Poems of the Month

                                                  OCTOBER  2012

                (E-mail submissions, suggestions, feedback or commentary to timiimit@mockok.com )

 

October 15, 2012

                                                        SEPTEMBER TWENTY-FIRST
 

                                                        Evening darkness is peppered

                                                        by a neighbor's yard light,

                                                        dried corn stalks exposed dancing--

                                                        or quaking?--in warm wind.

                                                        I leave them up for times like this

                                                        to hear what the dead have to say.
 

                                                        The same hot, dry summer

                                                        which left limbs holding cobs

                                                        pocked with missing kernels,

                                                        provided many nights

                                                        without cloud cover to obscure

                                                        our local galaxy's dimming glow.
 

                                                        As my cat's life-or-death yowls

                                                        interrupt crickets' balmy cadence,

                                                        I harbor conflicted worries:

                                                        "Is it his brother, or a raccoon?"

                                                        And "Will I leave life too soon,

                                                        or be left in a parched body too long?"
 

                                                        I imagine some Milky Way force

                                                        providing our bodies energy

                                                        to shake and quake messages--

                                                        never mind unripe fruits.
 

                                                        --if you live, your time will come

 

 

Ocotober 1, 2012

A Ritual to Read to Each Other
                                        
--for Liz
 

If you don’t know the kind of person I am

and I don’t know the kind of person you are

a pattern that others made may prevail in the world

and following the wrong god home we may miss our star.
 

For there is many a small betrayal in the mind,

A shrug that lets the fragile sequence break

sending with shouts the horrible errors of childhood

storming out to play through the broken dike.
 

And as elephants parade holding each elephant’s tail,

but if one wanders the circus won’t find the park,

I call it cruel and maybe the root of all cruelty

to know what occurs but not recognize the fact.
 

And so I appeal to a voice, to something shadowy,

a remote important region in all who talk:

though we could fool each other, we should consider—

lest the parade of our mutual life get lost in the dark.
 

For it is important that awake people be awake,

or a breaking line may discourage them back to sleep;

the signals we give—yes or no, or maybe—

should be clear: the darkness around us is deep.


--William Stafford

 

 

 

 

 

IN MEMORIAM: JOHN HENRY VAN ERT, JR -- born September 22, 1958   

        Despite his reminder to us all that "the road to heaven winds through hell" John is NOT a 'tortured

    soul' poet.  Instead, John reveals praise and criticism both as acts of heartfelt love.  John's soul is in the

    room as he shares his intimate vision of love, life and natural beauty.  To hear a man's heart so clearly can only

    make another heart cry with joy -- and loss.  John says what WE also feel--that's the poet-prophet role all

    cultures have needed to heal. 

            Last night, sitting in our backyard looking up to the heavens at midnight, the full moon blinded us to all

    but one of Perseid's show: a huge, blazing swath of sparkling light rushed headlong across the black backdrop--

    and just as suddenly was gone.  "Wow!  That's the first real shooting star I've ever seen," said Larissa, "I guess the

    other ones were just my imagination..."  Exactly how I feel after reading John's poetry.  Please enjoy and share these.

    I will be publishing two per week for the 3 months of August, September and October: http://mockok.com/AUG.htm

    http://mockok.com/SEP.htm
 

                                                                                                                                                Tim Van Ert

October 30, 2011

Do I Bow, Do I Stand
 

Amidst the steel grey doors

Amongst the concrete black

Where desperation’s silent gate

Guides us on that lonely walk

Upwards towards the thundering sound

Of hand on book

Where men in rags

And men in uniform

Take the same steps

Upwards and inwards

To take a look

Through the cracks and crevices

Of their hardened souls
 

Strangely naked I sit this night

Washed of worldly possessions

Truth ambles awkwardly

Between exhilaration and fright

Intermingling with the realizations

Of the crudely carved ebb and flow

In the transitory experiences

I’ve come to know
 

In the delicate moments between

Dusk and dawn

When I transverse

Mortality on my shoulders

I look back upon

Life’s shifting sands and tidal pools

Questioning the heart

I ponder, hero or fool?

Decisions made and played upon

Responsibilities only I take on

For actions long past and gone
 

Where does one stand

Between right and wrong, and

Is the point all that fine

So as not to allow the throng

Of ifs and buts

We seem to rely on

When clearing our conscience

Of the clutter and debris

Washed upon our shores constantly

I sail, ever so carelessly

As winds of time sound in revelry
 

Youth disappears so quickly!

And we so stubbornly

Miscalculate its velocity

Believing we can control

Both time and space

Inevitably we end up in our place

Wherever it may be

Whatever the case

Destiny masked in silken lace

Disguising the lines on our face

Where then is this heaven

What then is this place?
 

For now I cease to be

All I thought to be real

Was but jokers’ folly

Imitation life

Manipulated, used, pretentious, abused

I stand alone battered, bruised

Head in hands, with only hints and clues

As to the meaning of his plan

Do I bow, do I stand

Before the lord Jesus, man?
 

I cry tonight for reasons haste

Do not dally

Do not waste

Another day, another taste

Of his precious feast

Set before me, then at least

I will know that I am to blame

For never trusting or laying claim

To his undying love

Or his glorious reign
 

Will I ride upon the wing

Feel the wind

Hear the scream

Echoing thunderously

Throughout my soul

A show of faith

And I will know

What the meaning of resurrection

Has to do with my life

So it was, so it is

So it shall be freedom


                              John Henry Van Ert, Jr
 

UNPUBLISHED COLLECTION

 

October 23, 2011

AS FRIENDS
 

HERE IN THE SILENCE

I AM AS I AM, ALONE

AS REAL AS ALL I SEE

UNAFRAID OF KNOWING THINGS

FOR WHAT THEY ARE

AND WHAT IT IS

THE QUIET WHISPERS

A SPIRIT, A MESSAGE, A THOUGHT

ON THE ESSENCE OF FRIENDSHIP

BORN NOT OF CHOICE, BUT ELECTION

TOUCHING THE GOAL OF GOOD FORTUNE

WITH RHYME AND REASON

WHEN THERE WAS ONLY VOID

I TAKE COMFORT WHERE

WHAT IS MINE AND NOT MINE, IS MINE

AT TIMES I STAND AND LET

IT MOUNT AND GROW

INTO ITS ENTIRENESS

THIS, THE SOUL OF FRIENDSHIP

TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE, PERHAPS

BUT IF VUIRTUE IS ITS ONLY REWARD

AND ALL ASSOCIATION IS COMPROMISE

THEN LET US MEET AS WATER WITH WATER

IN THE LIGHT OF MUTUAL RESPECT

ABSENT OF SELF POSESSION

PLANTING OURSELVES FIRMLY

IN THE FIBRE OF THE HUMAN HEART

THAT DEEP AND SINCERE PEACE

SHARED AMONGST SOULS

WHO HAVE WHAT THEY GIVE AWAY

TO RECEIVE WHAT EACH IS

NOT WHAT EACH HAS

BEING A FRIEND SO AS TO HAVE ONE

BRINGING DOWN THE THICK WALLS

OF INDIVIDUALITY AND CHARACTER

TAKING AID AND COMFORT

THORUGHOUT THE PASSAGES OF LIFE AND DEATH

REAFFIRMING OURSELVES THROUGH EACH OTHER

TO WALK ON THE MOON

OR TO CRY OUT IN ANGER’S DESPAIR

WHEN TOGETHER WE ARE SEPARATE

LISTENING IN THE SILENCE

WE SHARE AS FRIENDS
 

                   John Henry Van Ert, Jr
 

UNPUBLISHED COLLECTION

 

 

October 19, 2011

Overleap
 

You and I

We are two

In a moment

Of braided flesh

As much alive

As the dawn

Merging with the day

Heart and soul

Intertwined in a

Union of selves

Becoming one

To overleap

The boundaries

Of individuality

Momentarily

Before laying

Back on the

Soft pillows

And warm bedding

We know

As ourselves

 

October 16, 2011

Thirty-Nine Valentine
 

Who did assign

This day, this birthday thirty-fine?

