On the Road Again   Friday, November 14, 2008


"Here and Now" was written on the road this week, or, at least, my part was. I usually have the poems from my library prepared several weeks ahead of their use.

This week, I only have my own poems and poems from my library. Pulling poems from our friends into the mix would have been just too complicated.

I left San Antonio by car Saturday, November 7, heading east. I drove through Texas, Arkansas, Tennessee, Virginia,West Virginia, ending in Columbus, Ohio, where D joined me on the 11th. It's Wednesday night as I write this. We'll leave Columbus tomorrow and hope to make it to Roanoke,Virginia by the end of the day tomorrow. Our plan is to just head back to San Antonio, taking 6 days to cover the distance I did in 3, no interstates, back roads all the way. We decided that we'll go wherever we want, as long as at the end of each day we're closer to home than when we began the day.

I'll be posting the blog from my laptop, which will be different from my normal posting from my desk top. Photos, for one thing, has me worried. I don't know if what I've done with photos this week is going to work, and won't know until I post. We'll see what happens.

In addition to my daily poetic travel journal, we have this month, from my library:

Ani Difranco
Jim Carroll
Judith Kafri
Paula Rankin
Diane Wakoski
Robert Bly
Hirsh Lazaar Silverman
Wistawa Symborska
Carol Connolly
Diane Glancy

My first two poems this week are by Ani DiFranco, from her book Verses, published by Seven Stories Press in 2007.

Born in 1970, DiFranco is a Grammy Award winning singer, guitarist, and songwriter. Beginning as a street performer with her music teacher when she was nine years old, she has released nineteen albums, mostly through her own company, Righteous Babe Records.

Tamburitza Lingua

a cold and porcelain lonely
in an old new york hotel
a stranger to a city
that she used to know so well
bathing in a bathroom
that is bathed in the first blue light
of the beginning of a century
at the end of an endless night

then she is wet behind the ears and wafting down the avenue
pre-rush hour
post-rain shower
stillness seeping upward like steam
from another molten sewer
they've been spraying with chemical in our sleep
something about the mosquitoes having some kind of disease
CIA foul play
if you ask the guy selling hair dyers out of a gym bag
"chemical warfare"
"i'm telling you, lab rat to lab rat!" he says, "that's where the truth is at!"
and everything seems to have gone terribly wrong that can
but one breath at a time is an acceptable plan, she tells herself
and the air is still here
and this morning it's even breathable
and for a second the relief is unbelievable
she's a heavy sack of flour sifted
her burden lifted
she's full of clean wind for one moment and then
she's trapped again
caged and contorted
with no way to get free
(and she's getting plenty of little kisses
but nobody's slippin' her the key)
her whole life a long list of what-ifs
so she doesn't even know where to begin
and the pageantry of suffering therein
rivals television
tv is, after all, the modern day roman coliseum
human devastation as mass entertainment
and now millions sit jeering
collective jeering
the bloodthirsty hierarchy of the patriarchal arrangement

she is hailing a cab
she is sailing down the avenue
she's 19 going on 30
or maybe she's really 30 now...
it's hard to say
it's hard to keep up with time once it's on its way

besides she never had much of a chance
born into a family built like an avalanche
and somewhere in the 80s between the oat bran and the ozone
she started to figure on things like

one pointed upwards looking for the holes in the sky
one eye on the little flashing red light
a picasso face twisted and listing
down the canvas
of the end of an endless night

ten nine eight seven six five four
three two one
and kerplooey!
you're done.
you're done for.
you're done for good.
so tell me
did you?
did you do?
did you do all you could?

your next bold move

coming of age during the plague
of reagan and bush
watching capitalism gun down democracy
it had this funny effect on me
i guess
i am cancer
i am HIV
and i'm down at the blue jesus blue cross hospital
just lookin' up from my pillow
feeling blessed

and the mighty multinationals
have monopolized the oxygen
so it's as easy as breathing
for us all to participate
they're buying and selling off shares of air
and you know it's all around you
but it's hard to point and there
so you just sit on your hands and quietly contemplate

your next bold move
the next thing you're gonna need to prove
to yourself

what a waste of thumbs that are opposable
to make machines that are disposable
and sell them to seagulls flying in circles around one big right wing
the left wind was broken years ago
by the slingshot of cointelpro
and now it's hard to have faith
in anything

especially your next bold move
or the next thing you're gonna need to prove
to yourself

you want to track each trickle back to its source
and then scream up the faucet 'til your face is hoarse
cuz you're surrounded by a world's worth of things
you just can't excuse
but you've got the hard cough of a chain smoker
and you're at the arctic circle playing playing strip poker
and it's getting colder and colder
every time you lose

so go ahead
make your next bold move
tell us
what's the next thing you're gonna need to prove
to yourself?

