Shuffling Off to Brownsville

Shuffling Off to Brownsville

1 November 2018: Soldiers Deployed to Border to Confront the Saddest Caravan This Side of the Bataan Death March

 

You may know the mid-century cliché,

the crazed artist

spazzily slinging

paint on canvas,

an object of derision.

That’s the Trump Presidency,

sort of,  kind of.

Clown hair instead of beret,

and it’s shit being slung not paint.

Splat!

distracting you

from yesterday’s

splat!!

the story about

Splat!!!

Splats of yore — outrages

from. like two weeks ago,

have already disappeared,

hardened, crumbled into desert dirt.

Splat!!!!

Clunky Titles, Funky Poems

Relatively early in his career, Yeats would come up with long, unwieldy titles for some of his poems.

Here’s one:

To a Poet, who would have me Praise certain Bad Poets, Imitators of His and Mine

You say as I have often given tongue

In praise of what another’s said or sung.

‘There politic to do the like by these;

But have you known a dog to praise his fleas?

 

So in this vein, I humbly present:

A Subliterate Buddhist with Work Issues Writes to His Love Seeking Seventeen Syllables That Will Deliver Him from the Eternal Cycle of Birth, Suffering, and Death

 

Oxygen, shallow breathing, white noise, now!

O, lay a haiku on me, sweetie.

This here samsara got me so so down.

 

These damned desires breed so much sorrow.

Can’t concentrate on my breathing.

Got so much shit going down tomorrow.

 

O, O, O, lay a haiku on me, my love,

A haiku with the hashtag samadhi,

One that makes me the one I’m not thinking of,

One that will set this monkey mind free.

 

 

Um, om?

 

Prufrock Turns 103

at the Commodore Club

Prufrock Turns 103

Time for you and time for me

[to hear J. Alfred read his poem, click the arrow below]

 

South of menopause,

unmarried

straight

women

and men

cannot really be

platonic friends.

 

When push

comes

to thrust,

the he is going to be

libidinous.

 

So, madam, be careful

not to compliment

those cuff links

or straighten

that lapel,

or soon enough

you’ll find yourself

throwing off that shawl,

turning towards the window,

and saying,

“That is not it at all,

That is not what I meant, at all.”

A Morning after Flamenco

IMG_4623.jpeg

 

When I was little, when away,

I suffered homesickness,

Though my house stank

Of stale (and fresh) cigarette smoke.

 

This hotel room shares the same smell,

The smell of disappointment,

Of tattered smoking jackets.

 

Outside, trucks idle,

Doors clang shut, the blue sky stretches

Across Andalucía and Africa.

 

Stretches,

Like one just awakening.

Easter 2018

photo credit Caroline Traugott

I guess from now on, I’ll always associate spring with death, Mother’s Day especially, the day my sons’ mother passed, a word I don’t use in this context. It’s probably such a popular euphemism because it suggests travelling, passing through death’s dark door into another realm, the undiscovered country, Hamlet calls it.

Although I don’t believe in an afterlife, I’m not arrogant enough to think I could not be wrong about my disbelief. Once again, Hamlet, to his pal Horatio, after having conversed with the spirit of his father:

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,

Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.[1]

As it turns out, my younger son Ned has recently conversed with his mother Judy, though in a dream. Aglow, Ned said, with golden light, she told him she was fine, and that things were more important where she was now, that she was busy.

At any rate, any rational person perceives the ubiquity of death — the fallen leaf, roadkill in the medium, swatted mosquito, ill-tended orchid — with a measure of dispassion.  The not-so-sad fact is the last thing that dying or grieving makes you is special.

Of course, we’re all destined to die – the blight that man was born for, Hopkins calls it in “Spring and Fall.”

Márgarét, áre you gríeving

Over Goldengrove unleaving?

Leáves like the things of man, you

With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?

Ah! ás the heart grows older

It will come to such sights colder

By and by, nor spare a sigh

Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie;

And yet you wíll weep and know why.

Now no matter, child, the name:

Sórrow’s spríngs áre the same.

Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed

What heart heard of, ghost guessed:

It ís the blight man was born for,

It is Margaret you mourn for.

On the other hand, more importantly, we’re born to live, and spring, of course, is all about resurrection. Look at Good Friday’s full moon at the top of this page, perched in a tree above the Pour House porch. How beautiful!

Now it’s waning, melting away, obliterating fewer stars as it progressively disappears, and, of course, our favorite star continues to do its thing.

And for all this, nature is never spent;

There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;

And though the last lights off the black West went

Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs —

Gerard Manley Hopkins, “God’s Grandeur”

Yesterday, Caroline and I picked up two six-day-old peeps as an Easter present for her daughter. Downstairs in Ned’s vacated room, growing seemingly in time-lapse fashion before our very eyes, downy little dinosaurs pecking away, stretching their tiny embryonic-looking wings, lucky to be alive.

To me, this seems enough: to be able to breathe, to taste, to fall in love again, to read Hopkins out loud backed by wind chimes as the melting moon makes her way towards the horizon to be reborn.

Happy Easter.


[1] Philosophy here could entail science.