Don't Fence Me In   Saturday, May 24, 2008

The picture above was taken from the side of a the little highway that runs goes Presidio to Lajitas on the Texas border with Mexico. The Rio Grande River runs right alongside the road for most of the way. In fact, the river is below the bluff I'm taking the picture from.

I grew up on the border and have the same view of the silly, racist fence Homeland Security wants to build as just about all the people I know from that part of the state.

Homeland Security has taken the legal position that no existing state or federal law can divert them from doing what they want to do, that they are in fact, exempt from all law other than their own.

The fence, if built in this area, would likely make it impossible to get to this road, much less drive along it, just as in extreme South Texas the fence as proposed cuts through people's yards, ranches and farms, through lands long set aside for protection of endangered flora and fauna, and, actually, cutting across the campus of Texas A&M University, Brownsville. The fence would make every thing south of it difficult to get too, in not completely inaccessible, becoming in effect the new national border, de facto ceding everything south of the fence to Mexico.

In Texas, there is a growing coalition of mayors, county judges, state legislators, business interests and environmental interest fighting the fence. I'm with them. I don't think we ought to allow racist or any other kinds of hysterics in Arizona, Iowa and Washington build a Berlin Wall around our country.

That said, on with the show.

I start this week with a poem by Paula Gunn Allen, from Harper's Anthology of 20th Century Native American Poetry, published by Harper Collins in 1988.

Allen was born in 1939 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She grew up in Cubero, New Mexico, a Spanish-Mexican land grant village bordering the Laguna Pueblo reservation. Of mixed Laguna, Sioux, Scottish, and Lebanese-American descent, she has always most closely identified with the people among whom she spent her childhood and upbringing.

Allen obtained a BA and MFA from the University of Oregon and her PhD at the University of New Mexico, where she taught and where she began her research into various tribal religions.

Kopis'taya, A Gathering of Spirits

Because we live in the browning season
the heavy air blocking our breath,
and in this time when living
is only survival, we doubt the voices
that come shadowed on the air,
that weave within our brains
certain thoughts, a motion that is soft,
imperceptible, a twilight rain,
soft feather's fall, a small body dropping
into its next, rustling, murmuring, settling
in for the night.

Because we live in the hardedged season,
where plastic brittle and gleaming shine,
and in this space that is cornered and angled,
we do not notice wet, moist, the significant
drops falling in perfect spheres
that are the certain measures of our minds;
almost invisible, those tears,
soft as dew, fragile, that cling to leaves,
petals, roots, gentle and sure,
every morning.

We are the women of the daylight, of clocks
and steel foundries, of drugstores
and streetlights, of superhighways
that slice our days in two. Wrapped around
in plastic and steel we ride our lives;
behind dark glasses we hide our eyes;
our thoughts, shaded, seem obscure.
Smoke fills our minds, whisky husks our songs,
polyester cuts our bodies from our breath,
our feet from the welcoming stones of earth.
Our dreams are pale memories of themselves
ad nagging doubt is the false measure
of our days.

Even so, the spirit voices are singing,
their thoughts are dancing in the dirty air.
Their feet touch the cement, the asphalt
delighting, still they weave dreams upon our
shadowed skulls, if we could listen.
If we could hear.

Let's go then. Let's find them.
Let's listen for the water, the careful
gleaming drops that glisten on the leaves,
the flowers. Let's ride
the midnight, the early dawn.
Feel the wind striding through our hair.
Let's dance the dance of feathers,
the dance of birds.

For many years I was one of the suits, responsible for the work of hundreds of employees and systems spending hundreds of millions of dollars. I was a media personality, seen and quoted often in newspaper, radio and tv. I advised business men and politicians on matters of significance. I projected an image of competence, maturity, reliability, and expertise in matters large and small.

A medium-sized frog in a medium-sized pond ... and a fake.

