Herbie Mann Comin' Home

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

To The Tune Of Eva And Ava

Being an invitee to Willow's Ball -- among that Who's Who -- I plead a special case: indulge me, do.  Indulge me deux.  I'm bringing the good and bad twins, Eva-Marie Saint and Ava Gardner.  Both know how to dance quite well.  Tango, samba, cha-cha-cha.  Ballroom de rigueur.

Ava, panther woman, follows her own beat, no doubt's got an agenda to prowl out once she's there, so all males:  watch your step!  Eva, soft hands at my back and in my grip, dances like a sylph, her presence light, her words sweet whispers.

Eva always by my side.  Ava always back to me.




The government's metal box, ordinanced

A house away from the woman's garage, and the woman

Herself underneath an overhang, standing at ease

In the task of her junk, to disencumber her life,

Her stare my way, the way toward a strange neighbor

In the drizzle with his mail scurried to the post,

His car door just ajar for quick re-entry,

The radio just being heard on a movement -- 

Andante cantabile --

At peace with this light rain no one thought

Would come this day like any day


Monday, September 27, 2010

Understate, My Dear Boy, Always Understate

To say People are imperfect

Only smells the soup without tasting it.

To taste the soup

Exacerbates one's own imperfections.

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Fever Hilton

By the bedside I hover and wait

Outside in the taxi is going

To airports carry short codes in

Three letters make up an alphabet

Explains to her before sun rises

A call from desk staff is hiring 

A pleasant voice a plus two

Foreign tongues and schools teach

Grace for well-groomed as I'm not

To be forewarned, too late night for her 

To get enough sleep tight I'll see you in the 

Kisses on each eyelid not wanting me to leave

Me alone so I go before I come in



Is it "Stix Hix Nix Pix" or "Hix Nix Stix Pix" or "Stix Nix Hix Pix"?


Nixon's Karma

Hired to shake his hand

His eyes showed fear in touching me

He lost, rose from the grave

To win two more, by staggering amounts,

Then died in shame.  I spoil.  Don't near me. 


Thursday, September 23, 2010

Were She Calypso

When the light from the street

Until then the dark

Thinking it the music

Without your eyes, the stepping

Were it only touch, only taste

What was dance to your simply moving

If the incipience of purblind handholds

Around all, incidentals partaking

For instance, a tennis ball

Was it white blouse on white chair

Just visibility, chance, would

Fields burning somewhere

Your name harvested, for a keychain,

The now city face during work hours

Bundling the years as a revisioned

The calendared night, all stubble burnt

If the acreage starlit, they've asked.


How Enlightenments Work

In Amadeus

Where Emperor J's bureaucrats

Insist opera can show no ballet,

This being The Marriage of F,

Mozart has them dance to no sound

(Choreographed by Twyla Tharp),

Their steps go thunk to a musicless beat --

So irrational (They're like waxworks)! --

And the E must rescind his own law.

Artists must always work in the cracks

For the greatness of art to proceed.


You See My Glasses Anywhere?

I read dead people.

(And the feeling is mutual)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Measure Of All Things

On my way to coffee, a segment of lecture, Aristotle.  

On mature, self-disinterested friendship being the fullest

On friendship as the basis for polispolis for family, even.

On reaching a pause, going to a classical FM, a guess at Haydn

On later finding that correct per online playlist

On taking an extra ten to drive the neighborhood here, high

On the hill, on the alpine horn, string tremolo, and fresh Fall air

On shutting it off, the car, the sound, the responsive eyes and ears

On figuring, then, the shortfall from the best -- how far we are.


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Chain Of Infection

Malaise becomes

Illness becomes

Pathology  becomes

Syndrome becomes

Lifestyle becomes

Subculture becomes

Belief system becomes

Faith becomes

Ideology  becomes

Malaise --

Pass it on.


Game Time, Gnostic Park

When you pass through whatever it is, if I understand them,

And shed it all like a wetsuit, but without feeling clammy,

Without feeling anything I guess, then you're supposed closer

To where you started, and if that's true, it must be waking up,

A nice nurse introducing you to all the other kids who've been sick,

And you're ready with your friends for the malt shop and the jokes

And to hit a few fungoes in the bright light, and you sprint all out

Back to catch the fly ball, and you're way up, your mitt

Angling -- Mine! -- to catch the sun right in the sweet pocket.


Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Simple Sign

Outside of class, not even in a hallway, on a Sunday

It occurs that Democritus must have been looking at clouds

And mulling the Thracian Heraclitus's work

On the always-changingness of things, 

And he turned to a casual friend and said They recombine.

You'd never get that from a hot, blue sky, the permanence

Of those major Desert Gods, each one a One.

I tell you, life requires the drama of change, the accident

Of passing cars, even sedans whose whoosh is their only trace,

Not just to keep us awake for the important parts

Of the play, but to resonate as symbols of the theme,

The Start-and-End.  For the roiling storms, cumulonimbic

Strike and attack, they come and go.  Take this though:  iced tea.

Both my last joy and beginning of a fresh day.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Listen. Do You Want To Know A Secret?

Although titled 'T.S. Eliot', the video's reader is Michael Gough, a British actor whose imdb CV fails to show an appearance on one or some episodes of The Loretta Young Show in the 1950s where I remember Loretta featuring him as an honored player.

He's had a very durable career, and I do remember him in some of the horror films shown on his list and also in the more somber or sinister roles he's otherwise done.

Here he voices Eliot's 'Prufrock', a modern fool for love, a model of dull despair, of loneliness, a manipulee in the sophisticated hands of sexual puppetry, ripe for risible gossip, a man deadened to the prospect of anything but ironic response to his outreach.

When a trained British actor -- Gough, in this instance -- recites that which is -- though memorable on the page, in the mind's ear -- depressing, it is the high delivery that carries the poetry to us.  Consonants crackle and pop and kick.  Vowels open abysses and squeeze to a shriek.  All that within a classical containment.

Americans.  I'm one.  We do not have this music.  Our English can be welcoming or plain-spoken or hushed or rowdy or sincere;  it can have brute poetry -- at its best, for example, in David Mamet.  Southerners come close to the lyricism:  Tennessee Williams, Capote, and (his greatness!) William Faulkner.  

Americans.  I'm one.  We do not have this music.  It's in our basic culture to despise aristocracy.  Try as British working class heroes might, in their closer resentment, want to make His Lordship or Her Ladyship kiss their own Arses, these mates are still rooted more directly to Shakespeare, his modeling of great mankind, than they may be comfortable to admit.  

His breath.  Shakespeare's breath.


The Book Of Seeds

The tomatoes sit in the plate with their own cheese and wink

We will bury you and you will be born again

And, non-ideologically, they're right, you know,

In their molecular intuition and organic mindset:

We become what we have eaten -- more -- we reverse

Into the soil out of which we began, into the space

Between the quarks that harbor no opinion

About the where they've been and where they've not


I'll Bring The Cold Cuts

Wouldn't it be fun to throw a party on that last day

Wouldn't it be right to stall individual homecoming --

The dismal lighting and having to notice the dust

On things and the lack of savor to what's still in the fridge

The beginnings of dysphoria not shaken by the inert

Prose of the books around -- you know, pep them up,

Wouldn't that be the right thing to do for all involved?

Corny hats, even, the ones with elastic bands to go

Around the chin, and noise makers, too, since when

You think about it, it's kind of a New Year's blast-off,

And there can be non-alcoholic punch to keep clear-eyed

Don't want to get weepy, just send out for sandwiches

Play some good tunes, hold hands, then, later, go to sleep.


Friday, September 17, 2010

I Never Was Within 2000 Miles Of Frank O'Hara

Oh, I have friends.  But so much of the daily's

At arm's length.  A table across.  A room away.

Stairway-passing-by.  I live more with TV.

What's wrong with Peggy, and Don, and Pete,

Or Inspector Morse, or the rotating casts

Of Law And Order Prime, I ask, since you

May be looking down on me with a flat smirk

But my laugh's last, being above you all

On the putative wrong side of this seance.


Thursday, September 16, 2010

Two Morning Tables

On the right.  Couple in their 50s, their daughter pretty, in her 20s, fully wheelchair bound.  Quiet breakfast.

