Habits of Mercy   Tuesday, October 20, 2020

 




All my stuff this time is from my second eBook, Goes Around, Comes Around, beginning with this.




habits of mercy


I was thinking this morning

about what I want to do

with the rest of my life


and decided

it's the same thing

I want to do with the rest

of my day


kiss my wife at least once or twice


eat some good food


write some good poems


sleep a nice nap


communicate with my better nature


forgive myself for all recent sins,

known, as well as secret, even to me


easier for some

than for others, those with no true love

to kiss


no food to eat


no bed to sleep in


no poetry in their soul


those with no key to unlock the door

to self, their true self, as unknown to them

as a stranger passing dark on the street


and most difficult of all 

for those who can't find within themselves

forgiveness of even themselves


poor, miserable ego-obsessed creatures

that we are, sinners almost

from our first thoughts -


if we cannot forgive even ourselves

how will we ever learn to forgive others


and if we cannot forgive others, 

how can we live in this world

that needs cleansed hearts

as much as it needs clear air and water


habits of mercy

are what will save this world;

human sins forgiven by human sinners









Here's what I have this time.



Me 

habits of mercy 
somewhere out there 
the Hawaiian shirt plan 
it’s my story and I’m sticking to it 


Louise Gluck 

The Clearing 


Me 

notes from slower regions of the universe 
poets on every street corner 
they came from beyond 
shark bait 


Daniel Berrigan 

In Exaltation of so Simple a Thing, an Autumn Tree 



Me 

daybreak 
post-it notes 
bones-jumping blonds and their place in poetry 
a chance meeting in the rain










somewhere out there

this is serious business

somewhere out there
interstellar star systems are colliding

somewhere out there
an alien race of whoozidoozits
is going extinct as their methane atmosphere
is slowly replaced by megaterlagon oxygen farts

somewhere out there 
a spaceship full of Baptists
is approaching the water-planet Abosion XII
for really, really full immersion baptism

somewhere out there
Pat Boone is thinking about a come-back tour

somewhere out there
a Republican is suffering from delusions
of competency

somewhere out there
a bunch of foreigners who don't even speak English 
are bouncing balls off their heads
and calling it "football"

I mean 
this is no damn time for jokes
and silly faces









the Hawaiian shirt plan

it's
a kind of orange/yellow thing,
with palm trees and some kind of liquor bottle
with sailing ships on the label

it's one of seven Hawaiian shirts I bought
a couple of weeks ago - like the one I have on today,
part of my new strategy for facing South Texas summer

embrace it!

no more hiding in my air conditioned house for four months,
tasting unprocessed outside air only for the time it takes
to get from my air conditioned house to my air conditioned car

instead
I will sweat, just as one is supposed to
when it's 100 degrees in 85 percent humidity

I will wear my sweat-stained
Hawaiian shirts daily

I will work at least one hour per day
in my backyard in the cinder-toasting sun,
as lightly dressed as allowed by law,
my fish-white belly will brown like the pecans
that fall from the trees

my feet will become summer rough  again,
my hands black & bruised from digging in the dark soil,
bloody from the sharp caliche rock

I will be like the ancient people
who made their hard lives here, among the cactus
and hills, rocky meadows, summer heat and north winds
of winter

I will be seven years old again, when summer was my friend

I will be summer










it's my story and I'm sticking to it

15 degrees outside
and I'm snug and warm inside, sitting by the window
eating my eggs and grits, watching
all the freezing children walk to school through 12-foot snowdrifts
as slavering snow beasts slink from the dark forest, howling,
appetite raging for the delicious taste of freezing school children...

but, wait...

