Fishing With Friends At First Light   Monday, August 28, 2006

"Here and Now" number I.xii nibbling on the line.

Introducing guest blogger Jack Hill

Asked to introduce himself, Jack wrote this.

"I began writing poetry in 1999 right after my wife died, leaving eleven kids and myself. We were married for 48 storybook years, this very much reflects in most of what I write."

I saw Jack's poem, "Philosophical Soup," on one of the poetry forums he and I both frequent. Sharply written, with a twist, it's my favorite kind of poem.

Philosophical soup

Today I was going
to write something
I set poised...
nothing happened;
so I made a pot of

It takes four or
five hours
in a crock-pot,
that gives me time
to think-

of how good
that soup's going to be.

One of mine from the book

A reminder that the special pricing on the book and CD will continue through September. The book is $12, the CD $7 and both together, $17, shipping within the U.S. paid. To take advantage of this offer, email me at

where things went wrong

gets more screwy every day

and I don't like it

I liked it better
when I didn't have to play dodge'em
on the highway
with all the beam-me-up-scotties
with cell phones in their ears

I liked it better
when the crazy person on the sidewalk
talking to the air
really was a crazy person talking to the air
and not a dweeb yuppie
talking to his dweebette girlfriend
on some kind of phone thing too small
for me to even see

I liked it better when men were hard
and women were soft and cars had fins
and the president was smarter than the
average dumbass drunk at the corner bar

I liked it better
when Desi loved Lucy
and Gorgeous George was the meanest guy
in TV wrestling

I liked it better
when a microwave
was what your girlfriend did
when she was across the room with her

I liked it better
when I was young

a real up-and-comer

and the pretty girl on the park bench
was waiting for me

Hebrew and Arab poets from the turn of the first millennium

Arab conquests in the mid to late years of the first millennium, particularly in Spain and parts of southern Europe, ignited an early Eastern Renaissance and a golden age for poets in the Hebrew and Arabic languages. A benign period of coexistence, which did not last, created a unique opportunity for Jewish, Arab, and Christian cross-cultural fertilization.

These poets lived during this relatively short period of peace.

Samuel Ha-Nagid

One of the leading Jewish notables of Moslem Spain. he began life as Samuel Ha Levi, a storekeeper, and became Chief Minister in the Court of Granada. This position made him political head of the Jews in Granada, leading to his title "Nagid."

One Who Works and Buys Himself Books

One who works
    and buys himself books
while his heart inside them
    is vain or corrupt

resembles a cripple
    who draws on the wall
a hundred legs
    then can't get up.

(translated by Peter Cole)

Solomon ibn Gabirol

The earliest account of Gabirol's life is found in a book by an Arab contemporary. Gabirol is described as a student of philosophy and logic. More than 400 poems appear in the published editions of his work, and new ones are still being discovered.

My Heart Thinks As The Sun Comes Up

My heart thinks as the sun comes up
    that what it does is wise
    as earth borrows its light,
        as pledge it takes the stars.

(Translated by Peter Cole)

Ibn Hazm Al-Andalusi

Ibn Hazm was opposed by many scholars of his time in Cordoba and Valencia, with some of his books publicly burned as a mark of punishment.

During the time he spend in Almeira he engaged in active debates with Jews and Christians, and was very much involved in the study of other religions.

Twice Time Then Is Now

You ask how old am I
bleached by the sun
my teeth all gone.
How old am I?

I have no guide
no calendar inside
except a smile
and little kiss
she gave me
by surprise
upon my brow

And now,
that little while
is all my life
and all reality,
how long or brief
it seems to be.

(Translated by Omar S. Pound)

Muhammad ibn Ghali al-Rusafi

A bit of a cypher, he is included in a number of anthologies, but there is little information about him as a person that I could find on the internet. He seems to have been an important poet of the period and, apparently, lived in, or had some significance to, Valencia.

Blue River

The river of diaphanous waters
murmuring between its banks
would have you believe
it is a stream of pearls.

At midday tall trees
cover it with shadows
turning it the color of metal.

So now you see it, blue,
wrapped in brocade,
like a warrior in armor
resting in the shade of his banner

(Translated by Cola Franzen)

Introducing our Guest Explainer

Recently, a poetry forum was having difficulty with disappearing posts. Luckily, our Guest Explainer, Alan Addotto (AKA Splinter/Splinter Group), was nearby and available to offer his expert opinion.

After reading his explanation, it struck me that the bulk of it could apply to almost any problem in our glitch-prone world and could possibly replace chaos theory as the explanation of all variations of the universal tides.

As to introduction promised above, this is part of what he gave me.

"Physical: Simple -- Italian-Cajun (Louisiana French) , Buddha or perhaps a Santa Claus sized man with the look of a Harley biker. Ponytail, (black) little longer than shoulder length. Beard, gray, medium length. Height: 5'11". Eyes deep brown and soulful. Hairline doing the Baby Boomer glacial retreat boogie.

Birth date: same year as the dropping of the Hiroshima atomic bomb.

Education: Two degrees, first English- Liberal Arts, second English, Creative Writing. Two others - Technical school and various odd miscellaneous educational activities : two marriages , two divorces (thank God- no children), various job experiences from truck driving to teaching in college during master's degree work. Presently a semi-retired substitute teacher (lower elementary).

Personality: curious, creative and a bit pompous. A slightly exaggerated opinion of self worth. Slightly arrogant, a born storyteller and a bit of a liar in a pinch. A gadfly at times and a recluse most others.

Overall: a harmless person, fairly creative, sociable and an observer and recorder of humanity. A lover of philosophy and women.

Life Philosophy: "This too shall pass" told to King Ashoka when he asked for a statement from his cook that both humbled and elevated his mind..

Heroes: Christ, Buddha, and teacher/writers generally (especially Joseph Campbell).

As far as Splinter/Splinter group--------------->

An explanation of Splinter......"

Well, I'm going to have to come back to that particular explanation at some later time. In the meantime, here is Splinter the Explainer on the subject of the disappearing posts.


I am the official apologist for the unfortunate turn of events that may have effected your posted pieces of prose and verse.

We're sorry but the screw-up was unavoidable and due to circumstances beyond our control.

What happened was that the ramaframitz that normally proambulates the intoravesions of the camalarasis of the inflow valve became over-kibbulated. This led the corresponding jigglegaz programs to slide from the brobatushi into the overlapping cooling engine of the trappeli. this normally would not have been a problem as the rengoli automatically fibbles this out and ameliorates the razzit and sends the corrected input back to the auxiliary ramaframitz which in turn transcombulates it to the main ramafamitz and the subsidiary willplomer slant herbicolls. This did not happen because the kickout circuits detected to much overflow from the censor programs. In short the censor programs burned out and the completed corrective measures did not take place.

The reason for the the burnout of the censor programs and the corresponding cascade of uncompleted crabinations was directly due to too many of the posters using forbidden and out and out "naughty and nasty" words. In effect the server servicing the site had a huge version of a conniption fit and started flinging feces all over the place. We are sorry if the innocent and proper writers that respect the Queen's English were inconvenienced but as your teacher in elementary school told you "when nobody speaks up and takes the blame everybody, even the innocent, will have to suffer." Please keep this in mind when you post to Wild as all this foul language must stop.

