Thoughts At the End of Another Long Summer, 2020   Sunday, September 13, 2020

 





Thoughts At the End of Another Long Summer, 2020
old man
scraggly white hair, bald
in the back, white beard, also
scraggly, short sleeve shirt, jeans
baggy where his butt
used to be before
it was melted asway by age,
a somewhat smaller man
than me, but brothers we could be,
both at this early morning diner,
coffee and a newspaper, our sunrise refuge
of silence, where we can think
and remember
without interruption, without
having to listen
to the chatter of now
we are not lonely,
but for a while we
are alone,
a different thing,
an essential thing
for old men
with so many thoughts to think,
so many memories
to remember,
so much like an old and battered
pocket watch, reliable for so many years
winding down, the days and hours
diminishing as the golden
hands creep along their diminishing
circle









Here and Now
Thoughts at the End of Another Long Summer - 2020 
herenow.7beats.com 



Me 

thoughts at the end of another long summer – 2020 
blood donut in a shark tank 1 – 3 
pretty blond cheerleaders with guns 
dispatches from the time of dinosaurs and broad-leafed plants 1 - 5 



Natasha Trethewey 

Incident 



Me

Fulton Street hustlers 
marching as too war 
halfway house 
grown up jokes 



Stanley Kunitz 

Cleopatra 



Me 

gray day 
sighting the neighborhood Chupacabra 
where’s Kilroy? 










blood donut in a shark tank 1-3

1.

first manifestation -
random pop-up ads every time I depress
"enter"

despite my well-known
and frequently demonstrated
ignorance of all things
digitalistic,
I resolves try to fix the problem
myself
leading to the same prospect of survival
as a blood donut in a shark tank

not good for the donut,
not good for me
as I was presented with the dreaded
blue screen of death...

and so I write here again,
again
with a leaky black pen
and a 50 cent
composition notebook...

and I console myself
with thoughts
of my pioneer ancestors,
hiking with all their belongings
from their port of arrival
on the Texas gulf coast
to their new homes in the wild and rocky hills
of central Texas,
facing fearsome and hostile Comanches,
heat, drought, unpromising stone-filled pastures,
coming to this harsh land
so different from the soft hills
and green forests of their native Germany,
coming to preserver despite all,
digging wells deep into the hills to tap into
sweet clear waters of ancient limestone aquifers
deep beneath the equally ancient hills,
put aside their farmers' tools and learned
to arts of cattle and sheep, made friends with the Comanche
and cleared the stones from their pastures, using them
to build fences still standing all these years later

so, coming from that history, I suppose
I can make this leaky pen work
for a day or two and even a poem or two...


2.

so little rain
it takes
to turn the rock-bound hills
and pastures
into a green garden
of high grass
and bright flowers,
bluebonnets, red Indian paintbrushes,
brilliant yellow sunflowers,
tree-line to tree-line…

so little rain
to change the face
of our small edge of the world

so little rain,
like liquid kindness falling,
so little required
to change the face
of the faces or our little edge of the world


3.

watching,

neck craned,
as the stars blink their unsteady light
overhead, considering
the possibility of a future life among them
when my life here is complete
and all the bits and parts of the former me
fly apart on a journey to new manifestations of me,
manifesting my previous parts
into the earth, in this life beneath my feet,
a newly transient me part of the dirt, part of the trees
and flowers and earthworms that populate
the earth that is also partially me, and the rocks
with their sub-atomic bits of me, those rocks that break
the earth and grow from it, and the sky and the clouds
and the rain that falls with me from their soft swells,
and the air below the clouds and above the clouds, microscopic
specks of me rising to the cold incomplete realms
of space, space past the planets, past the great emptiness,
me in parts so tiny as to be lost among the cosmic dust, scattering
among the lights most far and dim to the was-me, to become with them
an infinitesimal twinkle among all the universe of twinkling, becoming
as the journey continues a part of all again, spreading the all of me today
to become again a part of the all of the truly all, such is the life
I will lead in all my scattered parts until forever ends
and a new forever begins and I will be there too, watching
from some place amid and apart as the final/never final
disposition of all to become all again, begins

for I have an optimistic
heritage









pretty blond cheerleaders with guns

the police officer
across the room is in his mid-thirties,
I’d say, his partner, barely more than half his size,
mid-twenties, blond, the kind of clean lines to her face
photographers look for in a model, bright red fingernails,
her hair wrapped tight would reach the mid-point of her spine
if set loose, a beautiful woman,
a woman many men would die to be arrested by
just for the thrill of the
pat down…

a cheerleader
packing heat, bringing some of her own

her utility belt, with all the tools of her profession,
her gun, her radio, her baton, her handcuffs, and all the rest,
all the hidden secrets that civilians don’t get to know
until the time comes for their use, is obviously
heavy, and it’s wide as it wraps around her,
almost as wide as she is above and below the belt,
makes her look a little awkward as she walks
with her partner to their patrol SUV

but still, the long (I imagine) blond hair, and the clean lines
of her face and those red fingernails, well, who cares
about a little awkward walking…

