Light At The End Of The Tunnel   Friday, September 28, 2007


Once again this week, my Saturday is obligated from up to down so, once again this week, I'm posting a day early. Better than a day late, I guess, but as an obsessive when it comes to time and schedule, it still bothers me.


I have more good stuff for you this week, some familar web-poet friends, some old stuff from me (old, because my new stuff sucks), a couple of poems from a book I actually paid full price for, and an introduction to a young San Antonio photographer appearing here for the first time.

So here we go.....

I wrote this late last year. I don't think I ever used it here. It's kind of funny, I think, maybe a good way to start the week.

this is what I learned so far today

little frogs
for sex

how do
they do that
you might ask

is the interesting part)

big frogs
bass voices

little frogs
squeaky voices

lady frogs
don't care
the size
of the
some little frogs
learn to deepen
their voice
so they sound
real big
and really really
from the pond
much of their
and leaving
all the little
green girlie frog
for themselves

who's spent
an evening
at any West Texas
will understand
the principle

Whatever his faults, Charles Bukowski is still my favorite poet in terms of reading pleasure. His poems are like words thrown against a wall in a rush of passion and excitement. It is that rush I seek to emulate in my own poems.

This is a poem from his last years, with the same passion as before, but moderated now with a bit of an old man's self-awareness. It is from of a series of books of unpublished poems taken from an archive of work the poet left behind at his death. This is Charles Bukowski New Poems, Book 2 published in 2003 by Virgin Books.

Straight On

there's nothing quite like driving the
hairpin curves on the Pasadena freeway at 85
hung over
checking the rearview mirror for officers of the
while peeling and eating tangerines that
choke you with their
pulp, acid, seeds
your eyes fill with tears
your vision blurs
and you drive from memory
and on instinct
things get clear again.
finally you reach Santa Anita, the most beautiful race-
and glide into the parking lot,
out, lock it, walk
being 68 years old feels better than
especially 30, that was the most depressing
birthday: you figured then that the gamble had been
what an awful
mistake you made then
38 years ago, about the time when they built
Pasadena Freeway.

Regular contributor Dan Cuddy is with us again this week, a quieter Dan than we're accustomed to seeing.

Here's his poem.

Winter: Perkiomen, Pennsylvania

clock ticks-hand moves-heart pumps
snow glistens
with sunlight scraping through
thin sheaves of cloud

grass, the winter harvest, green,
the stubble of grass bearding a dark earth
almost, not quite, impervious to foot
or tread of wheel, whine of engine laboring
as motion is caught in an imperfect stasis
by a patch of ice

what traction does foot or wheel
have in this fiery frozen universe?

clock ticks-hand moves-orbits

the sun-the galaxy-the string of galaxies
revolve in a great silence
that we do not hear as the clock ticks-heart pumps-hand moves

This next poem is from Mexico City Blues a book of poetry by Jack Kerouac. The book was published by Grove Press, originally in 1959.

The book begins with this short note from Kerouac:

     I want to be considered a jazz poet
      blowing a long blues in an afternoon jam
      session on Sunday. I take 242 choruses;
      my ideas vary and sometimes roll from
      chorus to chorus or from halfway through
      a chorus to halfway into the next

This poem is his 110th Chorus

I know how to withstand poison
And sickness known to man,
In this void, I'm no apprentice
When it comes to remembering
The eternity of suffering
Quietly I've been through,
Without complaint, sensing inside
Pain the gloriful um mystery.
Afternoons as a kid I'd listen
to radio programs for to see
the scratch between announcements,
Knowing the invalid is glad
only because he's man
enough to appreciate every
little thing that blazons there
in the swarmstorm of his eye
Transcendental Inner Mind
where glorious radiant Howdahs
are being carried by elephants
through groves of flowing milk
past paradises of waterfall
into the valley of bright gems
be rubying an antique ocean
floor of undiscovered splendor
in the heart of unhappiness

I wrote this a couple of years ago, after reading an article in the New York Times science section on the contradictions of quantum physics.

in the zen world of quantum mechanics

diametrically opposed
cannot exist at once

Einstein said so

black cannot,
in its blackness,
be also white

being up,
cannot also be down

a thing cannot be
both now here
and there now too

and now cannot be
in the moment
then and yet as well

but, Einstein was wrong

in the zen world
of quantum mechanics
black can be white
if it wants
all blend together
in harmonious

like you

a quantum particle
existing in contradiction,
loving me, you say,
but living like you don't

Next we have a slightly longer poem from the great Polish poet Zbigniew Herbert. The poem is from the book Zbigniew Herbert - Elegy for the Departure and other poems, published in 1999, after the poet's death, by The Ecco Press. The poems and fables in the book were translated from the Polish by John Carpenter and Bogdana Carpenter.

The Death of Lev

With great bounds
across an immense field
under a sky heavy
with December clouds
Lev flees
from Yasnaya Polana
to the dark woods

behind him a thick
line of hunters

with great bounds
his beard steaming behind
face inspired
by the fires of anger
Lev flees like a lion
to the forest on the horizon

behind him
Lord have mercy

an unrelenting line of beaters
moves ahead
hunters beating for Lev

in front
Sofia Andreyevna
drenched completely
after the morning suicide
she lures him
- Lovochka
in a voice
that could shatter stones

behind her
sons daughters
servants hangers-on
policemen Orthodox priests
moderates anarchists
Christian illiterates
and every possible kind of riffraff

old women squeal
peasants bellow


the finale
at the small station of Astapovo
a wooden knocker
near the railway

a merciful rain worker
put Lev in bed

now he is safe
above the small station
the lights of history go on

Lev closes his eyes
no longer curious about the world

only the bold
priest Pimen
who has vowed
he will drag Lev's soul
to paradise
bends over him
and shouting above
the hoarse breathing
the terrible noises of the chest
slyly asks
- And what now
- must run away
says Lev
- And what now
- I must run away

- Where to-asks Primen
- Where to Christian soul

Lev fell silent
he hid in eternal shadow
eternal silence

no one understood the prophecy
as if the words of Scripture were not known

"nation shall rise against nation
and Kingdom against Kingdom
some shall fall by the sword
and others be chased into slavery
among all the nations
for these will be days of vengeance
so all that is written
will be fulfilled!"

so arrives the time
of abandoning homes
of wandering in jungles
of frantic sea voyages circlings in the darkness
crawling in the dust

the time of the hunted

the time of the Great Beast

Photo by Thomas Costales

It's great this week to introduce another new photographer to you. For the first time on "Here and Now," and, maybe anywhere else, here are samples of the work of young San Antonio photographer Thomas Costales.

Thomas was introduced to photography by his father. As a result, he studied it in High School, then set it aside until about a year ago when he inherited an old Minolta and took the it up again. As a sufferer of persistent insomnia, Thomas found photography to be, not just a creative outlet, but also a productive way to spend those late night hours when he can't sleep.

My usual photographic technique is to find something intrinsically beautiful or interesting, hold my digital camera in front of it and push a button. Anyone standing at the same place and at the same time could have taken the same picture I took. I admire those who go further than that to make art, those artists who can take a camera to something uninteresting and unbeautiful and make of it a unique experience. Thomas does this with his exceptional use of light and shadow.

Photo by Thomas Costales

Photo by Thomas Costales

Photo by Thomas Costales

Photo by Thomas Costales

It's been way to long since Jane Roken visited us here. Now, making up for her absence, here's one of her new poems.

