Summer Ends In A Rush Of Green And Yellow   Monday, September 25, 2006

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

Friday night reading at Casa Chiapas

I'll be reading this coming Friday night (September 29th) at Casa Chiapas, 928 South Alamo, San Antonio. I'll read for about an hour beginning about 7:45.

Come, have dinner, have coffee and desert, and enjoy the poetry. The reading menu will include poems from the book Seven Beats a Second as well as new work.

As I mentioned last week, this will be a first for Casa Chiapas. If there's a good turnout, poetry night could become a regular event.

Guest blogger Gary Blankenship returns with the beginning of a new series

I both admire and envy Gary's ability to choose a series theme and stick to it. When I try that, I get lost about half way through, leaving me with a pile of unfinished series in my junk drawer.

In this series, Gary will interpret each of the Ten Commandments in light of the way we live today. He is doing this in response to a challenge on Poetry Kit ( The series could become available in print when completed, including Gary's poems as well as the poems of others who entered into the challenge.

More of Gary can be seen at his blog ( and at Fireweed ( Both sites can be accessed through the links at the top of the page, right side. Gary's excellent book, A River Transformed is available for purchase here:

Gary begins with the first commandment. The series will continue in coming weeks.

You shall have no other gods before Me

On the cover of People magazine,
teenagers scream in ecstasy
over the latest Idol heartthrob.

In a bank in Beverly Hills,
a well-groomed executive counts
the dollars in his account in Grenada.

On a cable channel owned by billionaires,
heads of hair rail against the blasphemy
of one mother who has lost her son in war.

A president would be king,
a king would be a prophet,
a prophet proclaims he is god

and we scream
on Sunday afternoon
when our team scores
a touchdown
to secure a win

the playoffs
and our devotion
to the team store

Two more poems from love-stricken Egyptian poets. Who would'uv ever guessed.

Judging from the response, the Egyptian love poem, The Voice Of the Swallow, Flittering, Calls To Me from a couple of weeks ago found favor with a lot of readers. So, here's a couple of more, both, like the first, from Egypt around 1100 B.C. and both by poets unknown.

Song Inscribed On An Earthenware Vessel

Once more your pass her house, deep in thought,
          darkness has fallen, hiding you:

I would gain entry there,
          but for me no sort of welcome opens;
Yet the night is lovely for our soft purposes,
          and doors are meant to give passage!

Doorlatch, my friend, you govern my destiny:
          heaven for me needs a good turn from you;
(And once safe inside, our longhorn as payment) -
          oppose no spell binding power!

Add oxen in praise to the door, as needed,
          lesser beasts to the lock, slit geese
To doorjamb and lintel, suet for sockets -
          and let all that moves turn quietly, quietly!

But the choicest cuts of our fine animal -
          go instead to the sawyer's apprentice
If he makes us a new door - of rushes,
          and tie-latch of brittliest straw.

O then, a man big with love could come anytime,
          find her house welcoming, open,
Discover the couch decked with close woven bedclothes,
          and a lovely young lady restless among them! -

(You walk back and forth in the dark)
          She whispers;
"The mistress of this choice spot has been lonely.
          Dear heart,who held you so long?"

I Found My Love By The Secret Canal

I found my love by the secret canal,
          feet dangling down in the water.
He had made a hushed cell in the thicket, for worship,
          to dedicate this day
To holy elevation of the flesh.

He brings to light what is hidden
          (breasts and thigh go bare, go bare),
Now, raised on high toward his altar, exalted,
A tall man is more than his shoulders!

(Poems translated by John L. Foster)

If you're going to write today, you have to write about the war

This poem was written early in the Iraq war, after the invasion and about the time the insurgency began to show its face. (As Gomer Pyle, a renowned military expert, at least in comparison to the war's promoters, would say, "Sur-prise! Sur-prise!")

At the time I had un-retired myself and was commuting to work in Corpus Christi, living weekdays on the coast and weekends in San Antonio.

The poem was published by Junket in 2003 and was included in Seven Beats a Second last year.

in the last days of March in South Texas

clear sky, bright sun,
the last north wind of the season
pushing hard against me as I drive south,
back to the coast for another week

many weeks I have done this now,
a year and a half of weeks,
north on Fridays to the rocky hills
and quiet comforts of home, home
to family, to all my favorite places,
then back on Sundays to the coast,
until the road is hardwired in my memory,
gray asphalt ahead and behind,
I'll pass a hundred miles sometimes
and not remember any of them

but today is a day just past the first edge of spring,
a spring just past a wet and mild fall and winter
so that now, spread out on either side of the road,
lies the soft side of South Texas chaparral,
neon green mesquite, mustard yellow huisache,
pastures of bluebonnets, creamy white buttercups,
Indian paintbrushes, red or deep pink,
depending on the light, sunflowers
lining the highway on tall green stalks
and just around a softly rising curve,
a mother and her baby, sitting together
in a deep patch of bluebonnets,
the mother posing, look a daddy, she's saying
as he circles, focusing, getting just the right shot

seeing this small family reminds me
of a picture in the Times this morning,
a mother, bare feet grimy from her dirt floor,
a colorful blanket laid out by a wall, a treasure maybe,
where just moments before was lying the baby
she holds now in her arms, long graceful fingers
holding the baby tight against her breast

perhaps she heard them coming,
the two soldiers standing in the open door,
rifles ready, three people afraid, not knowing,
friend or foe,
friend or foe,
the woman, her face under some trick of light,
is a bright frozen mask in the dark interior,
the soldiers, awash in sunlight, with backs to the camera,
are tense, their hands tight on their weapons,
their fingers tight, it must be, on the triggers
while the baby sleeps in its mother's trembling arms,
an innocent in a time and place
where innocents will die with the wicked,
where the just and unjust will find a common grave

I think of all those who have died in my time
and of all those who will die now
in these last bloody days of March and I ache for God,
the God I knew as a child, of green trees and cool winds
blowing soft across a pasture dancing with his colors,
a compassionate God who would enfold
all the mothers and babies and frightened soldiers
into the protection of his billowing robes

but that God, it seems, is not the one in charge today
so these last days of March will continue without him

William Meredith on how love is like a letter to one who cannot read

The Illiterate

Touching your goodness, I am like a man
Who turns a letter over in his hand
And you might think this was because the hand
Was unfamiliar but, truth is, the man
Has never had a letter from anyone,
And now he is both afraid of what it means
And ashamed because he has no other means
To find out what it says than to ask someone

His uncle could have left the farm to him,
Or his parents died before he sent them word,
Or the dark girl changed and wants him back for beloved
Afraid and letter-proud, he keeps it with him.
What would you call his feeling for the words
That keep him rich and orphaned and beloved?