There are a lot of us among the suits, I think.

at the grown-up's table

i often forget
i'm a grown-up,
when dealing
with peers
of my own age
or younger,
like a child
by some accident
at the grown-up's table,
exchanging banalities,
I could go outside
and play

David Budbill was born in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1940 to a streetcar driver and a minister's daughter. He is the author of six books of poems, eight plays, a novel, a collection of short stories, a picture book for children, dozens of essays, introductions, speeches and book reviews, and the libretto for an opera. He is also a performance poet on two CDs. He was, for a time, a commentator on National Public Radio's "All Things Considered."

This poem is from the anthology I've used for the past two weeks, The Rag And Bond Shop Of The Heart.

This poem, with its everyday brutality, turns my stomach.

What I Heard At The Discount Department Store

Don't touch that. and stop your whining too.
Stop it. I mean it. You know I do.
If you don't stop, I'll give you fucking something
to cry about right here
and don't you think I won't either.

So she did. She slapped him across the face.
And you could hear the snap of flesh against the flesh
halfway across the store. Then he wasn't whining anymore.
Instead, he wept. His little body heaved and shivered and
He was seven or eight. She was maybe thirty.
Above her left breast, the pin said: Nurse's Aide.

Now they walk hand in hand down the aisle
between the tables piled with tennis shoes
and underpants and plastic bag of socks.

I told you I would. You knew I would.
You can't get away with shit like that with me,
you know you can't.
You're not in school anymore.
You're with your mother now.
You can get away with fucking murder there,
but you can't get away with shit like that with me.

Stop that crying now I say
or I'll give you another little something
like I did before.
Stop that now. You'd better stop.

That's better. That's a whole lot better.
You know you can't do that with me.
You're with your mother now.

My next poem is by Michael Sottak.

I don't know what to say about Michael except that it seems he's been around. I ask him for a short bit of bio information and he sent the following, which, I guess, explains it better than anything I could conjure up.

We'd been to Iraq, Kuwait .... my brother shows up on my sister's doorstep after hurricane Ivan destroyed Pensacola .... we are both broke from fixing up the homes of people we loved and he says "Dude, I'm fucken broke, let's go jump a ship in the Gulf of Mexico"...

"Alright, let me pack my bag." We were in Aransas, Texas by three a.m. the next morning, swatting misquitos and drinking beer. He points down the dock, gravel and mud puddles .... "This is the Oil Fields."

I start laughing, because all I can see is a fat engineer and a broken down pick up truck.

"Alright asshole! Did I ever tell you that I never loved you?"

Here's Michael's poem. Later on in this issue we'll have some of his photos from his "oil patch."

gulf of mexicali blues

Sea Fogg is pacing the points
of the compass around the bridge wing,
steps back into the wheelhouse staring
at the reception bars on his cell phone.
the gravity of frustration pulling his eyes
and cheeks toward his jaw.

i'm reclined in his captain's chair sipping
coffee. he knows i've been watching him
and senses i can't digest my grin:
"Fuck you, muthafucka! Three weeks out here now!
I need to talk to my woman!"

The bow tugs at the mooring line, Elsa Leigh rolls gently to starboard, water wringing from her three hundred foot leash, continues her lazy figure-of-eight waltz south by west.

"Don't worry, Man. I'm sure someone's taking good care of her!"

"Why don't you get your ass out on deck and paint something ... better yet, break something that will send us to the yards!"

i start whistling "hi ho" down the ladder and catch his haki-sak ball on the back of my head.

Phil is a new hire, just flown down from Alaska last night. We talk about king crab fishing in the Bering. Know some of same skalliwags and start laughing. He leans forward, confidentially:
"Are all these guys crazy?"

"Whadda you mean, Phil?"

"I asked that guy Weazel what i should be doing.

He said,"Climb the mast, cinch your balls in a noose, hang upside-down singing 'Camptown Racetrack'".

"oh ... you caught him in a good mood."

"really man, i don't know where i'm supposed to be working."

"you're with me. did you smuggle any beer past the helo-port?"

