From Where I Sit   Sunday, April 22, 2018








from where I sit

from
where I sit
I can see past
a small grove of
winter-bare red oak
to Interstate 10, east & west routes,
the one to Houston and, through Houston,
to Louisiana and points est and north beyond

the other route,
follow westerly,
600 miles through hill country
and high desert to El Paso and 4 states beyond,
to the orange setting sun reflected on Pacific waters

most of
the people I see passing
are not going so far, most knowing
the further you travel in any direction
the closer you get to home, so why not just stay
there
untraveled, but satisfied, right there
where you and your life belong

for myself,
I don't know that I've ever been at home,
so I'm always pulled between leave and stay...

today,
under a cold, overcast sky
I think I want to stay

tomorrow...

that's why we have night and day,
night a curtain that comes down
between old and new, a sign to us
as the sun rises every morning
that new things are
possible...

after all
what use a curtain if nothing changes
between
acts









A few new poems, several from my library, and some from my first book, Seven Beats a Second, including for the first time on "Here and Now" the art that accompanied each poem. Just to be clear, the art accompanying each poem in the book are pieces from larger complete paintings which I clipped to use as illustration. the complete works are included in the book on separate pages.

The book is still available on Amazon, new, through print on demand, as well as used copies. I also have a very few copies myself. As a gift to "Here and Now" readers, I'll give a couple of the books away if you contact me.

Also, an editorial note: people tell me that people don't want to read more than 500 to 800 words when reading a blog. And, since I don't want to limit myself to that extent, Here and Now is no longer a blog, it is a "journal." I might ever change the name.


Me
from where I sit

Me
coffeehouse quartet

Gary Blankenship
Thread

Me
well, there we go, dropping bombs again

Samuel Hazo
Tortoise Time

Me
lotsa hots

Robert Hass
Our Lady of the Snows

Me
show's over

Me
cinnamon dreams

John Engels
Japtan and Long Point

Me
lying in the sun with Susan

Wistawa Szymborska
Poetry Reading

Me
the eyes of Sister Jude

Me
the dark of our own doing

Me
the secret of my art

Me
dark lover

Me
thinking about it

Me
about sex

Me
unexpected spring

Me
caress












I start my days at a coffeehouse, and have for years, one after another as they open and I get comfortable and then they close. I seem to be the voodoo doll of coffeehouses.

And, day after day, coffeehouses are where I write my poems, usually very early in the morning before the day complicates my brain and usually inspired by the people I see there.

I'm a lurker, attuned to whatever I see and hear those early mornings. Some days the fishing is great; other days, like the past week or so, not so much.













Coffeehouse Quartet


1. a watcher spies a prize

a young Hispanic fella,
in his twenties. I'd say, dark,
well-oiled hair, thin, precisely trimmed mustache,
dressed for riverboat poker, dark pants, grey sports coat,
red handkerchief peeking from its pocket...

alone at his table. drinking coffee,
practicing card tricks, handling the cards
as if he had a psychic connection to them,
flipping cards, shuffling his hands, thin, well manicured,
moving with such grace and dexterity, like an artist
attending to the details of his canvas...

high on my list
of most interesting coffeehouse
characters, a people watcher's prize
acquisition...




2. it's hopeless

so,
today was lab's day
and I went to the doc and did my bloody thing,
then hied myself off to the coffeehouse for coffee and a poem
but
alas,
the place was devoid of poem-worth characters,
they all, I'm told,
have absconded right down the street to
Mee-maws Biscuits and Grits
and Chicory-Lite
special breakfast restaurant
on the corner of Piddle and Peek,
which I would go to
myself
except I left all my howdy-hos
at home and am,
according,
lacking Mee-maws very special
password...

meaning, 
this morning
I'm stuck with this collection of middle-aged
squares
so diligently sipping their lattes
and tapping their little feet
to the sounds of Lawrence Welk
and his bubbly a-ones and a-twos
continuously playing in the way-back box
between their ears...

it's hopeless...



3.POW! POW! POW!

except 
for the woman in blue
with very large feet,
the day is blank,
nothing for the observational poet
to observe

or perhaps the fault lies
with the poet,
not seeing this morning
all the twists and curls
behind the facade
of dull normality, the secrets
beyond the walls
of the Facebook souls,
all closed to me
today...

too bad
I can't rhyme

some good old

POW!

POW!

POW!

rhymes

could save the day
'bout now...