Starring the Dream of Horses and Angels

In the house of Starlight the clocks run riot
and through the garden wild horses roam.
So many foals, they grow like ramblers in their sleep;
and I too, seek the winding skyways.

I have lit my chandeliers.
Now the hour has come to rise and watch the angels.
Above the Great Bear I count nine feathered wheels;
often my dreams' raptors chase them.
With dipped beams they lurk on the barn roof
and hum the tunes dripping from the eaves.
A smoke-gray mare comes ambling up from the creek
and a young foal brings her plumelets.

My thoughts drift fondly across the dial of the clock of stars,
my eyes wander over the shapes of horses and angels.
In one whistling moment I recall the true dream.
She will always be wakeful, whom the stars choose to ride.

(based on reading the Book of Hills and Seas by T’ao Ch'ien)

Our next poem is by Jewel Kilcher, better known as singer/songwriter Jewel. It is from her book A Night Without Armor, published by HarperCollins in hardcover in 1998 and rereleased in paperback in 1999.


Harsh winter falls
away with swollen berries.
My winter-worn tongue gray
with waiting,
dull with no color all
winter long.
Small deep-red watermelon berries
full of blue sky
and all the unfathomable
flavor of spring,
tart green gooseberries and
peach-colored cloud berries
in the fall,
wild blueberries on my chin,
the blush of cranberries high in their bushes.

Stop alongside
the canyon's edge,
lose my fingers in the angles
of the wild strawberry patch,
my hands deep in
thorny rose hips and raspberries.
Knots of swollen berries
sticking to my stained palms.

August spent
filling empty milk cartons,
canning and preserving
the syrups, jams and jellies
that would sustain us
through another pale December.

I wrote this two years ago about this time of year, mid-October to the end of November, when the Texas hill country has the bluest sky and the best weather in the known universe.

november sky

such blue

a sky to be lost in

like a well
glistening with cool water

yet near,
touchable almost,
like the beautiful girl
in a boy's midnight dream

and clear

no clouds,
nothing between me
and the bright welcome
of heaven's gates
but clean, open sky

and blue,
such blue

This poem by former U S Poet Laureate Rita Dove is from her book On The Bus With Rosa Parks published W. W. Norton & Co. in 1999.


A straw reed climbs the car antenna.

Beyond the tinted glass, golden waves
of grain. Golly! I can't help
exclaiming, and he smirks -
my born-again naturalist son
with his souped-up laptop,
dear prodigy who insists
on driving the two hours
to the jet he insists I take.
(No turboprops for this

old lady). On good days
I feel a little meaty; on bad,
a few degrees from rancid.
(Damn knee: I used it this morning
to retrieve a spilled colander;
now every cell's blowing whistles.)

At least it's still a body.
He'd never believe it, son of mine,
but I remember what it's like
to walk the world
with no help from strangers,
not even a personal trainer
to make you feel the burn.

(Most ot the time, it's flutter-heart
and Her Royal Celestial Mustache.
Most of the time I'm broth
instead of honey in the bag.)

So I wear cosmetics maliciously
now. And I like my bracelets,
even though they sound ridiculous,
clinking as I skulk through the mall,
store to store like some ancient
iron-clawed griffin - but I never

stopped wanting to cross
the equator, or touch an elk's
horns, or sing Tosca or screw
James Dean in a field of wheat.
To hell with wisdom. They're all wrong:
I'll never be through with my life.

Photo by Dora Ramirez

Beki Reese showed us a new side of herself last week with a very sensual love poem. To prove last week wasn't a fluke, here are two more.

Without words

without words
in hot mist
and moonlight -
I'll write
my poems
your shoulder
your spine
your sighs.

Full Body Kissing

Given a chance
I would hold you close,
seeking your mouth with mine
while every other inch of me
strained toward you.

Longing for a full body kiss
I would pray for clothes to melt away
in the blazing reach of skin for skin,
lips and hands and tongues afire.

Quench this need with the cool of you,
Rain kisses on my neck and breasts
as I give in to whispered intent
like the slow surrender of stone to water.

Let arms and legs and sex entwine
as desire slips beneath melding skin.
Let me savor that full body kiss
as all our surfaces disappear

and we two become an entangled one.

The next two poems are by Wesley Mather from his first book Into Pieces published 2003 by iUniverse Inc.

An Ocean Death

Waves of salty sea
like mercury
lap at the abandoned sailor's
sun-chapped lips

Caught in a net of
circling hungry sharks
the sailor in a forgotten place
combs his hair with baited dreams.

Long he waits
watching for the gritty beach
which never comes over the horizon
He remembers the smell
of a perfumed neck
that his fingers never got to touch

He lives in a time lottery
decorated with
golden mountain mirages

He wonders,
"Why did I choose the sea
when some little woman
might have me this very day
in the grip of her purple painted grin?"

Long minutes
disguised as days
pass by
intolerable and static

At long last the sailor
begins to sink
allowing the cotton strands
of his lungs to soak

"It is not a shame," he asserts,
"to die in the clammy embrace
of the bloated and lovely ocean."

Tower Work

Way up there
on a galvanized steel tower
that overlooks
not very much

A slum of an alcoholic neighborhood
a field ready again for the plow

And up there
so much bird shit everywhere
bright green and purple varieties
because these birds are pranksters
Your hands become coated with the stuff
Why so much shit?

Because the birds of prey
Have all gone away
and left all the little ones to flourish

We haven't seen much of our good friend Alice Folkart, as she has struggled with the transition from Californian to Hawaiian. But she's back now, with this new poem.

Moon Viewing

Usually I'm asleep by now,
but dog wanted to go out.
I had to go. Can't let the dog
wander about the village alone.
He'd stop in all the bars
and everyone would buy him drinks.
He'd be a sorry sight
when someone brought him home at last.

But, I digress, this was to be
about the moon and the ink-blue sky
tonight, the piled-up clouds
banked as if to keep the moon's fire alive,
washed-out blue and silver,
gleaming edges of tumbled cumulus
turreted into the night sky's deep blue-black,
no stars daring to show themselves
in competition with luna.

But, now dog wants to go in,
I'd like to stay out, to watch the moon inflate,
not go to sleep like some lumpkin buffoon
and dream of dogs drinking beer.

I was back in Austin last week, looking into buying a car to replace the old, much-used Volvo that expired at last. Having been led to a Suburu Outback with all the cargo space a musician might require, I took it to a Firestone store down the road to check for hidden problems. While waiting for the mechanic's report, I walked across the street and browsed through a B. Dalton bookstore. What I found was The Outlaw Bible of American Poetry, a compilation of most, if not all, of the outlaw poets of the last half of the twentieth century. The collection was edited by Alan Kaufman and S.A.Griffinpublished by Thunder's Mouth Press in 1999. (And, yes I actually paid full price for a book.) With over 600 pages of poetry, it's not likely I'll run out of material from this source soon.

The first poet I picked from the book is Harold Norse. Norse published twelve volumes of poetry, a cutup novel, Beat Hotel with a preface by William Burroughs, and an autobiography, Memoirs of a Bastard Angel, with a preface by James Baldwin. Norse is considered one of the major figures of the beat generation. He also knew and was a very great admirer of one of the first outlaw poets, William Carlos Williams, as he expresses in this poem.