"No! Are you fucking kidding me? They have all these signs up forbidding alcohol."

"Well, Amigo, a sign is just a sign isn't it?"

It's time to get a little wild with this piece by Richard Brautigan from the anthology The Outlaw Bible of American Poetry.

Brautigan was an writer, best known for the novel Trout Fishing in America. He wrote ten novels and over 500 poems. Most of his novels dealt with satire, black comedy, and Zen Buddhism. Born in 1935, he ended his own life by gunshot to his head in 1984. His suicide followed years of depression and heavy alcoholism.

This longish poem seem pretty representative of his work.

The Galilee Hitch-Hiker

The Galilee Hitch-Hiker
Part 1

Baudelaire was
driving a Model A
across Galilee.
He picked up a
hitch-hiker named
Jesus who had
been standing among
a school of fish,
feeding them
pieces of bread.
"Where are you
going?" asked
Jesus, getting
into the front
"Anywhere, anywhere
out of this world!"
"I'll go with you
as far as
said Jesus.
"I have a
at the carnival
there, and I
must not be

The American Hotel
Part 2

Baudelaire was sitting
in a doorway with a wino
on San Francisco's skid row.
The wino was a million
years old and could remember
Baudelaire and the wino
were drinking Petri Muscatel.
"One must always be drunk,"
   said Baudelaire.
"I live in the American Hotel,"
said the wino. "And I can
   remember dinosaurs."
"Be you drunken ceaselessly,"
   said Baudelaire.

Part 3

Baudelaire used to come
to our house ad watch
me grind coffee.
That was in 1939
and we lived in the slums
of Tacoma.
My mother would put
the coffee beans in the grinder.
I was a child
and would turn the handle,
pretending that it was
   a hurdy-gurdy,
and Baudelaire would pretend
that he was a monkey,
hopping up and down
and holding out
a tin cup.

The Flowerburgers
Part 4

Baudelaire opened
up a hamburger stand
in San Francisco,
but he put flowers
between the buns.
People would come in
and say, "Give me a
hamburger with plenty
of onions on it."
Baudelaire would give
them a flowerburger
instead and the people
would say, "What kind
of a hamburger stand
is this?"

The Hour of Eternity
Part 5

"The Chinese
read the time
in the eyes
of cats,"
said Baudelaire
and went into
a jewelry store
on Market Street.
He came out
a few moments
later carrying
a twenty-one
jewel Siamese
cat that he
wore on the
end of a
golden chain.

Salvador Dali
Part 6

"Are you
or aren't you
going to eat
your soup,
you bloody old
cloud merchant?"
Jeanne Dual
hitting Baudelaire
on the back
as he sat
out the window.
Baudelaire was
Then he laughed
like hell,
waving his spoon
in the air
like a wand
changing the room
into a painting
by Salvador
Dali, changing
the room
into a painting
by Van Gogh.

A Baseball Game
Part 7

Baudelaire went
to a baseball game
and bought a hot dog
and lit up a pipe
of opium.
The New York Yankees
were playing
the Detroit Tigers.
In the fourth inning
an angel committed
suicide by jumping
off a low cloud.
The angel landed
on second base,
causing the whole infield
to crack like
a huge mirror.
The game was
called on
account of

Insane Asylum
Part 8

Baudelaire went
to the insane asylum
disguised as a
He stayed there
for two months
and when he left,
the insane asylum
loved him so much
that it followed
him all over California,
and Baudelaire
laughed when the
insane asylum
rubbed itself
up against his
leg like a
strange cat

My Insect Funeral
Part 9

When I was a child
I had a graveyard
where I buried insects
and dead birds under
a rose tree.
I would bury the insects
in tin foil and watch boxes.
I would bury the birds
in pieces of red cloth.
It was all very sad
and I would cry
as I scooped the dirt
into the small graves
with a spoon.
Baudelaire would come
and join in
my insect funerals,
saying little prayers
the size of
dead birds.