Remember carefully if you will----- The "Propriety Police" will be closely watching you all in hopes of preventing this sort of meaningless and degrading sort of language from ruining things for others.


Colonel Addotto of the Propriety Police,,,,naughty words section

Yard art.

Is it art,

or do some poeple just have too darn much time on their hands?

A poem of mine having to do with neither the book nor the weather

my theory of relativity

my second
Social Security Check
came in the mail yesterday

a friend from my youth says
admitting this
is like standing on a street corner
yelling to all who pass, "look at me,
I'm old, used up, ready to kiss
this wasting, burdensome life good-bye"

remembering he is as old as me
causes me to think maybe
he has a personal stake in this whole
getting wrinkled up and old issue

but, not to fear

age is a relative thing, depending,
on your scale of reference

if you're thinking
well, then we're both
curdling sour old

but if you're thinking
we're both young pebbles
in the overall scheme of things

best of all,
this sliding scale of reference
can slide whenever you feel the need

leaving you to feel
strong as hill country granite
when rock-strength is needed
or fresh as a glass of ice-cold milk
on a South Texas summer day
when a little pleasure
in the moment
can make all the years recede

A poem from Langston Hughes

A Negro Speaks of Rivers

I've known rivers:
I've known rivers ancient as the world and older than the
    flow of human blood in human veins.

My soul has grown deep like the rivers.

I bathed in the Euphrates when dawns were young.
I built my hut near the Congo and it lulled me to sleep.
I looked upon the Nile and raised the pyramids above it.
I heard the singing of the Mississippi when Abe Lincoln
    went down to New Orleans, and I've seen its muddy
    bosom turn all golden in the sunset.

I've known rivers;
Ancient , dusky rivers.

My soul has grown deep like the rivers.

Cafe Chiapas

OK, last week I made a big deal about how well Jim's Restaurants do breakfast. Although every word was true, I didn't properly qualify my praise.

While Jim's makes great American style breakfasts, when it comes to Mexican style breakfasts, they are, at best, mid-range. For a good Mexican breakfast you have to go elsewhere.

The elsewhere for me right now is Chiapas Cafe on South Alamo, a block from the intersection of South Alamo and South St. Mary's.

Chiapas Cafe just opened (taking over the space of the defunct Espuma, formerly my favorite coffee shop) and, so far, I've only had two of their breakfast specialties, chiliquiles and huavos a la Mexicana. Both come with a bowl of boracho beans and either corn or flour tortillas. The food is great and the coffee is just as good.

There are still a lot of choices on the menu and I'm looking forward to trying all of them. Tomorrow I think it will be the chorizo and cheese omelet.

Cafe Chiapas has WiFi so you can bring your laptop and do whatever you do with your laptop while your eating breakfast or having coffee.

Walt Whitman at his most Whitmanesque

Spontaneous Me

Spontaneous me, Nature
The loving day, the mounting sun, the friend I am
    happy with,
The arm of my friend hanging idly over my shoulder,
The hillside whitten'd with the blossoms of the mountain
The same late in autumn, the hues of red, yellow,
    drab, purple, and light and dark green,
The rich coverlet of the grass, animals and birds, the
    private untrimm'd bank, the primitive apples the
    pebble stones,
Beautiful dripping fragments, the negligent list of one
    after another as I happen to call them to me or
    think of them,
The real poems, (what we call poems being merely
The poems of the privacy of the night, and of men
    like me,
This poem drooping shy and unseen that I always
    carry, and that all men carry.
(Know once for all, avow'd on purpose, wherever are
    men like me, are our lust lurking masculine
Love-thoughts, love-juice, love-odor, love-yielding,
    love-climbers and the climbing sap,
Arms and hands of love, lips of love, phallic thumb of
    love, breasts of love, bellies press'd and glued
    together with love,
Earth of chaste love, life that is only life after love,
The body of my love, the body of the woman I love,
    the body of the man, the body of the earth,
Soft forenoon airs that blow from the south-west,
The hairy wild-bee that murmurs and hankers up and
    down, that gripes the full-grown lady-flower, curves
    upon her with amorous firm legs, takes his will of
    her, and holds himself tremulous and tight till he is
The wet of woods, through the early hours,
Two sleepers at night lying close together as they sleep,
    one with arm slanting down and below
    the waist of the other,
The smell of apples, aromas from crush'd sage plant,
    mint, birch-bark,
The boy's longing, the glow and pressure as he
    confides to me what he was dreaming
The dead leaf whirling its spiral whirl and falling still
    and content to the ground,
The no-form'd stings that sights, people, objects, sting
    me with,
The hubb'd sting of myself, sting me as much as it
    ever can anyone,
The sensitive, orbic, underlapp'd brothers, that only
    intimate feelers may be intimate where they are,
The curious roamer and hand roaming all over the
    body, the bashful withdrawing of flesh where the
    fingers soothingly pause and edge themselves,
The limpid liquid within the young man,
The vex'd corrosion so pensive and so painful,
The torment, the irritable tide that will not be at rest,
The like of the same I feel, the like of the same in
The young man that flushes and flushes, and the young
    woman that flushes and flushes,
The young man that wakes deep at night, the hot hand
    seeking to repress what would master him,
The mystic amorous night, the strange half-welcome
    pangs, visions, sweats,
The pulse pounding through palms and trembling
    encircling fingers, the young man all color'd, red,
    ashamed, angry;
The souse upon me of my lover the sea, as I lie
    willing and naked,
The merriment of the twin babes that crawl over the
    grass in the sun, the mother never turning her
    vigilant eye from them,
The walnut-trunk, the walnut-husks, and the ripening
    or ripen'd long-round walnuts,
The continence of vegetables, birds, animals,
The consequent meanness of me should I skulk or find
    myself indecent, while birds and animals never once
     skulk or find themselves indecent,
The great chastity of paternity, to match the great
    chastity of maternity,
The oath of procreation I have sworn, my Adamic and
    fresh daughters,
The greed that eats me day and night with hungry
    gnaw, till I saturate what shall produce boys to fill
    my place when I am through,
The wholesome relief, repose, content,
And this bunch pluck'd at random from myself,
It has done its work - I toss it carelessly to fall where
    it may.

And now, a last little poem from me - this one wishful thinking

home fires

full moon bright
on black winter sky

   wisp of cloud
   like chimney smoke

drawing me home

Until next week.

Photos by Allen Itz

at 11:40 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Allen- I am not good at clever remarks. I am good at knowing when something is GOOD. This is good. I am happy for you. Can these pictures actually be of Texas landscape?

Thanks for posting this on Pennies- I would not have known about it otherwise. I look forward to reading and enjoying more of this site.


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Such Wonders Do Us Enthrall   Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Welcome to "Here and Now" number I.xi.

But first, if you will bear with me for a minute, we need to pay some bills.


For the month of September, the book Seven Beats a Second, Poetry by Allen Itz and Art by Vincent Martinez, and the CD chimeras, ideals, errors! by the Ray-Guhn Show Choir will be on sale at special prices to readers of "Here and Now" only.

Normally $20, the book price is reduced to $12 until the end of September.

Normally $15, the CD is available until the end of September for only $7.

