Doug Stuber Copyright 2007 Poems

Zoomanity

 

Specks of cherry blossoms remain, six months after, crunched

to microscopic, yet able to detect the soft November feet of

knee-booted beauties. Washington’s engorged monument is

Korean, six inches, but proud, laying-in to boot-skirt on the mall.

Blushing blossoms accept the thumping as better than souls,

more aesthetic than the spiked dens that welcome the kinky

Dupont Circle crowd, you know, congressmen on the town with

their page boys.  We’re now “all -in,” bushwhacked into this

winner-take-all culture with few winners, proud sinners, all-meat

dinners. Unshaved Hispanics growl when the dealer hits two

black jacks in a row.  Cactus stand, not waving in the wind that

tumbles weeds over mountains, that then ignite to torch homes

of the “richies” who once had it made.  Malibu, New Orleans,

Florida in general:  is there a pattern here?  Gaia, perhaps our

only god, has good aim, giving the haves ample opportunity to

atone:  few do.  Perpetual human error peaks again now, as

Christians preach morality, their U.S. leader tortures, slaughters,

greedily spilling blood for oil, trading tomorrow for carbon-filled

today, while children and nincompoops watch, jaws agape, because

they didn’t see it coming.  By nineteen-eighty-three it was evident,

but still, twenty years into the fall, the one-two combo of religious

propaganda and twisted “news” helped smooth over electoral fraud

in time to put the slow crank on World War Three.  Skip forward

to November, back-peddle to the leaf pile, where larger color

combinations lure Alexis and her playmate into unbridled bare-

backed adventures.  Cool air slows his sweat, but not before a drop

jumps his nose.  She thrusts to lick it out of the air, which is just

the angle adjustment he needs to finish the act.  Show this to the

wonks, well-walled on cubicle row sixty-seven, and BASHA! your

job is over.  It’s that easy to escape the grind, but near impossible

to be your own cowboy and feed the kids.  This is when corporate

can be your friend:  just throw out all convictions, trade values

for value-added do-dads that increase profits and productivity

simultaneously and do not stress the details.  No one minds if you

are loading atomic weapons, making attack ads, fucking your

“niece,” as long as the leaves rustle gently, lips quiver repeatedly,

and voyeur neighbors get a hot glance, on an Indian Summers’ eve.

 

You Know…

You know your child is smartening up

when he starts to squirm at the smell of a

doctor’s office.  You know science is

right when it’s sweltering with no rain,

a triple drought, but the developments continue.

You know the leaders are wrong when one

giant war creeps at us with hundreds of

thousands of families against us forever.

You know the cocoon of innocence no longer

cradles most children when food wars

break out in Africa.  You know that the

widest love still lacks the power to spread

resources equally.  You know how lucky

you are to be at the top of the economic heap.

You know there is much to do to change the

system, but wonder how to do more than change

your immediate surroundings.  You know that

hard work by a small number of dedicated

people can make things better.  You know you

are now part of this change, whether recorded

or not, painted or not, written or not. You know

life is too short to waste time.  You know how

to squeeze everything out of this, produce a

winning recipe and feed your friends.  You know

life pulls you to the corners of the earth, but each

new set brings opportunity to share and progress.

 

Wedding Poem

The feathers of the Ggachi spread out black and white.

Beauty contrasting colors that unite.

You are from the noble class, both divine and pure.

This means that you are obliged to help the poor.

No bond is as strong as husband is to wife.

Take your lady with you when you venture into night.

The earth is out of balance, Yang has smothered Yin.

Make your town a better place for children to live in.

We come to this world naked, ready to start play.

And naked you will be again on your wedding day.

Never lay down angry, make peace before you bed.

Surround your mate with what he needs to have a happy head.

Do not cause stress by working to make so many Won.

Why shorten life, when love was meant to last so long?

When you walk the streets, hold hands like you are teens.

Step carefully around corners, avoid moving machines.

Climb until you find the place where the water falls.

Watch wind move the leaves, hear birds’ mating calls.

Sit and laugh together when you are young, when you are old.