San Francisco
February 1958

Michael Sottak's mention above of swatting mosquitos in Aransas, Texas reminded me of this poem I wrote several years ago. (The picture above is of sunrise from the Bayfront, downtown Corpus Christi. The tiny lights you can barely see are in the area of Aransas Pass/Port Aransas as mentioned in Michael's introduction of himself.)

I was on North Beach in Corpus Christi, checking out an apartment. We lived in Corpus Christi for 15 years before moving to San Antonio. I retired five years after that move and after about 4 years of not doing much decided to go back to work, which I did, for the local United Way organization.

It was my intention to find a cheap apartment in Corpus Christi where I could live during the week, then commute back and forth San Antonio on weekends to be with family.

I did find a nice efficiency on the bay, but not on this particular morning. I did get a poem out of it though. The poem was eventually published in The Horsethief's Journal, a poetry venue I miss greatly, in 2003.

And that's more introduction than I intended for this little piece of occasional humor.

(I guess I should add, just to finish the story, that, although Corpus Christi is a great little city and my earlier years there were some of the best of my life, the weekly commute on this second go-round got to me after a year and a half and I retired for a second time.)

Welcome Home

it's early morning and i'm looking for this
apartment that was listed in the classifieds

(on the beach, the ad said,
half a block from the Sea Shell Motel,
lovely view of the bay at sunrise)

through fog so thick I could run over
a dozen geezers reading their free
USA Today in the lobby of the Sea Shell
Motel and not know it until my insurance
premiums went up in the next quarter

but with the humidity so high
all my car windows are so smeared
with condensation inside and out
that i can't see the fog and i figure
what the hell and don't worry about it

i'm looking for Bushnick Street
and all the street signs are lost somewhere
in that thick fog that i can't see anyway
because of the goddamn humidity

until i finally give up and
turn off my air conditioner
and open all the car windows
thinking that if i get the smeared
windows out of the way maybe
i can see through the fog enough
to at least figure out where i am

but that doesn't work either
and all i do is let in a black
cloud of starving mosquitos
that settle on my face and arms
like a cactus blanket, greedy little
vampire bugs nipping a hundred
little nips, sucking my blood, leaving
wet red splotches as i flail my hands
around, slapping myself silly at seven
o'clock in the gulf coast morning
and i'm reminded of all the things
about this place i haven't missed

After all the modern stuff so far, how about a little bit of he ultra-conventional - from the anthology 101 Famous Poems, this poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow with probably the best known first line in American poetry.

(Speaking of that, who else remembers this from when you were 10 or 12 years old.

"You're a poet,
but don't know it,
but your feet show it
'cause they're Longfellow's."

What do kids say now instead of that, I wonder.)