---

now, before you say anything, I know that, though a small
part of her might be pleased, she would anyway hate this poem,
seeing it as a denigration of her hard-learned and exercised
police skills, just another man, she would say, who sees
just a woman’s beauty, sees a woman as just another sex object,
despite all her other attributes of intelligence and determination,
and in this case, the courage of a small, beautiful woman
to take on a cop’s world, more courage, certainly, than that is required
of any man, especially an ugly man who has a face built for
authority and intimidation…

and this is all I can say in my defense -

I’m old and in my day, cops were born with a cop face, large men,
broad shoulders, craggy faces with deep set eyes and a bushy mustache
beneath broad-brimmed Resistol hats, no utility belt, just a large pistol
that hung low on their hips and kick-your-ass-if-you-give-me-any-shit
looks that would shut your mouth before you even thought
of saying anything that might question their view
of the proper ways of the world and its normal rotation
around the law as they saw it…

so, see, it’s not disrespect I’m meaning, just another example
of my own slow adjustment to a world I didn’t grow up in…

pretty blond cheerleaders with guns…

I have to admit that the more I think about that,
the more I like
it…











As with earlier poems in this post, this is a series written when my lap top was off with the nerds getting CPR and I was, for the first time in a number of years writing on actual pen and paper.





dispatches from the time of dinosaurs and broad-leafed plants 1 - 5

1.

how quaint,
this pen and flowing ink thing…

will
the inspiration flow
as well
as it flows when electricity courses
in a dry, red stream along that dark wire,
pulling ideas from the dusty recesses of sheet rocked walls
where mice and dust bunnies play, pushing the ideas
to my keyboard, infecting my fingers
with the electricity of creation, shaking awake
the portions of my mind open to creation, my muse
energized and ready to play
for another
day


2.

approaching downtown
on Interstate 10…

tall buildings
passing through clouds
of light gauze

the sky lowered
to brush the tops
of big-haired ladies
and their Elvis-pompadoured
pimps
settling in at the end of shift
for pancakes
at The Pig Stand
on Broadway

long nights
and slow-starting days
for the men
and their ladies


3.

intimate
early light

immediate
past-dawn,
vibrant
and clear

the air cleaned
by overnight storms,
not enough to break
the drought, but
chasing from the new day
months of dreary, dry
and vacant

days been nowhere,
going nowhere,
holes
in time
sucking life, leaving for us
only still and sterile
days

a break from all that
this morning

new light infectious
with life


4.

BEDLAM!!

crickets cricking

frogs croaking


(the basso profondo call
of bullfrog leader of the pack
ripples the water in the
creek)

rooster from down the street
crowing
and the dogs on both sides
barking
and the backyard trees
whispering
in the morning breeze

all life
awake and waiting for the morning to begin
except for that single
species
that requires a newspaper
and a pot of coffee at Jim’s

(with some first-light sass from Belinda
as she pours out that first cup
of black awakening)

that would be me
waiting for my first sip of liquid alert

all that
before the starting pistol can sound…
and even so,
at best only half-awake, still ahead
of the rest of my kind, still snug-abed -
waiting for the silence of all the morning creatures
to return as they get on with their daily does its 

shh
I whisper to Bella, rattling her collar
as we sneak out the front door, careful quiet
so as not to wake the sleeping kind, eager
to wrap ourselves in the morning bedlam before
the serious silence of day
returns

self-aware in our own slow way,
and eager for Belinda’s morning administration
of coffee-conscious that will bring us, even in its limited
dawn-orange way,
to the wise-guy antics of another
turn of the universal wheels
of then and now


5.


beginning day six without my computer
and the sands of time
trickle so slow
drifting
across the face of
Ozymandias
sinking
so slowly sinking
beneath the sands of minutes
turned to hours, sands of Solitaire,
the game of lost minds, trickling,
slow card upon slow
card

the sands of time
like the will to live
slowly trickling









This poem is by Natasha Trethewey, taken from her book, Native Guard, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, published by Houghton Mifflin Company in 2007.


In addition to the Pulitzer Prize for this book, Trethewey has earned such honors as a Guggenheim fellowship, the Grolier Poetry Prize, as well as a Pushcart Prize. At the time of publication, she taught creative writing at Emory University.




Incident


We tell the story every year -
how we peered from the windows, shades drawn -
though nothing really happened,
the charred grass now green again.

We peered from the windows, shades drawn,
at the cross trussed like a Christmas tree,
the charred grass still green. Then
we darkened our rooms. lit hurricane lamps,
the wicks trembling in their fonts of oil.