4. to study silence

I seek to study
the art and craft of quietude
in these
my declining days, these last days,
the last days not the product of time passed
but forever
in our lives
from the earliest day
as we feed at our mother's breast
to the day the reaper comes,
every day that comes and passes
is the last day we ever life that day...

so sad
those last days forever passed,
and how we would like to enjoy them
again in real time, not just in the sweet memories
that dominate
such quietude as I
rarely find...

and I envy the old man at the corner table,
flowing white pony tail anchoring
the bald pate above his equally elegant tidal swirl
of white beard...

such a calm and quiet man - what memories I wonder
sustain his peace?















This poem is by my poet friend, Gary Blankenship.



















Thread

I sail upon a river empty
but for mists of silk
and webs of organdy

I do not see the needle
I do not hear the thread
I fell the pull of the seamstress
upon the patterns of tomorrow

Wrapped in your grandmother's quilt
stitched from her grandfather's blouse
old and yellowed
as the cracked mirror
where she saw her future
upon her wedding bed

Wrapped in flannel and wool
beneath pear and wild plum
we sail upon a river empty
but for your entree
and the hum of our dance

I feel the needle
I hear the bobbin
I feel the pull of this stitch
as he sews the future
on a bed of dandelion and thistle

















A little nod to current events.



















well, there we go, dropping bombs again

well,
there we go,
dropping bomb again...

now
please  understand,
I have no pre-determined bias
against dropping bombs,
I just wish,
especially considering how expensive
are these high-tech things that go boom,
that when we dropped one
it would somehow sometime accomplish something

I have to honestly admit
that the current dumbass-in-charge
did not invent the idea of dropping useless bombs,
my own president (it's the real one I'm talking about now),
just a few years ago
did the very same stupid, fruitless
thing,
dropping bombs
to stop the murderous tyrant of Syria
from gassing his own people,
thus providing implicit permission to the tyrant
to commence killing a many of his people as he found convenient
as long as he didn't kill them with poison gas...

and
as it turned out,
the bombs didn't even stop him from killing his own people
with poison gas, along with all the other thousand ways
he managed to kill his own people...

so here we are, still on square one,
and, of course, having followed a failed policy
of bomb-dropping before, it's obvious
we need to drop more bombs, certain
that this time doing the same stupid thing
all over again
is sure to produce a better result...

look,
it seems simple to me,
if there is a guy that requires killing,
killing hundreds of thousands of people
to kill the one requiring killing, just doesn't 
make sense..

that's what my president should have done,
instead of killing the gas, kill the son-of-a-bitch
responsible for the gas...

and, if under present circumstances, we don't want
to kill the responsible son-of-a-bitch because killing him
might also involve killing a bunch of Russians
as well,
then
maybe
we might want to forget the whole damn
thing, send all those bombs someplace
where they might be useful...

maybe explode them on the moon, make
a new crater, maybe name it "Stormy"
of some such relevant thing
honoring the small, but very busy, hands
of our current pig-in-chief...

I'm open to other suggestions














This poem is by Samuel Hazo, taken from his book, A Flight to Elsewhere published in 2005 by Autumn House Press.

Born in Pittsburgh in 1928, Hazo is the author of books, including poetry, fiction, essays and plays. He was founder and director of the International Poetry Forum in Pittsburgh and is Professor of English Emeritus at Duquesne University. He has published seventeen books of poetry.













Tortoise Time

So small, so matched with turf
    he can be taken for a stone
    until he stirs.
                       
                            Hunkered
    in his hull like pain, he plods
    on toes of slow motion feet.
Robins can flock to the tropics,
    swallows return to Capistrano,
    grizzlies snooze in the Yukon,
    and wild rabbits hanker
    for their holes
                           
                             At peace in place
    he comes from where he was
    to where he'll be like afterthought's
    caboose.

                    What's distance
    or weather to one whose there
    and here seem always the same?
While rabbits flee, he mimes
    Diogenes beneath his hood
    and sidles forward slower
    than the time of day.

                                      If home
    is what he is, he's home
    to start with since he never
    goes away.
             
                       Aesop understood..












This poem is from Seven Beats a Second, published in 2005, my first book, my only book in a paper edition. It is a beginner's book laid out by myself, both text and art with all the problems in production that comes with a beginner learning the way as he went on. A book, nevertheless, of very good poems and excellent art (by my collaborator, Vincent Martinez, whose work graces ever page). And a book I'm proud of, even as I cringe at the typos and plain old screw-ups.