You would probably like to decline

Feeling I suppose a bit benign

Who am I to rub a wound with salty brine

Or tease, kid or even malign?

Eight being much easier than nine

Should I stop now and pantomine?

Like from off the vine

Your lips like wine

Won’t you be my concubine?

In essence, I pine

Dreaming of 69

Oops! I’ve crossed a line

Perhaps I should have said double dine

Or just stopped with “your da-kine”

My beautiful Magdeline

Hair of gold that does so shine

Causing son and moon to align

While angels in comfort do recline

And marvel at truly grand design

In ole southern English “I be gwine”

To send this wish kite on twine

Happy birthday! Thank God yo’ mine!


                        John Henry Van Ert, Jr
 

UNPUBLISHED COLLECTION

 

October 7, 2011

Blue Denim Moon
 

So what does it mean

When you can’t find home

When you struggle to keep in stride

With others walking alone

Seems the road goes on forever

While the walls are crashing in

Exposing so many people

And redefining the word “friend”

Hell, that is if you get a chance to

In the valleys we sometimes walk

Between the good times

And those when driven to our knees

The repetition becomes frustration

When the band plays the same old tune

Step after weary step

On this path of uncertainty

In the cold hearted glow

Of a blue denim moon.
 

Walk softly through these nights

These times so fragile

A will can be trampled

By things so fleeting and agile

Its question and doubt

Temptation and deceit

They’re apples on the limb

Whispering in the sublime

Echoing, pounding throughout

Decaying the open mind

Speaking to the darker side

Of a fallen spirit

Quickly to abide

To this slight of hand, nature’s trickery

Hope vanishing in thin air

Relinquishing our determination all too soon

We hide and pretend not to care

Taking refuge under a blue denim moon.
 

                        John Henry Van Ert, Jr
 

UNPUBLISHED COLLECTION

 

 

October 2, 2011

NEW MAN ANEW
 

SOMETIMES IN A NEW LOVE

IT’S HARD TO KNOW WHAT TO DO

IS SHE THINKING WHAT YOU’RE THINKING OF,

OR DOES THE WEIGHT FALL BACK ON YOU?
 

THESE CLOUDS OF DOUBT ARE PARTING

I BELIEVE IT’S ALL BECAUSE OF YOU

A WAVERING SOUL HAS DEPARTED

AND A NEW MAN STANDS ANEW
 

ALTHOUGH HE HASN’T KNOWN HER LONG

HE’S THINKING MAYBE SHE MIGHT BELONG

WHO IS HE TO ARGUE WITH WHAT SEEMS TRUE?

WHILE THIS NEW MAN STANDS ANEW

THERE SHE IS, STANDING TOO
 

WILL THIS BE THE LOVE TO END ALL LOVES?

CAN HE FIND THE STRENGTH TO RAISE ABOVE

ALL THE MISCONCEPTIONS, ALL THE CRAZY THOUGHTS

THROUGH THE MIDNIGHT DREAMS

AND THE HOPES HE’S BOUGHT

WITH THE TIME THAT HAS BEEN SHARED

AND ALL THE TIME THEY’VE GOT

THROUGH HER EYES HE SEES

HELP HIM SEE A LOT

BELIEVE HIM WHEN HE SAYS

ALL OTHERS ARE FORGOT
 

                        John Henry Van Ert, Jr
 

UNPUBLISHED COLLECTION

==========================================================================================================

October 28, 2010

                                                The Very Old
 

                                                The very old are forever
                                                hurting themselves,

                                                burning their fingers
                                                on skillets, falling

                                                loosely as trees
                                                and breaking their hips                                   

                                                with muffled explosions of bone.
                                                Down the block

                                                they are wheeled in
                                                out of our sight

                                                for years at a time.
                                                To make conversation,

                                                the neighbors ask
                                                if they are still alive.

                                                Then, early one morning,
                                                through our kitchen windows

                                                we see them again,
                                                first one and then another,

                                                out in their gardens
                                                on crutches and canes,

                                                perennial,
                                                checking their gauges for rain.
 

                                                                    --Ted Kooser

                                                (published in SUTURED WORDS)


 

   

October 27, 2010

                                                Near the Old People's Home
 

                                                The people on the avenue at noon,

                                                Sharing the sparrows and the wintry sun,

                                                The turned-off fountain with its basin drained

                                                And cement benches etched with checkerboards,
 

                                                Are old and poor, most every one of them

                                                Wearing some decoration of his damage,

                                                Bandage or crutch or cane; and some are blind,

                                                Or nearly, tap-tapping along with white wands.
 

                                                When they open their mouths, there are no teeth.

                                                All the same, they keep on talking to themselves

                                                Even while bending to hawk up spit or blood

                                                In gutters that will be there when they are gone.
 

                                                Some have the habit of getting hit by cars

                                                Three times a year; the ambulance comes up

                                                And away they go mumbling even in shock

                                                The many secret names they have for God.

                                                                        --Howard Nemerov

                                                (published in SUTURED WORDS)

 

October 24, 2010

                                            The Gleam of Silver Wings
 

                                            After Darren's jet fell spinning

                                                out of the Asian sky,

                                                    I learned the myth of perfect flight,
 

                                            all of us Icarus, birds of a feather,

                                                accident-prone ground pounders

                                                    riding throttled fire.
 

                                            I had seen airplanes in movies

                                                tumbling and spouting smoke

                                                    and flames from under,
 

                                            but not real flesh, like Darren,

                                                the first I knew overseas

                                                    who vanished
 

                                            out of blue skies far from home,

                                                no parachute open,

                                                    ten thousand pounds of thrust
 

                                            and one of us reduced

                                                to this, a silver matchstick

                                                    tossed indifferently away.
 

                                                                Walter McDonald

                                            (pub'd in COUNTING SURVIVORS)

 

October 23, 2010

                                            The Rose
 

                                            The senses whirl

                                            and dance to the side

                                            of passion, whirl

                                            to the right then take

                                            the direction of an exit--

                                            the closing of eyes,

                                            pursing of lips.

                                            Yes, it is all there

                                            like a dream come true.

                                            Hands process a prayer, then

                                            darkness...

                                            A DEEP BREATH...

                                            then off the rose like a bee.
 

                                                            --Mark Shedd

                                            (pub'd in LONG NIGHT AHEAD)

 

October 21, 2010

                                                    "Aluminum Chlorohydrate" (1997)
 

                                                    Am I then to understand

                                                    that with every matins' sociable embalming of the armpit

                                                    molecular aluminum insinuates itself, through sheared follicles,

                                                    bright fleck by bright fleck, into the tiny tender kinks

                                                    of capillaries? slides along their permeable wisps

                                                    into the jostling rivers of depleted scarlet doughnuts and white ghosts,

                                                    into a hectic Amazon, through endlessly wrung chambers,

                                                    out the roaring wide aorta, rising blandly through the neck

                                                    by ever subtler pulses toward the tingling gray curd

                                                    all flushed with its matted electrical storms? and lays

                                                    a glinting finger on one sparked synaptic mouth

                                                    that hushes. Whose voice may never be missed.

                                                    A number, a name, the Latin for greed,

                                                    clopping upstairs that March day in Florence with brand-new clogs,

                                                    the blister they raised. But supposing senility

                                                    takes the brain in its soft retriever's mouth

                                                    and carries it to be gutted, supposing all

                                                    the recent layers plucked away and memory's microscopic doors flung wide

                                                    for the oldest to come forth: Would third-grade Ruth be missing

                                                    and unmissed, or Mary or Brenda, with random trivial comrades,

                                                    or would the whole host stagger out, one missing legs, another clothes,

                                                    with synthetic pearls for eyes or carrot noses?

                                                    Or would each corridor dead-end on a scaly tinfoil mirror

                                                    showing nothing but the scowling smear

                                                    of some old unfamiliar woman's face?