Hiawatha's Childhood

By the shores of Gitche Gumee,
By the shining Big-Sea-Water,
Stood the wigwam of Nokomis,
Daughter of the Moon, Nokomis.
Dark behind it rose the forest,
Rose the black and gloomy pine-trees,
Rose the fir with cones upon them;
Bright before it beat the water,
Beat the clear and sunny water,
Beat the shining Big-Sea-Water.
   There the wrinkled old Nokomis
Nursed the little Hiawatha,
Rocked him in his linden cradle,
Bedded soft in moss and rushes,
Safely bound with raindeer sinews;
Stilled his fretful wail by saying,
"Hush! the Naked Bear will hear thee!"
Lulled him into slumber, singing,
"Ewa-yea! my little owlet!
Who is this, that lights the wigwam?
With his great eyes lights the wigwam?
Ewa-yea! my little owlet!"
   Many things Nokomis taught him
Of the stars that shine in heaven;
Showed him Ishkoodah, the comet,
Ishkoodah, with fiery tresses;
Showed the Death-Dance of the spirits,
Warriors with their plumes and war-clubs,
Flaring far away to northward
In the frosty nights of winter;
Showed the broad white road in heaven,
Pathway of the ghosts, the shadows,
Running straight across the heavens,
Crowded with the ghosts, the shadows.
   At the door on summer evenings,
Sat the little Hiawatha;
Heard the whispering of the pine-trees,
Heard the lapping of the waters,
Sounds of music, words of wonder;
"Minne-wawa!" said the pine-trees,
"Mudway-ashka!" said the water.
   Saw the fire-fly Wah-wah-taysee,
Flitting through the dusk of evening,
With the twinkle of its candle
Lighting up the breaks and bushes,
And he sang the song of children,
Sang the song Nokomis taught him:
"Wah-wah-taysee, little fire-fly,
Little flitting, white-fire insect,
Little, dancing, white-fire creature,
Light me with your little candle,
Ere upon my bed I lay me,
Ere in sleep I close my eyelids!"
   Saw the moon rise from the water,
Rippling, rounding from the water,
Saw the flecks and shadows on it,
Whispered, "What is that, Nokomis?"
And the good Nokomis answered:
"Once a warrior, very angry,
Seized his grandmother, and threw her
Up into the sky at midnight;
Right against the moon he threw her;
Tis her body that you see there."
   Saw the rainbow in the heaven,
In the eastern sky the rainbow,
And the good Nokomis answered;
"Tis the heaven of flowers you see there;
All the wild-flowers of the forest,
All the lilies of the prairie,
When on earth they fade and perish,
Blossom in that heaven above us.”
   When he heard the owls at midnight,
Hooting, laughing in the forest,
"What is that?" he cried in terror;
"What is that," he said, "Nokomis?"
And the good Nokomis answered;
"That is but the owl and owlet,
Talking in their native language,
Talking, scolding at each other."
   Then the little Hiawatha
Learned of every bird its language,
Learned their names and all their secrets,
How they built their nests in summer,
Where they hid themselves in winter,
Called them "Hiawatha's Chickens."
   Of all the beasts he learned the language,
Learned their names and all their secrets,
How the beavers built their lodges,
Where the squirrels hid their acorns,
How the raindeer ran so swiftly,
Why the rabbit was so timid,
Talked with them whene'er he met them,
Called them "Hiawatha's Brothers."

Longfellow's poem reminded me of San Antonio poet Margaret Mayberry who writes in the difficult, for me, impossible, style of rhyme and form.

Born in London in 1932, Margaret, as the wife of a British doctor, lived in many countries around the world before coming to San Antonio 35 years ago and staying. She has an MA in Clinical Psychology from St. Mary's University as well as an MA in Environmental Management (Urban Studies) from the University of Texas at San Antonio. in addition to a full slate of volunteer and charitable work, for twenty years, she's been on the City Council of Hill Country Village a small incorporated city within the general geographic limits of San Antonio, 20 years. For those same years she's served on the Board of directors of the local Animal Defense League organization. A widow, Margaret says she always wanted to write poetry, but never got around to it until recently.

I've had this poem from her for several months, intending to save it for the issue that included Mothers' Day, but in the rush of not enough time, forgot about it.

Margaret has a lovely accent and listening to her read her poems is a great treat.

The Nature of Mothers

Temperature flaring, no hope of sleeping,
In the shadowy night, a figure creeping,
With pills and syrup, thirst quenching drinks too,
The ministering angel looks after you.

The little child falls, it's only a scrape,
She'll murmur soft words, in her arms will take,
Like mothers the world over that is her role,
It's the nature of mothers from north to south pole.

When false promises tarnish love's first glow,
There's understanding, not "I told you so."
When the pain's so bad that you want to die,
She's ready and waiting, your tears to dry.

And when you call on God in anguished prayer,
She's still there with you and your grief will share,
All her life's been spent in loving and giving,
It's for you not herself that she's been living.

And when things go wrong, wherever you are,
You look to your mother, that shining star
Who loves you, comforts and eases your strife,
Who's been there herself, knows the sorrows of life.

