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Jerry Katz
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#2450 - Tuesday, April 18, 2006 - Editor: Jerry Katz

In this issue a little peanut butter from Vicki Woodyard and them some jam, some bread, some wax paper that yr momma used once before already, crinkled like that and maybe torn, so you kan rap the sandwich up...        

    The Peanut Butter Jar

Cleaning out the peanut butter jar is a solitary pleasure. I liken it to
a sort of zazen where you sit in silence and savor the flavor and then
ker-plunk...into the trash goes the empty jar.

For some reason, cleaning out the jar with a teaspoon is a favorite
memory of mine. No matter how old you get or how many steaks you may
have eaten, the last couple of tablespoons of peanut butter in the jar
are magical. They must be garnered from each side, the bottom and around
the rim. They taste slightly grainy and always like...more. But alas,
the jar will yield up no more and it is thrown away with a sigh.
Meditation is like that.

Sitting with the basic staple of one’s ego is at last delicious when all
hope of enlightenment has been given up. You realize that when you first
took the top off of the jar, the peanut butter had a glaze and a sheen
that beckoned. “Look everyone, it’s me. Aren’t I swell?” But then many
spoons dipped into the jar and before you know it, the jar was almost
empty. Everyone had left and you sat alone with your essential self
intact. Just you and the lowly spoon.

When all is said and done, cleaning out the peanut butter jar should
never be done by experts or those who would give it a media spin. No,
let us do it alone and in silence, as if God Himself were waiting for
the next bite, or lick. In that moment of supreme ecstacy, would He
reveal Himself to you or would He just gently say, “No thanks, you
finish it.”

--Vicki Woodyard


Never Again the Same

Speaking of sunsets,
last night's was shocking.
I mean, sunsets aren't supposed to frighten you, are they?
Well, this one was terrifying.
Sure, it was beautiful, but far too beautiful.
It wasn't natural.
One climax followed another and then another
until your knees went weak
and you couldn't breathe.
The colors were definitely not of this world,
peaches dripping opium,
pandemonium of tangerines,
inferno of irises,
Plutonian emeralds,
all swirling and churning, swabbing,
like it was playing with us,
like we were nothing,
as if our whole lives were a preparation for this,
this for which nothing could have prepared us
and for which we could not have been less prepared.
The mockery of it all stung us bitterly.
And when it was finally over
we whimpered and cried and howled.
And then the streetlights came on as always
and we looked into one another's eyes--
ancient caves with still pools
and those little transparent fish
who have never seen even one ray of light.
And the calm that returned to us
was not even our own.

--James Tate


About Tu Fu

I met Tu Fu on a mountain top
In August when the sun was hot

Under the shade of his big straw hat
His face was sad—

In the years since we last parted,
He’d grown wan, exhausted.

Poor old Tu Fu, I thought then,
He must be agonizing over poetry again.

--Li Po    

I was only a young man
In those days. On that evening
The cold was so God damned
Bitter there was nothing.
Nothing. I was in trouble
With a woman, and there was nothing
There but me and dead snow.

I stood on the street corner
In Minneapolis, lashed
This way and that.
Wind rose from some pit,
Hunting me.
Another bus to Saint Paul
Would arrive in three hours,
If I was lucky.

Then the young Sioux
Loomed beside me, his scars
Were just my age.

Ain't got no bus here
A long time, he said.
You got enough money
To get home on?

What did they do
To your hand? I answered.
He raised up his hook into the terrible starlight
And slashed the wind.

Oh, that? he said.
I had a bad time with a woman. Here,
You take this.

Did you ever feel a man hold
Sixty-five cents
In a hook,
And place it
In your freezing hand?

I took it.
It wasn't the money I needed.
But I took it.

--James Wright

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