Ignite the fires that keep your mate both beautiful and bold.

 

KV, Jr.

The world’s a lesser place today,

my friend Kurt has passed away.

He wrote of one-foot pubic hairs,

monkey house, foma, atomic glares.

Each time a deer comes through our yard

I see one fenced in Kurt’s canard.

One May at Hobart’s graduation

he told parents, in his estimation

they had wasted their hard-earned dough

by allowing their spoiled children to go

to a school more like a holding tank

where beavers opened and drunkards drank.

He did not expect to be invited back,

but the cap-robed kids had laugh attacks.

With Kurt and Molly Ivins gone,

who’s left to light up things gone wrong?

Who will publish, who will read

the next attack on corporate greed?

Who will stand, sing and holler

about the way they spend tax dollars?

Bokononism lights a fire in sand,

foot to foot, hand in hand,

after Ice-Nine depletes the earth

of all its water, little mirth,

except to sit and masturbate,

everyone dead from one mistake.

The marines were tired of getting wet,

Time to re-read Vonnegut.

 

One Day Closer

Spring swirls disaster. Seven years and out. School

shelters in direct line, flags stretched on arced halyards

as hard-working, low-income neighborhoods, sent asunder

years ago lie: rotting wood, flipped trailers, sunken bridges

rust.  Years hence, drunken revelers will enjoy gated condos

looming Disney-style, where once having no money was the

norm, where community and concern towered over racism,

where a funeral march caused pause and celebration, the

grateful dead, in that number, while visitors, nursing

hangovers may or may not have felt the twinge of privilege

versus poverty.  Why is it the rural districts, the urban poor

and the trailer parks always get hit, while the pyramid-topped

monuments to greed survive?  (God’s grace, that’s why.)  One

more chance to come together for the common good.  One

more opportunity to live up to the simple Christian ideals set

forth.  Here we have the easiest religion to comply with, and

still, money-power runs roughshod:  latter day slavery,

closed-door, sentry guarded mansions:  apocalypse now.

 

KFC, Falls of Neuse Rd.,  22 January 2007

When a sub-culture dies, the world gets dragged,

Toes pointed up, and appropriately tagged.

You battle to work your way up the scale

But now it’s three bucks for a pint of ale.

Blue collar means work at the new KFC,

Good jobs, and vacation days moved overseas.

You can play gangster but you know it’s no game,

Or you can throw down to attain fleeting fame.

You can educate your way out of this mess,

But cubicle jobs only go to the blessed.

Blessed to be white in a world full of color,

Blessed not to know what it’s like to live under

The rules meted out and enforced by the law:

So do you tell them what you just saw?

Or are you inclined to let it slide,

While children cower, their Dad’s full of pride,

But most likely part of those already jailed,

The cross is salvation, but who’s next to be nailed?

 

Upper Deck, 17 February 2007

Something about a 30-year-old blonde waitress

sporting pig-tails, loop earrings, and hanging out

after her shift is over.  Mick’s far away eyes zoom

in, penetrate any man strong enough to make a play.

Rochester ramblings yield to thumb rings, cigarette

packing, and lean-in kisses:  the Upper Deck

twists and lurches toward winter’s eve.  Two thirds

of the inhabitants are in on the action.  It revolves

around solid butt smacks, who’s-with-who versus

who’s gonna get sucked in.  Darts and suds, it’s a

sports bra, leave your rings at the door, musicians

mingle with choppers type of place.  It’s a bastion,

a regular oasis in the midst of Disney-carved Cary:

Containment Area for Relocated Yankees” and

sure enough, the barkeep is a former executive chef

who escaped Kodak, Scottsville and six month snows

to open a pool-infested, smoke dominated, rock blaring

leather cultured hang out.  Old school in the middle of

a North Carolina new school town.  Yup, it’s full of

your colorblind, hold’em playing, hoops fans, and the

men who tag along with them.  Amazing they’re not

playing cribbage at the bar, or euchre at the tables.

Nah, that’d be too yankee.  Dang smart of this guy

Ted to open a place of automatic reunions built on

place, another place, a place where people can still

meet up, unwind and let loose other than church.