William Carlos Williams

I want to thank you
    for the pink locust
    & the white mule
      for the keen
    that carved
      memorable poetry

those silvery lines will shine on
like a harvest moon
thru infinite trees

      you pulled
      a jazzy native song
      out of the womb
        of America

meant to be heard
like a jukebox
      singing pop tunes
we can't forget
      your sound

I want to thank you
for being alive
although you're dead
& buried where the Pasaic
runs by the parks
& Jersey dumps - your
bailiwick! thanks
for singing of used car lots
& the broken brain
that tells the "truth about us"
your surgical cool fingers cut thru formal literary crap
labeled PURE

I see you at the door
in Rutherford
clutching my shoulders
in welcome, eyes flashing
as we sit & talk
      till the light is gone
you wring your hands
      & paw the ground
like a racehorse
      on the skids
      smelling death

you pace and whinny   you are coltish
amazingly round   your high voice
      Jee-zus! what clean
hygienic genie inhabits your anguish!
old age
          the black earth
        in your throat

but that green flower
your asphodel
        still flourishes

Thanks for our famous garden party
in the backyard with roses

we sat hearing a concrete mixer
      the radio blaring
from the army surplus store

appropriate measure for
the language you never tired of
    - not English - but plain
      American speech
that you loved
as much as the stinking dumps
& immigrant women
of your landscape

experiment till I die"

what heaven
do you experiment in now?
is the asphodel blowing
in the junkyards of God?
chariot wheels rusty & clogged
      in the "variable foot"?

Another writer featured in the The Outlaw Bible of American Poetry is Jennifer Blowdryer who took her name from a punk band she performed with in the seventies. She eventually became well-known in the underground as a poet and a monthly columnist for Maximum Rock 'n' Roll. Her books include Modern English and Where Is My Wife?


    JOB DESCRIPTION: Eating dinner for $30 , while appearing fascinated
      with complex real estate maneuvers executed by dinner partners.
      Locating exit of several good restaurants. In charge of own wardrobe.

    REASON FOR LEAVING: Had already had dinner with all the men at
      the Swingers club, saw no specific career motivation for following up
      any further with any of these men.

    REFERENCES:Frank and John.

    JOB DESCRIPTION: Active participant in world of pornography.

    REASON FOR LEAVING: Refusal to have sex or "show anything" in
      front of cameras conflicted with career goals of producton staff. Paid
      with immediate dismissal.

    REFERENCES: Mark "10 1/2" Stevens, Harold Adler, Annie Sprinkle.

    JOB DESCRIPTION: Wardrobe in Pornography world. Outfitted stars
      Sharon Mitchell in cute fifties gowns, giving them a fey
      thriftstore look. Was in complete charge of making sure lingerie
      matched, and operator of Polaroid for lingerie continuity. Also aided
      docudrama crew on Crystal Methedrine wash as much money as
      possible in an abbreviated time period.

    REFERENCES: Film with no title in metal strong box in Germany,
      with my stage name on the credits.

    JOB DESCRIPTION: Singer in Punk Band. Supervision of infighting in
      band, location of connector chords, location of nightclub where
      performances were scheduled. Part of job entailed being in charge of
      equipment relocation, and an acquired ability to take in and retain
      large qualities of alcohol, tobacco, and both recreational and serious

    REASON FOR LEAVING: Flight from key member of band down three
      stories coinciding with extremist lesbian separatist views developed
      and maintained by other band member.

    REFERENCES: Anyone in San Francisco, California, who looks like they
      have been around entirely too long.

    JOB DESCRIPTION: Thespian and writer of underground movies.
      Created works with titles "We're not Carol Burnett," "Blackie-O!,"
      and "Suicide Line." Theme of works was a warped view and twisted
      outlook. Unrealistically hoped that these works would phase into
      being perceived as a normal and manipulatable commodity by persons
      with more money than myself or my friends.

    REASON FOR LEAVING: Aging naturally didn't meet with the rigorous
      standards of my Producer, who watched in shock and horror as I
      proceeded to turn first 21, and then 22.

    REFERENCES: See Above.

Since we last read our intrepid French traveler, Blaise Cendrars, he has traveled north and is now in Canada.

The poem is from the book Blaise Cendrars Complete Poems, translated by Ron Padgett.

The North

I. Spring

The Canadian springtime is the most invigorating and powerful in the
Beneath the thick blanket of snow and ice
Generous nature
Tufts of violets pink white and blue
Orchids sunflowers tiger lilies
Down the venerable avenue of maple black ash and birch
The birds fly and sing
In shrubs budding again with new and tender shoots
The happy sunlight is the color of anise

Woods and farmlands stretch away from the road for ovr five miles
It's one of the biggest pieces of property in Winnipeg
On it rises a solid stone farmhouse something like a manor house
This is where my good friend Coulon lives
Up before daybreak he rides from farm to far on his big bay mare
The earflaps of his rabbit skin hat dangle on his shoulders
Dark eyes and bushy brows
Very chipper
Pipe on his chin

The night is foggy and cold
A hard west wind bends and sways the firs and larches
A small glow is spreading
An ember crackles
It smolders and then burns through the brush
Clumps of resinous trees thrash around in the wind
Wham wham huge torches bust
The fire moves along the horizon with a majestic slowness
Black trunks and white trunks turn blood red
A dome of chocolate smoke out of which a million burning bits and
  sparks are flying spinning upward and sideways
Behind this curtain of flame you can see massive shadows twisting and
  crashing to the ground
Resounding axes chopping
An acrid haze spreads over the incandescent forest which a gang of
  lumberjacks are circumscribing

This next poem by 1990 Nobel Laureate Octavio Paz is from the book The Collected Poems of Octavio Paz 1957-1987, edited and translated by Eliot Weinberger and last published by New Directions Books in 1990.



In the Nilgirl Hills
I went looking for the Todas.
Their temples are cone-shaped and are stables.
Thin, bearded, impenetrable,
they milk their sacred buffaloes
murmuring incoherent hymns.
They guard a secret from Sumeria,
not knowing that they guard it.
Between the thin, dry lips of the elders
the name of Ishtar, the cruel goddess,
shines like the moon on an empty well.


On the verandah of the Cecil Hotel,
Miss Penelope (canary-colored hair,
woolen stockings and walking stick) has been saying
for thirty years: Oh India
country of missed opportunities,,,

in the fireworks
of the jacaranda,
            the crows
happily cackle.


Tall grass and low trees.
Uncertain ground. In the clearings
the winged termites construct
tiny Cyclopean castles.
Homages in sand
to Mycenae and Machu-Picchu.


Leafier and more brilliant,
the neem is like a ash:
a singing tree.


A vision of the mountain road:
the rose camelia tree
bending over the cliff.
Splendor in the sullen green,
fixed above an abyss.
Impenetrable presence,
indifferent to vertigo - and language.


The sky grows in the night,
eucalyptus set aflame.
The charitable stars
not crushing - calling me.

And now here's another friend we haven't heard from in a while, Jack Hill, with a new poem. I couldn't decide if this is about a real earthquake or a shorthand summary of a love affair? I asked Jack and he told me, but I'll never tell.

The earth moved

I was roused, awakened
to an uplifting
an earth moving
feeling of exuberance,
alive in a rush of

It is
It was
it's over.

I settle back
and wait
the next.

It's time again this week to return to the poetry journals of Julia Alvarez. These are from her book, Homecoming, published in 1984 by Grove Press.