that's someone else's life, in fact,
not a life at all, but one of the legends we build around ourselves,
legends we use, as in this case, a story to convince my son
that walking four blocks to school under Texas sunshine
isn't the worst thing that could happen, or, other times, legends
we build to convince ourselves we are stronger, smarter, 
more heroic than we are...like, boy, if I had been on that plane
when that stinkin' terrorist tried to light his underwear
I'd have gotten him good, gone over the seat at him before anyone else
noticed what he was doing, then a three-punch combination,
nose
gut
haymaker to the jaw
and it would have been all over, except
for my picture on the cover of Time Magazine...

legends to sooth that nagging suspicion of inadequacy which
the world reminds us is the modern state of man and woman,
when little is expected beyond ardent consumption of retail legends
of the exploits of others

legends, as, in our recliner, we pat our round bellies
and squint through failing eyes at the Time Magazine cover
upon which
we will never be









This poem is by this years winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, American poet Louise Gluck.

Gluck is not an unknown poet, even I knew of her. Despite that I could not find her in either of my four poetry anthologies. I had all but given up when I looked in my anthology of Women Poets from Antiquity To Now, there she was among a small list of American poets included in the book of nearly 800 pages of poets from all over the world from the distant past to today. 

The anthology was first published in 1980 by Shocken Books which includes in a new edition in 1992 a small, though expanded selection of American poets, including Gluck.



The Clearing

Gradually, over many years,
the fur disappeared from their bodies
until they stood in the bright light
strange to one another. 
Nothing was as before.
Their hands trembled, seeking
the familiar.

Nor could they keep their eyes
from the white flesh
on which wounds could show clearly
like words on a page.

And from the meaningless browns and greens
at last, God arose. His great shadow
darkening the sleeping bodies of his children,
and leapt into heaven.

How beautiful it must have been,
the earth, that first time
seen from the air.









notes from slower regions of the universe

the first time
we made love, I carried you like

a leaf on the tide
to my bed

~~~~~

Sunday afternoon
in the apartment on
Santa Fe,

lying in bed,
watching it rain
through a damp
window screen

watching the rain
in soft sheets
advance
across the gray waters
of the bay

~~~~~


the house 
on G Street

open ceiling

rain on the roof
pattering

banana plant by the 
window
weaving green patterns
in the wind

like sleeping dry
in the rain

~~~~~

the first night home
alone
from the agency

crib at the foot
of our bed

we sleep lightly

listen in our sleep
for his
breathing

~~~~~

we slip into sleep
flesh to flesh
spooned
skin on soft skin

my rough hands cupping
your small breasts

`````

I sleep
my leg between yours
your arm across my
chest

the fire banked
the embers still glow









poets on every street corner

I was going 
to write a poem

about what I would do
if I could run the world

but,
sitting here now

I realize
I don't know what to do

either

except
I'd like to see rain
every Thursday
and sunshine and blue skies

the rest of the week
except

in the winter
when there should be
snow

and blue skies
and children skating

on iced-over ponds
and cows in the fields

blowing clouds
through their noses

and palm trees on
beaches
for those who don't like

shade
and big waves for the surfers
and clear clean streams
slow moving

between tall green trees
for those of us who prefer to float

and people learning to shake off
bad times
like dogs shaking off wet

a big shake

beginning with flapping ears
passing on down to big

shimmy shakes
of their rear

and no icky things
in dark corners

no snakes
and no spiders and no
poison lizards
or animals who like to eat

people

and no fatherless children
or old people
rotting in isolation
and inattention

and no one dying of diseases
they couldn't afford
to cure

and no backaches or migraines
or rashes
in hide-away places

and no people who eat to much
or people who never get
to eat as much they need

and no drunkards or
drug addicts

or gangsters
who shoot children from
their cars

and no priests,
preacher, ayatollahs,
rabbis or other parasites
on the human soul

instead
poets on ever street corner
proclaiming truth and
love and silly songs
for all who will listen

and  crowds of people who will
listen to all the poets
on all the street corners
and return their love
and maybe throw
money









they came from beyond

one of the things I liked
about growing up in the 50s
was the fact
that things didn't change
all that month

once you learned to be a respectably competent
citizen of the universe,
little retraining was required; 
if you knew how to do something on Tuesday
chances were good that you would still know how to do it
on Thursday -

it is a conspiracy I think

advance scouts from the planet Geekopia
have come to Earth
to screw it all up by making everything so complicated
that they become irreplaceable,
while slowly making the rest of us 
irrelevant and obsolete -

and worst of all it is hard to keep up
with these agents of confusion and catastrophe
and today, as usual, I find myself
losing -

so if it happens you know one
please transmit via email how I might
intrude upon his fortress of solitude with an urgent request
to fix my computer which has fallen

and I don't know how 
to get it up










shark bait

squalls sweep
like dancers
across Corpus Christi Bay,
part of the storm I brought with me today
as I traveled from the hills to the coast

and, as I sit sipping coffee in the light mist,
something breaks the water
about fifteen yards out from the beach,
breaks the surface for a yard or two,
then disappears in a swirl and froth of water -
and I watch, hoping it will surface again
so I can see what it is -

and it does, a triangular fin sweeps the shallow water
along the beach - a shark, a sizable one from the
size of its fin, and it dives and surfaces
and dives and surfaces until I lose sight of it
as it moves toward the T-Heads, a reminder
that even in this small bay, even off this small beach
in front of this small hotel, there are hungry things
large and small and they hunt under rainy skies
and in the swallowing dark...