 

Single Currency Theory

The racial flow, still imperfect, puts most on edge here

in L.A.  Jews and Gentiles huddle in “richville,” but

Bloomingdales and Macy’s crowd with a four-way mix

of Koreans, rap stars, Spanish speakers and stressed out

white folks  who either don’t have the nerve to be kind

to strangers, or shop the big tickets, knowing collapse is

on trade-day away (but which day?). The economic divide

could collide if rich turn poor, grocery trucks hijacked

and guns replace compassion in the latter-day depression.

So sing while you can, scare viewers into the tip jar of

street performers who remind you that by break-dancing

they are not robbing your home.  Come crash time the wine

sippers will hustle dollars too, but how?  Food delivery is

my guess.  Safe, clean food delivered to your gated palace

in a time when even growing food may require armed guards

should be a valuable service for those with money to spare.

If there were only a benevolent group that could be trusted to

switch us to a one-currency world with one minimum wage,

say twelve bucks and hour, and a Chavez style reprioritization

of both crops and housing.  If implemented, this might prevent

the crash of 2015.  Gulls dance on garbage heaps.  Open lots

in East Los Angeles harbor rats and desperados, scream a

warning no one hears.  Look, there’s a rotting book: “Canary

Row,” now sporting touristas unprepared for upcoming disaster.

 

Korean Vilanelle

Be kind in moments when the birds sing out.

So much is made of petty things each day.

Wake up to fill your senses, clear all doubt.

It does not matter if you’re frail or stout.

You do not dance alone, so learn to play.

Be kind in moments when the birds sing out.

Your success may be what you’re about,

Until matters of the mind get in the way.

Wake up to fill your senses, clear all doubt.

Money should not be, but is what gives us clout.

Each day do something to help those who labor for low pay.

Be kind in moments when the birds sing out.

Cheer for your foe even when you suffer a great rout.

Karma outweighs fate, so act without delay.

Wake up to fill your senses, clear all doubt.

Unless a saint, many will see you as a lout.

Do what it takes to make your best friends stay.

Be kind in moments when the birds sing out.

Wake up to fill your senses, clear all doubt.

 

Paris Baguette Finale

A retro-skinny, power-faced 40-something

scowls as she barely glances, moving her head

dramatically, high above the pedestrian show that

never ends.  Oozy-rap can’t beat the word count,

even when piped many decibels above the booth

chatter.  Arm-in-arm the ladies walk, about two

percent stroll paired-up heterosexually.  “There are

no gay people in Korea,” she says, as we walk past

the Golden River Motel, six stories, adorned by pink

tip-down neon triangle trapping the word “in.”

There’s something about ultra fat lips that take up the

full width of a high-cheeked face that make you

want her number, whether you call doesn’t matter,

as the number would be enough to jog solo romance

time.  Now camouflaged pants, tight, mix in with

those famous schoolgirl skirts.  Banilla hits me in the

nose, as the goat-footed salesman whistles far and wee,

conjuring Taesan temple with its noisy stream, concrete

island, and Chilsun Cider soda machine.  You occupy

the same space in Korea:  an energy using contraption

full of contemporary issues, wildly out of place.

 

April is the Cruelest Month

This is the story of gunman Cho,

his illness was a decade old.

Nikki kicked him out of class,

most who knew him called him crass.

Medicated but not committed, gun store owner

had no reason to deny requested Glock.

Cho took schizophrenic to a new low,

stigmatizing those below and above

the firing line, another American day of shock.

Insurance assures little for the mentally ill,

less for those who refuse their pills.

Already a group that’s looked at askance:

homeless veterans past their last chance,

excitable piano teachers shaking rage,

latter-day composer in her apartment-cage,

artist trapped by Vincent’s story,

paints orange and blue, then suicide.

Count Cho’s dead, so sad, so gory.

 

At the Meet, 7 February 07

Christian academies produce the most raucous

swimmers.  Supportive of only their own, robotic

to a fault, but not as humble as you’d expect,

even in second place. Beach towels wrap shyness,

Bermudas over Speedos, extreme heated humidity

shelters this new one:  cap tucked under shoulder strap.