It seemed the angels had gathered, white men in their gowns.
When they were done, they left quietly. No one came.
The wicks trembled all ight in their fonts of oil;
by morning the flames had dimmed.

When they were done, the men left quietly. No one came.
Nothing really happened.
By morning the flames had dimmed.
We tell the story every year.







This is a story about some people I knew once. The poem actually won some kind of prize on the internet.



Fulton Street hustlers


it's eleven
in the morning

and you can ell
the drinkers,
the down-but-
not-quite-outers,
squinting
in the mid-day sun
as they cross
Fulton Street,
leaving their
$40 a week
motel rooms.
heading for 
breakfast
at one of
the dozen
taco shops
in the neigh-
borhood,
chorizo and
eggs with
a side of
refried
beans, two
flour tortillas,
black sludge
coffee, and 
six aspirin
for the head
that won't stop
aching until
they get their
first beer,
their scrambled
egg chaser
that officially 
starts the day,
mostly men,
careful with
their appearances,
fresh-shined
boots, sharp
creased jeans,
and starched
long sleeve
cowboy shirt
with fake pearl
snaps,
pool shooters,
dart throwers,
penny tossers,
pin-ball wizards,
and hustlers of
most every kind,
living on the edge,
always, on the edge
of losing, usually
they live on alcohol
and beer nuts,
cheap meals
at flytrap 
eateries and
dark places where
the truth is only
what you can see
in a smoked bar
mirror, where pre-
tending is easier
than not








I wrote this the first week of January, 2009. In the eleven years since it has become even more apparent than ever to me that time is a thief that steals your life when you're not paying attention. The picture above is from my first year of service, spending most of that year studying Russian at Indiana University. Not a bad gig while others were fighting jungle mosquitos and worse.




marching as to war

on this day
forty-three years ago,
newly shorn
and uniformed
in teh middle 
of another 
bloody 
useless war,
I was in my 
fourth day
of learning
the arts of combat
which seemed 
at that early point
to be mostly about
getting up
at the very-dark
of morning
and marching
in godawful winter
weather
to places we did not
care to go

many of us
would soon learn
more advanced
and terrible lessons,
while others,
like me,
would find safe haven
in specialties
that involved
neither shooting
nor being shot
at
veterans
we are now
of the they-also-serve-
who-only-stand-and-wait
brigade...

we 
honor those
who fought then
and those
who fight now,
and thank
god
again and again
we are not
them









This is another poem from 2007-2009.



halfway house

the sky
is full of
stars
tonight,
the moon
bright 
and almost full

if I could
throw 
a line from here
to there
I'd climb
this night

halfway to
those 
stars














The next poem is by Stanley Kunitz, taken from his book Passing Through, published in 1995, the year of the poet's ninetieth birthday, by W.W. Norton. The book was a National Book Award Winner, 

Kunitz won, literally, too many awards and honors to list in the limited space here. 




Cleopatra  

     - from Anna Akhmatova

She had already kissed Antony's dead lips,
she had already wept on her knees before Caesar...
and her servants have betrayed her. Darkness falls.
The trumpets of the Roman eagle scream.

And in comes the last man to be ravished by her beauty -
such a tall gallant! - with a shamefaced whisper:
"You must walk before him, as a slave, in triumph."
But the slope of her swan's neck is tranquil as ever.

Tomorrow they'll put her children in chains. Nothing
remains except to tease this fellow out of mind
and put the black snake, like a parting act of pity,
on her dark breast with indifferent hand.










sighting the neighborhood Chupacabra

a shadow
moving between the trees
among other, darker shadows

that’s all I’ve seen
of our neighborhood Chupacabra
until this week…

three days during the week,
it crossed our front yard
as Bella and I came out for our

morning walk…

a strange creature
hard to see in the dim light,
but moving fast, tiny little steps

on delicate little feet,
bushy tail sticking straight in the air
like a bottle bush...

perhaps related
to the troll who lives under
the Apache Creek footbridge

never seen,
but heard, a series of click, click, clicks
from the dark under the bridge

if you get too close…

truth is,
from my only real sighting,
little Chupa is not so fearsome as advertised

looking a lot like a skunk
as it runs across the yard
in the dim morning

light,
but doesn’t smell at all like
a skunk is supposed to smell…

maybe that’s the answer
to the mystery
of the Chupacabra,

not some angry survivor
from an ancient past,
lurking in the high chaparral

but just a skunk
who has lost its stink,
defenseless

now,
able only to quickly run away
from danger

with hurried little steps
on delicate little feet,
bushy tail turned high in the air









where’s Kilroy?

round
fat moon
peers
over a long bank of clouds
like Kilroy over
a marshmallow fence

as the veterans
of his days pass on,
he survives, symbol
of the confidence
of a rising tide

while the Kilroy
of our day huddles
weeping behind the fence,
tweeting
moment by moment
his descent into the panics of our
time

Kilroy -
just not what he used to be












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