The rant beast roars

A 700 mile fence.

That's what they're talking about. Not a simple little chain link fence around your back yard, not a brick fence around a gated community, not even some kind of security fence around your whole city, they're talking about a 700 mile super-duper, triple-whammy fence between Mexico and the United States.

Considering where this is fence is going to be built and that the government is going to be in charge of building it, figure billions of dollars, including screwdrivers, hammers and toilet seats. (The estimates range from 2 to 7 billion, so you probably ought to figure on, in the end, 15 to 20 billion.)

When "dumbass idjet" isn't strong enough to describe someone who comes up with a really, really stupid idea, what words can you use instead?

How about "Republican Congress?"

There is a bright spot in the midst of this dumbassity, at least for Mexico.

Building the fence will be the best thing to happen to the Mexican economy in its 500 year history. Just think of all the illegals we'll have to hire to get the damn thing built and how much money they'll send home while they're building it.

Or, better yet, we could avoid all that unnecessary work and waste of natural resources and just give the billions to Mexico. An economic stimulus of that magnitude could lift the Mexican economy to such a level that there would be enough jobs for everyone in Mexico and no one would have to come across the border to work.

Of course, then we might all have to learn how to do some jobs we don't want to do now. Maybe we could call it character-building.

Whatever. I don't get it.

American business sends thousands of jobs to India and it's called "out sourcing," a business model for the 21st century. Some poor Mexican farmer comes across the border to pick pickles and we're supposed to spend billions to build a fence to protect us from this pickle picking felon who's stealing jobs from unemployed pickle pickers all across America,

Instead of building a fence, let's pass a new law giving all the money to Mexico, as I suggested. We could call it the Peter Piper Pickle and Pepper Pickers Protection Act.


Two Norwegian fragments (c. 1000), author(s) unknown

Spring Charms

Now it is late winter

Years ago,
I walked through a spring wind
Bending green wheat
in a field near Trondhjem.

Black snow,
Like a strange sea creature,
Draws back into itself,
Restoring grass to earth.

Every poet has a 9-11 poem

Here's mine, published a couple of years ago in The Muse Apprentice. The poem was an attempt to visualize again the scene most of us saw on television, disjointed, surreal, unbelievable, yet, somehow, familiar, like a bad Japanese monster movie, Godzilla, rampaging, again and again, across Tokoyo, thousands of Japanese extras fleeing in clouds of smoke and ash.

outtakes from the first day of the war


leads to anything

                                             short bursts
                                               of thought


                            billows gray


no          connections


                    gray streets awash
                          in a gray tide



     p      i
        e    c     s

                            gray ghosts

          minds bro


p   i
 e     c
    e   s

     crashing down
in silence
         like water


                         puddling gray
                     in concrete and steel




       lick it
       so it stays

                          lick it

so it doesn't
flop down
like an old man's
make it straight

                    s t r a i g h t

the eye

     pull     tight

in   and   out

                                        push in

                                        push out

                                         push in

                                   push out

          through the weaving


                                             of our lives

          bring the pieces



                         ghosts surfing
                              gray tide
                              eyes wide

eyes wide
red rimmed
in a gray mask

eyes wide


     disco     nnect

Vincent Voiture

Born 1597, Vincent Voiture lived until 1648. A Frenchman, he tried to keep the ladies happy along the way.


Lord, I'm done for ; now Margot
Insists I write her a rondeau,
Just to think of it gives me a pain:
Eight "o" lines and five in "ain" -
A slow boat to China is not so slow

With five lines down, and eight to go
I summon Sono Osato,
Adding, with an eye for gain,
    disco     Lord, I'm done.

If from my brain five others flow
My poem will in beauty grow:
Comes eleven, that is plain,
And twelve to follow in its train.
And so thirteen rounds out the show -
         Lord, I'm done!

Bukowski considers the end

like a dolphin

dying has its rough edge.
no escaping now.
the warden has his eye on me.
his bad eye.
I'm doing hard time now.
in solitary
locked down.
I'm not the first nor the last.
I'm just telling you how it is.
I sit in my own shadow now.
the face of the people grows dim.
the old songs still play.
hand to my chin, I dream of
nothing while my lost childhood
leaps like a dolphin
in the frozen sea

I indulge myself with an old poem

I first started writing poetry with some seriousness when I returned to college in 1969 after military service and other greater and lesser adventures. I quit writing after stumbling into real life as a college graduate with thirty five cents in one pocket and a hole in the other. I didn't write poetry again until after I retired for the first time in 1998. A couple of the poems in wrote in 1969-71 were published at that time. More have been published since I started writing again, including this one.

I wrote this poem, very much a product of its times, in late 1969. It was finally published in the January, 2000, issue of Avant Garde Times, a nice little journal, slightly off the wall, that has not published in several years.