Physical prowess trumps awkwardness only as the

laps fly by.  Then, once upright, ancient instincts insert

estrogen twitters, testosterone voluntarily denied.

Taboos piled atop taboos, some from home, many

from church, few from our culture.  One wonders, once

coaxed, how the conquested one-nighters of Paris

or Britney ever commit to anything but more of the

same.  Inequality indulged becomes Porsche-driving

sophomores, Coach-toting freshman, designer drugs

for the ambitious Ambers, precious pedicured princesses.

You get this in North Raleigh, where untold barrels

of fuel expand, expend to enable youngsters a fulfilled

life unmarred by real economics, deprivation or war.

 

Death is Snow

Death is upon her. Death is persistent.  Death be not

proud. Death is a series of twitches, days worth.

Death is snow.  Death moans and screams.  Death

is not easy, death is not random, death is not timid,

death runs on time; death hangs in the air, then

dives from on high, but not always that quick in the

suffering phase.  Death is Catholic.  Death is not

pretty.  Death is white.  Death is ginger ale, death

is dehydration, death is omniscient.  Death leaves

bills to pay; death does not smile or frown.  Death

is a whisper.  Death comes fast for those in a hurry.

Death waits at the doorstep, greeting old friends.

Death reunites, tears asunder, acts as the final good-bye.

Death motivates.  Death inspires.  Death has its own terms.

 

Dock of the Bay

Canyons, no crevices, dig into sand mountains, making

long labia out of the land.  Lopsided cactus waves

windblown goodbye, as desert gives way to the old

‘Frisco Bay.  Cousins connect, but only by phone,

walking different directions from the Embarcadero.

Presidio golfers roll out of bounds in a city whose

boundaries are poorly defined.  Let’s face it, the Sea

Lions at Pier 31 are penned in like zoo animals, thus

helping Fisherman’s Wharf in its final transformation

from working docks to Disneyesque mall. Still, strained

necks, a yard wide yelp a horny call from floating docks

packed tight.  Lounging, sunbathing, slick mammals

lead the good life, gulping scraps, swimming cool

water, photographed continuously in the day hours.

They’ve become repressed in recent years, perhaps tired

of having sex in public.  The streetcar named “F” jerks

up Market to Castro.  More locals ride than tourists in

November, but we caught a warm sunny day full of

carousel rides, Boudin’s sour bread, and a bargain from

a Korean shop owner.  Street beggars are more compact

here than in L.A.:  also more direct.  There’s always a

scam about the environment or abused children down in

L.A., but here his sign reads, “I’ll be honest, I need a beer.”

 

Down By The River

 Black juice squirts and spills, dirties your day-old shirt

in time to impress the bag-boy at the “Korea Town Galleria,”

which is kind of like a flea market plus basement grocery

store located in the heart of neighborhood number four.

Number one being Watts, number two is Compton, three

is East LA, and then Koreaville, just south or north of

Wilshire, but miles apart, with bullet proof cages in liquor

stores, security guards in lots already valet attended, and

a weird mix of fleeing Koreans, homeless Caucasians, slow

moving Mexicans, and scary impoverished wide-eyed

urbanites. So many trade blooming persimmons, the comfort

of sameness, and bad air for this:  wilting Oleanders, racial

inequality, and the same traffic jam, same air, same struggle

to pay high rent, but now in neighborhoods you wouldn’t

walk around in day or night.  Open lots as garbage dumps,

freeway madness, and the unobliged rich cordoned off

in Bel Air.   Let’s say, for giggles, some do give a hoot,

they then gather their friends and pass turkeys to appreciative

but suspicious arms on Thanksgiving.  Great, but that leaves

a lot of days left, and since government is not in the business

of helping anyone but business, who will clean up the lots,

make jobs that pay well, create block parties where the four

main sub-groups actually enjoy commingling? Sandy Sierras

poke pyramids up from desert dunes strolled by the ghosts of

Bukowski, Zappa and Steinbeck.  Neil Young hangs on, but

once he is gone, the entire hope that flickered when Vietnam

ended will have been dashed. If you’re not sad yet, wait ’til

the market crashes and the chaos begins down by the river.

