Doug Stuber Copyright 2008 Poems

Yobo II

She’s in a biopsy now. A Mike Pease print of the
Mohawk Valley hangs out here, waiting to be
recognized as Upstate New York via only red barn,
trees and moraine-built hills, left behind when ice
caused the river. Finger Lakes just southwest from
his well-made snippet, the fifty-eighth of one hundred
twenty. Pease is good, but not good enough to keep
my mind off Yobo’s procedure, no less results, and the
road ahead. She’s scared, visibly scared, even a tear
in her eye, but this needs to be a no-stress day, so I
excuse myself between ultrasound and biopsy, allowing
that leaving creates more nervousness for Park, not the
type that cottons to surgery of any kind. This room has
folks from Danville, my matriarchal great-grandmother’s
home. This and the print nurse me through this time. A
quick run over to return a brace-shop miss-mailing keeps
the innards from churning. Now laughter flows through
the room full of cancer patients and their supporters.
Yobo’s late now, in overtime on the biopsy table, with
Doctor Chong overseeing an Indian intern. He’s got
trachea, arteries and lymph nodes to miss, and whew, he
did miss, so here she is, ice-packed throat, alive, but upset.

 

Dark Brown Suede Pumas

The effervescent funniness that permeates college
campus ladies and gentleman floats in coffee -stench
air. We all love star-torn loners wailing away on their
notepads. It’s a down vest Polar Fleece January night,
full of head-nods, poke-ins, note-taking. Up at the bar,
a white sweater stretches to accommodate her hands,
now behind her back, and pushing, full force, forward
and upward at the barista dude. “The book of General
Ignorance” blares from a chest-top. Umbrella-boy,
cautious, finds a quiet corner, as F-Bombs float at Gillian
from a newly-arrived admirer. Small Carolina students
filter in to the increasingly multi-cultural meeting room:
a concrete and sofa and card-table and schoolhouse-bench-
desk decorated box that outstrips most coffee houses for
ambiance. Ear phones become a secondary defense (again
the laptops are the number one wall) as the glance comes
back strong from Puma-girl. Peruvian art goes mostly
unnoticed, but proximity leads to new friendships today.

 

No Bees, No Honey, No Apples

A wagon wheel of discontent
hangs from the rafters above
a stark white room where people swoon,
but rarely fall in love.

A drenching rain flows past dead grass
on land scorched from global heat.
A Heron chick wades in a pond
no deeper than her feet.

A farmer trims the pond-edge growth,
but gets his tractor stuck in mud.
Neighbors store great gobs of art
that once hit Berlin with a thud.

A liar squawks from a studio box
at W-A-M-U.
Diane responds, in quivering voice,
“How can you say that Stu?!?”

A multitude swarms the streets
many without regret:
economics, home to roost,
in the land of war and debt.

A singer sings, arms hiding breasts,
but otherwise she’s bare.
Selling sex far easier than
selling songs that dare.

A worker trapped by bills and mate
has nothing but beer and tv.
Wagon wheel turns as Iraqis cry out,
heartbroken refugees.

 

KSP Gets a Lump in Her Throat

Frantic, Hyuntay squeals, runs, jumps, comes barreling
at you, crashing head into legs, reaching high, lifted to
eye-level, laughing to see you again. His paintings soar:
landscapes in orange and green, and he’s mad about golf
since Eomji gave him that three-club starter set when he was
eighteen months old. His cross-handed grip already produces
semi-consistent ball-striking. Putting’s going to take a while,
as his father can’t chip or putt these days. If need be, should
big bear and little bear walk these woods alone, Eomji’s
visits had better come more often, or, with bag in tow, maybe
Hae La could hang with Hyuntay while big bear pulls a loop,
at least in his brain, with the charging young gun, sixty-five
on Sunday, 30th to third in one day, invited to Mission Hills
in just her first season, and missing rookie-of-the-year by
$519.00. Yup, it’s full steam ahead, back to days of painting
and love-making, memory-building and coming close, photos
and nature walks. You’ve made a promise that should be easy
to keep: remain positive for the rest of your life. Bite your
tongue until bloody, if necessary. Be supportive, and remind
yourself how lucky you are to be married to Kwang Suk Park.