                                                                                                    --Sarah Lindsay

                                                    (published http://faculty.plattsburgh.edu/lauren.kiefer/Composition/aluminum.htm)

 

October 20, 2010

                                                Inducement
 

                                                Having nothing or

                                                not knowing what to say

                                                he dropped a grain of sand

                                                into his eye

                                                which slammed shut

                                                and watered.
 

                                                The other eye, still open,

                                                registered nothing or

                                                rather the blizzard

                                                of nothing and, of course,

                                                watered like an infant bawling

                                                in a roomful of other infants bawling

                                                unappeasably just because.
 

                                                So there arose a great unhappiness

                                                and this is the story that goes along

                                                like when you're on a train

                                                that begins to move and you think

                                                it's the landscape moving

                                                this is the story that goes along

                                                to make things better

                                                because someone cried out

                                                something large and invisible

                                                has been passed down

                                                out loud in secret.

                                                                        --Jack Myers

                                                (AS LONG AS YOU'RE HAPPY)

 

October 19, 2010

                                                Performance
 

                                                I starred last night, I shone:

                                                I was footwork and firework in one,
 

                                                a rocket that wriggled up and shot

                                                darkness with a parasol of brilliants

                                                and a peewee descant on a flung bit;

                                                I was busters of glitter-bombs expanding

                                                to mantle and aurora from a crown,

                                                I was fouettes, falls of blazing paint,

                                                pare-flares spot-welding cloudy heaven,

                                                loose gold off fierce toeholds of white,   

                                                a finale red-tongued as a haka leap:

                                                that too was a butt of all right!
 

                                                As usual after any triumph, I was

                                                of course inconsolable.

                                                                                --Les Murray

                                                (SUBHUMAN REDNECK POEMS)

 

October 18, 2010

                                        Name of Horses

                                                All winter your brute shoulders strained against collars, padding
                                                and steerhide over the ash hames, to haul
                                                sledges of cordwood for drying through spring and summer,
                                                for the Glenwood stove next winter, and for the simmering range.

                                                In April you pulled cartloads of manure to spread on the fields,
                                                dark manure of Holsteins, and knobs of your own clustered with oats.
                                                All summer you mowed the grass in meadow and hayfield, the mowing machine
                                                clacketing beside you, while the sun walked high in the morning;

                                                and after noon's heat, you pulled a clawed rake through the same acres,
                                                gathering stacks, and dragged the wagon from stack to stack,
                                                and the built hayrack back, uphill to the chaffy barn,
                                                three loads of hay a day from standing grass in the morning.

                                                Sundays you trotted the two miles to church with the light load
                                                a leather quartertop buggy, and grazed in the sound of hymns.
                                                Generation on generation, your neck rubbed the windowsill
                                                of the stall, smoothing the wood as the sea smooths glass.

                                                When you were old and lame, when your shoulders hurt bending to graze,
                                                one October the man, who fed you and kept you, and harnessed you every morning,
                                                led you through corn stubble to sandy ground above Eagle Pond,
                                                and dug a hole beside you where you stood shuddering in your skin,

                                                and lay the shotgun's muzzle in the boneless hollow behind your ear,
                                                and fired the slug into your brain, and felled you into your grave,
                                                shoveling sand to cover you, setting goldenrod upright above you,
                                                where by next summer a dent in the ground made your monument.

                                                For a hundred and fifty years, in the Pasture of dead horses,
                                                roots of pine trees pushed through the pale curves of your ribs,
                                                yellow blossoms flourished above you in autumn, and in winter
                                                frost heaved your bones in the ground - old toilers, soil makers:

                                                O Roger, Mackerel, Riley, Ned, Nellie, Chester, Lady Ghost.

                                                                                             --Donald Hall

October 17, 2010

                                                    Mother of Nothing
 

                                                    Sister, the stars have no children.

                                                    The stars pecking at each night's darkness

                                                    above your trailer would shine back at themselves

                                                    in its metal, but they are too far away.

                                                    The stones lining your path to the goats

                                                    know themselves only as speechless, flat,

                                                    gray-in-the-sun.

                                                    What begins and ends in the self

                                                    without continuance in any other.


                                                    You who stand at preschool fences

                                                    watching the endless tumble and slide,

                                                    who answer the mothers' Which one is yours?

                                                    with blotted murmur and turning away,

                                                    listen. Any lack carried

                                                    too close to the heart

                                                    grows teeth, nibbles off

                                                    corners.  I heard one say

                                                    she had no talent,

                                                    another, no time, and there were many

                                                    without beauty all those years,

                                                    and all of them shrinking.

                                                    What sinks to the bottom of the pond

                                                    comes up with new colors, or not at all.
 

                                                    We sank, and there was purple,

                                                    voluptuous merging of purple and blue,

                                                    a new silence living

                                                    in the houses of our bodies.

                                                    Those who wanted and never received,

                                                    who were born without hands,

                                                    who had and then lost; the Turkish mother

                                                    after the earthquake

                                                    and five silent children lined before  her,

                                                    the women of Beirut

                                                    bearing water to their bombed-out rooms,

                                                    the fathers in offices

                                                    with framed photographs of children on their desks,

                                                    and their own private knowledge

                                                    of all the hard words.
 

                                                    And we held trees differently

                                                    then, and dried plates differently,

                                                    because waiting dulls the senses

                                                    and when you are no longer waiting,

                                                    something wakes up.  My cousin said

                                                    It's not children, it's matter of making

                                                    life.  And I saw the streets opening into the future,

                                                    children waving out the rear window,

                                                    keeping count of all who waved back,

                                                    and would we lift our hearts and answer them,

                                                    and when we did, what would we say?

                                                    And the old preposterous stories of nothing

                                                    and everything finally equalling one another

                                                    returned in the night.  And like relatives,

                                                    knew where the secret key was hidden

                                                    and let themselves in.
 

                                                                        --Naomi Shihab Nye

                                                    (published in WORDS UNDER THE WORDS)

      

October 15, 2010

                                                       All through the Rains
 

                                                    That mare stood in the field--

                                                    A big pine-tree and a shed,

                                                    But she stayed in the open

                                                    Ass to the wind, splash wet.

                                                    I tried to catch her April

                                                    For a bareback ride,

                                                    She kicked and bolted

                                                    Later grazing fresh shoots

                                                    In the shade of the down

                                                    Eucalyptus on the hill.
 

                                                                    --Gary Snyder

                                                    (published in CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN POETRY)   
                                                     edited by Donald Hall)

 

October 14, 2010

                                                                                The Bones
 

                                                    It takes a long time to hear what the sands

                                                    Seem to be saying, with the wind nudging them,

                                                    And then you cannot put it in words nor tell

                                                    Why these things should have a voice.  All kinds

                                                    Of objects come in over the tide-wastes

                                                    In the course of a year, with a throaty

                                                    Rattle: weeds, driftwood, the bodies of birds

                                                    And of fish, shells.  For years I had hardly

                                                    Considered shells as being bones, maybe

                                                    Because of the sound they could still make, though

                                                    I knew a man once who could raise a kind

                                                    O wailing tune out of a flute he had,

                                                    Made from a fibula: it was much the same

                                                    Register as the shells'; the tune did not

                                                    Go on when his breath stopped, though you thought it would.

                                                    Then that morning, coming on the wreck,

                                                    I saw the kinship.  No recent disaster

                                                    But an old ghost from under a green buoy,

                                                    Brought in by the last storm, or one from which

                                                    The big wind had peeled back the sand grave

                                                    To show what was still left: the bleached, chewed-off

                                                    Timbers like the ribs of a man or the jaw-bone

                                                    Of some extinct beast.  Far down the sands its

                                                    Broken cage leaned out, casting no shadow

                                                    In the veiled light.  There was a man sitting beside it

                                                    Eating out of a paper, littering the beach

                                                    With the bones of a few more fish, while the hulk

                                                    Cupped its empty hand high over him.  Only he

                                                    And I had come to those sands knowing

                                                    That they were there.  The rest was bones, whatever

                                                    Tunes they made.  The bones of things; and of men too

                                                    And of man's endeavours whose ribs he had set

                                                    Between himself and the shapeless tides.  Then

                                                    I saw how the sand was shifting like water,

                                                    That once could walk.  Shells were to shut out the sea,

                                                    The bones of birds were built for floating

                                                    On air and water, and those of fish were devised

                                                    For their feeding depths, while a man's bones were framed

                                                    For what?  For knowing the sands are here,

                                                    And coming to hear them a long time; for giving

                                                    Shapes to the sprawled sea, weight to its winds,

                                                    And wrecks to plead for its sands.  These things are not

                                                    Limitless: we know there is somewhere

                                                    An end to them, though every way you look

                                                    They extend farther than a man can see.
 