Where are the girls who were beautiful?
I don't mean back in the olden days either,
I mean yesterday and the day before
yesterday? Tell me, if you can, where will
I find breathless Vivien or Marilyn,
her skirt blown up? Certainly Natalie,
struggling in the cold waves, deserved to be
fished out when the crew finished and given
her monogrammed beach towel and a hot drink.
How many times didn't we pay good money
to see them saved from worse catastrophes
as they trembled in swimsuits on the brink
of death, Rita and Jean, Lana and Joan,
Frances, Marlene - their names sound like our own.


The women on my mother's side were known
for beauty and were given lovely names
passed down for generations. I knew them
as my pretty aunts: Laura, who could turn
any head once, and Anna, whose husband
was so devoted he would lay his hand-
kerchief on seats for her and when she rose
thanked her; there was Rosa, who got divorced
twice, her dark eyes and thick hair were to blame;
and my mother Julia, who was a catch
and looks it in her wedding photographs.
My sister got her looks, I got her name,
and it suits me that between resemblance
and words, I got the right inheritance.

Ellen Achille is another web-poet friend we haven't seen in a while. Well, she's back this week with a love note to her husband.

Poem for my Husband

We glide past each other
submerged vessels
enclosed in our own worlds.
Breakfast at the coffee table
is taken in rounds:
newspapers, nods, refills.
Somewhere else, sky touches down.
But we are surrounded by ordinary air -
All day we breathe it.
Somewhere else, sea touches ground.
I can almost hear its rising and falling
its thrumming syncopation
churning in air.
At times we meet like that,
waves tonguing the shore.

My copy of Harper's Anthology of 20th Century Native American Poetry, appears to have been used for assigned reading in a college level literature or poetry class. There are penciled in notes throughout, commenting on style, analyzing every word, searching for hidden symbols or metaphors in every line. It is funny sometimes, this extended academic deconstruction of such a simple and beautiful poem as this one by Linda Hogan.

Hogan is a Chickasaw Indian and the author of several books of poetry and a collection of short fiction. At the time this book was published, she was an associate professor in American Indian and American Studies at the University of Minnesota, on leave completing a novel.

Celebration: Birth of a Colt

When we reach the field
she is still eating
the heads of yellow flowers
and pollen has turned her whiskers
gold. Lady,
her stomach bulges out,
the ribs have grown wide.
We wait, our bare feet dangling
in the horse trough,
warm water
where goldfish brush
our smooth ankles.
We wait
while the liquid breaks
down Lady's dark legs
and that slick wet colt
like a black tadpole
darts out
beginning at once
to sprout legs.
She licks it to its feet,
the membrane still there,
the sun coming up shines through,
the sky turns bright with morning
and the land
with pollen blowing off the corn,
land that will always own us,
everywhere it is red.

I wrote this poem a year ago and probably used it here then. The awful thing about the poem is that now, a year later, I can post it again and it is as relevant as when I first wrote and posted it a year ago.

call me when it's over

while yellow ribbons
grow gray and dingy
on trees and fences
along our city streets
and country byways,
our leaders do stupid,
evil things on our behalf,
killing thousands,
some strangers,
people unlike us
in so many ways
it's easy to forget
the ways we are alike,
foreign strangers who only
sometimes fit within
the confines of our
compassion, and others
we know, so akin to us
and all we hold close
they could be our neighbors
and children of neighbors

and we have become
to the inevitability
of more flag-drapped
coffins and caissons
passing to muffled drums
and more blood and burns
and bones protruding
from rendered flesh

and walking
with the dead,
the others,
forever scarred
by their country's

oh, we protest
and we write letters
and we talk among ourselves
and we organize for the next
election, when, even now,
we suspect we will lose again
to some backslapping, bible-
thumping right wing blowhard
who will lie and lie and lie
as they all lie until the truth
becomes the lie most often
quoted by the blow-dried
pencil necks on Fox TV

we have a government
of fools, some are saying now
who never said it before,
"they lie," they say,
in innocent surprise

"they did not think
this through,"
they opine, ever so sagely
and with wounded remorse

where were these people
at the beginning, when the lies
were just as clear and the
fools just as obvious
in their power-shrouded
dunce-capped splendor

where were they then
when it could have made
a difference to all those
now dead, lying in pieces
on a bloody roadside

apologists then,
hangers-on to power,
they never chopped a head,
just stood before the guillotine,
changing baskets
as each new head fell

and what of us who knew
from the beginning

where were we, then,
and where are we now

proven right, but content
in our righteousness
to wait for another election
we figure we'll probably lose

when this started, I read
the names and hometowns
of all the new dead every day,
thought about them
and their families' loss

I usually skip that now
and go straight
to the comics

In homage to the original outlaw of American poetry, Walt Whitman, the book The Outlaw Bible of American Poetry begins and ends with poems by him. A very good way to end this week's issue of "Here and Now" is with those two poems.

At the beginning, Whitman wrote:

Shut Not Your Doors

Shut not your doors to me proud libraries,

For that which was lacking on all your well-fill'd shelves, yet needed
    most, I bring.
Forth From the war emerging, a book I have made,
The words of my book nothing, the drift of it every thing,
A book separate, not link'd with the rest nor felt by the intellect,
But you ye untold latencies will thrill to every page.

And in the end, Whitman wrote:

Poets to Come

Poets to come! orators, singers, musicians to come!
Not to-day is to justify me and answer what am for,
But you, a new brood, native, athletic, continental, greater than
    before known,
Arouse! for you must justify me.

I myself but write one or two indicative words for the future,
I but advance a moment only to heel and hurry back in the

I am a man who, sauntering along without fully stopping, turns a
    casual look upon you and then averts his face,
Leaving it to you to prove and define it,
Expecting the main things from you.

Summer isn't over here, but it's close enough to over that mornings are cool and clear, good weather for people-watching under one of those umbrellas on the Riverwalk. Maybe a poem or two will walk by and give itself up for next week's issue.

Until then, remember, all material within this blog is the property of its creators. The blog itself was produced by and is owned by me - allen itz.

at 3:05 PM Blogger Alice Folkart said...

Dear Editor - another flaming success. Thanks for the introduction to so many new poets and idea. Especially liked the elderly Bukowski because I've never much liked him before - too taken up in things male. But, here, he's just a human. Liked also your frog poem, perfect ending - a honky tonk full of very dressed-up frogs (can't be responsible for my imagination). Especially liked your photos (some might be of California, which I miss) and the photos of Thomas Costales - I feel an immediate connection because I have dreamed that one of the loading dock, the one with a slight green tinge to the light - looks like the mouth of Hell, doesn't it?
Anyway, and I liked seeing my poem there, which looked better than it did the first time around. There's magic in Here and Now. And, of couse, Ellen's poem ties me in knots, isn't that the way of a marriage? She is a fine poet!

Alice Folkart

Post a Comment

You Don't Need A Weatherman   Friday, September 21, 2007


Welcome to "Here and Now" on this 4th Saturday in September.

To begin, I'd like to say, I like it when readers take advantage of the comment opportunity at the end of each "Here and Now" issue. For one thing, it's the only way I have of knowing, other some dry statistical stuff the web host gives me, that people are actually reading this thing.

I especially enjoyed the comments of Lenny from Leamington SpaNearStratford upon Avon in England last week. In addition to saying nice things about "Here and Now" (aw, shucks) Lenny cleared up my confusion about the painting that made a prominent appearance in the Thomas Crown Affair remake of a couple of years ago.

I was sure (well, almost) that the painting was by Marcel Duchamp. Lenny corrected me. The painting is by Rene Magritte.