 

Open Eye Affair (“I Like My Religion”)

The pattern is a machine knit on standard tuke
just placed down, exposing real blonde hair. Her
deep-blue-green dress allows knees to poke at a
ninety degree angle, like a compass using the table
leg as an arc point of a ray emanating from her
inquisitive eyes, intelligent forehead. A vortex
of cold winter heat initiates contact points that
turn from glances to hair toss-backs. She’s the
type too absorbed in study to realize how her
essence can fill a room. For now, knowing how
many men (19-25) take a second look is sufficient.
Her hairy boyfriend sips chamomile, and now she
goes for a reverse fold-over: a hair move where
you raise your elbows as high as possible. “This
coffee is disgusting. It tastes like it’s been sitting
at the bottom of an urn for a week, then re-heated.”
But that’s Fred on the back row. Blondini the Great
is on about the relative merits of a quote read to her
by her boyfriend, from a textbook. She uses “OKay”
logic to argue a finer point, distinguishing style from
subject matter in a post-deconstructionist, strict
feminist-Freudian interpretation , admitting, in the
end, that she doesn’t really know how things would
turn out: changing positively, or damaging humanity
irreparably if her logic was to be applied in the real world.

 

Seoul IV

They walk arm-in-arm, put us up, bring roses and
sweetcakes, hoodies and brassieres. They remember
everything about trips through China and Mongolia.
The one who wears pink lipstick had an offer back
then, and the one who applies a full lipping of pinkish
red would get any gender quivering, so this series of
reminiscence isn’t all bad. This one could be Wende
Logan’s Asian love child: she dresses like Lexi too!
It means that, once again, genetic synchronicity (seeing
something of old friends in the body/language of new
friends) is at work, which means something long-term
will come of this last Kim. She can exclaim, with
throat-clearing adamants, then turn her empathetic eyes
and sing-songy voice to convince you she won’t be out of
Park’s life for ten years again this time. She’s covering
a much wider range of experience than the others. Maybe
she’ll come to Beijing with us as we extend our visas. She
would visit her sons. For me, sector 798, the art scene, is
what matters. We can stroll along tourista-style and see the
homes they’re knocking down to make way for the Olympics.

 

Kwang Suk Park, Forty Five, U.S. Style

She lasers off the spots that bothered her boyfriend,
She picks up after Hyuntay, the operative word is bend.
She walks for miles to save a buck, and to exercise,
She paints a couple days a week under hazy skies.

She laughs with friends about her husband’s limpid member,
She hopes we’re still in town when the leaves turn in September.
She wants to have another child, but there is no way,
She has enough to do to chase down J. Hyuntay.

She follows ancient rituals of cleaning, laundry, food,
She never lets the daily grind affect her mood.
She finds a way to make me feel my life is great,
She broke the mold and sculpted a new way to be a mate.

She holds her closest friends in the palms of her strong hands,
She builds a base of peace and love, on which our marriage stands.
She puts her money into goats, and ginseng by the sea,
She works to make the life we lead both beautiful and free.
Windows, BB #29 SFO_CHT June 12, 2008

She says he’s recovered some color since his heart
attacked the same day as Harabojay’s* third stroke. High-
healed walkers negotiate new grooved cement on one side
of campus as the dust settles over sandy bricks that
finally cover construction that twisted ankles all semester
in front of Humanities-One, where office-class time
stretches from six a.m. to midnight depending. . . Back
benches beckon bold beauties, who sleep folded over
each other through three classes, undisturbed by passers
yapping, ROTC drills, and snickers, since her hand is
placed on top of his groin. It’s the funniest window
view yet, as the between-class stream is dull, landscaping
hodge-podge, and Ggachi birds scarce, but just this once,
this couple is enough to distract you from dwindling family.
Solve this dilemma: first your Dad’s wife says “don’t change
travel plans” right after his cardiomyopathy flared, so you
keep all plans, but he is not in good enough health to see
you, and it appears you’ll only have a six-day window in
which to visit with him before you have to leave again
for your next semester in Korea. Feel rejected yet?