                                                                            --W. S. Merwin

                                                    (published in CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN POETRY
                                                      edited by Donald hall) 

                                                                                    

October 13, 2010

                                                    Pumkin Pie
 

                                                    I love pumkin pie, yes I do!

                                                    Who oh who loves pumkin pie?

                                                    I'm sure you do!

                                                    It's so delicious, so nutritious!

                                                    I just can't keep my hands off!

                                                    It is so soft, why, "Yes," I say,

                                                    My mom used to say "okay."

                                                    I'll make pumkin pie today!

                                                        And that prove I love

                                                         pumkin pie.


                                                            --Sevyn Corbin

 

October 12, 2010

                                                    In Paris with You
 

                                                    Don't talk to me of love.  I've had an earful

                                                    And I get tearful when I've downed a drink or two.

                                                    I'm one of your talking wounded.

                                                    I'm a hostage.  I'm maroonded.


                                                    Yes I'm angry at the way I've been bamboozled

                                                    And resentful at the mess that I've been through.

                                                    I admit I'm on the rebound

                                                    And I don't care where are we bound.

                                                    I'm in Paris with you.
 

                                                            Do you mind if we do not go to the Louvre,

                                                            If we say sod off to sodding Notre Dame,

                                                            If we skip the Champs Elysees

                                                            And remain here in this sleazy

                                                            Old hotel room

                                                            Doing this and that

                                                            To what and whom

                                                            Learning who you are,

                                                            Learning what I am.
 

                                                    Don't talk to me of love.  Let's talk of Paris,

                                                    The little bit of Paris in our view.

                                                    There's that crack across the ceiling

                                                    And the hotel walls are peeling

                                                    And I'm in Paris with you.
 

                                                    Don't talk to me of love.  Let's talk of Paris.

                                                    I'm in Paris with the slightest thing you do.

                                                    I'm in Paris with your eyes, your mouth,

                                                    I'm in Paris with...all points south.

                                                    Am I embarrassing you?

                                                    I'm in Paris with you.
 

                                                            --James Fenton

                                                    (published in OUT OF DANGER)

 

October 11, 2010

                                                    Pets

                                                    There once was a cat named Earl

                                                    He had a friend named Pearl

                                                    Then he had a fright

                                                    In the middle of the night

                                                    Then Pearl went to see Earl.

                                                            --Larissa Van Ert

 

October 10, 2010

                                                    Love Poem

                                                    I want to write you
                                                    a love poem as headlong
                                                    as our creek
                                                    after thaw
                                                    when we stand
                                                    on its dangerous
                                                    banks and watch it carry
                                                    with it every twig
                                                    every dry leaf and branch
                                                    in its path
                                                    every scruple
                                                    when we see it
                                                    so swollen
                                                    with runoff
                                                    that even as we watch
                                                    we must grab
                                                    each other
                                                    and step back
                                                    we must grab each
                                                    other or
                                                    get our shoes
                                                    soaked we must
                                                    grab each other

                                                    --Linda Pastan

                                                    (http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/love-poem-4/)

 

October 5, 2010

                                                    The Player Piano
 

                                                    I ate pancakes one night in a Pancake House

                                                    Run by a lady my age.  She was gay.

                                                    When I told her I came from Pasadena

                                                    She laughed and said, "I lived in Pasadena

                                                    When Fatty Arbuckle drove the El Molino bus."
 

                                                    I felt that I had met someone from home.

                                                    No, not Pasadena, Fatty Arbuckle.

                                                    Who's that?  Oh, something that we had in common

                                                    Like--like--the false armistice.  Piano rolls.

                                                    She told me her house was the first Pancake House
 

                                                    East of the Mississippi, and I showed her

                                                    a picture of my grandson.  Going home--

                                                    Home to the hotel--I began to hum,

                                                    "Smile a while, I bid you sad adieu,

                                                    When the clouds roll back I'll come to you."
 

                                                    Lets' brush our hair before we go to bed,

                                                    I say to the old friend who lives in my mirror.

                                                    I remember how I'd brush my mother's hair

                                                    Before she bobbed it.  How long has it been

                                                    Since i hit my funnybone?  had a scab on my knee?
 

                                                    Here are Mother and Father in a photograph,

                                                    Father's holding me...They both look so young.

                                                    I'm so much older that they are.  Look at them,

                                                    Two babies with their baby.  I don't blame you,

                                                    You weren't old enough to know any better;
 

                                                    If I could go back, sit down by you both,

                                                    And sign our true armistice: you weren't to blame.

                                                    I shut my eyes and there's our living room.

                                                    The piano's playing something by Chopin,

                                                    And Mother and Father and their little girl
 

                                                    Listen.  Look, the keys go down by themselves!

                                                    O go over, hold my hands out, play I play--

                                                    If only, somehow, I had learned to live!

                                                    The three of us sit watching, as my waltz

                                                    Plays itself out a half-inch from my fingers.

                                                                        --Randall Jarrell (1965, posthumous)

                                                    (published in RANDALL JARRELL SELECTED POEMS)

 

 

October 4, 2010
                                                                            Anonymous Drawing

 						A delicate young Negro stands
 						With the reins of a horse clutched loosely in his hands;
 						So delicate, indeed, that we wonder if he can hold the spirited creature
        							beside him
 						Until the master shall arrive to ride him.
 						Already the animal's nostrils widen with rage or fear.
 						But if we imagine him snorting, about to rear,
 						This boy, who should know about such things better than we,
 						Only stands smiling, passive and ornamental, in a fantastic livery
 						Of ruffles and puffed breeches,
 						Watching the artist, apparently, as he sketches.
 						Meanwhile the petty lord who must have paid
 						For the artist's trip up from Perugia, for the horse, for the boy, for
        							everything here, in fact, has been delayed,
 						Kept too long by his steward, perhaps, discussing
 						Some business concerning the estate, or fussing
 						Over the details of his impeccable toilet
 						With a manservant whose opinion is that any alteration at all would spoila it.
 						However fast he should come hurrying now
						Over this vast greensward, mopping his brow
 						Clear of the sweat of the fine Renaissance morning, it would be too late:
 						The artist will have had his revenge for being made to wait,
 						A revenge not only necessary but right and clever --
 						Simply to leave him out of the scene forever.

-- Donald Justice

 

 

October 2, 2010

					The Red Poppy
 
					The great thing
					is not having 
					a mind. Feelings:
					oh, I have those; they 
					govern me. I have 
					a lord in heaven 
					called the sun, and open 
					for him, showing him
					the fire of my own heart, fire 
					like his presence.
					What could such glory be
					if not a heart? Oh my brothers and sisters, 
					were you like me once, long ago, 
					before you were human? Did you 
					permit yourselves
					to open once, who would never 
					open again? Because in truth 
					I am speaking now 
					the way you do. I speak 
					because I am shattered. 

                                                                                   --Louise Gluck

                                                                http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/15604

 

October 1, 2010

                                                    Stopping Near Highway 80
 

                                                    We are not going to steal the water-tower

                                                    in Malcolm, Iowa,

                                                    just stop for a picnic right under it.

                                                    Nor need they have removed the lightbulb

                                                    in the city park

                                                    nor locked the toilet doors.

                                                    We are at peace, just eating and drinking

                                                    our poco vino in Malcolm, Iowa,

                                                    which evidently once had a band

                                                    to go with its bandstand.