Every journey begins with preparation, like spending a day getting stuff done that needs to be done while you're gone and trying to pack everything you'll need.

I did pretty well, but did forget my favorite pillow.


it will be
at least 2,500 miles
start to finish
with first leg tomorrow -
500 miles plus, San Antonio
to Little Rock -

lots to do

wash clothes iron clothes
clean house
pack suitcases
one for D
and the big one for me
since i'll be gone longer

pull down three different
to cover three different
meteorological possibilities
from autumn crisp
to knee-deep snow
on Appalachian heights

load the computer

get everything i'll need
from desktop to laptop
so that
the poet shall not
be deterred

charge all the batteries
cell phone

don't forget the photo

gather the various
prescriptions -
the ever-lengthening list
of pills, chills and midnight thrills -

load a few books in the truck -
maybe peddle a few
if i see a bookstore like i did
last year in Durango -

and Reba

smelly, stinky Reba

off to the groomers,
bath and a brush,
clean and sweet-smelling
like her fresh-washed bed
fluffed out in the back
where she'll spend the miles
mostly asleep, but one eye open
at all times
for good stopping places
as we go, places
where foreign and interesting
smells might beckon
a good sniff
and an answering pee

7 in the morning
i think i'm ready now
but will know for sure by 8
when we remember what we forgot

write a poem
or at least a poem-like
confluence of

Jim Carroll, born in 1950 in New York City, is an author, poet, autobiographer, and punk musician. He is best known for his 1978 autobiographical work The Basketball Diaries, which was made into the 1995 film of the same name with Leonardo DiCaprio as Carroll.

Here are three poems from his book Void of Course, published by Penguin Books in 1998.

Carroll apparently doesn't spend a lot of thinking time on titles for his poems, labeling most of them simple, Poem. Well, he's the poet, so he gets to make the rules about what's his.


Crossing 14th St. The sunlight
Gentle today as if its fingers
Were broken. Yet still
The high pitch of Rastas
Selling incense and umbrellas

Which wake the neurotic orphans
Residing in my spine

What you told me this morning
As you were leaving, I'm afraid
To repeat it on paper
Speak it out loud
Wondering if the words

Could ignite the plane on which
You're flying home

I could concentrate a beast
And warm the coil of all hearts and loss
I've memorized your feast

As if it were a sheet on which I slept
Which holds your scent
Like a gun to my liver


Buddha gets
A backstage pass

But his friends have to pay

For Virginia

You don't know what it's like at the strangest times your face
Pouncing into my mind like a wounded cheetah
Gripping your memory so tightly over years
It leaves blood on my hands as on your lips

It comes and goes might be days or months and with
Only the vaguest idea of places you are

Have been the way your name
Attacks attaches itself to me like lipstick
On airplanes, steep hills in San Francisco
First St. in the rain, the ache that comes
In parabolas of longing

I wanted to tell you
Because you should know
That my greatest nights in California
Were nights I spent inside Virginia

The first day of our little trip was a tough one - over 500 miles and, with stops at roadside parks to let Reba sniff and pee, 11 hours.

Day 1

545 miles

San Antonio
to Dallas on Interstate 35 -

one of the first of the interstates,
rough in places,
like we're still driving
on the first shovel of asphalt
Ike We Like pitched out in 1950 something -

Dallas to Little Rock
on I-30

a pick-up
pulling a horse trailer,
alone in the back
one horse,
a palomino,
golden mane and tail
and eyelashes
the wind,
brown eyes watching
as i pass

Temple, Belton, and Waco,
where dull people
to get duller

a hawk
slips slowly from the air
to land on a fence post,
sees all with yellow eyes
that view all that moves
as potential

Red Oak,
little town before,
now just a raggedy
little spot on the road
on the poorer fringe
of the ever-spreading Dallas

i stopped once for dinner
in Red Oak,
heading home from a business meeting
in Dallas 25 years ago,
a wonderful dinner,
and served
by a little old woman
no more than four feet tall

where snotty
go to get snottier
and even more right-wing

xurbs follow I-30 to the
a paved-over world,
the only grass that
that survives
in the cracks
in the concrete

i like it
saying the name
makes my mouth feel good
and the only reason
to say it
is when you’re passing through it

orange sky
like mist
through a forest
of orange leaves

where a line down the middle
of the street
in a business district
one state from the other -
appealing to my dislike
of lines and boxes
and borders
that don't mean anything

lakes and ponds
and waterfowl,
a crane passes over the road,
long neck outstretch
wings spread,
a dark shadow
a nearly dark sky

dark dark
in Arkansas

red sky
in my rearview,
the road like a tunnel
through the dark,
tall, thick forest
on either side