Harabojay means grandfather in Korean. My wife’s father
and my father had a stroke and a heart attack, respectively,
on the same day, May 30, 2008. Both survived.

 

BB 34, JAT Skopje – Belgrade
19 July, 2008

The fountain at the Art House Hotel acts as
morning call to breakfast, cascading at 8am
every day. Sun-dial saplings cast a right-side
shadow here atop Kicevo, Macedonia. Psycho
art pops in moments shared by old, young, Turkish
locals, many Serbs, and Kwang Suk, the lone
Asian. Miro, whose day job is Byzantine restorations,
paints average abstracts, but drinks so well. Laughing,
Srdgan offers puffs that drive Yobo crazy. The evening
goat walk is not yet an Olympic sport, reinforces our
presence in the Balkans. On day one I visit Knechnyo,
the village of 15 or so old houses, three donkeys, and
one spring. A farmer shows where lightning struck
the side of his house, and split a tree. Cetanka paints
the grape-laden staircase of a house made of two
masonries, both shaky, with seven rows of stones then
a wood strip. It appears to be the standard format in
town. Back at the Hotel, cliques form along age, previous
knowledge and language lines. Still, art survives.

 

Belgrade, 23 July 2008

Ivan, our favorite Serbian punk rocker dude
plays translator as we walk from church to
museum to atelier. His dark paintings already
surpass Mayon, but he’d be nowhere without her.
Seven months of bombing in 1999 rid the town of
Milosovic but not Karadizc, and how many died for
this? Ivan wants out; he’s tired of shortages, sleeps
where he drops, saving bus fare to the rocky suburbs.
He never used bomb shelters as sirens blared: if the
bombs got him, so be it. The clownish morose, post
Francis Bacon look to his art is horrifying, sharp, fresh,
accountable. Maryon slams the door as we leave, having
twice talked of suicide on a closed-up Monday before
cold rain came. These two need the smoke and drink
more than anyone I’ve met so far. Although the terra cotta
forms placed in families on the square are funny, even
swimming, the medieval music can’t turn black clothes
and lipstick into merriment for long. Lyubo laughs, talks
to friends; he knows everyone. Two days later Karadizc
is arrested, Mr. President looks down on park whores.

 

Prophecy, Friday February 29, 2007

The wide-winged hawks that glide the wind
are cheered by little boys
whose parents huddle by the fire
as if they had a choice.

But times are tough, the drought moves in
as cattle eat hills bare.
Pandemic flu slows elders down
but they still have time to care.

On sunny days we turn the soil
with ashes, leaves and rinds.
February adds a day this year:
a chance to clear our minds

so overwrought with changing times
we’re scared before seeds grow
we’ll have to move the family
if the mortgage lays us low.

Pa said he was a little tike
the last time money soured.
I know I’m spoiled, and caught unmasked
with no wheat to flour.

We send out signals to our friends
and even to our foes.
We’re here to help, if you can work
then join us in our woes.

Hikaru

One cherry blossom detaches, falls, a single unit
allowing fruit its space, starting its new journey: island
to reflecting pond, orchard to cottage yard, daughter to
lover, enhanced by the wind, if even for only six seconds.
Transformed to long-boned genius, long-yearning adult,
considerate friend, purple-green plaid from soft pink,
tan suede boots from four-petalled bloom. Hikaru, as they
say in Japan, hits the town running, arms crossed, cradling
herself like the war-torn victims of Vietnam, but not
worn or torn, she flings enthusiastic youth toward
outstretched limbs. She captures her beginning and future
simultaneously, shedding one form, embracing another,
sweating humid Spring, still awkward in this skin.
Descending unannounced, she moves among mere mortals
Spreading joy, quietly demanding obedience, offering all
in exchange for all. Most cannot accept, choose an
easier, less complicated path; but those brave strong souls
Born from deep roots blessed metamorphosed
beings who join Miss Cherry soon realize, if for one day,
week, or lifetime, their lives will never be the same.