                                                    We walk down the street, wondering how

                                                    it must be to live behind the shades

                                                    in Malcolm, Iowa, to peer out,

                                                    to remember the town as it was before

                                                    the expressway discovered

                                                    it, subtracted what would flow

                                                    on its river eastwards and westwards.

                                                    We are at peace, but when we go into the bar

                                                    to Malcolm, Iowa, we find that the aunts

                                                    and uncles drinking beer have become

                                                    monsters and want to hurt us and we do

                                                    not know how they could have ever

                                                    taken out the giant breasts

                                                    of childhood or cooked the fine biscuits

                                                    or lifted us up high on the table

                                                    or have told us anything at all

                                                    we'd ever want to know

                                                    for living lives as gentle as we can.
 

                                                                                --David Ray

                                                    (published in GATHERING FIREWOOD)

 

October 31, 2009

The Raven

 

horizontal space Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
`'Tis some visitor,' I muttered, `tapping at my chamber door -
Only this, and nothing more.'

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December,
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow; - vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow - sorrow for the lost Lenore -
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels named Lenore -
Nameless here for evermore.

And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me - filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating
`'Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door -
Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door; -
This it is, and nothing more,'

Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
`Sir,' said I, `or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you' - here I opened wide the door; -
Darkness there, and nothing more.

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before
But the silence was unbroken, and the darkness gave no token,
And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, `Lenore!'
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, `Lenore!'
Merely this and nothing more.

Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.
`Surely,' said I, `surely that is something at my window lattice;
Let me see then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore -
Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore; -
'Tis the wind and nothing more!'

Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a stately raven of the saintly days of yore.
Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door -
Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door -
Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,
`Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou,' I said, `art sure no craven.
Ghastly grim and ancient raven wandering from the nightly shore -
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night's Plutonian shore!'
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'

Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning - little relevancy bore;
For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
Ever yet was blessed with seeing bird above his chamber door -
Bird or beast above the sculptured bust above his chamber door,
With such name as `Nevermore.'

But the raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only,
That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
Nothing further then he uttered - not a feather then he fluttered -
Till I scarcely more than muttered `Other friends have flown before -
On the morrow he will leave me, as my hopes have flown before.'
Then the bird said, `Nevermore.'

Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,
`Doubtless,' said I, `what it utters is its only stock and store,
Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful disaster
Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore -
Till the dirges of his hope that melancholy burden bore
Of "Never-nevermore."'

But the raven still beguiling all my sad soul into smiling,
Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird and bust and door;
Then, upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking
Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore -
What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt, and ominous bird of yore
Meant in croaking `Nevermore.'

This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing
To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom's core;
This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining
On the cushion's velvet lining that the lamp-light gloated o'er,
But whose velvet violet lining with the lamp-light gloating o'er,
She shall press, ah, nevermore!

Then, methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer
Swung by Seraphim whose foot-falls tinkled on the tufted floor.
`Wretch,' I cried, `thy God hath lent thee - by these angels he has sent thee
Respite - respite and nepenthe from thy memories of Lenore!
Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe, and forget this lost Lenore!'
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'

`Prophet!' said I, `thing of evil! - prophet still, if bird or devil! -
Whether tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,
Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted -
On this home by horror haunted - tell me truly, I implore -
Is there - is there balm in Gilead? - tell me - tell me, I implore!'
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'

`Prophet!' said I, `thing of evil! - prophet still, if bird or devil!
By that Heaven that bends above us - by that God we both adore -
Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn,
It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels named Lenore -
Clasp a rare and radiant maiden, whom the angels named Lenore?'
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'

`Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend!' I shrieked upstarting -
`Get thee back into the tempest and the Night's Plutonian shore!
Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!
Leave my loneliness unbroken! - quit the bust above my door!
Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!'
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'

And the raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon's that is dreaming,
And the lamp-light o'er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted - nevermore!


Edgar Allan Poe  [First published in 1845]
 
 

 

October 30, 2009

Poem In Three Parts

I

Oh, on an early morning I think I shall live forever!

I am wrapped in my joyful flesh,

As the grass is wrapped in its clouds of green.

 

II

Rising from a bed, where I dreamt

Of long rides past castles and hot coals,

The sun lies happily on my knees;

I have suffered and survived the night,

Bathed in dark water, like any blade of grass.

 

III

The strong leaves of the box-elder tree,

Plunging in the wind, call us to disappear

Into the wilds of the universe,

Where we shall sit at the foot of a plant,

And live forever, like the dust.

 

--Robert Bly

(published in COMTEMPORARY AMERICAN POETRY)

 

October 29, 2009

                                                        Mouse Turds


                                                        They paw and crinkle through attic
                                                        anterooms as prelude to my dreams
                                                        the way cartoons used to come
                                                        before the main attraction.
                                                        But tonight they are vinegar
                                                        dribbled on a love-sated palate
                                                        as their intimate intrusion summons
                                                        Dylan Thomas's pitifully repugnant
                                                        lament of the foul mouse hole.

                                                        Hired-gun thoughts of traps, warfarin
                                                        nibble noisily in my mind.
                                                        Obsessed, I charge the attic.
                                                        Finding nothing else, I finger
                                                        tiny turds from fecund invaders.
                                                        These torment with memories
                                                        of mummies picked up in the past:
                                                        bloated behind the polished rice,
                                                        clan parched beneath the stove,
                                                        leathery loner under the couch.

                                                        Why do they torment me--
                                                        and leave no ripples on my
                                                        wife's unconscious waters?
                                                        It's only when your' home still,
                                                        quiet, I hear you grumble.

                                                        It's true, I can stay away
                                                        or keep the volume way up high--
                                                        then there is no nibbling.
 

                                                                        --Tim Van Ert

                                                        (published in NOTHING ELSE MATTERS)

 

October 28, 2009

Don't Whine, Wino

 

Where do you go,

you of the meso-muscular mind

(traipsed through pre-dawn)

after coming upon empty--

where to reach

when squalling infant mouth

slips from calming nipple?

 

Drag down in your boots,

churn through cockerels thigh deep

to kick open vaults

of last year's Merlot--

end artery spurting memories

on trial repeatedly

with hung juries.

 

At the end of your tether

(bobbing erratic as lightning)

there is the struggle,

the tussle with learning.

Your yearning is like dreaming--

seeming too real, too cruel.

 

So, follow the sun down

to another day's blackout--

or ten, eleven, twelve steps

to a hight power.

There, back on the ranch,

hundreds of people are clapping

to welcome you home.

--Tim Van Ert

(published in NOTHING ELSE MATTERS)

 

October 27, 2009

    Teachher

 

I felt there were things I'd

Experienced

That I just had to teach to you.

 

I felt there were things you

Had always known

That you could not help but give me.

 

Who are you?

You who are who

I've felt I've felt?

Release me!

I've got the key--

God, who knows me?

 

--Tim Van Ert

(from COLLECTED WORDS)

 

October 26, 2009

Stay at Bay

 

Warm skips orange            bouncing from shattered rock

to eye of shattered              being

bounced further from all      light sources.

 

Warm moves blue              penetrating pulsatile flesh

through heart tattered         blowing

gushed beyond reasonable bounds

 

Shroud covers love            hiding in animate fear

beyond the many calls        biting

thrust upon deefenseles  s  elves

 

Dark permeates all            exposing the many cells

to each others'                  building

touched about, within or    out

 

Bright breezes sun             sailing its tireless rockets

over the water body          bidding

return to endless                self.

 

--Tim Van Ert

(from COLLECTED WORDS)

 

October 25, 2009

 

Distressed Haiku

 

In a week or ten days
the snow and ice
will melt from Cemetery Road.

I'm coming! Don't move!

Once again it is April.
Today is the day
we would have been married
twenty-six years.

I finished with April
halfway through March.

You think that their
dying is the worst
thing that could happen.

Then they stay dead.

Will Hall ever write
lines that do anything
but whine and complain?

In April the blue
mountain revises
from white to green.

The Boston Red Sox win
a hundred straight games.
The mouse rips
the throat of the lion

and the dead return.