I would not, probably could not, write this poem today, any more than I could be 22-23 years old again. That's what makes it kinda of interesting to me (and maybe to you, too, I hope).

notes from a grounded witch doctor

rosy glow
    rosy glow
breaks the light
into silken clouds
of floating pink
into the expanding
corners of my pulsating room
too big
    too much
falling back falling back
afraid of reaching

give me room

        no longer afraid
jumping for the clouds
into the ever expanding
corners of my pulsating room

clouds of taffy
            pulling me to the floor

phosphorescent walls quake and tilt
throwing off slippery shadows
that pool at the floor
eat at the floor
      and leap at me
    with the deliberate
of an incandescent tide
     then red
     at my feet
the angry lobster redness
     the infectious angry redness
colors my feet
     crawls up my leg
pulling at my body
pulling me to a high place

i stand atop a hill
    in the shade of a tree
    a wide-reaching tree

birds sing from the tree
    and i understand the song
    and try to sing along
but the birds stop
and leave me singing
until a bird lunges from the tree
to stand on the ground
and becomes a shadow figure
    a man in black
    a man with no face

black space where a face should be
the thing
    the shadow faceless thing
    begins to cry
and the birds come from the tree
    and sit on his shoulders
        as crows
great black crows
    evil black crows
they sit on the phantasmal shoulders
    and cry

the ground collapses beneath me
the hill flattens beneath me
and i'm in a valley
and the hill is behind me
    and the figure
    and the crows
stand on the hill and cry
    so far above me
as the hill shimmers
through the heat of the valley
    fades and disappears

i'm alone in the valley
    in the dust of the valley
    in the hot hot dust of the valley

it grows hotter and hotter
    in the valley
and I'm lying naked
    in the boiling mud
    of the valley

people stand around me
men and women without faces
    black spaces where faces
        should be

men and women
    in long black skirts
    that drag in the mud
they laugh at me

great ghastly specters
from a tribal past
    they laugh at me
i press my cracked lips
into the mud and try to suck
for water and burn
my face and my lips and tongue
        not mud
    not mud
        dew-wet grass
        cool dew-wet grass
i run my tongue over the grass
    bite into the grass
    chew on its coolness
i lie on my back
under the cool fresh sky
    and stretch out my arms
    and pull handfuls of grass
    and throw them at the sun
    and let the grass
    rain back on me
and i catch it with my body

i crawl beneath
the grass and meadow flowers
and roots and working earthworms
    and look up to watch
    the sun in its interminable agony
of burning
    circling burning
    ever circling burning circling
clawing at my eyes
    burning at my eyes
searing my eyes and cheeks
and lips
and screaming tongue

i close my eyes

and i'm in a room
    a small room
    a dark room
    a black room
a room without light
    but for a small dot
pulsating off and on
off and on
off and on
    off and on
in one corner of the room

the dot grows
  bigger and bigger
    off and on
  bigger and bigger
  it crashes toward me

washes over me

leaves me in a lonely light

alone now

alone now
    lying on my floor
linoleum cold against my cheek

i turn on my back
alone on the floor

    and sleep

I've read that learning to write is a process of first figuring out who to steal from. The people I stole from for this piece could fill a small town phone book. Back when I wrote it, I imagined it read by Richard Burton. I think it would work. Of course, if they could get Burton, the same thing could be said by the people who wrote the phonebook

Uh Eee Uh Ah Ah,Ting Tang Wallla Walla Bing Bang

Speaking of witch doctors...

Three American doctors go on a safari with an African witch doctor.

After a few hours driving they decide to get out of their jeep and walk around for a bit.

Suddenly from out of the bushes comes a charging elephant.

The witch doctor is able to shoot the elephant, but it is too late. The three guest doctors have all been crushed to the ground.

After examining the damage done to his the doctors he decides to see what he can do to help them.

One doctor's brain was half smashed and the witch doctor replaces the brain with the elephant's brain.

The second doctor got his intestines and stomach ripped open so the witch doctor swaps the elephant stomach with the ripped one in the doctor.

The Third doctor was out cold with a face locked in pure horror.

The dead elephant's foot is directly on top of the doctor's private parts. The witch doctor is distressed at this, since the elephant is a female and the normal transplant parts are not available.

Seeing as he has no choice in the matter he decides to go to work with what he has available.

After the doctors are all patched and healthy again, they go home.

Two years later the doctors meet in a conference where a new drug is being tested.

They quickly catch up on what they been doing since their trip to Africa.

I can't seem to get lost anymore, the first doctor says. For some reason, I always know my way around.

The second doctor rubs his belly and says I'm always hungry. I can eat and eat and never get full.

The first doctor turns to the third doctor, How about you, he asks.

Well, the third doctor says, my wife is finally smiling again, but there is one problem.

What's that? the other two ask in unison.

I have to real careful when I go out to eat or drink somewhere where there might be peanuts on the table.

On a clear day, you can see it's over, for now

My self-indulgent inclusion of three long poems of my own, not to mention a rant and the stupid witch doctor joke, have extended this issue much past its normal length, leaving some planned things undone.

I had planned to introduce Roxie, Bobbie Gogain's alter-ego, in this issue, but you'll have to wait until next week for the pleasure of her company. We have good stuff coming up in the next weeks, including Bobbie's Roxie series, Gary's Ten Commandments series, a piece on a Cajun Fais do do by Ava South, a poem on cleaning our her "sent" file by Nancy Williams Lazar and many other works from poets writing on the web.

And so, three notes in closing:

First, there's less than a week left to get the book and the CD at September Sale prices. Email me by the end of the week.

Next, to those readers in or near San Antonio, remember the reading at Casa Chiapas Friday night. Hope to see you there.

Finally, Dora and I are going to spend a couple of days up in the Chisos Mountains Basin at Big Bend National Park, on, it turns out, the same days I usually set aside to prepare this. So, "Here and Now" might be a day or two late next week, but never fear, we will be back, with, as was the original plan, less of me and more of everything I can find that's good (and free of possible copyright entanglements).

And another one last thing, a correction, and a lesson on how ignorance perpetuates itself.

Weeks before Casa Chiapas opened I heard from fellow coffee shop hangers-on that a new place called Cafe Chiapas was going to open on St Mary's. That name struck in my head and refused to leave, despite daily evidence that it was wrong.