Then one day she's gone, life has just slipped by,
Perhaps not even a chance to say goodbye,
A life serving others, showing they care,
That's the nature of mothers, everywhere.

My next poem is by David Lehman from Poet's Choice, Poems for Everyday Life, an anthology of poems selected and introduced by poet Robert Hass.

Lehman, born in New York City in 1948 is a poet and the series editor for The Best American Poetry series, as well as editor of The Oxford Book of American Poetry.

He has written six collections of poems and collaborated with James Cummins to produce a book of sestinas entitled Jim and Dave Defeat the Masked Man. His books of criticism include The Last Avant-Garde: The Making of the New York School of Poets, which was named a "Book to Remember 1999" by the New York Public Library and several others. His study of detective novels, The Perfect Murder, was nominated for an Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America.

Lehman is on the permanent faculty of The New School and teaches a freshman honors class at New York University and divides his time between Ithaca, and New York City.

Toward a Definition of Love


Another time they were making love. "It's even better
When you help," she said. That was the second thing
He liked about her: she had memorized hours
Of movie dialogue, as if their life together
In the close apartment, with the street noise,
The crank calls, and the sinister next-door neighbor,
Consisted of roles to be played with panache,
If possible, and with a song in her heart. Was she lying
When she told him she loved him? Or was she
The nude in his bed with her back to him
As if he were a painter in Paris in 1870
And she were a model in Brooklyn in 1992,
and what separated them was a painted ocean
Representing the unbridgeable distance between them,
As between age and youth, Europe and America?
A condition of their romance was impossibility -
She would have panicked if he had proposed,
Because love was passion consuming itself
Like a flickering cigarette, an ember in an ashtray.


When she went back to sleep, he thought about her
Some more, and what they had done the night before:
Something holy, but with awful consequences,
Like a revolution about to enter its reign of terror.
In the movie, he was the jilted soldier ("don't you still
Love me?") or the Scandinavian philosopher ("he wondered
Why he had to give her up"). But their lines so truly parallel
Through infinite could never meet, and there was no use
Arguing against the despair that had wakened his longing
For her, now that she was gone. There was no way
To make it last, to prolong a moment of such pleasure,
Sweet and intense, that Faust would have bargained away
His soul for it. In public they acted married. One day
She left. She phoned from the road. A morning of tears
In honor of the first morning he had woken up beside her
With the shades rattling in the window, and the rays
Of light seeping weakly into the room, and the noise
Of the kids playing with a ball in the gutter.

I've been really fatigued lately, working for the "man" during the week and working on the San Marcos money pit on the weekend while trying to keep up with my writing - going to bed too late and getting up too early. I wrote this last week, mainly to express my deep feelings of self pity.

Of course, the poem didn't work out that way. But then my poems seldom work out the way I planned when I started them. Seems I'm always getting sidetracked.

wisdom, alas, overpowered by sex again

all day,
hard work
in the heat and sun
took me close to my limit;
i just can't handle it
like I used to,
went to bed at 8 last night
up at 8 this morning
still tired -

time was
i could do that all day
day after day
and stay out all night
on weekends
with my girlfriend,
who, tall and lean,
looked just like
Paula Prentiss,
my long time
late night fantasy friend ,
who often played
best friend in stuff
like the beach blanket
movies, moved on to
in "What's New Pussycat"
and after that got naked
and decapitated
by an propeller
on a crashing bomber
in "Catch 22" then married
whatshisname and went legit)

but that was fifty years ago
so i expect some loss
in physical capacity
could be assumed,
but i expected
there would be
some compensation
for that in the form of
and i got none of that,
no flashes of deep though,
no insight into a new moral code
that might bring peace
and understanding
to this troubled world,
here i am
writing a poem
that could use some of that
some of that wisdom
some of that insight
some good old deep think
and all i get is the hots for
Paula Prentiss all over again

The Defiant Muse is a bilingual anthology of "Hebrew Feminist Poems From Antiquity to the Present." Lea Goldberg is one of those poets.