 

Found

The news came through my best friend Jeff

who saw Soon Young out to play

a round of golf, but in a different foursome.

He said that she had told him that

games had changed since she “lost Dennis.”

Jeff wasn’t sure what she had meant that day.

So, when teeing on the seventeenth, I saw her

come off twelve, I turned back to ask and hear

her say that Dennis had just stopped living.

Soon Young always invites you to play along,

or plays an extra nine if you’re alone, and is brave

to walk these grounds where memories abound.

In every loss there is something found.

We do not know where life will lead us next,

but know that Soon Young will find the better way.

Life swirls new people into every day,

but few exude such charm and grace.

Soon Young, thanks for being such a friend. (Please stay around.)

 

“I’m Walking”

She heads down gravel lane, walking ancient Cedar Pass.

Nature’s flow soothes demands that threaten simple plans,

Tugged by generations old and new, daily walk like skipping class.

Geographic interventions cause surrender into foreign hands,

but culture is not the biggest challenge that she has:

It’s my moody mornings and countless creative clans.

So once our 18-month-old slows down too fast,

or once he falls asleep by music stands,

she sneaks out to the studio to paint or teach a class.

In the morning we bow and press our hands.

Buddhist gong sounds through a machine, not mass,

but a reverent moment broken by clanging pans.

He likes to play in cupboards, pull tea or frozen bass

onto the floor, onto his feet, surprise!  He learns to carry cans

without incident.  We can’t wait until he wipes his ass!

 

Future Shock?

He bows, nods, and points to hawks gliding.

Wide-eyed, 14-month-old gusto, untainted by experience

and foreboding forecasts about ice-cap or economic

melt down, happily engages in self-feeding, floor hockey

and fire watching.  This latitude should provide food,

extra rain, and room for friends in the post-American

world, barring local war.  As a parent, I’m torn: do I

teach activism or farming?  Accounting or self reliance?

The glory of the moment is the way a back-spun Frisbee

wavers before settling on oak.  Sometimes flipped quarters

vibrate to a rest, but not the way a Frisbee does.  So each

morning, after he pulls me out of reading, little James

hands me an inflated bat we use for hockey, or the

fluorescent green Frisbee he wants me to spin.  He speaks

volumes in a language trapped between Korean and English,

And no matter how I respond, we’re off to the next adventure.

It’s a crying shame that so many parents get so little time

with their children.  Heck, the economics of suburban life

keep getting harder, meaning less goofing-around time.

Caucasians have been in ascension for thousands of years,

with few interruptions.  What will James face as deserts grow,

ice slips into the sea, and Asians, through good old hard work,

take charge?  If he’s lucky, his Korean heritage will help keep

him motivated, while the ability to grow his own food serves

as a back-up, just in case all the prognosticators have it right.

 

Easter 2007

Fortunate to live in abundance, blessed, but obsessed,

the hard-working American gobbles energy, changes hair

color, piles on debt, to live the life prescribed by television.

Jesus rose for this?  Carl Rove sends eight-page sermons

to Baptist, Fundamentalist and other rural denominations

whose preachers rarely resist, and charge on, Christian

soldiers, pushing the moral majority, which is neither, but

knows how to win elections:  limit impoverished voting

while accusing Dems of voting twice, pollute the airwaves

with scare tactics, some racial, some terrorist, all meant to

be “tough on crime,” which is to say working for the haves,

not the have nots.  1980, the turning point, at which all

American promise was raided by greed-soaked pirates,

who moved our middle class overseas, selling out for

personal gain, while creating pollution zones, anencephaly,

and a permanent foreign and domestic under-class never

able to afford what they’re building.  Jesus rose for this?

It’s just as bad that Muslims have been hoodwinked, but if

we don’t start preaching a gospel of brotherhood, acceptance,

and helping those who need help, our fate will be miserable.

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