The book and the CD, if purchased together, are available until the end of September for only $17. All prices will return to normal on October 1st.

The special prices listed here include all shipping within the continental United States.

Again, these prices are available only to readers of "Here and Now" and are only available through direct contact with me via e-mail at I am not going to change the prices listed through the link. To take advantage of this temporary price reduction, you must contact me directly.

Operators are standing by.....somewhere.

And, speaking of Seven Beats a Second, here's a poem included in the book.

Some of the paintings by Vincent Martinezin used in the book are on the "art" page of the website.



hot breath
and whispers

         of skin
            on skin

like the bite
of a velvet adder



to the touch

to the smoldering

of midnight

Chinaski on film

A film adaptation of Bukowski;s Factotum was recently released to mixed reviews. Matt Dillon is receiving excellent reviews for his portrayal of Bukowski's alter ego Henry Chinaski.

This is, I think, about the fifth film made from Bukowsk's work, including one made in France. Except for Barfly, which I hated, I haven't seen the earlier films. Based on the reviews, I'm looking forward to this one, if for no other reason than to erase the Barfly sourness.

In his second appearance in "Here and Now" we welcome Boston poet Jim Fowler as our guest blogger this week.

Jim's comment on his poem is that it "came to me after a trip to Puerto Rico; pallid English-Irishman in the land of merengue, salsa and sun."

stranger in a strange world

Blinding brightness of sea and sand,
azure quiet broken by palm in the wind,
releasing a yellow-green nut, slammed
to sand, just missing a startled me.

Stranger in a strange world of sun
and fat rain. Humid passions so fecund
as to make the face blush under burn
and sweaty loins tighten to come.

Flora, fauna, known yet new, like hot
red tongues, growing from dark moist
places, greener than spindly jade
lizards scurrying towards my toes.

This life cares not for me, sun and sea;
pallid pod jostled by vital vibrancy.

Did he say "worlds of sun and fat rain"...

I picked up new CD last week called Ay Caramba! by a band named Ska Cubano. The two principals in Ska Cubano are Natty Bo, a ska singer and DJ from London, and popular Cuban singer Beny Billy. Together, they pull together classic rhythms from Jamaica and Cuba, then mix in a little Colombian cumbia, Jamaican mento and Trinidadian calypso. The result on the CD is a terrific mix of rhythms, styles and 14 great songs, including new takes on dance hall classics like "Soy Compesino," new compositions from Natty Bo, like the very funny title piece "Ay Caramba!," their own version of the afro-rumba classic "Tabu," as well as "Oye Compa Juan" written by Beny Billy's wife to celebrate good times, "Big Bamboo," the naughty calypso piece from the 1940's, and some unexpected covers like the comic song "Istanbul, Constantinople," from the 1950's and Frankie Laine's (Frankie Laine!?!?) first worldwide hit "Jezebel."

Music should be fun. Ska Cubano's Ay Caramba! fills the bill.

Another lesson from Lu Ji

Li Ji lived during the years 261-303. Despite our distance from his life and the time he wrote the poems in The Art of Writing, the advice he gives has great immediacy to me, seeming to come directly from my own experience as a writer, emphasizing the great commonalities of human experience, especially the creative experience.

This is lesson number 18 from the book.

18. The Well-Wrought Urn

My heart respects conventional rules
and laws of composition.
I recall the great works of old masters
and see how my contemporaries have failed -
poems from the depth of a wise heart
may be laughed at by those who are blind.
Poems fine as jade filigree and coral
are common as beans on the plain,
endless like air in the world's great bellows,
eternal as the universe;
they grow everywhere
but my small hands hold only a few.
My water jar is often empty. It makes me worry.
I make myself sick trying to expand my pieces.
I limp along with short poems
and patch up my songs with common notes.
I'll never be happy with what I've done,
so how can my heart be satisfied?
Tap my work: I fear it clunks like and earthen bowl
and I'm shamed by the song to musical jade.

(Translated by Tony Barnstone and Chou Ping)

New in San Antonio, just passing through, looking for breakfast and tired of paying hotel and Riverwalk prices for toast and a scrambled egg

Look for a Jim's Restaurant They're all over town, usually where one of the expressways crosses a major street. The one pictured is "my" Jim's, at Loop 410 and Bandera Road.

Begining as a watermelon stand near Breckenridge Park many, many years ago, Jim's grew to become a San Antonio chain with over 20 locations that maintains the roadside diner tradition of pretty good food at very good prices. It's the kind of place where, no matter when you go in, two thirds of the customers are regulars who know all the servers' names and jockey for a table with their favorite.

Three things I recommend at any Jim's.

First, they make the best tortilla soup in town.

Second, they make a cinnamon milkshake that will make you wish you were born in San Antonio so you could have grown up drinking milkshakes at Jim's.

Last, they'll fix you a good breakfast any time during the 24 hours a day they're open. All the standard breakfast stuff, nothing fancy, but, for the major morning appetite, you'll have a shot at rib eye and eggs, chopped steak and eggs, pork chop and eggs and, being we are where we are, chicken fried steak and eggs.

I prefer Jim's in the morning, since, like a lot of restaurants like this, their best staff are on duty for the morning shift, but they also have daily lunch and dinner specials. A serious South Texas carnivore, I especially like Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, when, respectively, their specials are meat loaf, smothered chopped steak and pot roast. For me, Subway's a better choice for lunch the rest of the week. The also don't do a bad chicken fried steak or chicken fried chicken any day, any time.

Who says you have to leave behind home-style cooking just because you're on vacation.

More whining about the weather

big storms

there was a line of squalls
coming in off the gulf beginning yesterday
bringing a series of heavy storms through tomorrow,
so it was raining when I got to Corpus Christi and rained until I left,
hard rain,
like God went away for the weekend
and left the water running,
and long, jagged, sky-to-ground lightening strikes
that left an ozone stink in the air

I drove home at the end of the day,
hoping the rain would follow,
but, as usual, rain in any strength
can't seem to get across the 150 miles of coastal plain
to help us here in the hills, leaving us still dry

but you can tell the rain is trying this morning,
the skies are black with heavy clouds and
the air is pre-storm still, a few drizzles
spot the patio bricks and, months into drought ,
we watch the sky and hold our breath,
as still, ourselves, as the air around,
wanting so much to watch it rain we count
each intermittent drop as it splashes,
then beads and runs, on our window

the dogs seem to share out sense of a big thing coming
as they watch out the window with us
and we pray for the validity
of canine instinct about this sort of thing.
three hours later
and the sun is out
and the clouds are gone
and the sky is blue
and the dogs have been exiled to the backyard

we should have trusted unflappable Cat
who never moved from her nest on my bed
and slept, as usual,
through, the whole

From an unknown Egyptian poet, around 1100 B.C.

We don't (I don't) usually associate ancient Egypt with flirtatious girls and love poems. Too many mummy movies I guess, though, if you think of it, it was lost love that caused the mummy to rise in all his be-wrapped gruesomness in the first place.

The Voice of the Swallow, Flittering, Calls to Me

The voice of the swallow, flittering, calls to me;
       "Land's alight! Whither away?"
No, little bird, you cannot entice me,
       I follow you to the fields no more.