--Donald Hall



   

 

October 24, 2009

                                                The Old Must Watch Us
 

                                                The old must watch us as we walk the streets,
                                                And ghosts of flesh must summon in their brains
                                                        The autumns of a fallen past,
                                                The lovers' wood in which no tree remains.

                                                And then the memory of bits of leaf
                                                Caught in the loosened hair; by heavy seas
                                                        The wind that rasped across their skin,
                                                And all the body's changing cruelties,

                                                Must make them hate us as we walk the streets,
                                                Hand in hand and brushing hip to thigh,
                                                        And they must think we love, and know
                                                That they can only watch and wait to die.

                                                When skin hangs loose upon your shaken limbs,
                                                Remember love you feared when you were young.
                                                        Then read this on a weary night,
                                                And roll these vowels on a shrunken tongue.
 

                                                                                    --Donald Hall

                                (published in SUTURED WORDS contemporary poetry about medicine)

 

October 23, 2009

                                                Sailing Stones
 

                                                Ever since then I try to find one
                                                the size and weight of a silver dollar--
                                                twenty something bounces
                                                across Lake Shasta after Grandpa hunches,
                                                cocks his arm and delivers
                                                that silver '21 Flying Eagle.

                                                But they never fly like that one:
                                                mostly one hop and a flop right dab
                                                in the middle of its own little ripple.
                                                Still it's worth it.  I can't resist the urge.
                                                Bent forward with my simple missile
                                                I stare at the orange setting sun,
                                                picture a direct hit on that big, burning rock.

                                                Heart races its red rivers to overflow
                                                in salty streams to sting eyes and cool cheeks.
                                                On adrenaline rushes my aging body
                                                backslides to ten years old--an unrivalled ride
                                                once life has become more complicated
                                                than playing, eating and doing chores.

                                                On the bay shore a nautilus shell
                                                hints of the sea world program
                                                that impressed the image of a soft creature
                                                growing larger and older
                                                to make its shell stronger and more striking.
                                                I pocket it for a souvenir--
                                                it wasn't made for skipping, anyway.
 

                                                                    --Tim Van Ert

                                                (published in NORTHWEST PASSAGE)

                   
                                               

October 22, 2009

                                                Flowering

 

                                                Creative warden

                                                of mind garden;

                                                you've gotta tend it,

                                                you'll need to mend it--

                                                but in the end it

                                                will get grown

                                                            with a life of its own.

                                                                --Tim Van Ert
                                            
                                                (from A FIRST EDITION OF HAI-CHOO:
                                                          little sneezes of profound dittycism)

 

October 21, 2009

                                                        Midnight Musings
 

                                                A music carolled favourably low,
                                                The voice I love floated, easily airborne
                                                Upon the pre-dawn's smouldering glow.

                                                Her warm voice fanned ears blazed as with coal
                                                As I savored the art work of her lips
                                                Etching love's lithographs on my soul.

                                                I'd come in my post-modern mythic way
                                                To be at this incongruous wooded desk
                                                Seduced by hopes a muse would light and stay.

                                                Surely stationed at this midnight's table
                                                Vulnerable to dark forces of the night,
                                                A sentry at that frontier of fable.

                                                I've guests enough not to be caught unawares
                                                With a great storm introduced through displays
                                                Of billows, flashes, claps and attendant airs.

                                                Hearing no footsteps fall, nor signal call
                                                To announce visitation from this spirit
                                                Whose soft embraces hold my soul enthralled.

                                                Yet I hear your pleas sing out in chorus,
                                                Breathy vespers of the breeze: cooing, mourning
                                                Doves perched on moaning boughs in the forest.

                                                Speak, speak now while the clouds have cleared
                                                Before the morning's glaring light intrudes
                                                To show illusions have disappeared.

                                                The refrain, "Let not fear give you flight"
                                                Echoes your words pouring in to melt me:
                                                "Stay, allow this dark to yield light!"
 

                                                                            --Tim Van Ert

                                                (from CREATE THAT LOVE THAT LOVE CREATES)


                                   

October 20, 2009

                                                            Eye Speak Easy


                                                                                         I
                                                                                      seek
                                                                                   to  grow
                                                                                to        know
                                                                              what        need 
                                                                            t  o         f  e  e  d
                                                                           I          R  E  E  K  !
                                                                    A                                    I
                                                                squeak                            speak
                                                            or   rumble                        of   forces
                                                        d o n' t  m u m b l e            of    c o u r s es
                                                    be  s t r o n g  be  s o n g    not shown, yet known
                                                W H A T    C H E E K  !!    D  O   S  E  E  K   !   !


                                                                                --Tim Van Ert

                                                                   (from  COLLECTED WORDS)

 

October 19, 2009   

She Elves

 

Our selves:

they're like shelves

full of things,

full of things,

full of wings...

 

--Tim Van Ert

(from   CREATE THAT LOVE THAT LOVE CREATES)

 

October 18, 2009

                                                            Fear of Gray's Anatomy
 

                                                            I will not look in it again.
                                                            There the heart in section is a gas mask,
                                                            its windows gone, its hoses severed.
                                                            The spinal cord is a zipper
                                                            & the lower digestive tract
                                                            has been squeezed from a tube like toothpaste.
                                                            All my life I had hoped someday to own
                                                            at least myself, only to find I am
                                                            Flood's ligaments, the areola of Mamma,
                                                            & the zonule of Zinn, Ruffini's endings
                                                            end in me, & the band of Gennari lies near
                                                            the island of Reil.  Though I am a geography
                                                            greater than even I surmised, containing as I do
                                                            spaces & systems, promontories & at least
                                                            one reservoir, pits, tunnels, crescents,
                                                            demilunes & a daughter star, how can I celebrate
                                                            my incomplete fissures, my hippocampus &
                                                            inferior mental processes, my depressions
                                                            & internal extremities?  I encompass also
                                                            ploughshare and gladiolus, iris & wing,
                                                            and the bird's nest of my cerebellum,
                                                            yet wherever I go I bear the crypts of Lieberkuhn,
                                                            & among the possible malfunctionaries,
                                                            floating ribs & wandering cells, Pott's fracture,
                                                            mottles, abductors, lachrymal bones & aberrant ducts.
                                                            I will ask my wife to knit a jacket for this book,
                                                            & pretend it's a brick doorstop.
                                                            I will not open Gray's Anatomy again.
 

                                                                                        --Brendan Galvin

                                                        (published in SUTURED WORDS: contemporary poetry about medicine)

 

October 17, 2009

Piute Creek

 

One granite ridge

A tree, would be enough

Or even a rock, a small creek,

A bark shred in a pool.

Hill beyond hill, folded and twisted

Tough trees crammed

In thin stone fractures

a huge moon on it all, is too much.

The mind wanders.  A million

Summers, night air still and the rocks

Warm.  Sky over endless mountains.

All the junk that goes with being human

Drops away, hard rock wavers

Even the heavy present seems to fail

This bubble of a heart.

Words and books

Like a small creek off a high ledge

Gone in the dry air.

 

A clear, attentive mind

Has no meaning but that

Which sees is truly seen.

No one loves rock, yet we are here.

Night chills.  A flick

In the moonlight

Slips into Juniper shadow:

Back there unseen

Cold proud eyes

Of Cougar or Coyote

Watch me rise and go.

 

--Gary Snyder

(published in RIPRAP, & COLD MOUNTAIN POEMS)

 

October 16, 2009

DRUNKARD'S DREAM

 

Since life's alluring vices   

Always command high prices

I'll state what my advice is:

 

Store value some virtuous way       

So you can tender, you can play

For escape from life's rainy day!

 

--Tim Van Ert

 

October 15, 2009

                                                               LOVE

 

                                                    I go through the motions—

 

                                                  She goes through e motions:

 

                                                            WHERE?

 

--Tim Van Ert

 

Octtober 14, 2009

 

 

                                                            Alive In Order
 

                                                   I'm alive because I was born

                                                    into a universe whose order

                                                        I cannot fully fathom.
 

                                                           I live in order to

                                                    daily discover this universe

                                                       into which I've arrived.
 