So, all of you who have been trying, unsuccessfully, Google "Cafe Chiapas," that's why. There is no such place. But there is, for sure, a place called Casa Chiapas where I'll be Friday night reading poems.

at 10:19 PM Blogger jeff olivarri said...

Sorry can't be at your reading Friday, I hope it goes well. I would really like to be there, hopefully you can make it a regular thing. Maybe one day the cafe will give me a weekend off. But hey people need thier coffee.

(even if we haven't had French Roast for 2 weeks)

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Sunset Gilds The End Of Day   Monday, September 18, 2006

This is it. "Here and Now" Number I.xiv.

A return visit from guest blogger Alan Addotto, AKA , Splinter/Splinter Group

Saturday evening------ Kwan Yin and the "boys"

Kwan Yin is out in the yard in the back
right out in front of my office window in fact
and she has taken the "boys"
(which now includes "Sister" the Resurrected
German Shepherd)
and a tennis racquet and ball.

All of them are out there,,,,
on the paved part
where we park our cars
at the rear of the house.

Tee-Boy and Dooley are off to the side
just as cleverquick and cunning-sly
as they always are.

Kwan Yin bounces the ball
on the pavement
swats it a good lick
sending it almost as far
as the chickenless chicken pen.

SamBear the Bodhisattva Incarnation
of Silky Lovableness
still disguised as a brown Lab
sprints breakneck after
the yellow-green fluorescent thing
and catches it ----- first bounce, no less!

"Yessssssssssssss," Sam says
to us and himself as he trots back.

Sam is seriously obsessed
with this retrieval game.
and drops the ball at Kwan Yin's feet.

Ready for another volley
Kwan Yin bounces it
but Tee-Boy has other ideas
ambush predator that he is
rushes in
snatches the ball in mid-bounce and runs out

For just a few milliseconds Kwan Yin stands there
completely nonplused
For just that eternity in a moment
SamBear too.
Both do absolutely nothing at all
as Tee-boy turns and runs off with the ball
with it locked in that set of steel trap jaws.

And then Kwan Yin laughs high and lovely
and heals the broken space in time
and chases the unbelievably agile Tee-Boy.

Time is flowing again,
it's still Saturday evening after the rain
with wet bare footprints on the drying concrete
hers and theirs.

William Meredith

William Meredith was born in 1919 in New York City. He graduated from Princeton University in 1940 and has held professorships at Princeton University, University of Hawaii, and Connecticut College. He won a Guggenheim Fellowship 1975, a Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1988 for Partial Accounts and the National Book Award for Poetry in 1997 for Effort at Speech

A Couple of Trees

The two oaks lean apart for light.
They aren"t as strong as lone oaks
but in a wind they give each other lee.

Daily since I cleared them I can see
them, tempting to chain saw and ax -
two hardwoods leaning like that for light.

A hurricane tore through the state one night,
picking up roof and hen-house, boat and dock.
Those two stood leafless, twigless, giving lee

Last summer ugly slugs unleafed the trees.
Environmental kids wrote "Gypsy Moths Suck".
The V of naked oaks leaned to the light

for a few weeks, then put out slight
second leaves, scar tissue pale as branches,
bandaged comrades, lending each other lee.

How perilous in one another's V
our lives are, yoked in this yoke:
two men, leaning apart for light,
but in a wind who give each other lee.

The missions of San Antonio

(I changed out the gallery on the Photo page of the website, deleting the Riverwalk images and posting a series of San Antonio missions photos. Since there is no text associated with the photos, I thought there might be some interest in more information on the missions. So.....)

Beginning in the 16th century, Spanish missionaries, accompanied by a few soldiers, moved north out of the Valley of Mexico, founding missions and presidios along the way. By 1718, this movement north had extended to the San Antonio River. Six missions were established along a relatively short stretch of the river, with the northernmost mission, now known as the Alamo, establishing the nucleus of what became San Antonio, now a city of more than one million population.

The Alamo (San Antonio de Valero), established in 1718, was first of the six missions. It was already over a hundred years old when it became a symbol of the Texas Revolution. The Siege of the Alamo would have been only small battle in a failed war for independence had it not had the effect of delaying the Mexican Army long enough for Sam Houston, the Commander of the Texas Revolutionary Army, to reconstitute his scattered army and, ultimately, defeat Santa Anna at the Battle of San Jacinto.

The Alamo is very near the center of downtown San Antonio. The current structure and grounds cover an approximate city block. Much of the original mission compound is buried beneath city streets and buildings, seen only occasionally and in fragments by archeological fieldwork.

The next mission to the south, Mission Concepcion (Nuestra Senora de la Purisima Concepcion de Acuna), was established in 1731. The mission looks essentially as it did more than 200 years ago. Colorful geometric designs that originally covered the outside surfaces are long vanished, but interior walls still show original paintings of religious symbols and architectural designs.

Mission Concepcion is located in the center-city residential and commercial suburbs of the City of San Antonio.

There is no picture of Mission Najera (San Francisco Xavier de Najera) because it no longer exists. Established in 1722, it was abandoned only four years later in 1726. Today a municipal golf course is on the site of the former mission and the only notice of its previous existence is a historical marker on the side of the road.

Mission San Jose (San Jose y San Miguel de Aguayo) was established in 1720, two years after the Alamo. It is the largest and grandest of the missions and was the most heavily fortified and garrisoned. Workshops and storage buildings as well as quarters for soldiers and Coahuiltecan Indians (some of whom lived and worked at the mission and others who came in when threatened by raiding Commanches) can still be seen around the perimeter of the mission grounds.

Mission San Jose is located in one of the city's outer suburban rings.

Espada Aqueduct was built in 1745 to carry water from the San Antonio River for irrigation of mission crops. It still carries water across Piedras Creek to fields near the mission. It is the only aqueduct in the United States from the Spanish Colonial Period still functioning and fulfilling its original intended purpose. The creek crossing shown in the picture is often visited by artists and others seeking a place of quiet amid echoes from the past.