Like you in the dawn mist I rose,
       at sunrise discovered my lover abed
              (his voice is sweeter)
"Wake," I said "or I will fly with the swallow."
And my heart smiled back
       when he, smiling, said:
"You shall not fly
       Nor shall I, bright bird.
              But hand in hand
We shall walk the Nileside pathways,
       under cool of branches, hidden
              (only the swallows watching)
Wide-eyed gir'
       I shall be with you in all glad places.”

Can you match the notes of that song, little swallow?
       I am first in his field of girls!
My heart , dear sister, sings in his hand -
       love never harmed a winged creature.

(Translated by John I. Foster)

Many things keep me awake at night, puzzling over their implications

Here's one.

I know for a fact that there exists well-respected, intelligent individuals of the Republican persuasion. What keeps me awake at night is wondering what could have so tragically befallen them in childhood as to so besot their life. It's the company they keep, I think. Deliquent behavior encourages deliquent behavior, proven again and again. They really need to find some Democrats to hang with.

Bukowski near the end

a new war

a different fight now, warding off the weariness of
retreating to your room, stretching out upon the bed,
there's not much will to do more,
it's near midnight now.

not so long ago, your night would be just
beginning, but don't lament lost youth:
youth was no wonder

but now it's the waiting on death.
it's not death that's the problem, it's the waiting.

you should have been dead decades ago,
the abuse you wreaked upon yourself was
enormous and non-ending.
a different fight now, yes, but nothing to
mourn, only to

frankly, it's even a bit dull waiting on the

and to think, after I'm gone,
there will be more days for others, other days,
other nights,
dogs walking, trees shaking in
the wind.
I won't be leaving much,
something to read, maybe.

a wild onion in the gutted

Paris in the dark.

Until next week.....a little haiku

The haiku was published several years ago in a short verse journal in England. The photo is from a visit to Corpus Christi last weekend.

thunder breaks the dawn
dark clouds cloak the early sun
slowly starts the day

Photos by Allen Itz


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One Fish, Two Fish, Get Your Mitts Off My Fish   Tuesday, August 15, 2006

So here it is, the catch of the day - "Here and Now" Number I.x.

Starting with one of my own

I've often wondered about the fascination old folks have for weather.

Though I've not tuned my TV to the Weather Channel and thrown away my channel changer, I am beginning to exhibit some of those same obsessions myself.

I blame it on the god-awful heat and drought.

This poem was written earlier this year before the true godawfullness of this summer was apparent and when it was still possible to have lunch on a thatch-shaded table at Cascabel (a little pocket-sized restaurant on South St. Mary's near downtown) without ending up with heat stroke as a side order.

your daily weather report


might be
I'll watch it rain
from here

I'm hoping

the sky
has gone dark
and the wind
is playing
with the trees

could be
I'll see it rain

I'm hoping


I sat
at this window
and watched
the sky go dark
and the trees
do the hully-gully
in the wind

I wished for rain
but none came

nor will it rain

the sky is blue
and the wind
is barely a
slipping almost
without notice
through limbs
it blew to frenzy

but it is cool,
a blessing
in this too-soon
summer season


we'll see



here's another
day just like it

oh, the sky
might be just
a touch bluer
and those clouds
a teeny bit fluffier

you have to be
in a need for
in your life
to notice

just like the
is the life of a
weather enthusiast



the morning
was cooler again
than usual
for this time of year
so we had lunch
on the patio
at Cascabel

in the shade,
with hungry little sparrows
looking on
from the next table,
waiting for one of us
to drop a morsel or two
on the floor,
but the sun shifted
leaving us
about the time
we finished eating

time to leave

already this year
we've had four days
in the triple digits,
but not today

oh, it will be hot
but the humidity
is low
so it's not so bad

this is the time
of year
when Mexican farmers
in the interior
clear their fields
by burning, so,
for several days
there's a light
of natural incense
in the air

from northside heights
as a thick, ugly haze
blanketing downtown,
the woodsy smell
when you're in it
brings a relaxed
to the city

as pollution,
not so bad and
way better than
on diesel fumes
in the suburbs

all in all,
a nice day so far,
and the walk
back to our car
past Rosario's and
the elementary school
and other little shops
and galleries
along South St. Mary's
is pleasant


the cosmic
of a beautiful morning
woke me early,
just as the day
broke yellow
in the black
going blue

the creek
in this first light
I flushed the heron
and the red-tailed hawk
that stop here briefly
every year
as they make
their annual passage
from winter
to summer skies

the heron's cry
as its long wings
lift it slowly
from its night hours
is a startled honk
like an old maid
in pearls and flowery dress
by an open-raincoat pervert
at her front door

the hawk's call
is something else,
bone chilling,
on a blackboard
that screams
as it launches
from its cottonwood perch
with a sonic crush
of air smashed
aside by its flight

as always in May
it will be hot again
by midday
as the sun climbs
to its peak
in the cloudless

until then
the day is one
to celebrate


for a cloud
but can't find one

a sky like blue-gray slate,
mean looking sky,
tin roof
under midday sun hot

a day for
drunk slow
under a shady tree


winds aloft
are strong,
pushing clouds
over a bright-morning
the pale silver disc
in a bluebonnet sky
slipping in and out of sight

much to do today

enjoy the moment
at hand
before it passes

Back to Lu Ji

To refresh memories, Lu Ji was a third century Chinese poet and military leader. As the story is told by his translators, Tony Barnstone and Chou Ping, he is remembered as a military leader primarily for his loss of a battle (due to the treachery of a fellow general) which led to his execution on trumped-up charges of treason. As a writer he is remembered for The Art of Writing, described by Barnstone and Chou as "both a cosmic treatise and a practical one." They compare it, in the western tradition, to Pope's Essay on Poetry and Pope's model, the Ars Poetica of Horace.

We left Lu Ji a couple of weeks ago with lesson number 9, The Riding Crop. We return to him this week with lessons 10 and 11.

10. Making It New

Perhaps thoughts and words blend together
into a lucid beauty, a lush growth;
they flame like a bright brocade,
poignant as a string orchestra.
But if you fail to make it new
you can only repeat the past.
Even when your own heart is in your loom
someone may have woven that textile before,
and to be honorable and keep integrity
you must disown it despite your love.

11. Ordinary and Sublime

Flowering forth, a tall rice ear
stands proudly above the mass,
a shape eluding its shadow,
a sound refusing echoes.
The best line is a towering crag.
It won't be woven into an ordinary song.
The mind can't find a match for it
but casts about, unwilling to give up.
After all, jade in rock makes a mountain shimmer,
pearls in water make the river seductive,
green kingfishers give life
even to the ragged thornbrush,
and classic and folk songs
blend into a fine contrast.

Introducing guest blogger Michelle Beth Cronk

Michelle lives in Southern California. She is a wife, a mother of two small children and a poet. That's pretty impressive by my lights. When I was a husband with one small child, I could barely get my mind around writing a grocery list. In addition to her own work, she is also assistant editor of the ezine The Eight Seasons of Silver City and the email poetry letter Coterie and is on the board of In a new venture, she and friend Tina Vonhagel are embarking on an editing adventure with a new ezine, published by Rick Stansberger, entitled Admiring Bog after Emily Dickinson's "I'm nobody, who are you?" which will feature talented poets who do not yet have a book published. They are hoping to roll out the first issue sometime this Winter 2006/2007. There will be no submissions, but rather poets will be invited to publish. If you know of someone you think would fit right in, send their name and where Michelle & Tina can find examples of their work (and info on how to reach them).