Born in 1911, Goldberg was the first woman poet to be admitted into the canon of modern Hebrew poetry and is still one of the most widely read and admired Israeli poets.

She grew up in Kovno, Lithuania and won a scholarship to study in Germany in 1930. She completed her doctoral dissertation on the Samarian translation of their Bible at the University of Bonn. In 1935, when the British were preventing Jewish immigration to Palestine, she received, with the help of poet Avraham Sholonsky, a certificate allowing her to enter Mandatory Palestine. Her mother soon managed to join her and they lived together until Goldberg's death in 1970.

During the course of her life, she formed a modernist poets' group, worked for socialist daily newspapers as a drama and literature critic, taught in the department of comparative literature at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and wrote and published continuously, beginning with her first published in 1928. By the time of her death, she had published nine volumes of poetry in all, three works of prose, three plays and a number of translations. Among her best known translations into Hebrew include War and Peace, Petrarch's sonnets, Ibsen's Peer Gynt and Shakespeare's As You Like It. She was also a recognized artist and her drawings often illustrated her books.

This is one of several of her poems included in the anthology. It is translated from Hebrew by Robert Friend.

A Look At A Bee

On a lit-up window square,
on the pane, outside
the silhouette of a bee -
you can hardly see her wings.

Narrow body.
Six thin legs.
Her nakedness exposed,
her ugliness menacing,
she crawls.

How can we crown her
with the words of a poem?
What can we sing?
A small child will come and say:
The Queen is naked.

In sunlight she was a falling leaf of gold,
a drop of dark honey in a flower;
she was a dew drop in a swarm of stars,
but only a shadow here.

A word of a poem in a humming swarm,
in a scorching wind a message of keen will,
a flash of light in the ashes of dusk,
but only a shadow here.

Your honey? Who remembers your honey?
It's there, not here, there in the hive.
Here, on the lit-up window pane, your head, your body,
all of you sting and hatred -
miserable, blind, helpless hatred.
Fear kills.
          Watch out.

Photo by Michael Sottak

Earlier in this issue I presented a poem by Michael Sottak and promised his photos would be presented also. Well, here they are, the one above and the five that follow.

Photo by Michael Sottak

Photo by Michael Sottak

Photo by Michael Sottak

Photo by Michael Sottak

Photo by Michael Sottak

My next poem is from The Longman Anthology of Contemporary American Poetry, a college textbook. The poet is Shirley Kaufman.

Kaufman, the daughter of Eastern European immigrants, grew up in Seattle and lived in San Francisco for many years before settling in Israel in 1973. She is winner of two NEA fellowships and many other awards. She has produced eight books of poetry and several books of translations from Hebrew.

The Dream of Completion

When asked for a sample of his work
Giotto took a red pencil,
drew a perfect circle
free hand
and sent it to the Pope.

What does it mean
to be that sure of anything?
The dream of completion.
We cross the field
with the small stones biting our sandals,
picking up shards.

Sometimes you finish
what I think I've said.

We take the clay fragments,
skin-colored, bits of them worn
or crumbling between our fingers,
and piece them together.
Something is always missing.

I continue to try to keep up with the poem a day routine. Sometimes, the best I can do is make my excuses, like this.

dry well


no inspiration

if I


And sometimes my excuses are even good ones.

attention must be paid

game seven
in the
voodoo dome

the passing
of everyday life
must be put
aside -

war and peace
religious discussions
of the greatest
leaving a million souls
in limbo
domestic disturbance
even poetry -

is basketball night

game seven,
spurs vs hornets

i'm sorry
to leave you

but ...

attention must be paid

One more look, above, from the same area as the first picture of this issue, ripe for Homeland Security fencing. The little brown strip through the patch of green in the middle of the picture is the Rio Grande.

Enough of that, late with issue already.

So, as I rush off, remember, all work featured on this blog remains the property of its creators. The blog itself was produced by and is the property of me ... allen itz.


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