I am relieved now to definitely know two things about art. One, the Thomas Crown painting was by Rene Magritte and, second, the Mona Lisa was by Leonardo DeCaprio.

Seriously, Lenny, thanks for writing. I invite anyone who has a thought they might want to share to do the same. If you have some work coming out or if you have a blog of your own you would like to tell people about, feel free to do it in comments.

No commercial ads please and no random screams of obscenity. All that kind of stuff does is put me to the trouble of deleting it. (I have to do that every once in a while on the 7beats website which has its own comment page.)

As to this issue, I have, again, lots of good stuff. I complained last week that I hadn't had time to search for web poets to feature here. No problem this week. This week we have lots of our web-friends showing their stuff.

On with the show! (OK, that's corny. Try doing this every week and you'll discover as I have that not only does the occasional corny cliche come in mighty handy some time, sometimes it's the best you can do. )

David Kelly is our first poet this week. He is also a first-timer at "Here and Now." I met David at one of the first Monday night readings at La Taza Coffee Shop on San Antonio's northside. That's also where I first heard his presentation of this poem.

About himself, David says, I am a thirty-one year old writer, illustrator, sculptor, and composer, and as such am forced to make my living with an insurance company. Oh yes, it is a career built on the blood and misery of my fellow humans, but it pays well. This should be a clue to the direction my moral compass points.

My ability to shoot myself in the foot is unparalleled outside of Wiley Coyote, and I often do so with rather meager tools. Never the less, it is my modest hope to one day rule this universe.

We all need a hobby.

Here's David's poem.

Metric Memories

How well I remember the Alamo
Rental car clerk whom I could not convince
Or persuade to return my deposit,

And then there was the U2 incident
When that shit-for-brains security guard
Whacked me hard in the head with a bottle.

You recall the day they sent Sputnik up
To Las Vegas and he lost everything
But his mother's fine old borscht recipe?

That reminds me, the titanic sinking
Of the thirty foot putt on the sixteenth
In heavy drizzle, thank you very much!

Just where were you when Pearl Harbor got bombed
And told everyone sitting at the bar
I was just out of Leavenworth prison,

Or that fateful day at Hiroshima
Where they added my bill up oh-so-wrong
And I paid seventeen bucks for a spring roll?

I shall never forget the Bay of Pigs
On the first day of truffle season....
Oh yes, I'll say it again, vive le France!

Tino Villanueva was born in San Marcos, Texas. He had a variety of work experiences, ranging from migrant farm work to assembly line construction of furniture, before completing his education. He received his BA at Texas State College under the GI Bill (see "Old Main" pictures from a couple of weeks ago), then went on to receive a Masters Degree at SUNY-Buffalo and a doctorate at a Boston University. He is the author of three collections of poetry and is, as well, an accomplished artist with work featured in El Paso, West Berlin, and Boston.

The following is his introduction to his book of poems and prose,Scene From the Movie Giant. He first saw the movie when he was fourteen years old and the casual anti-Mexican racism of the movie, especially as it was expressed in one particular scene, had a great impact on him. He explores his reaction to that scene in his book, published in 1993 by Curbstone Press.

It will probably help to understand Villanueva and his work if I add that, when I started college at Texas State University (it was Southwest Texas State University at the time) in 1962, the little city of San Marcos (pop. about 3,500 - the University which was about the same size has grown about tenfold since) was informally segregated, not through any act of law but through social history and convention.

from Scene From the Movie Giant

What I have from 1956 is one instant at the Holiday
Theater, where a small dimension of a film, as in
A dream, became the feature of the whole. It
Comes toward the end.... the cafe scene, which
Reels off a slow spread of light, a stark desire

To see itself once more, though there is, at times,
No joy in old time movies. It begins with the
Jingling of bells and the plainer truth of it;
That the front door to a roadside cafe opens and
Shuts as the Benedicts (Rock Hudson and Elizabeth

Taylor) their daughter Luz, and daughter-in-law
Juana and grandson Jordy, pass through it not
Unobserved. Nothing sweeps up into an actual act
Of kindness into the eyes of Sarge, who owns this
Joint and has it out for our dark-eyed Juana, weary

Of too much longing that comes with rejection.
Juana, from barely inside the door, and Sarge,
Stout and unpleased from behind his counter, clash
Eye-to-eye, as time stands like heat. Silence is
Everywhere, acquiring the name of hatred and Juana

Cannot bear the dread - the dark-jowl gaze of Sarge
Against her skin. Suddenly: bells go off again
By the quiet effort of walking, three Mexican-
Types step in, whom Sarge refuses to serve....
Those gestures of his, those looks that could kill

A heart you carry in memory for years. A scene from
The past has caught me in the act of living; even
To myself I cannot say except with worried phrases
Upon a paper, how I withstood arrogance in a gruff
Voice coming with the deep-dyed colors of the screen;

How in the beginning, I experienced almost nothing to
Say and now wonder if I can ever live enough to tell
The after-tale, I remember this and I remember myself
Locked into a back-row seat - I am a thin, flickering,
Helpless light, local looking, unthought at fourteen.

(I haven't quite figured out how I'm going to continue this story within the limited format of "Here and Now," but I intend to find a way.)

Photo by Dale McLain

We welcome Dale McLain back to "Here and Now" with a look at paradise in both photographic and poetic form.

port of call

Off the scalloped coast of Brewer's Bay
I offer my gouache bones to the sea,
narrow blades and arcs beneath my tan.
This water owns me as it owns millions

of mirror-scaled fishes and anemones.
My heartbeat mimics the docile waves,
a syncopated affirmation; I am here.
The seabed is smooth, so close, I wonder

about the need for air. Could I stay
within this perfect blue, a glint
of sunlight or a ripple in the sand?
My cocktail waits, coconut
and Callwood, the local libation.

I am just a day-tripper, another migrant
with sandy feet. It is impossible
to remain, not all of me, only the part
that is rooted, a slender white cedar
on the cloudy crest of Sage Mountain.

I picked up another book at the used book store last week, The Collected Poems of Henri Coulette, published by the University of Arkansas Press in 1990.

Henri Coulette was a Californian to his core, living in that state all of his life except for military service and a short time in New Mexico. He published only two books during his lifetime, The War of the Secret Agents in 1966 and The Family Goldschmitts in 1971, which, through huge error was accidentally shredded in the publisher's warehouse and never properly distributed. He wrote almost nothing after that event and gradually faded from view, until near the end of his life when he wrote fifty new poems. Unpublished at the time of his death in 1988 at 60 years of age, they are included in this book under the title he had planned for them, And Came to Closure. The poem below is from that previously unpublished series.

At the Graveyard

      for Minnie Patterson (1875-1971)

We have come a little early. Minutes away in the small town
You painted your pictures of, where you wrote your cheerful
They are turning the screws of a gray coffin. Your coffin.

We wander among the headstones, killing time, saying what
    we have said
All day, What a beautiful day, meaning the high clouds, the
    high wind,
The blue there is no name for, except sky, except beautiful.

We have come to the stones of the far side, the stones of the
    last century.
There are so many children here, and here is a man born in
    Damascus -
A Country Doctor for 40 years to our County -

And his wife - Clara, a Descendant of Jonathan Edwards.
The day is beautiful, the sky is blue, the clouds are clouds
You cannot read anything into. They are simply clouds.

The hearse comes down the highway, and turns, and stops,
We make our way toward you, past the Lieutenant of'
The Native of Iowa, Our Beloved Father, His Sweet Child.

