Herbie Mann Comin' Home

Wednesday, March 30, 2011


In a perfect world this would be a space machine and she'd be here herself rather than a closet

we reach into that gap among the rounded hangers and conjure maybe an article of clothing gives a clue.

Part of her is frozen in the image -- that can't be taken of her only what someone misremembers faintly yet as an artifact of beauty but second only to her -- that registers

The rest, the real thing, is flying-off somewhere with the hearts and woe-squeaks of little animals called men.


Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Moment In Question

wish a dollar for every wave that's made it to the shore even of the oceans where i've gone underneath

where they've warned of the undertow, and not listening, bravado like an underslung jaw, the highkneeing over the curvelet short surf petering out at the sandcrabs

the further motion five feet above the chest go headfirsting into the transparency what an illusion

and finding the face now pressed into the silica a man's length away from breathable air and rubbing it into you the lesson 

how do we lung the sunlit atmosphere when below it wanting to converse in its comfort on a beach chaise

-- a monkey on a warm tree limb -- but only recalling that looking up into a watery sun moving with the rip along and farther away from the call This way!

an imperative This way!  just a bit to the shallows to stand and be upright at the first inhale.


Friday, March 25, 2011

But With A Little S** In It

Love the brashness of Preston Sturges's mid-Century 'screwball' characters.  In this clip from Sullivan's Travels (1941), Joel McCrea, a film director, is on a mission.  It shows a long-standing literary/artistic clash.  Witness Philip Sidney's An Apology For Poetry (1595):

Poesy therefore is an art of imitation, for so Aristotle termeth it in his word Mimesis, that is to say, a representing, counterfeiting, or figuring forth -- to speak metaphorically, a speaking picture; with this end, to teach and delight.

Director Sully wants to teach, but his studio guardians insist on the delight, and he reluctantly gives some leeway.  The film follows his earnest, yet naive, attempts at what he sees as a kind of social realism -- until he accidentally falls victim to problems he barely, only idealistically, understood.  

By the film's end, he's learned something about what's to be taught and how people laboring under social miseries take their art.


Thursday, March 24, 2011

Not-So-Commonplace 4

The discursive writer writes as an act of conscious will, and that conscious will, along with the symbolic system he employs for it, is set over against the body of things he is describing.

But the poet, who writes creatively rather than deliberately, is not the father of his poem; he is at best a midwife, or, more accurately still, the womb of Mother Nature herself:  her privates, he, so to speak.

The fact that revision is possible, that a poet can make changes in a poem not because he likes them better but because they are better, shows clearly that the poet has to give birth to the poem as it passes through his mind.

He is reponsible for delivering it in as uninjured a state as possible, and if the poem is alive, it is equally anxious to be rid of him, and screams to be cut loose from all the navel-strings and feeding-tubes of his ego.

-- Northrop Frye


Tuesday, March 22, 2011


The butcher knows that war is all hell

which is what I don't know the anger inside

amorphous and best doling out invisible curse

mumbling at a petty breach or social lapse

I do not know how to splinter a man's head off, nor the glory

spitting the preliminaries to a girl who doesn't know

my tongue she'll never have child once I'm through

and just let her lie there bleeding and that there's never a reason

reason having nil to do with it just the joy of carving,

just the joy of thanksgiving back at camp, whole and better.


Sunday, March 20, 2011

Taking Inventory

An iron green still remains to March

and on the lane's steep serpentine off the bluff, the windshield catches in its full stretch the silvered corneas of the Sound.

Under the flowerets such still meek sunlight casts no shadow

and before the pearl-grey, sinuous gaze of the waters to ask whether I should invade my own purposes and sound those misadventures

when, like a new year about to spring energetic in its own blossom, the cherry, the plum, the garden, this.


Friday, March 18, 2011

Fourrures Interdites

Working over papers, I, drinking mucho coffee -- floating in it, threads of tabby.

The cat, Midge, simply cocks her head, as if to say, What? ain't you seen hair before?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

God's Little Acre. Fraction.

In counting the vegetation, six Douglas fir, two cedar, all 30 feet in height, a broken palisade against sunshine which isn't coming,

it being the March rains called showers causing river rise

the industrial parks built on valley silt farm land, lower, flooding, it's late winter

the time to walk the perimeter and its interior, a desmesne under family name,

to go, as provided in devise, to the Fine Daughter and her consort when he will and their heirs in perpetuity,

they're not even living nearby, nor has she yet met him, yet the land is firmly hers and the projected his, too, through eventual encounter and conjugality

and let this be public notice thereof and that my boots trod this land this day amongst the junipers and large old rhododendron whose flowers soon enough will match the size of a human head,

and nubby lawn and knobby tree roots snaking to widely balance the tree heights, the color green as Ireland half way around the world,

and that I'm lord for now, ambling this very parcel here.


Thursday, March 10, 2011


You can call me a wanderer, I'm not

like the people on TV, true, cagey with the dollars per square foot

grousing over cupboard knobs and closet space

chuckling at those kitchen appliances are so new I might take up cooking

or what's not to love about the double sink and soaking tub! The views!

And at special times making sure that the baby's first Christmas will show on Facebook

or that the anniversary celebrates at a fine restaurant and give each other a rose and then visit the beach you walked on when you courted, and then make love don't ever change.

But before you think me shiftless, which, neither, am I,

just strolling from casino to casino, a cup of quarters, a well drink,

in need of a haircut and the suede jacket in need of a deep dryclean,

chatting up over jello shots the first available Kim at the snack cart

or picking up the tab on her garlic guacamole.  A guy with bad habits

low rent and run-ins, neglected kids sequestered with the ex, et cetera, 

like health going or gone at 40, and I'm whistling in patent pathos at the cheerleaders mocking back in teen sopranos.

No.  None of the above.  Try remembering you've seen me, registered in no big way, no ma'am,

as a guy in the Safeway aisle converting the metrics to ounces, sodium overloads, no wonder

you passed by.  Or with a book bag.  Or reciting to myself.  No wonder.

There's lots I've done like that, like kissing and deep-breath exercise, but my mind's

remarkable most in that only I, only this instant, began to love this singular phrase out loud:

'cardamom and cinnamon'.  Cardamom and cinnamon.  Say after me.


Friday, March 4, 2011

Miss Jones

My love's hungry for its own eradication,

but it's a lemon I can't swallow whole

until circumstance comes along and wedges,

skims tangentially by and zests, just squeezes  --

her fingers adept on the kitchen boards, and

with the utensils found in the drawers, a chef.

Fast moving like a dance when it's called for

but patient with the time, waiting for the reverb,

the well-echoes, the satisfactory plunge

a taste makes when it bulls-eyes.  The zen

of plinking a sexpartite cross-section citrus shim

between the ice cubes of a tall, cool glass of H2O.

And her appearance, smearing itself like ectoplasm

what a goddess in that she can walk on her hands.


Management Praxis

What needs to be done.

What needs to be said about what needs to be done.

What must not be said about what needs to be said about what needs to be done.

What must be said never to have been said to one about what must not be said about what needs to be said about what needs to be done.

Got it?


Then it's yours to steer.  I'm sure you won't let us down.