Mission San Juan (San Juan Capistrano), the next mission south of San Jose, was established the same year as Mission Concepcion. Originally slated for East Texas, it ended up on the banks of the San Antonio River in 1731. It is located in an undeveloped area within San Antonio City Limits. Within a short time of being established, it became a regional supplier of agricultural and other products, including iron, wood, cloth and leather goods produced in its workshops. A few miles southeast of the mission was Rancho Pataguilla, which in 1762 reported 3,500 sheep and almost as many cattle.

Unlike San Jose, only the chapel remains intact. The outbuildings which provided living quarters for Indian residents and made up the exterior wall of the mission compound are all in ruins.

I visit all of the missions several times a year, but San Juan is my favorite. A cleared patch in a wooded area of oak and pecan, it is surrounded by cool, shaded areas even in the hottest part of summer. A nature walk from the Mission takes visitors about 40 yards to and then alongside the San Antonio River.

Mission San Juan

Swirling whirlwinds dance
across the chapel plaza,
tossing clouds of caliche dust
into the simmering air,
little diablitos, skipping
across the sun-baked ground
como los muchachitos al jugar,
untamed by the afternoon mass
and the pieties of the parish priest.

The first shadows of summer dusk
edge slowly across the grassy camposanto
and up the crumbling convento walls.
The cool of the river wood
spreads with the falling sun,
through the shaded waters
and the thickening shadows,
through pecan and oak, willow and cypress
that surround the mission grounds.
A fresh evening breeze
breaks the afternoon heat as the
long summer day slips away.

Under the yellow rising
of the solstice moon,
the silence of centuries past
falls across the broken stones.

Mission Espada (San Francisco de la Espada) is southernmost of the six original missions. Far from the noise and traffic of the city, it is in the middle of its own quiet community, including many descendants of the original parishioners and inhabitants of the mission.

Like San Juan, its outbuildings are mostly in ruins. But, like Concepcion, San Jose and San Juan, it continues to perform its religious function as an active parish of the Catholic Church, with regular mass and other parish and church activities. It was just a year ago that my wife and I attended a wedding of friends in Espada's chapel.

All missions are open to the public during the day.

Bukowski on Li Po

A.D. 701-762

these dark nights
I begin to feel like
the Chinese Poet
Li Po:
drinking wine and writing
writing poems and drinking
all the while
aware of the strict limitations
that come with
being human

accepting that

the wine and the poems

yes, there is a peaceable place
to be found
in this unending
we call life
such as
light, shadow, sound
and meaningfully

Li Po
drunk on his
knew very well that
just to know
one thing well

There is always time for Divine instruction (from Seven Beats a Second)

what God don't like

I was seeing this preacher fella on tv the other day
that was saying God don't like men fucking men

I don't know how in the world he would know that,
except maybe he was talking to God
and just straight out ask him, like, hey, God,
what do you think about this men fucking men thing

I'd be afraid to do that, but maybe it's ok for preachers,
especially this particular preacher fella,
since it looks like he's pretty close to God and
like he must talk to him about all sorts of things
cause he's all the time on tv,
talking about what God likes and don't like
(mostly about what he don't like from what I've seen),
not just about fucking, but all sorts of things
God don't like, like tree huggers and feminazies
and Democrats and evolutionists and poor people
and those wussy-pussy perverts who think
we ought not be killing raghead foreigners
without some kind of pretty good reason (I mean, hell,
he says, it's not like they're white people),
all those commies, whatever they call themselves now

but, mostly what I get from listening to the tv fella
is that mainly what God most often don't like
are people who aren't exactly like him

so I'm thinking maybe I ought to study that fella
and try real hard to be as much like he is as I can

then maybe God won't don't like me too

Remember Flip Wilson?

Here's the joke he told that made me laugh the hardest.

A Lady and Her Baby

A lady and her baby get on a bus. The bus driver looks at the lady, and then her baby, and then screams, "AHHHH! That's the ugliest child I've ever seen in my life!"

The lady then, totally disgusted, marches up to the back of the bus to sit down.

As she was sitting there absolutely furious, a man asks, "Are you ok, dear?"

The lady replies, "I'm so angry, that bus driver just insulted me."

The man says, "You go back up there and give that bus driver a piece of your mind, and I'll watch your monkey."

Short poems from two Japanese poets

Ki no Tsuaryuki

Ki no Tsurayuki lived from 872 to 945. He became a waka poet in the 890s. The literal translation of waka is "Japanese poet," differentiating poets who wrote in the Japanese style from those who wrote in the Chinese style, which was also popular at the time.

In 905, under the imperial order of Emperor Daigo, he was one of four poets selected to compile the Kokin-wakashu, an anthology of waka poetry.

His waka is included in one of the most important Japanese poetry anthologies, the Hyakunin Isshu, which was compiled in the 13th century by Fujiwara no Teika, long after Tsurayuki's death.

Three Poems On Spring Blossoms

On a spring hillside
    I took lodging for the night;
and as I slept
    the blossoms kept falling -
even in the midst of my dreams

(Translated by Steven D. Carter)

The hue is as rich
    and the perfume as fragrant
        as in days gone by
but how I long for a glimpse
    of the one who planted the tree

The wind that scatters
    cherry blossoms from their boughs
        is not a cold wind -
and the sky has never known
    snow flurries like these.

(Translated by Helen Craig McCullough)

Lady Ise

Lady Ise was a contemporary of Ki no Tsurayuki, born around 875 and died around 938. She was a Japanese poet in the Imperial court's waka tradition. She was born Fujiwara no Tsugikage of Ise, and eventually became the lover of Prince Atsuyoshi and a concubine to Emperor Uda.

She was one of the three other poets who worked with Ki no Tsurayuki in compiling the Kokin-wakashu and her waka was included in the collection.

Four Poems

Lightly forsaking
the Spring mist as it rises,
the wild geese are setting off.
Have they learned to live in a flowerless country?

Because we suspected
the pillow would say "I know,"
we slept without it.
Nevertheless my name
is being bandied like dust.