As my poet friend Alex Stolis says. books are to be read, not sold. Which is good for me since I'm not the greatest selling poet on the market anyway.











lotsa hots

I've worked in August
under the noon-day sun
digging post holes
in hard-packed caliche
on the Texas-Mexican border

that's one kind of hot

I've won six months pay
throwing dice in Reno

that's another kind of hot

I've seen pretty little whores
in Piedras Negras
hot enough to melt the silver tip
off a cowboy's dress-up boots

that's pretty hot too

but no kind of hot
is as hot
as thinking of you and me
in a big white bed
in a room with curtains whispering
to a low midnight breeze,
soft lights, satin shadows
shifting over pale skin

your dark eyes shining
liquid in their knowing














Next, this poem by Robert Hass. The poem is taken from his book, Sun Under Wood, published by The Ecco Press in 1996.

Born in 1941, Hass is one of America's most celebrated and well read writers. In addition to his own poetry he is a leading critic and translator, most notably of Polish poet Czeslaw Milosz and the Japanese Haiku masters Basho, Buson, and Issa. He served as U.S Poet Laureate from 1995 to 1997. He won the National Book Award in 2007 and shared the Pulitzer in 2008.














Our Lady of the Snows

In white,
the unpainted statue of the young girl
on the side altar
made the quality of mercy seem scrupulous and calm.

When my mother was in a hospital drying out,
or drinking at a pace that would put her there soon,
I would slip in the side door,
light an aromatic candle,
and bargain for us both.
Or else I'd stare into the day-moon of that face
and, if I concentrated, fly.

Come down! Come down!
she'd call because I was so high.

through mostly when  think of myself
at that age, I am standing at my older brother's closet
studying the shirts,
convinced that I could b absolutely transformed
by something I could borrow.
And the days churned by,
navigable sorrow.


















A morning poem from a couple of weeks ago.

















show's over

dinner-plate moon
rising,
gold a as Spanish doubloon

shrinking, fading
as it rises

until,
dead overhead,
reduced to the sun's
pitted reflection,
vast canyons and peaks,
dusty wrinkles
on her ancient 
face

show's over for 
tonight...


















Here's another poem from my first book, Seven Beats a Second.

























cinnamon dreams


in the dim light

at end of day,
I watch you sleep
            still damp
            from your shower
curled on your side
            tangled
in white linen
            pink
            like the center
of a fresh-cut peach
            floating
in a bowl of sweet cream

your foot moves
             slowly,
brushes against mine

with a quiet rush
              of warm air
              you sigh,
the sweet breath
of cinnamon dreams





















This poem is by John Engels, taken from his book, Sinking Creek. The book was published in 1998 by Lyon Press.

Engels, born in 1931 in 1931 in Indiana, received an MFA from the University of Iowa and published ten collections of poetry. He taught at a number of colleges and universities during is career. He died in 2007.















Japtan and Long Point


I waded the reef through a building surf,

wary of morays, trying to keep dry.
the ledger I'd used for a plant press stuffed
with pandanus laves, hibiscus blossoms,

some other flowers I hadn't got around
to figuring out just what they were. Now,
thirty-eight years later, this July day
on Long Point up in Maine, he sea beyond

the white oak ridge smells exactly the same
as on Japan that day in '54
when I'd quit my botanizing, waded
from the bombed-out Japanese half-track,

where I'd sat in the commander's cockpit
from which years before he'd faced the low
rise of the beach, the line of palms, and next
instant was nothing, just old blood bound up
in rust the color of old blood. I stare
back at the morning sun above Long Point
into which the sky's emptying itself.
One gull slides, swings, and sideslips overhead.

The sea's as warm with sunlight shot back from
the little chop, and the bird up there plays
the wind for all he can get out of it,
never, so far as I can see, glancing down,

though surely he is hunting

















Another from Seven Beats a Second.





































lying in the sun with Susan


quiet bay


no sound but for he light rustle
of marsh grass in the gulf breeze

she
lies on the deck, legs spread,
as if to thrust herself
at the summer sun

sweat glistens
on the inside of her thigh
and my tongue aches
for the taste of her























This poem is by Wistawa Szymborska. It is taken from Wistawa Szymborska - New and Collected, published in 1998 by Harcourt.

Szymborska was born in Poland in 1923. A  poet, essayist, translator, and winner of the 1996 Nobel Prize in Literature, Szymborska died in 2012.

