Wednesday, February 01, 2017

The Hammering Hooves of Sleaze (Please Pass the Cheez-Its)

Bridal Veil Falls, Fresh Pond, CA
—Photos by Katy Brown, Davis, CA
—Poems by Tom Goff, Carmichael, CA
(and one by Jeanine Stevens!)


    Lhude sing goddamn!
        —Ezra Pound

Until warm days come back, I hate this life.
Sinew or bone groans out this dismal cold.
Between the kite and the key the lightning knife.

With all rot, worm, or stain, the dirt is rife,
has been since sunlight shied a coward cooled.
Until warm days come back, I hate this life.

Dirt turns musical mud beneath the fife
of squall. Clouds empty invert umbrellas rude.
Between the kite and the key the lightning knife.

But what knife split the cloud that Tenerifes
upon us with a sky-island shape unspooled?
Until warm days come back, I hate this life.

Let just one letup intervene mid-strife,
warm Februarys to keep the lovers fooled,
then, kite and key, again the lightning knife.

I sense the animal heavy without midwife,
merely of breaking water calved or foaled.
Until warm days come back, I hate this life.
Between the kite and the key the lightning knife.

 Picnic Table, Cold Pond


My beagle is ill. Her delicate pancreas
has gone on the attack. I thought that crumbs,
once-in-awhile crumbs of the treats that pass
esophagus out intestine, tiny thumb-
and-forefinger leavings from what we ingest,
mere molecules, would never once do harm,
moreover, would stimulate her zany zest.
Yet knowing what she got & I gave her, warm
unpleasant memories needle my red face.
Nothing I say here can atone for hurts,
inflicted ignorant on our sweet pet.
Do we not sense how our own lush desserts
ruin us? And how can we claim we forget?
I wish her swiftly healed: still my disgrace.

    For Skaidra


    (at American River College, years ago)

“The Knife” by Richard Selzer was the essay
assigned, that lyric piece by a brilliant surgeon.
All question about when scalpels must deploy
as in the West, or when soft hands help burgeon
the healing, the non-invasive Eastern way.
Our student, Daniel (real name not) read this:
he fastened on a man the piece portrayed,
close comrade of the Dalai Lama, bliss

in every doctoral gesture. As if anointed
to bestow a healthful doubt on Dr. Selzer.
No brilliant summary, no especially pointed
journal response—yet Daniel lit with fire.
He ascended the heights of Tibet, met holy men.
No telling what now began, where he went then. 

 Strawberry Lodge, Strawberry CA

    (a Russian journey)

At twenty-two, a golden youth the demons
of poetry and music have marked out
as theirs, you meet a Ukrainian girl, the leman
to her own devils. Lashed by an inner knout,
She gives looks that caress, erased in bouts
of brusqueness. Her ignoring you can beesting.
You hear She’s leaving for homeland: now, all doubts
fast flung away, from Connemara speeding
through storm, you leave your sister in the lurch.
You stalk love: new disciple finds new church.
Golden talent obsessed with golden hair.
And sister’s left to beg her fare toward home.
You view yourself a rescuer of Her.
Yet with what callow abandon you can roam.

One friend says every composer is a cad.
Are you? Or one more lovelorn heedless lad?

    (Bax met the lovely, unhappy Natalia Skarginski in England
    in 1909, then accompanied her and a young woman friend
    to Russia and Ukraine in 1910.)

 Strawberry Ice

—Jeanine Stevens, Sacramento

    In my other life, I might be a person
    instead of an animal.

        Kicked out of ballet class, she wanted
the hot house of life.

Born angular, a sense of movement, not afraid to use space—
        all space.

In the “Afternoon of a Faun,”
Balanchine could not take his eyes away.
  He loved
   ~the taste of her
     ~the sweat of her
      ~the dance of her
and ask, “Why can’t women be faun
to allure, seduce, enchant, fascinate?”

Too impatient to stand with other dancers
for polio immunizations,
Tanny spent years in Copenhagen’s iron lung.
Calm, stay calm. “Did I just touch
                St. Peter’s cape?”
Think of the night with small pink clouds.

Years later, somewhat healed, she wondered
     Why is it in art, once you have arrived
     you start to diminish—

and practiced acceptance, forgiveness.

Some asked, “Why Balanchine, why him?”
    Maybe he just got there first!

In life, the Pas de deux takes many forms.

        A Found poem, PBS 6/22/14
        Note: Her parents named her Tanaquil,
        after an Etruscan Queen who lived by omens.

 Strawberry Icicles


It struck me when a friend at work talked cheese:
buy Parmesan in an official chunk,
or else it’s fake. The pulverized debris
atop your pizza slice may be a clump
of additives, wood shavings, ersatz flavor.
And so to the Donald. That ill-famed hairpiece,
of what sawdust, with toxins to speed slaver?
Atop that thatch, Velveeta’s flaxen grease?

One of my loved ones takes that “Parmesan”
to be pronounced as a rhyme with “Micronesian.”
Was Trump brought up among hordes of Parmesians?
Those lewd and loudmouth horsemen, each paisan
tanned orange as Cheddar? Pass the Cheez-Its, please.
The crunch will mask the hammering hooves of sleaze. 


Today’s LittleNip:

Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on, or by imbeciles who really mean it.

—Mark Twain


—Medusa, with thanks to Tom and Katy for this morning’s sumptuous feast! Tom and Nora's beagle is returning to health, by the way. And my apologies to Jeanine Stevens for initially crediting her "Balanchine's Woman" to Tom. Sorry, Jeanine!

 Celebrate Poetry!

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