primary Teacher in Dublin and taught for many years. She was published in every poetry magazine in Ireland and, with this book was just beginning to be know in North America and published several books later.





Wild Woodbine


Wild woodbine was beyond my reach 
in the thick hedges round Lough Gill.
The heavy scent filled the for days
when my father brought it in
and it stayed fresh far longer
than meadoweet.

Because I loved the delicate
pink and white wild rose
he picked it too, cursing the thorns, muttering
"it dies too soon,
you'd be better leaving it alone."

Yet once, when my mother
swept the petals from the floor
I saw him rescue one
and place it carefully
in the small wallet
where he kept her photograph.


Fall, 1987

Autumn crawls into the house
wehre we bho on reading,
lying on the bed, chain smoking
tired at working at trying to return
to where we where

We reach
for one another's hands,
holding on until the fingers whiten,
changing us into skeletons.

We are the worse for wear, old ghost.
Remember summer? Nothing caught fire.









another yellow morning

another yellow morning,
a trick of the season
and the slant
of the new-day light
still shining horizontal
from the west, filtered
through the bottom of clouds,
peach-pink on the east
horizon,
old lace yellow here

makes the day glow
like a time-forgotten
photograph
found
dusty in a dim attic
where antique colors
like heirlooms gather
and wait a return to
light








we are the apocalypse

art
on the walls
of a cave
and stencilled
handprints
of the artist,
a man who walked
the earth
and made his art
40,000 years
before today, the
here and now
of my day
as I walk this earth,
my earth,
trying to leave
my own imprint behind

this man,
well, possibly not really
a man
in the narrow biological
sense of my neighbour, Matias,
but still a creature
of art
and aspiration,
making him
and all his clans
a brother to me and
to all of my more direct kin
who seek
the not-yet known
and impossible to say, those
like he and me
who aspire to greater
meaning outside
our own restricting skin

this artist,
this brother-almost-man
and his kind,
walked the forest
and glades and meadows
for 300 millennia,
tenants of a world still virgin,
unsullied
by the greed
of tribes whose gods
told them all was made
for them, that all the lands and seas
and all the creatures
of all the lands
and seas were but a convenience
created by their warrior gods
to sate the appetite of the
ever-hungry
hoard

for all those thousands years they
made a home
and they made art in their home,
and then they were gone,
disappeared barely more than a single
generation after our tribes’
arrival, the first and greatest genocide,
their home
and their art taken, claimed
by those who found
their own greatest art in war
and murder

we the survivors,
we who kill
our brothers now
as we killed our brothers then -
what hope does any creature have
when in the presence of such as
us

for we are the apocalypse
all others should
fear









linear-girl

a young woman,
tall
and slender,
long hair
to the middle
of her back,
long legs,
long arms,
long feet,
long,
slim fingers

linear- girl,
pencil sketch,
soft, thin
lines,
half-second
girl,
an incomplete
click
of the clock,
here
then gone
in a flash of summer
shadow











gray lady

 

gray lady,
round-face drifting,
lightly veiled
by wispy clouds
passing

her
cold-shadow
light
like frost
in the
air...

gray lady
breaks
the dawn
like cracking
a pale
egg

and then it’s
morning
and still she hangs,
gray lady,
over another
gray
day








Now, a very short piece by Robert Hass, from his book, Time and Material, published in 2007 by Harper Collins.

Collins is a two-time winner of the National Book Critics Award and served as Poet Laureate of the United States from 1995 -1997.




After Goethe


In all the mountains
Stillness;
In the treetops
Not a breath of wind.
The birds are silent in the woods.
Just wait: soon enough
You will be quiet too.












the elephants sing 

the elephants sing in a low rumble
that their fellows feel
through their feet;
we hear only the smallest
and highest register
of their songs
but feel the rest,
if we are close enough,
through sympathetic vibrations
in our chest, elephant
song, heart-stirring, felt, even if
mostly unheard

the wonder of song,
the elephants singing, the whales,
the dolphins, the birds, and Chavela Vargas,
re-inventor of the ranchera, exploring
in melodic interpretation
the many shades of mystery and romance
in traditional Mexican music, dead
yesterday in her 94th year and the beautiful
Susannah McCorkle, her voice like
a jazz angel singing softly in your ear,
her voice stilled by her own hand,
by her secret depressions…

and so many more,
the singers
and the songs…

and the question about us,
about our urge to sing
when we need only to talk,
our wanting to rejoice through song
in the pains and pleasures
of our lives,
dancing
to the singer’s songs
that bring,
like the elephants low rumble,
a trembling to our heart












the woman weeps

the woman weeps

the coffin lowered slowly into the open grave

women all around weep as well, women
who have sat where the weeping woman sits
and women who someday will

the men watch, knowing
there is a box waiting for them
someday
and a hole being dug
a little deeper
each day
to contain it









I appreciate hearing from readers. Although they do not appear here, your comment,, if you choose to make them is available to me. So feel free to pass on any reaction, comments, or opinions by clicking on the "comment" button below.




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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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





                                                            


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