                                                       In my life Being shapes

                                                 for me the arrow of Will, whose

                                                bowstring is supplied by Ambition

                                                        with feathers gathered

                                                          from Moral valuse.
 

                                                             --Tim Van Ert

 

October 13, 2009

                                                    What You Hear
 

                                                    Without removing cap or gloves
                                                    I slump smooth in polythene chair.
                                                    From algal green and rust red gutter
                                                    stuffed with leaf litter and rain water
                                                    plastic plops and steady dribble
                                                    provide bass rhythm reminiscent
                                                    of a maddening means of torture.
                                                    Until spring peepers harmonize
                                                    to the wind-sprung chimes
                                                    and thistle-seed-cheered wrens.

                                                    Spring-promise symphony! I sing out
                                                    to my cats dry and dubious at the door.
                                                    Alfie braves puddles with one wet paw
                                                    held flexed, drawn more
                                                    by bird song than mine.
                                                    Peepers pause as currents still
                                                    to let down a drizzle of rain
                                                    and we both retreat.  OK,
                                                    another soggy Oregon sunset, then!

                                                    --all irony wasted on those felines.
 

                                                                        --Tim Van Ert

                                                    (published in NORTHWEST PASSAGE)

 

 

October 12, 2009

                                                    Respite

 

                                                    Whispers still paw with their feline lunacy.

                                                       

                                                    Streamed behind the hired tugs

                                                    of life's masquerading fascinations

                                                    shredded feelings flap in vibrant array.

 

                                                    The need is not another world to run to:

                                                    a knoll's cool, green shawl of solace

                                                    where thick memory lifts, drifts and drips,

                                                    confusing sweat while forcing fibers of muscle,

                                                    bundles of nerves, to flatten in their fibrous sacs

                                                    (soiling infant soldiers drafted to action--

                                                    not missiles of innate heroism rushing headlong.)

 

                                                    Rather seek that seminary where wattles

                                                    are unwoven by longed-for discourses.

                                                    Feel damp marbled slabs,              

                                                    smell the lime of molding mortar                

                                                    and call out for the wrecking ball.

                                                    Or make limber mind and muscle                                      

                                                    to move the manifold block

                                                    with the repetitive power

                                                    of meditative motion.         

                                          

                                                    "Love me again and again,"

                                                    she whispered,

                                                    "Once is not enough."

                                                    She insisted,

                                                    "One life is not enough."

                                                    She purred,

                                                    "One night is not large enough;

                                                    who of us feels large enough?"
 

                                                                    --Tim Van Ert

                                                    (published in NOTHING ELSE MATTERS)

 

 

 

October 11, 2009

                                                            Parable of the Dove


                                                            A dove lived in a village.
                                                            When it opened its mouth
                                                            sweetness came out, sound
                                                            like a silver light around
                                                            the cherry bough. But
                                                            the dove wasn't satisfied.

                                                            It saw the villagers
                                                            gathered to listen under
                                                            the blossoming tree.
                                                            It didn't think: I
                                                            am higher that they are.
                                                            It wanted to walk among them,
                                                            to experience the violence of human feeling,
                                                            in part for its song's sake.

                                                            So it became human.
                                                            It found passion, it found violence,
                                                            first conflated, then
                                                            as separate emotions
                                                            and these were not
                                                            contained by music. Thus
                                                            its song changed,
                                                            the sweet notes of its longing to become human
                                                            soured and flattened. Then

                                                            the world drew back; the mutant
                                                            fell from love
                                                            as from the cherry branch,
                                                            it fell stained with the bloody
                                                            fruit of the tree.

                                                            So it is true after all, not merely
                                                            a rule of art:
                                                            change your form and you change your nature.
                                                            And time does this to us.
 

                                                                                --Louise Gluck

                                                            (published in MEDOWLANDS)

 

October 10, 2009

                                                            Paradise
 

                                                            I grew up in a village: now
                                                            it's almost a city.
                                                            People came from the city, wanting
                                                            something simple, something
                                                            better for the children.
                                                            Clean air; nearby
                                                            a little stable.
                                                            All the streets
                                                            named after sweethearts or girl children.

                                                            Our house was gray, the sort of place 
                                                            you buy to raise a family.
                                                            My mother's still there, all alone.
                                                            When she's lonely, she watches television.

                                                            The houses get closer together,
                                                            the old trees die or get taken down.

                                                            In some ways, my father's
                                                            close, too; we call
                                                            a stone by his name.
                                                            Now, above his head, the grass blinks,
                                                            in spring, when the snow has melted.
                                                            Then the lilac blooms, heavy, like clusters of grapes.

                                                            They always said
                                                            I was like my father, the way he showed
                                                            contempt for emotion.
                                                            They're the emotional ones,
                                                            my sister and my mother.

                                                            More and more
                                                            my sister comes from the city,
                                                            weeds, tidies the garden.  My mother
                                                            lets her take over: she's the one
                                                            who cares, the one who does the work.
                                                            To her, it looks like country--
                                                            the clipped lawns, strips of colored flowers.  
                                                            She doesn't know what it once was.

                                                            But I know.  Like Adam,
                                                            I was the firstborn.
                                                            Believe me, you never heal,
                                                            you never forget the ache in your side,
                                                            the place where something was taken away
                                                            to make another person.
 

                                                                                        --Louise Gluck

                                                            (published in NEW AMERICAN POETS OF THE '90s)

              

October 9, 2009

Mississippi 1955 Confessional

It would have been, I think, summer--it would have been August, I think,

Somewhere near midway between solstice and equinox,

When the tractors move all daylight in mirages of their own thrown dust

And the farmhands come in the back gate at noon, empty, with jars in their hands.

Imagine yourself a child with a fever, half delirious all that month,

And your sisters lift you in your white wooden chair, carry you to the edge

Of a hayfield, set you down in hedgerow shade and leave you

While they go into woods to turn, you think, into swans--

They are so lovely, your sisters, in their white sundresses

That appear and disappear all afternoon among the dark trunks of trees.

None of this ever happened.  But remember the body-heat of the wind

As it came behind the tenant shack just there on the eastern border

Of your vision to touch you with its loving nigger hand?  And there you are,

A white boy brought up believing the wind isn't even human, the wind is happy

To live in its one wooden room with only newspaper on the walls

To keep out what this metaphor won't let me call the wind--

But don't worry about that, your sisters in the woods are gathering

Beautiful fruit, you can hear it falling into their hands,

And the big pistons of the tractors drive thunderously home into cylinders

Steel-bright as the future.  You are five years old.  What do you know?

Your fever is a European delicacy, it burns in your flesh like fate,

A sign from God, cynosure, mortmain, the intricate working out

Of history in the life of the chosen.  O listen, white boy, the wind

Has a mythic question only you can aswer: If all men were brothers,

Would you want your sister to marry one? Let me tell you, white boy, the wind

Is in the woods with its cornmeal and its black iron skillet,

It's playing its blues harp in the poison oak where your youngest sister,

The one with hair so blonde you think it looks like a halo of rain,

Is about to take off her dress.  You sit there dreaming you mild fever dream.

You tap your foot to the haybaler's squared rhythms.  They've dressed you in linen

From the woods where your sisters lie suddenly down, you burn, snow-white.

I've seen your face.  i remember your name.  I prophesy something you can't imagine

Is coming to kiss you.  And you thought I was reaching back to you in words

To tell you something beautiful, like wind.

--Terry Hummer

(published in NEW AMERICAN POETS OF THE '90s)

 

 

 

October 8, 2009

                At The Gulf

 

 

                Your body lies under orange eyelid blanket

                but needs setting sun's cool warmth to keep from freezing.

                Two horses pound wet sand in stiff staccato.

                Roused dog yips and your eyes open.

                A spooked Morgan cuts sharply away from the mutt,

                it's rider falls with the "plop" of a flat inner tube.

 

                That's when your eyes come alive -- in pain.

                Suddenly at his side, you ask if he can move his legs.

                I notice sunset's horizon no larger than your outstretched arms

                as my heart pounds out swells which break in fluid foppishness.