She also had a good sense of humor, as shown in this poem, which I especially enjoyed reading this day because I have a reading scheduled for tomorrow. My host will be there, of course, and my wife, guaranteeing me at minimum an audience of two.













Poetry Reading


To be a boxer or not to be there

at all. O Muse, where are our teeming crowds?
Twelve people in the room, eight seats to spare -
it's time to start this cultural affair.
Half came inside because it started raining,
the rest are relatives. O Muse.

The women here would love to rant and rave,
but that's for boxing. Here they must behave.
Dante's Inferno is ringside nowadays.
Likewise in Paradise, O Muse.

Oh, not to be a boxer but a poet,
one sentence to hard shelleying for life,
for lack of muscles forced to show the world
the sonnet that may make the high-school reading lists
with luck. O Muse,
O bobtailed  angel, Pegasus.

In the first row, a sweet old man's soft snore:
the dreams his wife's alive again. What's more,
she's making him the tart she used to bake.
Aflame, but carefully - don't burn his cake -
we start to read. O Muse


















Another from Seven Beats a Second.




























the eyes of sister Jude


sharp eyes

like tempered blades
that cut clean through when angry

guarded eyes
that weigh and judge
and stand ever alert for betrayal

dark eyes, deep,
softened once for love,
then moistened by a long night's weeping

but only once,
and it was long ago



























These are a couple of my morning poems from last month.



















the dark of our own doing

driving 
into a dark clouded sky,
like a black wall between me and downtown...

a few small areas of gauzy higher clouds,
like knotholes in the wall,
shine through,
patchwork
in the shades of night

I persist in my drive
toward new day for what else
can one do...

on the radio a woman
reports
that Trump's lawyers
are concerned about the possibility
of his testimony under oath
because he tends to be imprecise
in his language...

"LIES," I scream at the radio,
not imprecise dumbass, lies...

the dark begins to crowd
the areas of light in the sky,
and the black wall is complete again,
blocking again any hope
for truth's beleaguered
light...

we do it to ourselves
it seems...



the secret of my art

I am reminded by another poet
that lying is the secret
of my art -

truth,
reality,
honesty,
all the so-called
virtues have one simple thing in common...

the all suck
as entertainment

I don't read true-story books
and I don't watch true-story movies
because no true story will ever be
as interesting,
exciting,
apt
as the shit I make up...

I mean,
let's face it,
my art may be second-class
and my books may not make the bestseller list,
but if the artist in me fails,
I can still make a helluva
president




















And another from Seven Beats a Second



















dark lover

you are of a piece
with a universe
made mostly
of dark unknowns

an enigma

black energies
surging
behind bright facade

I have felt your force

dark elements
unseen
clandestine desires
untold

dark thoughts
dark looks
flickering behind your face,
fair as an open sky

I am drawn to the clouds
behind the morning sun
to the flashes of night
within you

I live in the shadows
of your mysteries,
searching
for the light
























A poem on our 41st wedding anniversary.















thinking about it

forty-one years ago
in a tiny church
on the barrio side
of San Benito,
a small town in
way-south
Texas...

I said I do,
and she said 
I'll think about it...

forty-one  years 
later
it seems to have
worked out,
though I get the feeling
some days
she's still thinking
about it

















From Seven Beats a Second





















about sex

sex
is about the heat
of rubbing parts together,
passion
a function of finely calibrated
friction

some will say
it makes a big difference
which parts do what to who

nonsense,
I say

it's a lot
like chicken nuggets

in the dark
parts is parts

you rub mine
and I'll rub yours
and we'll sort it out
in the morning
































Another morning poem from last month
















unexpected spring

soft breeze
from the northeast
like fresh-washed linen
caressing my face

the sun
so bright it makes my eyes
water...

unexpected spring
greening
my trees by the creek

I sleep late
letting
it all cuddle in
around me


















Last from Seven Beats a Second, and last for the week.























caress

midnight

hot breath
and
whispers

soft
       slow
                slide
                         of skin
                                   on skin
tongue
like the bite
of a velvet adder

secrets
unveiled

surrendered

to the touch

to the smoldering
touch

of midnight















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Poetry

New Days & New Ways


Places and Spaces 






Always to the Light




Goes Around Comes Around




Pushing Clouds Against the Wind




And, for those print-bent, available at Amazon and select coffeehouses in San Antonio


Seven Beats a Second






Fiction


Sonyador - The Dreamer





                                                            


  Peace in Our Time



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