~~~~~

but that was not what this day was about, not about
sharks and other hungry things of dark and gathering tides,
or even a reminder of why, over the 15 years I lived here,
I never touched a toe into the water...

no, this day was about the beauty of wildflowers
captured over the course of day driving
the back roads and byways of the coastal plains,
making an all-day trip out of a journey that only takes
two and a half hours on the interstate, a plan lost
to a late start and bad weather...

instead it was a day on U.S. 181, a highway I used
to travel often but haven't been on in many years,
the only way in the old days to get from here to there -

here and there being almost any two distant points...

now an afterthought of a road, barely used except
during hurricane evacuations when all the main roads
are blocked with cars and trucks filled with mamas
and their babies and grandmas and grandpas and
all the family treasures that could be gathered up
and stuffed, somehow, into a vehicle already packed
to capacity with people...

but they don't stop, instead, they hurry on in fright
of the storm, passing right on through all the little
towns along the way that used to be on the main route,
now nobody's route but the farmer down the road
pulling a trailer full of hay...

all these people in all these dying little towns
and all the people along the highway
and the wildflowers, seen now only
by the few...















This poem is by Daniel Berrigan, one of the types of radical preachers/priests I generally hold in contempt for their holy moly arrogance. For fifty years he and his anti-war followers have been held up as heroes of their age. Bullshit! For most, the resistance to war was incidental. The real resistance was to the draft, when priviledged middle and upper class white boys found out they too could be called right along with the brown and black boys that lived on the other side of town. Meanwhile, the "resistance' led by Berrigan and his ilk extended of the war two to three years, causing thousands of lives lost unnecessarily on both sides.. . But he did write some good poems here. 

A line in the poem that the subject of the poem, a tree, has not worshipped idols, reminds me of my conviction that Berrigan and his kind worship the idol that was themselves.

The poem is from his book, And the Risen Bread, Selected Poems 1957-1997, published by Fordham University Press in 1998.




In Exaltation of So Simple a Thing, an Autumn Tree

Has not let blood
nor lied in his teeth
nor made mock
nor defrauded
nor worshipped idols
nor extinguished truth

But
like anemone
or a golden fish -
blushes, pales at the nearing
bridegroom
whom you (we)
in fear-ridden
vocables
flee 
crying 

reality!