 

Youth, So Joyous BB #28 June 11-12, 2008, ICN-SFO-CHT

One kept coming, called to say a cheery
goodbye, introduced friends, danced, bumped
shoulders, threw a one-on -one birthday party,
weathered a Japanese assault, passed out
resumes, laughed, posed, smiled, arched
backward, resisted, broke-up, reunited, skipped
class, drank beer, stilled a wandering heart,
broke through the walls of an impossibly complex,
lonely man, and acted as an emotional tour guide,
matching up exactly, creating social space, a
lifesaver, as my office-mate is cold, the Korean
professors wanted nothing to do with some visiting
windbag who invited them to join his class to
pick up a bag’s worth of the daily garbage strewn
by students used to living amongst discarded
packaging. No no, these “colleagues” stayed away
in droves, so it was students for lunch, family
for dinner and hundreds of hours slaving over
text-book writing, waiting for a relaxing visit from
one young smiling, jazzy, loyal, reinvigorating friend.

 

Come in Come in

It’s hard to believe she’s never been to Ande Musik,
since so many would-be cultists have followed him
up the stairs. Peace, and the quiet of classical strings
flow around that unbeatable preppy smile, pure face,
yet able to lie, and resorting to lies lately, when the
truth would be so much easier to deal with. She makes
her “second office” debut on a day, third in a row, when
delivered home-made lunch does not arrive, and loving
wife who makes it later wonders whether professor-boy
will be clever enough to get his own lunch. This man will
never be without office again: productivity is a must when,
at 50, nothing has been accomplished. Moonflowers, coffee
cups, untrimmed hedges, and this ever-present wall greet the
lunchtime interlopers who find solace in the lonely weeks
that smash, sometimes grind, stealing energy even in a place
full of youth. Dandelions and sewer stench attract then repel
as she bends to pick. It’s crunch time again. Sand, meant
for the space between bricks piled in your path is evidence
that no gains can be made without solid persistence. This
flower, that garbage, thumping heart, flushed toilet. Teardrops.

 

Dad Sonnet, Father’s Day 2008

No abacus is equipped to add
All youthful occasions when your kids were “bad,”
But, before you call me your second eldest spoiled cad,
Remember all the fun you squeaked out of being “Dad,”
Now past the latest health “egad,”
Still making merriment as if it was the latest fad.
The experiences you inspired are the best we’ve ever had,
It’s been true since we were little lads,
That some around us could make us mad,
But once we graduated to our own pads
Around colleges other than the famous Hahvahd Quad,
We invented creative lives some would label “rad.”
No time these days for anything like sad,
Only sporadic smiles and laughter when we visit Dad.
Earthquake Blues

She didn’t get certified, so must study more, more
language, more life, more gripping handbags, thin-calved
walking, slender-footed parades, waves good-bye, the one
who didn’t dare has come and gone, leaving her with eyewear,
a slim-banded watch, see-through lace skirt, tenacious
desire, and new friend called Yaya who sits, red-eyed,
pen-stroking, jean-skirt surrounding young legs, separate
life, light blue heart-shaped hair clasp, blue sweater
on a warm, rainy day in case she has to hide her top from
conditions both frigid and hot that have crushed her party
here in Gwangju. This man she told me about won’t leave
her alone, and he proposes great things, but is not her type,
so she wears three thick layers even if this is late May.
No matter the joy, this year the earth shook, broke, quaked,
leaving no time for chit-chat. So how to connect to those
who go home before they fade out, but wait, the switch
got flipped a long time ago, so she stumbles around in his
darkness, losing certain functions, until, via friendship
she steps out smiling, her life is her own, but she still
has red eyes, not fully aware of how it all happened.

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