A flower of waves
blossoms in the distance
and ripples shoreward
as though a breeze had quickened
the sea and set it blooming

If it is you, there
in the light boat on the pond,
I long to beg you
"Do not go; linger a while
among us here in this place."

A poem from the book

This one of the longer poems in the book Seven Beats a Second. It was written shortly after the last presidential election, as the text suggests, at a time when I was less accepting of some of the new realities of my life than I am now. The reelection of the despicable George Bush was icing on a very sour cake.

slipping away

my mind is blind
to the crisp autumn sky
and the creek running clear
and the squirrel
teasing my dog,
a backyard clown
the quivering,
puffed-chest forward
of a small dog
facing a large world

my eyes see none of this,
for like a fist
clenched tight on itself
I am closed to all but anger,
a simmering constant
since the last election,
not just at the loss
of mine against theirs,
but at the outcome
as a symptom
of the progress of my life
in these later years,
like a lifetime
of being on the wrong side

I feel the passing of time now
like never before,
time and opportunity
slipping away,
life space lost
like water squeezed
from a cloth,
disappearing in an eddy
down a drain,
leaving an approximation of me
to fill the place I had before
until the day I need no space at all

as I read the obituaries in the morning
or stand at the grave of my father,
as I did this past week in a park
green with the growth of recent rain,
I cannot reconcile the contradictions
of death and life, how the life I see
in the obituary photos and the light
I remember in my father's eyes
can disappear in an onrush of dark,
one minute to the next, life to death,
how it is that I, too, will slip some day
into that vortex of night and never return

I think of the eternal nature of atoms
and how they combine and recombine
over uncountable eons to create
illusions of form
and in some of those illusory forms
a spark of life and consciousness
and beings like you and me
and all those whose obituaries
I read every morning
and my father, dead 25 years,
the illusion of him gone forever
to seed the soil he lies in
and the grass and trees and clouds
over his head and, someday,
in the great recycling that brings
all the old to something new,
perhaps another form with life
and a sense of self and a universe
outside of self that is the cradle
of that which is, evidence that
for life forever we first must die

Two affirmations from Langston Hughes

Still Here

I've been scarred and battered.
My hopes the wind done shattered.
Snow has friz me, sun has baked me
     Looks like between 'em
     They done tried to make me
Stop laughin', stop lovin', stop livin' ...
     But I don't care!
     I'm still here!

Me and the Mule

My old mule,
He's got a grin on his face,
He's been a mule so long
He's forgot about his race.

I'm like that old mule...
Black -- and don't give a damn!

You got to take me
Like I am.

Shel Silverstein

Writer Waiting

Oh this shiny new computer...
There just isn't nothin' cuter.
It knows everything the world ever knew.
And with this great computer
I don't need no writin' tutor,
'Cause there ain't a single thing that it can't do.
It can sort and it can spell,
It can punctuate as well.
It can find and file and underline and type.
It can edit and select,
It can copy and correct,
So I'll have a whole book written by tonight
(Just as soon as it can think of what to write).

Drought is broken (for a little while)


six months
of drought,
two days
of rain
and we all
think we're
the same old
jokes about
webbed feet
and growing
that aren't
and never
have been
but give us
of change and
the new life
that will come
from overdue

we are pagans
only the
have changed

Damm Straight!

Words of passed along wisdom from Jerry Damm, Midland, Texas.

Errors have been made. Others will be blamed.

I love my cat. My cat does not care.

I can only please one person per day. Today is not
your day. Tomorrow is not looking good either.

If at first you don't succeed, skydiving is not for

Attaways and Oh,Boys!

Loch Raven Review

I received word a couple of days ago that four of my poems appear in the fall issue of Loch Raven Review. The poems are sunset on South Alamo, things to watch out for when entering into a barroom confrontation, morning coffee, and esperanzas.

To take a look at my poems and the other excellent poets featured in this issue, go to The Loch Raven Review link near the top of the page on the right will take you directly to the journal.

Cafe Chiapas

I will be reading at Cafe Chiapas Friday evening, September 29th. The reading will include poems from my book, Seven Beats a Second, as well as new work.

This is the first of what the folks at Cafe Chiapas hope will become a regular series
of readings featuring many area poets.

All are welcome.

I'll have more information on this next week for folks from San Antonio who might want to attend. In the meantime, I've added a link to Cafe Chiapas near the top of the page on the right.

A reminder that the September Sale is half way done. Only two weeks left to get the book Seven Beats a Second and the C D, chimeras, ideals, errors! by the Ray-Guhn Show Choir, at outrageously low prices. Email me at for details.

What a deal!!

Photos by Allen Itz

at 5:37 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Allen, Really enjoyed the piece on the Missions. In many respects they are similar to the Missions we have here in California which isn't a surprise. Outstanding website. Your photos are stunning. I enjoyed this respite.

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Ripple On Ripple Makes A Tide   Monday, September 11, 2006

Welcome to "Here and Now," Lucky Number X.iii.

Guest blogger Amanda Evangelista on inspiration

Amanda is a poet from Battle Creek, Michigan. She says she wrote this poem after watching a particularly wild storm at night.


Flashes of brilliance, almost blinding
Like sudden strikes of lightning
Accompanied by clapping thunder,
The adoring audience

So quickly ideas rain down
Crystal clear thoughts illuminated;
Welcome clarity amidst the haze
So bright you can't ignore

These moments of inspiration
Call on you to trust divinity,
Forget the haunting negativity
Believe in your own self, and mind

It won't rain down forever
Your moment to shine will come
Learn from the storms and know
The rainbow is not far away

Though currently at rest, the mini-rant beast may soon be roused

Photobucket, the on-line storage site for all the photos I use here, recently made some "improvements." As usual, when an American company makes an "improvement," customers beware. Previously, I had a bunch of options when it came to sizing the images for posting here. With the "improvements," I now have only 4 choices, all either larger or smaller than I like to use. Also, it appears that changes I make to photos on IPhoto (cropping, changing exposures, increasing sharpness, etc.) may not transfer when I move the photos to Photobucket. If that doesn't change, I will have only original images for use here and not the those I’ve enhanced.