I enjoy Michelle's work and especially like this poem due to it's delicate simplicity and directness of thought and imagery.

Reading Levertov in the mountains

If you were here
you would tell me

how cold lives
below mountains
on the lake

how the creek
passes over
tumbling stones

and a perfect branch
hangs some
where in a hill
side of pine

Quotations From Chairman LBJ

While in Afghanistan in 1967, I bought a copy of Quotations from Chairman Mao, the "little red book" of Cultural Revolution fame, from a bookseller in downtown Kabul. It was little (shirt pocket size, with room for a pen and pencil), it was red, with the iconic picture of Mao in an oval on the cover and it had shiny plastic cover, making it both cheap and durable. When I returned to the States in 1969, I picked a semiserious knockoff, Quotations from Chairman LBJ, just as red and a little larger, with a picture of LBJ in a Mao jacket in an oval on the cover.

There's some serious stuff in it; also some funny stuff.

Here's a couple of quotes from the book. For those born somewhat after the dark ages of the 1950's-60's, Johnson was famous for working extremely hard and pushing his staff just as hard.

To aide Malcolm Kilduff, July 1965

Kilduff, I hope your mind isn't as cluttered as your desk.

To Kilduff a couple of days later

Kilduff, I hope your brain isn't as empty as your desk.

Poets with bombs

So far as I know, Lyndon Johnson never wrote a poem, but Mao Zedong, following the Chinese tradition that expected the writing of poetry to be among the accomplishments of rulers and the ruling class, did. (The American tradition is so surprised when it's rulers write poetry that a big deal is made of it, for example, the gushing over Gene McCarthy's poetry and the media stir when Jimmy Carter publishes his books of poetry. Americans expect their rulers to make John Wayne movies, not poetry.)

Mao, though much more likely to be remembered as a despot and murderer of his own people than as a poet, did his part to uphold tradition. Here's an example.


I stand alone in cold autumn.
The River Xiang goes north
around the promontory of Orange Island.
I see the thousand mountains gone red
and rows of stained forests.
The great river is glassy jade
swarming with one hundred boats.
Eagles flash over clouds
and fish float near the clear bottom.
In the freezing air a million creatures compete for freedom.
In this immensity
I ask the huge green-blue earth
who is master of nature?

I came here with many friends
and remember those fabled months and years of study.
We were young,
sharp as flower wind, ripe,
candid with a scholar's bright blade, and unafraid.
We pointed one finger at China
and praised or damned through the papers we wrote.
The warlords of the past were cow dung.
Do you remember
how in the middle of the river
we hit the water, splashed, and how our waves
      slowed down the swift junks?

(Translated by Willis Barnstone and Ko Ching-po.)

Speaking of......

A poem by Jimmy Carter from his book Always a Reckoning published in 1995.

Why We Get Cheaper Tires from Liberia

The miles of rubber trees bend from the sea.
Each of the million acres cost a dime
nearly two Liberian lives ago.
Sweat, too,
has poured like sap from trees, almost free,
from men coerced to work by poverty
and leaders who had sold the people's fields.

The plantation kiln's pink bricks
made the homes of overseeing whites
a corporation's pride
Walls of the same polite bricks divide
the worker's tiny stalls
like cells in honeycombs;
no windows breach the walls,
no pipes or wires bring drink or light
to natives who can never claim this place as theirs
by digging in the ground.
No churches can be built,
no privy holes or even graves
dug in the rolling hills
for those milking Firestone's trees, who die
from mamba and mosquito bites.

I asked the owners why.
The cost of land, they said, was high.

Three love poems by Lady Izumi Shikibu (970-1030)

The daughter of a Japanese provincial governor, Izumi Shikibu began service at court in her early teens. In 995 she was married to the governor of Izumi, and in 997 she had a daughter. She was known as a poet before her marriage; she had already written one of her most popular poems, "I go out of the darkness."

Around the year 1000, she began an affair with Prince Tametaka (977-1002), the son of the Emperor by a junior consort. The affair was apparently not conducted discreetly, for it became the subject of gossip; Izumi's husband divorced her, and when Tametaka died, his death was rumored to be due to his visiting Izumi during a plague season.

A year after Tametaka's death, his brother, Prince Atsumichi (981-1007), began to visit Izumi. It is the first year of this affair that the Izumi Shikibu nikki describes, from the early summer of 1003 to the spring of 1004, when Atsumichi's wife left his house in anger. Although called a nikki (memoir) Izumi's book reads much like fiction: the story is told in the third person; the thoughts of various characters are given and the two major characters' names are never given: they are simply "the lady" and "the Prince."

The affair continued until Atsumichi's death in 1007. In the next year Izumi went to court to be an attendant to Michinaga's daughter, Empress Shoshi /Akiko. If Izumi Shikibu nikki was written during this period, one of its purposes may have been to explain her indiscretion to her fellow courtiers. Certainly many of Izumi's poems (Izumi Shikibu shu) not included in her Nikki appear to come from this period; a good portion of these are poems mourning Atsumichi, while other reflect life at court.

Around 1010, Izumi remarried and went to the provinces, apparently never to return to court, although she continued to write poetry; 240 of her poems were included in later imperial anthologies. We don't know how long she lived; the last official reference to her was in 1033.*

*Above from Other Women's Voices, Translation of Women's Writing Before 1700

Three Poems On Love

On nights when hail
falls noisily
on bamboo leaves
I completely hate
to sleep alone

You told me it was
because of me
you gazed at the moon.
I've come to see
if this is true.

If you love me,
come. The road
I live on
is not forbidden
by impetuous gods.

(Translated by Willis Barnstone)

Li Bai, 701-762

No Bukowski this week; instead Li Bai. Though separated in time by more than a thousand years, they could have been brothers. A drunk, a womanizer, a scoundrel and a tweaker of convention, the legend of Li Bai's death is telling. It is said in the legend that he was so drunk on a boat that he fell overboard and drowned while trying to embrace the moon reflected in the water. Bukowski's Chinaski would understand and approve.

Drinking Alone by Moonlight

A pot of wine in the flower garden
but no friends to drink with me.
So I raise my cup to the bright moon
and to my shadow, which makes us three,but the moon won't drink
and my shadow just creeps about my heels.
Yet in your company, moon and shadow,
I have a wild time till spring dies out.
I sing and the moon shudders.
My shadow staggers when I dance.
We have our fun while I can stand
then drift apart when I fall asleep.
Let's share this empty journey often
and meet again in the milky river of stars.

(Translated by Tony Barnstone and Chou Ping)

It doesn't seem like it ought to be that hard

Late news is that the UN has come up with something that might slow down the organized killing of each other by some parties in the Middle East. Too bad it doesn't seem likely to do anything about the semi-organized killing that continues at it's uninterrupted pace.

for you and me


on dry desert

in steamy jungle

on busy city

in green country















*From Seven Beats a Second Poetry by Allen Itz & Art by Vincent Martinez

Seems like that's about it for this time out. Meanwhile, trees, like the one above, grow old in difficult places. Maybe by the time it's here and now again next week, children in Lebanon and Israel will be allowed to do the same.