I was in Austin for several days last week and took advantage of being there to go downtown to listen to a band Chris plays in. I wrote this, bleary-eye, the next morning.

Austin, 6th street, 1 am

a good crowd out
from the University
enough business
to keep the bars
and the bands

I came down
to listen to one
particular band
and enjoyed
their first set
but it's awful
damn late
for an old
so I'm heading
to my hotel
to hit the sack

can't help
as I walk back
to my car
thinking back
40 years
when 6th street
after dark
was a good place
to get VD
or stabbed in the back
and not much else

it's all changed

6th street
neon lights
and music
and let's face it
some weird looking
and cops
on horses
keeping it
mostly quiet
and clean
for several
blocks around
the actual street
and this late
with the tourists
gone to bed
and the state
people and the
business people
in town for meetings
gone to their rooms
to drink it's a quiet
scene, mellow,
and young -
the only people
I see my age
are begging
and cigarettes
who took a
in 1965
and never
made it back

it's a trip
for me too
being here
the scene


things change
but they always
the same

that's been my

Photo by Jessica Reyna

Jessica Reyna is a San Antonio art student whose work we've featured before. Her images previously featured were taken with her trusty , newfangled digital camera. These new photos are from her first shoot using a 50 year old Argus C-3 restored by John Strieb and obtained from his collection.

photo by Jessica Reyna

Photo by Jessica Reyna

Photo by Jessica Reyna

We will be seeing more of Jessica's photos in weeks ahead, both digital and from her newly acquied antique.

I had intended to continue to post several more sections of The Coast of Texas by Gilberto Sorrentino. (I posted the first four sections a couple of weeks ago.)

But, rereading the poem, I realized if just doesn't work broken into pieces and spread over a period of weeks. So, instead, I'm going to use this stand alone poem. The Coast of Texas and this poem are both in Gilbert Sorrentino, Selected Poems 1958-1980, published by Black Sparrow Press in 1981.

A Poem to Read in August

We sang plenty old songs then
Let me
Tell you.

There is a moment at which you
Must know that things
That are gone

Are gone. Ah, the alacrity
With which
They puncture the heart.

  In the meantime: with pussy
  willows, gladioli, narcissi,
  honeysuckle, forsythia, crocus,
  peach, plum, and cherry

Blossoms, spring comes.

Fred Longworth is with us this week for the first time.

Fred has been published in hardcopy in The Pacific Review, Pearl, California Quarterly, and numerous others. He has also appeared in many online publications as well including Stirring, Strong Verse and Melic Review.

He lives in San Diego and restores vintage audio components for a living and is, he says, a youthful 60.

Don't Waste Time on First-Rate Women

Leave a two-dollar wine bottle uncorked
in a hot garage next to an open can
of paint thinner, and it's still happy
I prefer it over flat beer.

A trailer park makes a finishing school
look like sandpaper without grit.
If kids couldn't handle being alone
overnight, the human race would die out
in a generation.

Sweetie knows a store that trades good weed
for WIC coupons. Deuce, five, six, nine,
jack. No discards. No draws.

I used to raise orchids in Antarctica.
Now, I water weeds, let the garbage man
pick up the trash. I sit alone in a forest
on a pew in a church of pines.

Our next piece is by California poet and storyteller Doc Dachtler. It's from his book ....Waiting for chains at Pearl's. The book was published by Plain View Press in 1990.

I wish I could use the title piece to this book, but it's much too long. Instead, here's this.

What You're Good At

We were working calves through the chute
that laid them on their sides.
The Cowboy doing the cutting was 73 years old.
He explained soft and low to them
while operating with a small pocket knife
shaving sharp.
    See, Don, you want to cut the cord with little slashes so
    it's kinda rough; heals better, doesn't bleed too much.
    Lotta fellas get in a hurry here and it don't pay.

A stainless covered pot was filling with castrations
in cold water
    Ever had 'em in scrambled eggs? he asked.
    No.I said.
    Nothing like 'em! Then we'll have a good cup of Irish

We'd been working since 6 am in a bare oak cold February
    You know, Don, they heal up better if the sun's

We were leaning against the fence taking coffee.
It was 10:30 am.
A shiny Ford Bronco drove slowly by the corral.
A man and woman in the back seat were talking
and pointing at us.
The cows bawled for their calves.
The realtor had on a Stetson or equivalent hat
with a plastic rainguard. It was nodding happily
because part of the sale was local color.
We didn't feel picturesque when the Nikkon came up
as the window rolled down
and the Bronco crunched gravel to a stop.
    How's the branding going?
    We're not branding, we're cuttin'.

said one of the ranch hands
tipping back his shit smeared hat.
The old cowboy folded up his arms, spit of shot of Skoal
over the split rail fence in their direction and commented
the first time that day on his disappearing range;
    I guess if you ain't good at anything else, why, you can
    always sell real estate!

The window rolled back up.
The bronco bucked its way up the hill.
We went back to work.

                        Sicard Flat Rd.
                        February, 1985

I'm happy to have Bernard Henrie back with us this week. Bernie lives in the Mojave desert. He can be read frequently on the Writers Block workshop forum using "Mohave" as his screen name.

Vocabulary and Spelling

Words come to me with shining eyes an lie underfoot
until an essay or party drags them into the kitchen
where I work, or when I am alone in the car, the radio
blocked by a mountain.

Onomatopoeia, for example, the wicked jackanapes,
or the suggestive nature of orotund, the cool dignity
and galactic calm of subrage. The black confusion
of syzygy. The fresh gale wind of the wassail,
the charabanc ridden in by plump Dylan Thomas.
The upstart popinjay at the next desk I cannot abide.

Grok and gurning, droogish of course. -
words given to us by God for some purpose
that we cannot always remember or spell, but words
that rest like books at the lending library
we plan to visit one day and to use in our next essay.

Even while my wife demands I remove garbage bags
or paint almost everything, I am already being disloyal
with these words that make my life rich. I open my arms
to receive their windy currents and wine like kiss.

And here's one I wrote last week while waiting for AAA to pick up Chris' permanently disabled car.

on the one hand

I'm at my son's house
on the south side of Austin

that's old Austin,
with small houses,
in what could be seen
as a forest of oak and pecan

beyond the trees
in the not too far distance
I hear the rattatattat
of hammers,
framing some new structure
on South Congress

it's the sound of jobs,
pay checks,
groceries on the table,
sitting in the front yard
having a beer after work.
college dreams fulfilled,
the sound of middle class
American good life,
proud workers
and secure families

it's also the sound
of trees
scrapped flat,
wild life
habitat destroyed,
hill country beauty
stripped bare

on the one hand
and on the other

so pick
your poison,
frying pan

Now we have another little mystery by John Ashbery from his book And the Stars Were Shining published in 1994 by The Noonday Press.

Linda Gregerson in The New York Times Book Review referred to Ashbery's "capaciousness of spirit." That is the perfect word to use for his style and his poetry.

The Story of Next Week

Yes, but right reason dictates... Yes, but the wolf is at the door,
nor shall our finding be indexed.
Yes, but life is a circus, a passing show
wherein each may drop his reflection
and so contradict the purpose of a maelstrom;
the urge, the thrust.
And if what others do
finally seems good to you? Why,
the very civility that gilded it
is flaking. Passivity itself's a hurdle.