So, as I write this, I have no idea what my images are going to look like. Supposedly, Photobucket is going to fix these problems. We'll see. In the meantime, I'm frustrated, since the images I've used are important to my vision for "Here and Now."

I know there are other ways to adjust image size, but they're all much more complicated. I valued the simplicity of the old Photobucket process because it freed my increasingly inefficient brain from technical considerations and allowed me to concentrate on finding content. I'm a big fan of doing things the easy way and I'm hoping it works out so that I get to continue at that level of laid backisity.

But enough about that, on with the show.

A poem from the book

The September sale continues. Email me at for details.

diminishing the stars

the city approaches

its lights
across the hills
at sunset

the black serenity
of night

diminishing the stars
that shine
in the virgin sky

sounds of the city
soon to follow

then heat

then haze
that blocks
the lights
that spread
across the hills
at sunset

the city approaches
in a fog
of its own detritus

Several from Langston Hughes

Hughes was born in 1902 and died in 1967. He was an American poet, novelist, playwright, short story writer, and newspaper columnist. He is best known for his work during the Harlem Renaissance. In his work he confronted racial stereotypes, protested social conditions, and expanded African America's image of itself.


Better than

In the barren dusk
Even the snake
That spirals
Terror on the sand --

Better than nobody
In this lonely


as the wind
On the Lincoln

As a bottle of Licker
On a table
All by itself.


We are the desperate
Who do not care,
The hungry
Who have nowhere
To eat,
No place to sleep,
The tearless
Who cannot

Suicide's Note

The calm,
Cool face of the river
Asked me for a kiss.

Old Walt

Old Walt Whitman
Went finding and seeking,
Finding less than sought
Seeking more than found,
Every detail minding
Of the seeking or the finding.

Pleasured equally
In seeking as in finding,
Each detail minding.
Old Walt went seeking
and finding.

Ku Klux

They took me out
To some lonesome place.
They said, "do you believe
In the great white race?"

I said, "Mister,
To tell you the truth
I'd believe in anything
If you'd just turn me loose."

The white man said, "Boy,
Can it be
You're a standing there
A-sassin' me?"

They hit me in the head
And knocked me down.
And then they kicked me
On the Ground.

A klansman said, "Nigger,
Look me in the face --
And tell me you believe in
The great white race."

Another poem on "inspiration."

Here's lesson number 19 from The Art of Writing by Lu Ji, born in the year 261, died 303

19. Inspiration

As to the flash of inspiration
and traffic laws on writing's path,
What comes can't be stopped,
what leaves will not be restrained.
It hides like fire in a coal
then flares into a shout.
When instinct is swift as a horse
no tangle of thoughts will hold it back;
a thought wind rises in your chest,
a river of words pours out from your mouth,
and so many burgeoning leaves sprout
on the silk from your brush,
that colors brim out of your eyes
and music echoes in your ears.

(Translation by Tony Barnstone and Chou Ping)

Inspiration, plus place

Inspiration never finds me at home. I need the right place, in public, but off to the side, around people, but not a crowd, the sounds of life, but not the noise, able to see, but still not noticed. Once I find such a place, writing becomes a waiting game, finding the right place to stay until whatever ideas are circulating through my unconscious break through to the part of my brain that can pick up a pen and write.

I mentioned last week about breakfast at Cafe Chiapas and their front porch where you can sit and watch some of the life of San Antonio pass by on South Alamo Street, and, sometimes, be inspired. (A little rain for the first time in several months helps also.)

Here's a product of that front porch.

from the porch at Cafe Chiapas on a rainy morning

it is a cool morning,
wet at long last, rainwater
pooling atop the table on the patio

on the street
workers are building
curb and gutter forms,
first step in repaving
this old street

I sit
high and dry
on the porch, enjoying
the cool morning,
the rain,
the workers, their yellow
hardhats dripping from the rain,
even the noise,
the hammers, the concrete saw
cutting through old sidewalk,
the screechy beep of the front loader
as it backs up to drop its load
of broken asphalt and concrete
in the idling dump truck

the morning is all around me,
the stink of diesel exhaust,
the big engine of the motor grader, rumbling,
(see how delicate and precise it's cut),
I watch it all, hear it all, smell it all

even the worker on the side,
taking a break, lighting up, letting
lose a cloud of tobacco smoke,
I smell that, too, and remember the taste
and, for the first time in ten years, miss it

I imagine a cigarette between my fingers
and wait for a poem

Bukowski at the track

searching for what?

as one goes to the racetrack year after year one notices
certain individuals who are there every day,
people who are strangely dressed and as desperate of eye
as I am.
there was one who stank badly and had diseased
I often picked him up as he hitchhiked in and I believe
he slept in the bushes along the freeway.
his theory was that all the jockeys got together
before the races and decided which number would
win that day -- they chose a number and only that number
win all day long and that's why all those sons-of-bitches
were rich; they all simply bet the number

and there was another guy I had seen for years at all the
tracks, I was in a hurry and he bumped me with his elbow
and I said, "hey, Mac, watch that shit!" and he said,
"I got a mind to rub your face in the cement!" and I said,
"wait a minute," and I took my coat off and laid it on
a bench but when I turned around he was gone.
I still see him at the track and the strangest thing is
that he seems to be getting thinner and weaker as by
I seem to get younger and stronger, but I don't think
it's my imagination, I think he must be having
a long string of losers.

then there's the blond, she was fat and slow but it
didn't seem to matter, she had a way of picking winners,
and some of the winners were longshots, day after day, she
bet the horses calmly in a very offhand manner and now
I see her in the clubhouse, dressed fine, still fat,
with some young guy at her side,
and she knows that I know but I don't say anything, since
I'm in the clubhouse too maybe I've done some whoring
in my own way

there's another one, dresses dapper, smokes good cigars
but he never bets, he just pokes around in the
trashcans, reaching his fingers down into the
wet coffee containers, napkins, ripped tickets,old news-
papers, stale hot dog buns, beer puke, he just reaches down in
there, inhaling on his cigar, searching for what?

then there's the one who starts running when he sees a late flash
on the board, they are putting them into the gate and
he starts running to the window like he's had a message
from heaven, and he's right, the last flash of the board
is the most important but you can't win that way either,
he's poorly dressed and desperate and come to think of it I
haven't seen him for some weeks now.