Photos by Allen Itz


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Time, As It Passes, Brushes All With Its Unforgiving Hand   Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Time for "Here and Now" number I.x.

The Morning After

Guest blogger Christina Hymes

Christina is a young poet from Florida who started writing at 17. She is also a professional photographer. For this issue of "Here and Now," Christina allows us to present the photo above (The Morning After) and two poems, black beans and the breath in me is vanishing.

Visit Christina's website at to see more of her photos and poems.

black beans

Black beans are like rabbit droppings,
tiny specks deposited in soil,
nutrients, countries of organisms
bound together, mixed, clumped,
suffocating together with stingy aroma,
backstabbers, like onions peeled,
soaking in broth in the kettle,
simmering, rushing around
to see who will be the softest bean.

the breath in me is vanishing

Sometimes I feel as though part of me is missing,
the very breath of life is vanishing slowly
like the water that seeps through the earth's
roots; dripping like tears from my cheeks
and my heart forever beating but so
fast the earth evaporates
and roots shrivel up
my life

Given time,

can someday be

Isn't that just
the most amazing thing?

Are you hep to the jive?

For me, listening to Cab Calloway and his jazz big band is like when I was a kid going into a playground and seeing all the swings and slides and seesaws and whirley things that made me dizzy as I could possibly want to play with. It's just plain, flat fun.

Come to think of it, I guess I started having fun with Calloway about the same time I was having fun on playgrounds. It was the early fifties, I was maybe eight to ten years old and television was just making it down to the far south tip of Texas where I grew up. There was only one station. Network programming started at 7 in the evening and everything shut down and went to test pattern at midnight. Everythinig during the day was local programming, which, after the farm and ranch show first thing in the morning, was mainly old movies that the station bought probably for not much more than a dozen for a dollar. I remember mostly three kinds of movies. Charlie Chan movies, old cowboy movies (Hoppie, Hoot, Lash LaRue, Whip Wilson, and the rest of the B-movie gang) and movies made in the thirties about society people who spent their evenings at nightclubs saying smart things and drinking from long stemmed glasses. The nightclubs always had bands and more often than not the band was Cab Calloway's. I never figured out what the society people were doing at the nightclub, but I knew what Cab Calloway was doing. He was making music, a carnival of music, music a hell'uv a lot more fun than Roy and Dale ever came up with in the Saturday afternoon double-feature movies.

So was born an eight year old closet hepcat, a subliminal influence that I think stayed with me the rest of my life.

What brought these memories back today was that I happening to think of and then listen to a Cab Calloway compilation release from Columbia. The CD, released 1994, is titled Are You Hep To The Jive. It is from Columbia's Legacy Rhythm and Soul Series. It features 22 cuts, including these:

Are You All Reet?
Hey Now, Hey Now
Everybody Eats When They Come To My House
Are You Hep To The Jive
The Calloway Boogie
Papa's In Bed With His Britches On
What's Buzzin’ Cousin
The Jungle King
Don't Falter at the Altar
A Chicken Ain't Nothing But A Bird
Minnie The Moocher

and more.

Want to have a good time? Check it out.

Walt Whitman, from The Wound Dresser

Among the wonders of the earth is the springing upon us, as if from nowhere, such genius as Walt Whitman.

The Wound Dresser


An old man bending I come among new faces,
Years looking backward resuming in answer to
Come tell us old man, as from young men and
maidens that love me.
(Arous'd and angry, I'd thought to beat the alarum,
and urge relentless war,
But soon my fingers fail'd me, my face droop'd and I
I resigned myself,
To sit by the wounded and soothe them, or silently
watch the dead;)
Years hence of these scenes, of these furious passions,
these chances
Of unsurpass'd heroes (was one side so brave? the
the other was equally brave;)
Now be witness again, paint the mightiest armies of
Of those armies so rapid so wondrous what saw you to
tell us?
What stays with you latest and deepest? of curious
of hard-fought engagements or sieges tremendous what
deepest remains?


On, on I go, (open doors of time! open hospital
The crush'd head I dress, (poor crazed hand tear not
the bandage away,)
The neck of the calvary-man with the bullet through
and through I examine,
Hard the breathing rattles, quite glazed already the eye,
yet life struggles hard,
(Come sweet death! be persuaded O beautiful death!
in mercy come quickly

From the stump of the arm, the amputated hand,
I undo the clotted lint, remove the slough, wash off
the matter and blood,
Back on his pillow the soldier bends with curv'd neck
and side falling head,
His eyes are closed, his face is pale, he dares not look
at the bloody stump,
I dress a wound on the side, deep, deep,
But a day or two more, for see the frame all wasted
and sinking,
And the yellow-blue countenance see.

I dress the perforated shoulder, the foot with the
bullet wound,
Cleanse the one with a gnawing and putrid gangrene,
so sickening, so offensive,
While the attendant stands behind aside me holding the
tray and pail.

I am faithful, I do not give out,
The fractur'd thigh, the knee, the wound in the
These and more I dress with impassive hand, (yet deep
in my breast, a fire, a burning flame.)


Thus in silence in dreams' projections,
Returning, resuming, I thread my way through the
The hurt and wounded I pacify with soothing hand,
I sit by the restless all the dark night, some are so
Some suffer so much, I recall the experience sweet and
(Many a soldier's loving arms about this neck have
cross'd and rested.
Many a soldier's kiss dwells on these bearded lips.)

And, finally, one more from Whitman.


Word over all, as beautiful as the sky,
Beautiful that war and all its deeds of carnage must
in time be utterly lost,
That the hands of the sisters Death and Night
incessantly softly wash again, and ever again, this
soiled world;
For my enemy is dead, a man divine as myself if dead,
I look where he lies white-faced and still in the coffin
- I draw near,
Bend down and touch lightly with my lips the white
face in the coffin.

Radio stations I like

I don't listen to commercial radio because they all play the same thing over and over and most of the stuff they're playing over and over again I don't like.

Instead, I usually split my time between four non-commercial stations, two are standard public stations and the other two are college radio stations.

One of the public stations is a classical station. Their library is limited, so I don't listen that much.

The other public station is all NPR, PRI and BBC. I listen to that station a lot. I read the local newspaper and the New York Times in the morning and listen to this station off and on throughout the day and finish in the evening with as much information about what's going on around me as I want to deal with, plus some fun on the sided.

One of the college stations is affiliated with Trinity University and the other with San Antonio College campus of the Alamo Community College District.

KRTU, the Trinity University station, broadcasts jazz in all varieties from 6 in the morning until ten at night. Their schedule includes jazz knowledgable DJ's, live, in studio performances, and feeds from national jazz programming. KRTU is credited with reviving jazz performance in San Antonio, sponsoring appearances by big ticket jazz performers and local established and beginner groups at jazz clubs throughout the city.

KSYM, from San Antonio College, has a more eclectic mix. Their schedule on any given week ranges from hillbilly to hip-hop, third coast to world, funk, metal, soul, reggae, cojunto, alternate rock, alternate country, and even a little jazz, none of it ever likely to show up on the play list of any of the commercial stations.