On the left.  Couple in their 70s.  She has an ankle tattoo of a rose.  She says

Blueberries are good for diverticulitis

What's In A Word?
















Sola scriptura








My Eyes Can See Clearly Now

The man who filled his room with pictures of blind people.

So no one would see what he was doing.


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Soy Animal

Lest we think I'm talking tofu -- not.  The title of this post is meant in Spanish (soy animal), and I'm giving it time here because my right thigh has a muscle group which has been weakened, my scrotum, half-an-hour ago, gave me that 'wending out from the prostate' do-I-need-to-take-an-aspirin proto-pain, I'm starting to figure lunch, didn't get enough sleep, and would rather not think about (and physically react to) my job routine starting up again next week.

Where is that place of goat's milk, rice, hourly prayer, and -- it seems out of time when it happens -- satori? 

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Mistiming Of Good Will


Nearing a large mall, entering.

Early, but open, and movement just outside a tire store adjacent to the main mall building.

Would they know how best to find a freeway, and -- better -- first, a Starbucks.

Computer search for an odd tire size the one guy in the store wanted.

Guy at the computer wearing thick glasses, may not be fully aware of my gaze wanting his quick attention.

Finally ask.   He's with me: Oh yeah.  See that green structure?  Starbucks just beyond.  This main road straight to I-5.

Thank him, and leaving laugh his way: Wish I could buy a tire.

He:  If you want to do something, you can contribute to _____.

Laugh and pass through the door, but the thought lingers that this guy may actually be collecting for something local and needy.  Maybe somebody's Little League son suffering from a bad malignity.

So after the coffee.  Go out of the way.  Back, with the intent of cutting a check.

This time, new guy buying something that requires a deeper computer search.  Employee guy now has glasses off, can't see me, but must have heard the entry.  Can't catch his eye which myopically floats, reflecting computer light.

Start to think:  The charity remark may actually have been a joke, as in "contribute to the [fill in the speaker's name] 'charity' ."

Stand around another minute.  His eye godlike above the screen text and blind to my facial expression.

Turn and walk out.  Having acquitted myself half-manly, having expended my moral obligation as a citizen under the stars.


Chimp Face, Chimp Noise

Crossing the Siskiyous, the 'highest point on I-5' at 4319 feet.

Rapid incline, slope at 6 percent over a few miles.  You do the math.

My ears did it for me:  clog, pop, clog.

The most effective way of clearing my (Eustachian) tubes:  underslinging the jaw, and rapidly, in short chopping rises, reenact a pseudo-evolutionary transformation of myself from ape to man.

OOO-aah-aah-aah.  Ooo-ooo-ooo-aah.

Children of the height, what music they make.


Older And Better

The 'passive-aggressive' creeps into the world at the flanks, not in full force, but in annoying raids.  It's military in feel.

The 'aggressive-passive', far from chipping away at us, enriches who we are as we mature.  It's philosophically existential in feel.

Any formula fails to give full justice, but try this, a snippet among possibilities:

Not feeling it, but eliciting the feeling

Not admiring it, but being admirable

Not reading it, but writing it

Not having it, but having done it


Saturday, September 11, 2010

I Happen To Like New York

Along with Bobby Short, Cole Porter, and millions, NYC is altogether a sentimental, personal, patriotic, almost sacred symbol of America and what America means to the world.

Forget the contentious local politics.  Put aside how America's dynamism -- surely centered in the Great City -- breaks things as it builds, roughs-up as it tames, eradicates as it invents.  This is what humans do, and human energy has at its vanguard, for now, us, the U.S..

Our cultural heart is NYC.  It's who we are.


Friday, September 10, 2010

The Music Man

So I said,

The more the world goes on and the more I know about it, the more distance I want to keep from it.

This met with silence; the whole ethic of our shared generation was looking over the cliff's edge.  Eyes went back to their plates, some to vegetarian pierogi, some to shaved carrots.

No one at table had heard just voiced a personal shame, exactly -- although I myself noted what I'd end-stopped.  A box had been opened most usually kept shut tight.  If the music emanating from it now introduced a dissonant chord, hearts stuttered at what might be sounded next.  

There could be no 'next'.

An intermission was willed into being.