                I smile to see thunderous downpour send you home

                and mistake your tears for falling rain.

 

                Now it's your yelps, nearly drowned in shower's patter,

                send me sure-footed as a stag to your stairway.

                Oh, up these stairs you stroll as if nothing is splitting wide between us.

                "Up the stairs, upon airs -- up your stares!"

                my rolled-up eyes scream

                as I suspect you want to clip me from your night like some spinster

                snipping coupons from the monthlies.

 

                To meet you within your dusky doorway

                where you may ask me to manifest my elastic scepter

                like a wizard's wand to transform your storms,

                I must breathe, must inflate, must picture myself

                a Mary vision before the prostrate faithful.

                We surge together impulsive as a wink.

 

                Animated through liquid power to will,

                muscles engorge with brackish red tide

                as I grasp and fondle the littered shore of another sex.

                Be a master, let go of my leg.  Splash it out to sea.

                Then grab handfuls of sand, hop aboard and ride again.

                Salt water back harbors smell: warm and metallic.

 

                White and red ooze from our bodies' horizon,

                linear as he time of synchronous cries

                too weak to echo shores held at watery bay.
 

                                        --Tim Van Ert
 

                (published in SEEDS ON A WIND RIDE)

 

 

October 7, 2009

                                                            Pine Woods
 

                                                            There is a pine woods in Paris

                                                            (where once there were pine forests)

                                                            in this quarter that, then, was not Paris.

                                                            Wrens and grosbeaks sing about it, out of sight,

                                                            while crows crowd black and silent as night.

 

                                                            Narrow, rusted train tracks lead in and vanish

                                                            under a snowfall of rose-dotted petals

                                                            a swirling May wind has quietly managed.

                                                            Modern, ancient city intrudes its auto voices

                                                            ignored by lovers, and others, with softer choices.

 

                                                            A domestic wolf-pup prances lean, nose to ground

                                                            past a balding gardener who takes a look, and a puff,

                                                            before starting to hoe his newly formed mound.

                                                            Seven brown pigeons glide through one of their passes

                                                            over two teen-aged girls calmly cutting math classes.

 

                                                            Wonder with me in that voice unheard;

                                                            if you chose for just one Spring day,

                                                            would you float like petals, gardener or bird?

                                                            Boy-child wobbles on bike while mother hovers;

                                                            he still has time for all these--and how many others?
 

                                                                                --Tim Van Ert

                                                            (published in SEEDS ON A WIND RIDE)

 

                                           

October 6, 2009

T Reach Her Us

 

After all these weeks

Embers

Just begin to show

Dimunition

In the hearth.           

 

You

So many months ahead of

Me

In this cooling process

Must suppress a laugh of

Recognition

 

As I share my relief

At getting through

Another day without

Agony of

Painful love

Withdrawal.

 

Please

Share your secret,

Lighten my load;

I want so

Badly

To keep cool

This burning heart.

 

Don’t let me down:

Help take the sting, er, out.

The song is

Strong,

The audience

Gone.

 

Don’t let me drown:

Teach me to

Float,

To rise above it

All.

--Tim Van Ert

(from COLLECTED WORDS)

 

October 5, 2009

                                                           

                                            CIVIL WARS

 

                                                                My mind, closest friend,

                                                                plays traitor

                                                                as heart, masked stranger, 

                                                               courts danger--

                                                               while my body

                                                               tugs to flight.
 

                                                                       --Tim Van Ert

                                (from A FIRST EDITION OF HAI-CHOO: LITTLE SNEEZES
                                                    OF PROFOUND DITTYCISM)       

                            

Ocotber 4, 2009

                                                        The Invention of Comics
 

                                                        I am a soul in the world: in
                                                        the world of my soul the whirled
                                                        light / from the day
                                                        the sacked land
                                                        of my father.

                                                        In the world, the sad
                                                        nature of
                                                        myself.  In myself
                                                        nature is sad.  Small
                                                        prints of the day.  Its
                                                        small dull fires.  Its
                                                        sun, like a greyness
                                                        smeared on the dark.

                                                        The day of my soul, is
                                                        the nature of that
                                                        place.  It is a landscape.  Seen
                                                        from the top of a hill.  A
                                                        grey expanse; dull fires
                                                        throbbing on its seas.

                                                        The man's soul, the complexion
                                                        of his life.  The menace
                                                        of its greyness.  The
                                                        fire, throbs, the sea
                                                        moves.  Birds shoot
                                                        from the dark.  The edge
                                                        of the waters lit
                                                        darkly for the moon.

                                                        And the moon, from the soul.  Is
                                                        the world, of the man.  The man
                                                        and his sea, and its moon, and
                                                        the soft fire throbbing.  Kind
                                                        death.  O,
                                                        my dark and sultry
                                                        love.
 

                                                            --Amiri Baraka (LeRoi Jones)

                                                        (published in THE PREMIER BOOK OF MAJOR POETS)

 

October 3, 2009

                                                        Toad's Poolhall

 

                                                        I'm tired of all this, I said.

                                                        While shutting one eye

                                                        And calculating the odds with the other.

                                                         In my mind already I was larger than life.

                                                        Fit for the screen

                                                        Of a drive-in movie in the desert.

 

                                                        I stood on the empty highway

                                                        With my thumb raised.

                                                        The sky over me

                                                        Was like a western star's dress

                                                        Strewn with sequins.

 

                                                        See how far you'll get,

                                                        The one we called the Theologian

                                                        Muttered behind my back.

                                                        He read the writings of Calvin

                                                        And savored their meanness.

 

                                                        Oh, but the June sunrise

                                                        In the back of a pickup truck!

                                                        The radio playing

                                                        Old-time fiddle music...

                                                        And then I missed the shot.
 

                                                                        --Charles Simic

                                                        (published in WALKING THE BLACK CAT)

 

October 2, 2009

                                            So Many Ants on the Melon
 

                                            Door swish signals refuge from Portland's racket
                                            in Powell's storehouse of printed pleasure packets
                                            where I imagine scoring a small clutch of books
                                            bearing odes to common medical afflictions.

                                            My parking meter mind
                                            thought me making a bee-line
                                            through that scroll-strewn cave
                                            where the dead still help us see.

                                            An end-aisle display shows off yet another
                                            from a favorite of mine, titled fuel : the cover
                                            flashing enough orange flesh from a cut melon
                                            to make a dry mouth (even insect eyes) water.

                                            Man, ants all over that cut cantaloupe;
                                            like me with a new book of verse, swarming with hope!
                                            Having not found enough woeful odes, I'm pointed
                                            "down 10th Street there" to the county library.

                                            In the backwater town where I grew to love printed lines,
                                            the county library was no shrine to the shining mind.
                                            but Multnomah county library is a castle of stone:
                                            high sculpted ceilings, sensuous marble, rich brown oak.

                                            Computer lists but one volume--by Dr. Strauss.
                                            I go to 811.5 to let eyes roam and fingers check it out.
                                            Like a lover warming up to give a massage,
                                            I'm already pleased--yet ready for surprise.

                                            As fingers pull from its hundred hugging peers
                                            V.H. Adair's Ants on the Melon, my heart cheers,
                                            "There is some sweet mystery here
                                            I plan to feast on all day long!"
 

                                                                    --Tim Van Ert

                                            (from   IF YOU LIVE, YOUR TIME WILL COME)

 

Ocotber 1, 2009

Even As the Birds of the Field

       

Eruptive ground swells to bear me life anew

Offering a changed world of things to do:

Pulling inside out of me.

Life there in wrenched fully free

To love to help your own dreams come true.

 

I've felt me a great reiver flowing strongly;

Yet, viewed thus narrowly is see so wrongly--

Now another streaming mingles

Warming flow bringing what it knows:

Vitality within and without me.

 

Revelling in wonder at what has begun,

Penetrate sweet mystery of two merged one.

Come, dive in, float to the sea.

Rise, vapor, to rain on me.

Explore our depths, feel the currents run!

 

--Tim Van Ert

(from COLLECTED WORDS)