Both stations webcast. Locally, KRTU is at 91.7 and KSYM is at 90.1. Both receive funds from their parent institution and from public support.

(Yes, they have fund drives, just like the other guys, but never at the same time, so there's always something to listen to.)

On the 26th anniversary of my father's death, an old poem*

does he still dream

his body survives, dependent
for every beat and breath
on the machines that surround him

his conscious mind is blank,
but what of dreams

we never forget our dreams,
from the very earliest sloshing
in the universe of our mother's belly
to the very last, as we die, riffling
one last time through the book of dreams
we made page by page over our lifetime

so, if this derelict can dream, if this scrap
of man who used to laugh and love,
this shrunken giant who would carry me,
enfold me in his arms, hold me close
in the worst of storms, this declining

remnant of son and lover who slept
at the breast of both his mother and mine,

this fallen hero leaving the world as he
entered it, head reaching for his knees

this frail ghost of my father

if he has yet the final gift of dreams,
if, in some part of his mind we can
neither see nor measure, he still drifts
through dreams fading, like the shadows
of a fire banked and growing colder....

*from Seven Beats a Second poems by Allen Itz and Art by Vincent Martinez

A shot of Bukowski, straight, no chaser

first poem back

64 days and nights in that
place, chemotherapy,
antibiotics, blood running into
the catheter.
who, me?
at age 72 I had this foolish thought that
I'd just die peacefully in my sleep
the gods want it their way.
I sit at this machine, shattered,
half alive,
still seeking the Muse,
but I am back for the moment only,
while nothing seems the same,
I am not reborn, only
a few more days, a few more nights,

A little attaway

I had a very short poem published this week in zafusy at zafusy tends toward the contemporary and avant garde in its poetry. This poem is an old one, about 40 years old, written when I was a student at the air force language training institute at Indiana University. It was inspired by a photo in, I think, Downbeat magazine.

And, you're right. I never throw anything away.

Well, that's about it for this time out, darker, sometimes, than usual, but that will pass. Come back next week when we will welcome guest blogger, from Southern California, wife, mother of two small children and poet, Michelle Beth Cronk. She will be presenting us with a little piece that I like, and I think you will, too.

A last word to remind all that "Here and Now" is just one part of the 7beats website, I mention that because, for the first time in a while, I've added several new poems to the "Latest Poems" page. Also, sometime within the next couple of days I"ll be changing photos on the "Photos" page. The new series will be from a stroll down the San Antonio Riverwalk.

Photo "The Morning After" by Christina Hymes
Vintage photos by Nina Itz (long, long ago and now very far away)
Mustachioed skinny airman photo by ??????
Remaining photos by Allen Itz

at 11:23 PM Blogger Tina hymes said...

I hope you know, I do still think about you. ;) thanks for posting my work. I am glad you like it enough to do so. I feel honored. And my photo, which might i add is trivial to what i normally do.

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No Rain, But At Least We Got Clouds   Tuesday, August 01, 2006

It will rain someday. Until then, stay green with "Here and Now" number I.ix

More lessons from Lu Ji

First, two more poems from our continuing series of lessons taken from The Art of Writing by Lu Ji (261-303A.D.), translated by Tony Barnstone and Chou Ping.

4. The Joy of Words

Writing is joy
so saints and scholars will pursue it.
A writer makes new life in the void,
knocks on silence to make a sound,
binds space and time on a sheet of silk
and pours out a river from an inch-sized heart.
As words give birth to words
and thoughts arouse deeper thoughts,
they smell like flowers giving off scent,
spread like green leaves in spring,
a long wind comes, whirls into a tornado of ideas,
and clouds rise from the writing brush forest.

5. The Riding Crop

Sometimes your writing is a lush web of fine thoughts
that undercut each other and muffle the theme:
when you reach the pole there's nowhere else to go;
more becomes less if you try to craft what's made.
A powerful phrase at the crucial point
will whip the writing like a horse and make it gallop;
though all the other words are in place
they wait for the crop to run a good race.
A whip is always more help than harm;
stop revising when you;ve got it right.

It was a dark and stormy night- poetry from the mean streets

Here are some gems from Mickey Spillane, quoted from the New York Times a couple of Sundays ago. Spillane who was 88 years old when he died a couple of weeks ago. He called himself a "money writer" who wrote when he needed money. He must of needed a lot of money because, over the 50 or so years he published, he sold millions of copies of his books all around the world. Usually derided as an writer, his work was vivid and (let me whisper this) often poetic in it's presentation of mood and character and action. Parodied often, sometimes by himself, he was, at his best, a unique writer for a particular time.

From Kiss Me Deadly, 1952

It was Monday again, a rainy, dreary Monday that was a huge wet muffler draped over the land. I watched it through the window and felt the taste of it in my mouth.

From The Big Kill, 1951

Something had gentled the rain, taking the madness out of it.

From Kiss Me Deadly

There was nothing slim about her. Maybe a sleekness like a well-fed, muscular cat, an athletic squareness to her shoulders, a sensual curve to her hips, an antagonizing play of motion across her stomach that seemed unconsciously deliberate.

From The Killing Man, 1989

This one had crazy electric blue eyes that could smile, as well as a full-lipped mouth, and when she said "Good morning." it was like being licked by a soft, satin-furred llama.

From My Gun is Quick, 1959

Usually they're sallow-faced punks with sharp pointed faces and wise eyes that shift nervously, and they keep toying with the change in their pockets or a key ring hooked to high-pleated pants as they talk of out the corner of their mouths.

From The Killing Man

You would want to kiss the lusciousness of those full lips until the thought occurred that it might be like putting your tongue on a cold sled runner and never being able to get it off.

From The Snake, 1964

It was a soft, teasing, tasting kiss, as if she were sampling the juice from a plum before buying the lot.

Finally, from The Body Lovers, 1967

Silence has a funny sound.

Guest Blogger Allyn "Porphyry" Garavaglia

Allyn Garavaglia is a poet, novelist, short story writer, cartoonist, artist, song writer and I'm afraid to guess what else. After reading my solicitation for guest bloggers, he sent some funny poetry centered around two characters named Red and Mabel and an art piece. I expect to use the art and at least some of the poetry sometime in the future.

In the meantime, in response to my request for a short introduction to himself, he sent the funniest piece of road-trip prose I've read in a while.

Here it is.

You can call me Po.

4 out of 5 psycho-anal-lysts think I am a nut, but I think 4 out of 5 of them are quacks (if we simply must revert to name-calling.) The 5th and I sat on the front porch and drank some cranked up lemonade (vodka is one helluva crank actually)- and with enough fresh-fuel coursing through our blood-streams, we decided to go off and search for WMDs ourselves. (Neither of us were quite convinced that they existed, but it did give our idle (and ever so indelicately cranked) little minds something to think about. (All the others wanted to talk about my mother. I kept trying to tell them that she was married, and no matter what kind of kinkoid fantasies they had rolling- she just wasn't like that. I'm always a tad leery about brothers who see dicks all over the place anyways- Not exactly the land of milk & honey as far as us heteros go, but that's besides the point.)