I think I've been around the track longer than any of
the other bettors, maybe not longer that the hot walkers,
the trainers or the jocks, they've been here longer
than me, but not the bettors.

all my women (and there have been plenty of them) have said
(with one voice) "my God, everytime I see you
you start talking about HORSES! you'll talk about the
for hours, my God, what a dull man your are! and then you
POEMS about the HORSES! don't your realize how dull
your HORSE poems are? nobody understands them!"

here's another.

In a Bukowski frame of mind

Another one from the book.

why the boys go out on Saturday night



especially when lit in










sex flashes through the night
drawing us through the rushing current





bashing our heads on the sharp rocks
of deceit and desire, all for a chance to
fuck our fish brains out before we die
in the shallow pool of everyday life

The Weepies

I heard talk of this group called The Weepies this morning on NPR. It's a couple, a man and a woman. I haven't bought the CD yet, and don't know that I will. Anybody that calls themselves "The Weepies" has a lot to prove to me. The reason I'm even thinking about it are the opening lines to the song fragment they played on the radio.

I may not have it exactly right, but I'm close.

What should I compare your to?
my shoes...
my red boots...
with angel wings

Now that's some lyrics for a do-it-yourself created pop song.

Some ancient Greeks (no gifts)


Alcman lived from about 654 to 611 B.C.He is thought to have been born in Sardis, capital of ancient Lydia, and brought to Sparta as a slave. He eventually became Sparta's official singer for public rites and spectacles. At one point, it is said, that he became unorthodox in his music until the Spartan authorities "arrested" his lyre and wouldn't give it back until he promised to be more conventional in his performances.

Desire Loosening

    Desire loosening
arms, knees, thighs, she
    looks at me
    more meltingly
than sleep or death, such
sweetness carries her --

    Astymeloisa, swaying
past me, lifts her garland
    high, a star
    skimming the night air,
or green-gold April sprout, or,
softly, a feather....

(Translated by Rosanna Warren)


Sappho was born to an aristocratic family around 612 B.C. Most of her work was lost, probably because she wrote in a difficult dialect which faded from use over time. It is also possible that she was purposefully censored and her work destroyed in the early Christian era because of the homoerotic nature of her work. Much of what is known now of her life and poetry comes from mention in the works of her contemporaries.

Star of Evening

                you bring
            home everything
which light of day dispersed
        home the sheep herds
          home the goat
           home the mother's darling

(Translated by Paul Roche)

A contemporary Chinese poet

Yang Lian was born in 1955 in Switzerland to a family of diplomats. He returned to China while still a baby and was raised in Beijing. During the Cultural Revolution,he was sent to the countryside for "reeducation." While there, he worked as a gravedigger and began to write poetry. He currently lives in London and has been nominated for the Nobel Prize in literature.

To a Nine Year-Old Girl Killed in the Massacre

They say you tripped on a piece of skipping elastic
And you jumped out of the house of white chalk
On a day of terrifyingly loud rain
Nine bullet holes in your body exude a sweetness
They say that you lost the moon while you were playing
Green grass on the grave        Are new teeth

Sprouting where there is no need for grief
You did not die        They say
You still sit at the small wooden desk

Looks crash noisily against the blackboard
The school bell suddenly rings
A burst of nothingness        Your death is killed

The say    Now    You are a woman and a mother
And each year there is a birthday without you
just as when you were alive

(Translated by Mabel Lee)

And to close out for this week, one more from the book

lotsa hots

I've worked in August
under the noonday 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

That's it for this week. I hope by next week, the photo problem will be solved. In fact, if it gets fixed before next week I'll probably come back to this and repost the images the way I want them.

Hasta la Pasta

Late addition. Image size problem resolved. Thank you Michaela Gabriel!

Photos by Allen Itz

at 7:49 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

HI Allen- Only half way through this page and I am already inspired! I enjoyed the pictures, although I think you could work on the quality of some of the jpgs- let me know if you want my help, I am good with photoshop.

I have a poem in mind to write about the flea market- after Bokowski's take on the racetrack. It's great getting all this information about poetry through the ages. I will be back often to learn more!

at 1:25 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ok Allen, are you a poet or a photographer!? You are good a both so you need to come up with a good by line that fits both of your talents. I need to pull out your old Argus C-3 Standard and send some pictures you way to post. Not sure if I can up to your standard of picture taking but I will try.

John Strieb

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Loch Raven Review
Mindfire Renewed
Holy Groove Records
Poems Niederngasse
Michaela Gabriel's In.Visible.Ink
The Blogging Poet
Wild Poetry Forum
Blueline Poetry Forum
The Writer's Block Poetry Forum
The Word Distillery Poetry Forum
Gary Blankenship
The Hiss Quarterly
Thunder In Winter, Snow In Summer
Lawrence Trujillo Artsite
Arlene Ang
The Comstock Review
Thane Zander
Pitching Pennies
The Rain In My Purse
Dave Ruslander
S. Thomas Summers
Clif Keller's Music
Vienna's Gallery
Shawn Nacona Stroud
Beau Blue
Downside up
Dan Cuddy
Christine Kiefer
David Anthony
Layman Lyric
Scott Acheson
Christopher George
James Lineberger
Joanna M. Weston
Desert Moon Review
Octopus Beak Inc.
Wrong Planet...Right Universe
Poetry and Poets in Rags
Teresa White
Camroc Press Review
The Angry Poet