So, lost with the unclaimed lottery junk,
uninventoried, you are an heir to anything.
Brightness of purpose counts; Centesimal
victorious flunkeys seemed to grab its tail
yet it defied them with invention.
Stand up, and the rain
will be cold at first in your pockets.
Later, by chance, you'll discover supper
in the sparkling, empty tavern.
A nice, white bed awaits you;
your passport's in there too.

I'm also very pleased to have Beki Reese back with another of her love poems. Beki is director of the short form forum on the Blueline website and she is most often seen working with various ku forms. As this poem demonstrates, her talent is not restricted to those short forms.

Between the Silence and the Dawn

Between the silence and the dawn
words lie waiting in the shadows;
the barest whispers of my desire,
longing wrapped in a thin black coat.

I cannot sleep for wanting you,
your absence leaves a tender ache
that settles deep between my thighs.
My desire throbs to the beat of my heart,
pulsing your name like fire through my veins.

My fevered skin yearns to bare itself
to the quenching cool of your quick tongue,
to quiver-leap beneath your touch.
I long to dance a slow slip-slide,
warm and wet against your length.

Then when the moment is just right
I want you to discover me
with careful kisses and deep intent.
Chase my words back into shadows,
leaving only passion moans behind.

Urge me far beyond inhibition,
sink me into breathless sighs
until I collapse, weak and spent.
Leave me dreaming of what lies behind
doors I've yet to walk through with you.

Now we have a piece from W. Joe Hoppe, a transplant from Michigan to Texas and currently teacher of English and Creative Writing at Austin Community College.

This poem is from his book Galvanized published this year by Dalton Publishing.

Stanley Marsh's Cadillac Ranch
Amarillo, TX

The path to the Cadillac Ranch
is littered with fireworks carcasses
Fourth of July just a weekend past
barrages of bursting colors
must have been wondrous
within warm darkness

Not a bit like the blanched dome
I'm kicking up dust beneath
where even the brightest
of spray painted fluorescents
are sucked right in
to the baked steel surfaces

Of ten Cadillacs buried nose down
tailfins fanned across high Texas plains
from the first sweet swooping of 1949
rising the rear fender
like a fighter planes rudder
through '50, '54, '56, '57, '58, '59, and '62
to the sharp space age point of 1963
a triangle's ting to those halcyon days

Scrawled with Magic Marker testimony
by entire families - from France, Germany,
Australia, and Tennessee -
each member making his own signature
picture a kindergartner on her father's shoulders
"Ashley" laborious across a Coupe DeVille's rooftop

This afternoon's pilgrims walk
with the same reverence
found at Graceland or Indianapolis Motor Speedway
alone for a moment I circumambulate
turning busted tires like prayer wheels

For a mantra driven through differential gears:

O America All That You Were
O America All That You Are

And here's another one I wrote while waiting, this time waiting at a coffee shop for a lightning bolt to come crashing out of the sky with a poem for me carried on its sizzling spear point.

a crazy business

this poetry
is a crazy business,
at the whim of forces
unknown and unpredictable

poems seem
to fall from the sky
on a schedule all their own,
like solitary raindrops
on a cloudless day,
some half formed and some
as they land with a
deeply poetic splat
on the white page before me

some days a storm
and others like the driest desert
of a waterless world,
and I never know
at the start of a new day
what kind of day
it will turn out to be

every day I wait
for the day to reveal itself,
not to try
to do it on my own,
for that is the error of presumption,
believing that I am the creator
and not just the beneficiary of these words
that fall from the

Now, a poem by William D. Barney, thirty-five year Postal Service employee and former Texas Poet Laureate. The poem is from A Cowtown Chronicle, the ninth and last of his books of poetry.

In his eighties in 1999 when this book was published by Bowder Springs Books, he has since died.

A Birthdayful of Beard-Tongues
                Oakhurst: Scenic Drive

The beard-tongues rise out of the limestone bluff
just as they did a half century ago
when I was a boy wandering on these hills.
The same of crumbling rock, the calcareous soil
have not changed. Soft rains and warming sun of April
unlock their chemistries and a swarm of flowers
covers the slope, this year in profusion.

I do not remember the passing of years.
Who that is part of the sea recalls every wave?
They arrived, surged through, moved on
much as that ancient ocean did, laying down
this chalk. I too entered this world one April
and have been ever since a disciple of green.
Only the calendar tells me on this day
I am sixty-five, and the histories say
not many times more will I find these towers
lifting their tinted bells. No difference
to them nor probably to me if they
still celebrate a good time to be born,
to spring up from the fertile earth
and silently peal the change of season.
They will not toll for any; their own delight
is their mission. Nor need they. Not far off
he will not hear, who saying his nunc dimittis,
took part of this richness where he went.

And even again I'm pleased to have Tina Hoffman back with us this week with a new poem.

Postcard from the Aegean

Dear one,

I hope you will forgive this trespass
so far from you, this trip
to blue seas and whitewashed homes,
whispered prayers in tiny chapels,
marbled rocks in the shape of gods
mesmerized by the slant of the sun.

I never thought apart from you, I'd find me
but I'm here, heady and overflowing
as pots of basil hung with honeysuckle;
in gray-green hills and prickly pear bushes,
in wild jasmine breezes and endless vineyards
where I sip from a never empty cup -
here is the essence of all I long to feel.

Ikaria, rocky island tomb
where escape means certain death
with singed wings of feathers and wax;
today I die, today I melt,
but my god, the thrill of flying free!

Last week, I featured an opening piece from Marfan by Peter Reading. In my introduction, I mentioned the mystery of the "Marfa lights." Here, from the book, is more information on the mysterious lights.


One evening, back in 1883,
Robert Reed Ellison was with his wife
herding a bunch of cattle across the basin
from Alpine towards Marfa, heading west,
and, sundown coming on, stopped for the night.
As he made preparations for the campfire
he glanced up and was mystified to notice
lights flickering to and fro across a valley
along the side of the Chinati Mountains.
Assuming it was Apaches on the move,
he catnapped clutching his Winchester till dawn
when the weird incandescence fizzled out.

A short time after that, a young surveyor,
man by the name of Williams, was out mapping
round the same spot and saw the same strange lights.
His journal records how "Indians of this region
believe the luminosity to be
the restless spirit of the dead Apache,
Chief Alsate."

        Nearly a century later,
The Houston Chronicle dispatched Stan Redding -
"Check out this Marfa story; let's just see
whether there's anything in it." As he drove
along a dirt road near Paisano Pass,
Redding observed the Marfa Mystery Lights:
The darted about the ground - red white and blue,
orbs, baseball-sized. They blended into one,
then separated. One of them would zoom
high into the air, then plummet into the brush,
then rise on instant later and spin away
crazily. Unsuppoeted and unattached,
each one illuminated the black-brush clump
over which it hovered.

        Tonight, off 90 East,
a curious ignis fatuus fulminates....

Alex Stolis returns again this week with the third of his series inspired by the Tarot deck.

Card II

The High Priestess attends a Masked Ball

she believes rain dulls the edge of unhappiness and in a world
out of practice with silence, she wants to forget about words

and float beyond form or thought. she wants to sharpen
the oval face of sound, imagines herself as confessor,

the quiet muse, a journal. promising to leave nothing
to chance, she'll hold secrets speechless against her breast.

she will be the keeper of lock and key while night suffocates
the last light under a blanket of stars. she believes it's possible

to pretend herself into solitude, possible to cover small
indiscretions with a laugh and murmur thrown in the right

direction. she wants to fall in love with no consequences,
teach the moon to recite her name - a prayer for the dying.