At any rate, thusly turned- Brother Brain-Squeezer and I went out looking for WMDs- Something like a drunken safari, or another Indiana Jones sequel. We had gotten as far as Cleveland before we had to hit another bar- I thought I had seen Drew Carey. After a few more, he thought he had seen Elvis- So we stopped by the most convenient of the convenience stores we could find at 1 a.m. and bought one of those disposable cameras. We had also thought this might come in handy in our own dark little version of a Grail-quest; in that we had both come to the conclusion that we were both a part of the masses that didn't want to be destructed. So we decided long before hand that we wouldn't touch one if we found one, and had arrived at the pretty much the same conclusion if we ended up finding Elvis first-Which gave us just enough time to stop in for last-call.

Thus, our saga continued- And we headed east. There was some debate as to where the middle of the east was, on account that if you head too far east, you end up in the west. We debated the logistics on a street-corner in DC, primarily because neither of us were quite prepared for a 3000 mile swim, we had left our swimming trunks at home. Once we both agreed that the other must be right, then we argued the other's finer points in this debate. Having come to a quandary to which while both of us might budge on our opinions; we would only end up switching hats and never end up meeting in the middle- And this might have went on forever if he hadn't come to the conclusion that neither of us really knew anything about the Mideast- But we did know quite a bit about the midwest, where, we both thought, would be the ideal place to hide WMDs if one truly wished they wouldn't be found (Not to mention the fact that it was much closer to home; and in the event that our searches came up fruitless- We could always go back home and get our swimsuits.)

I think that he was more interested in finding Elvis, in as he demanded that we make a stop into Graceland, and made me use up one of our pictures to get one of him standing beside the front gate- Otherwise, he sulked. He was a fairly competent sort of sulker, one of those things that his X-number of years in college and studying bio-psychology had left him all too well prepared. (I think they offer doctorates in whining too, to which I am very glad to add he had never studied in any depth- but perhaps that was another of his minors, as he did let out a few listless sort of sighs before I finally caved.) I prefer sulkers myself, as they are quieter- And if you close your eyes, you'd never even realize they are even there ...

Where we thought we had actually ran into Elvis at one point, but he didn't pass our ultimate test- Which was to ask any would be contenders and impersonators just what "Hunka-hunka Burning Love" meant. I don't think you'd really want to hear about some of the explanations we got to our queries- Save that the Doc ended up handing out his card quite a bit, and letting them know when his office hours were. But thus, having failed in our searched for the ever elusive Elvis, we plodded onwards.

I'd like to tell you there was a happy ending to this tale- That we had found those damn WMDs, and hence; kept the world safe for democracy and all that, or at least got some fairly decent photos of some Elvis tracks. We did find a rhinestone or two, a greasy comb with dark hairs curled in the tines. We thought we had found the WMDs in Kansas, and were just about to climb over the fence when two MPs came up and threatened to arrest us if "we tried that stunt again." I told him I once use to climb fences all the time, and while the barbed wire did indeed make it a little tricky- It was hardly a stunt. (Well okay, it did take a wee bit of finesse to not snag one's more personal items & anatomy in the process, but it was hardly like jumping Snake River Canyon or anything that might require rocket-motorcycles- and hopefully not a call to 911, should the initial attempt become an utter failure.

But I was confident and, almost, cocky about it. (No pun intended.) The Doc even gave them his "professional opinion," that knowing me as he had come to know me- I would undoubtedly survive any attempted fence-hopping with, at worst, only minor injuries to my pride- To which, it appeared to him, I had no real & practical use for anyways.

This didn't seem to deter them muchly, and I had thought that perhaps if I had offered to go out and buy a "cup," that these protectors & defenders of the testes would loosen up on their "defense of the realm"- so to speak.

They didn't.

It was on our way back home that my fellow psycho-anal-lyst and companion had come upon the groundbreaking discovery that it wasn't my testicles that they were worried about- That they might even be much alleviated by the notion that I mightn't be able to reproduce. That in the grand scheme of things, my testes were little more than a mild annoyance (To which I related my tale of the first time I rode a ten-speed bike way before I had grown into one, and that hardly seemed "mild" to me- But, yet again, he went slinging that "professional opinion" of his into part hitherto unknown, and I told him that I seriously doubted there were any classes on the psychology impact of my genitalia- to which I received a rather dubious gaze in response. This frightened me a little, as I started to envision Men in Black "inquiring," and making up a whole slue of alien horror stories about what those dirty little aliens had done to me- And I had come across my own discovery ...

This compatriot of mine, to whom I had shared a bottle and more than a fair amount of time, was a closet Freudian! And only after a six day binger did those Freudian tendencies start to dribble out like faucet with a slow leak. Yes my friends, I was shocked and appalled as well- Indignant and intoxicated, but it was also a catharsis of sorts. For we had both discovered it at about the same time, that terrible & horrible "thing" that he had kept repressed all of these years- his superego vying against the id for control of the ego-primus. How many times he had lied to himself and referred to himself as a humanist psychiatrist- what lies we tell ourselves just to get through our days with some decorum of self-respect ...

About that time, a guy who looked a lot like Elvis came into the bar and ordered a Shirley Temple. We didn't even bother asking our questions, the Doc just handed him a card and we moved on.

We both went our separate ways after that. I still think of him sometimes (when I am really, really drunk- especially when Elvis is playing- which is to say I really don't think about him that often, but that is beside the point.), and I really hope and pray that he discovers that being Freudian can be a good thing. It's a hard life, but I wish him well with it...

Do you really want any more introduction? I mean, this thing is already unconscionably long, with no point nor grand revelations to it than .... Well, best not go there.

The much shorter version of this is that you can call me Po, and if not already all too apparent- I like to write.

Nothing else really needs be said.

One of my own*

cowboys and indians

redskins on the warpath
chasing cowboys
bonyback ridge
sidewinder trail
that same big
saguaro cactus

there it is again--

war bonnets streaming
cowboy hats flapping
in the wind
shooting forward
shooting back
horses falling
it fun
to be a movie star

* From Seven Beats a Second, Poetry by Allen Itz and Art by Vincent Martinez

And a Bukowski to close the store

After months of drought, I am obsessed by rain.

help wanted and received

I'm stale sitting here
at this typewriter, the door open on my
little balcony when suddenly there is a roar in the sky,
Bruckner shouts back from
the radio and then the rain comes down glorious and violent,
and I realize that
it's good that the world can explode this way
because now
I am renewed, listening and watching as
droplets of rain splash on my my wristwatch
the torrent of rain clears my brain and my
a long line of blue lightening splits
the night sky.
I smile inside, remembering that
someone once said, "I'd rather be lucky than good." and I quickly
think, "I'd rather be lucky and good"
as tonight
as Bruckner sets the tone
as the hard rain continues to fall
as another blue streak of lightening
explodes in the sky
I'm grateful that for the moment I'm

So, back into the hills until next week, when our guest blogger will be a young poet and photographer from Florida. I'll be presenting samples of both her arts. You will like what she does.

Photos by Allen Itz

return to 7beats
Previous Entries
Habits of Mercy
The Rules of Silence
The Last
Thoughts At the End of Another Long Summer, 2020
Slow Day at the Flapjack Emporium
Lunatics - a Short Morning Inventory
The Downside of Easy Pickings
My Literary Evolution
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