A poem from a visit to the coast in August, 2010.




daybreak

daybreak
on a southern shore

topic winds
stir

the irregular music
of wind chimes
against
the clockwork rhythm
of the tides

the sun rises
over
the Gulf of Mexico
red sky
rippled by soft waves

a falling
tide

tiny sand crabs
skitter
from their holes











As I mentioned in an earlier post, "post-it-notes" are what I named very brief poems written at a moment when the only available paper to write on was a pad of little yellow post-it notes. A form especially good for little love notes.




post-it notes

I am lost -
have you loved me
lately


~~~~~


too late,
I'm going back
to hating
you


~~~~~


if only I
believed
you
I would surely love
you


~~~~~


don't mind me -
I'm just your backseat
lover


~~~~~



without my pussy 
cat
I'm just a dog without
a bone


~~~~~



when I'm gone
you'll wish 
I had never told the
truth


~~~~~


I said never -
and I'll never say that
again


~~~~~


I watch always now
the place
you left me behind


~~~~~


you asked 
for the truth -
I should have known 
better


~~~~~


you said you would be
back
but never said when -
I wait, still











bones-jumping blonds and their place in poetry

it's
not
like I have some
holy
obligation
to write a poem today

not like
I swore on a stack of 
bibles
I would write a poem
every 
day

not 
like the powers of poetry
are holding hostage my
first born
and my collection of Batman
comics,
threatening
to shred one
and trade the other
for tattered and smudged
Archie and Veronicas
unless I write a poem
right now,
this minute

not
like
there's a bomb
tick-tocking under the 
Tower of London
set to go off if I don't
release a poem
into the atmosphere
within 45 minutes

not like
the president
is being held hostage
by a band of killer Republican
literary super agents
demanding an immediate poem
from me or
else

not like 
someone is going to give
me a bunch of money
if I get that poem written,
and that wouldn't work 
anyway
since
as a true poet
I know not much of
money or other material
reward
for the scribbled dripplings
of my soul on
paper 

(ahhh,
the horror the horror
of poets bound by the 
chains of materialism)

and it's not like
some blonde with generous
curves and giggly
breath
is going to jump my 
bones
if I write a poem

(though that does seem like a
damn good reason to
write a poem
right now)

in fact,
I'm going to try real hard
right now,
really, really hard,
to write a poem
just in case there's a 
giggly
blonde
in the neighborhood
eager
to jump a poet's 
bones

~~~~~

the secret
of creativity,
one third perspiration,
on third dedication
and three thirds bones-
jumping
blonds
with generous curves

I await,
bones a-tremble








a chance meeting in the rain

I have taken this summer
to taking
a few minutes of sun
every day in a private corner
of my backyard

an attempt to resolve
the old man's lily-white ass
syndrome which has afflicted me
for some time now,
making me look,
in light of the dark tanliness
of the rest of my body,
like a one-striped zebra
in a freak-show zoo, and
even though this condition
will remain, I expect a secret
between me, my wife, and the
three or four people
who read my poems...

it is unpleasant in my own mind
to think of myself 
as a one-striped zebra in a
freak-show zoo...

all of this by way of explanation
for why, yesterday, I was lying 
naked in the grass
when my sun-time was interrupted
by a dark cloud from which began to issue
large and persistent rain
drops
which under normal circumstances
would have sent me high-tailing, or in my case,
lily-white-tailing in for cover...

but I did not do that, having,
just that morning, read two of my
favorite poets singing in praise of rain
and it's natural power of renewal...

so
instead of lily-white-tailing it inside,
I stayed on my little blanket on the grass
getting gloriously wet and meeting,
as I soaked,  tiny hummingbird perched
on a blossom mere inches from my nose,
wings at rest,
long thin bill held up to the rain, enjoying,
like me, nature's cleansing...

hello, little bird, I thought

we must keep meeting like this













GOOD NEWS - the "comment"  function is working again after several years when it did not.

I'd love to have feedback from readers, about the blog, about the poems or pictures, favorite recipes from your old dearly departed Aunt Herminia, or anything else on your mind.



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Goes Around Comes Around




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Seven Beats a Second






Fiction


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