From The Same Sky, A Collection of Poems from around the World, published by Aladdin Paperbacks in 1992, we have this poem by Stella Ngatho of Kenya.


Path-let.... leaving home, leading out,
Return my mother to me
The sun is sinking and darkness coming,
Hens and cocks are already inside and babies drowsing,
Return my mother to me.
We do not have fire-wood and I have not seen the lantern,
There is no more food and the water has run out.
Path-let I pray you, return my mother to me.
Path of the hillocks, path of the small stones,
Path of slipperiness, path of the mud,
Return my mother to me.
Path of the papyrus, path of the rivers,
Path of the small forests, path of the reeds,
Return my mother to me.
Path that winds, path of the short-cut,
Over-trodden path, newly made path,
Return my mother to me.
Path, I implore you, return my mother to me.
Path of the crossways, path that branches off,
Path of the stinging shrubs, path of the bridge,
Return my mother to me.
Path of the open, path of the valley,
Path of the steep climb, path of the downward slope,
Return my mother to me.
Children are drowsing about to sleep,
Darkness is coming and there is no fire-wood,
And I have not yet found the lantern:
Return my mother to me.

Now we have a piece by Tony Hoagland from his book, donkey gospel published by Graywolf Press in 1998.

Mistaken Identity

I thought I saw my mother
in the lesbian bar,
with a salt gray crew cut, a nose stud
and a tattoo of a parrot on her arm.
She was sitting at a corner table,
leaning forward to ignite, on someone's match,
one of those low-tar things she used to smoke,

and she looks happy to be alive again
after her long marriage
to other people's needs,
her twenty-year stint as Sisyphus,
struggling to push
a blue Ford station wagon full of screaming kids
up a mountainside of groceries.

My friend Debra had brought me there
to educate me on the issue
of my own unnecessariness,
and I stood against the wall, trying to look
simultaneously nonviolent

and nonchalant, watching couples
slow dance in the female dark,
but feeling speechless, really,
as the first horse to meet the first
horseless carriage on a cobbled street.

That's why I noticed Mom,
whispering into the delicate
seashell ear of a brunette,
running a finger along
the shoreline of a tank top,

as if death had taught here finally
not to question what she wanted
and not to hesitate
in reaching out and taking it.

I want to figure out everything
right now, before I die,
but I admit that in the dark
(where a whole life can be mistaken) cavern of the bar
it took me one, maybe two big minutes

to find my footing
and to aim my antiquated glance
over the shoulder of the woman
pretending not to be my mother,
as if I were looking for someone else.

Here's a small little bit from me that I wrote last week while waiting for someone in a place featuring beautiful floral arrangements scattered all around.

a gift of love

in a tall glass vase

OK, that little piece really is too dark to be the closing poem for the week. Instead, let's do this - might be some fun.

the night I got chased out of Mexico

is a story
about the time
I got chased out of
by a posse
of Mexican taxi cabs

I was a young guy
just old enough
to get a taxi license
and I was driving
on the Texas side
of the border

I picked up a fare
one of the hotels
who wanted
to go to Mexico
and I said
hell yes
cause it was about
35 miles
and at 35 cents
for the first mile
and 10 cents a mile
it was a pretty good
of which I'd get
a third
which never was
a helluv a lot
most nights
but better for a
like this

so we headed out
down 281
for Matamoros
through Brownsville
and across the bridge
from where I knew
how to go two places
boys town
about which we
will speak no more
and the central plaza
which was close
to the mercado
and lots of good
good food
and floorshows
with sometimes
naked women
and that's where
the fella I was
wanted to go
so we went there
and I dropped
him off at the plaza
and while he paid me
I noticed all
the Mexican cabbies
giving me the eye
and I noticed
when I left
some of those
Mexican cabs
started following
and then I noticed
I had ten to fifteen
Mexican cabs
riding my back
and I said to mysel
oh shit
I screwed up
and the way
they were following
close and honking
it looked pretty clear
that they were
about whatever
it was I did
so I took off
for the bridge
as fast as I could
trying to remember
as I flew
which of the many
one way streets
in Matamoros
were going my way
and which were going
to either get me lost
of back to the plaza
where more trouble
was sure to be
and when I reached
the bridge
I tossed my 8 cents
bridge toll
to the Mexican
border guard
hardly stopping

when I got back
my dispatcher
told me the rules -
cabs don't cross
fares are dropped
at the bridge
where they can
walk across
and get a local
I really felt dumb
and never did that
though one time
I did pick up a guy
at the bridge
who had been in
in Matamoros
for three days
and was beat
all to shit
and bleeding and
barely conscious

I took him home
and dropped him off
at the hospital
and his friend
who had gone
to Matamoros
to get him out
of jail
and had ridden
back with him
gave me a $3
which was pretty
for the time

Time to pull down the tent, rinse out the ice chest and head for home.

Until next week when we will return with more poets, more images, more.... I guess that's all, since that's only what we do.

As usual, "Here and Now" is owned and produced by me, allen itz. All material contained herein remains the property of its creators.

at 10:46 AM Blogger Alice Folkart said...

good stuff, Allen - but, where's the 'short, mean poem?' - flower in a vase? That's mean? You got my hopes up, and now, they're dashed!

But, thanks for the introduction to so many wonderful writers. And, super pictures too - really like the ladder.


Post a Comment

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
May 2006
June 2006
July 2006
August 2006
September 2006
October 2006
November 2006
December 2006
January 2007
February 2007
March 2007
April 2007
May 2007
June 2007
July 2007
August 2007
September 2007
October 2007
November 2007
December 2007
January 2008
February 2008
March 2008
April 2008
May 2008
June 2008
July 2008
August 2008
September 2008
October 2008
November 2008
December 2008
January 2009
February 2009
March 2009
April 2009
May 2009
June 2009
July 2009
August 2009
September 2009
October 2009
November 2009
December 2009
January 2010
February 2010
March 2010
April 2010
May 2010
June 2010
July 2010
August 2010
September 2010
October 2010
November 2010
December 2010
January 2011
February 2011
March 2011
April 2011
May 2011
June 2011
July 2011
August 2011
September 2011
October 2011
November 2011
December 2011
January 2012
February 2012
March 2012
April 2012
May 2012
June 2012
July 2012
August 2012
September 2012
October 2012
November 2012
December 2012
January 2013
February 2013
March 2013
April 2013
May 2013
June 2013
July 2013
August 2013
September 2013
October 2013
November 2013
December 2013
January 2014
February 2014
March 2014
April 2014
May 2014
June 2014
July 2014
August 2014
September 2014
October 2014
November 2014
December 2014
January 2015
February 2015
March 2015
April 2015
May 2015
June 2015
July 2015
August 2015
September 2015
October 2015
November 2015
December 2015
January 2016
February 2016
March 2016
April 2016
May 2016
June 2016
July 2016
August 2016
September 2016
October 2016
November 2016
December 2016
January 2017
February 2017
March 2017
April 2017
May 2017
June 2017
July 2017
August 2017
September 2017
October 2017
November 2017
December 2017
January 2018
February 2018
March 2018
April 2018
May 2018
June 2018
July 2018
August 2018
September 2018
October 2018
November 2018
December 2018
January 2019
February 2019
March 2019
April 2019
May 2019
June 2019
July 2019
August 2019
September 2019
October 2019
November 2019
December 2019
January 2020
February 2020
March 2020
April 2020
May 2020
June 2020
July 2020
August 2020
September 2020
October 2020
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