Hope behind me
Little Rock ahead

last time in Little Rock,
going home from somewhere,
hitting the city
the night of a UT-U of Arkansas
playoff - no hotels anywhere
except, finally,
a sleazy rundown dump
in a slummy looking neighborhood
with bugs in the bathroom -
was i the kind to carry
a handgun
i'd have slept with it
under my pillow

this night,
clean room,
king-sized bed,
and a bug-free bathroom

asleep on her little bed
in the corner,
11 hours on the road,
now i would join her
but for the woman singing,
in the next room over

Nashville tomorrow

My next poem is by Judith Kafri from the anthology The Defiant Muse, Hebrew Feminist Poems From Antiquity to the Present. The book was published by The Feminist Press of The City University of New York in 1999. It's a bilingual book, Hebrew, with English translation on the facing pages.

Kafri was born and grew up in kibbutz Ein Ha-Horesh, where her parents were among the founders. She has worked as a translator and editor of books related to education. She has also published eight volumes of poetry, beginning with Time will pity in 1962. The mother of three and grandmother of four, she is a member of the peace movement's Peace Now and Four Matriarchs. She lives in central Israel.

The translator for this piece was Tsipi Keller

The Woman
         "Really, you exaggerate," from a letter

This exaggerated woman
wasn't pruned right
she spouts all sorts of odd branches
water roots
cries of thirst.
I'll be good,
she vows,
tomorrow they'll prune me
like a disciplined tree.
Remove her from the scenery,
say the superintendents of nature,
she spoils the line,
the water budget of half a neighborhood
is wasted on her
even a river wouldn't be enough for her.
It doesn't matter, someone says,
in one of the driest summers
I saw several small birds
hiding in the shade of those odd branches of hers.
It was the only shade in the whole area.
Shade! spit the gardeners with disdain,
she doesn't know how to be a rounded palm-tree
or a square fiscus
or an upright cypress on the way to the cemetery.
And I'm thinking...
if you ask me shed hasn't a chance.
But I don't say it out loud
don't tell
maybe they'll forget.
Our gardeners, after all,
are so busy.

Following along, here is the second day of my little vacation. At the end of day two, I'm in Nashville, 940 miles into the trip.

day 2

940 miles


i wanted to write about
the forest,
the colors, gold and yellow
and the the red-brown color the crayola people
used to call
indian red or indian brown
or something like that

and in the middle
of all that gold and yellow
and red-brown indian whatever,
some low bush that's flaming bright red
scattered among the trees
like little fires
burning in the woods

and i wanted to write about
the flock of ducks that flew over
in perfect V formation,
near enough to the ground
so that each duck could be seen
and counted
as an individual,
close enough to the ground
that i could hear the flapping
of their wings
and the mutter-quacks among the ranks

and i wanted to write
the hills, reminding me
of the hill country of home,
but soft hills, none of the hard face
of caliche and cactus and mesquite,
just soft
forest-hills, trunks climbing close

i wanted to write about the sun
this morning
and how it lit the colors of the trees
and the covered the sky
from mid-afternoon, bringing
and mystery
and darker colors of the night

i wanted to write
about those

for two days
through two states
i have been unable to find
a national newspaper

again and again and
i talk to someone,
ask a question of my server
at a restaurant
or the cashier at a gas station
or the desk clerk at a hotel
and again and again and again
the response i get is
"uhhh, what?"
like it's some foreign language
i spoken,
a riddle i've presented to them
a conundrum
that strikes them dumb
in the middle of the day

for the second night,
i arrive late,
trying to find an unknown location
on strange streets
in a strange city
in the dark

and finally,
arriving at my destination,
achieving my goal
for the day,
too tired,
too dark,
and too cold
to get back in my car
to search for a good meal,
too tired even to care
that KFC is greasy and harmful
to healthy bodies, i cross
the hotel parking lot
and buy my bucket of the colonel's
take two bites
and strip the meat off the bone
for Reba
who doesn't mind it so much
that it slides down her gullet
like a slinky
on speed

all this
to make me very cranky,
crabby, even,
much too
to describe the glories
of Tennessee
and give it
its due

in Charleston,
West Virginia

The next poem is by Paula Rankin from her book Augers published by Carnegie-Mellon University Press in 1981.

The book includes no biographical information about Rankin other than a large photo of a young woman dressed very much in a seventies style and a single line saying she lived in Old Hickory, Tennessee. I found references on the web to some of her work, but no where did I find a straight bio. I did find, in a story about someone else, a reference to the subject's creative writing teacher, the late Paula Rankin.

So, she may no longer be with us, but her work is. I like it and am pleased to be able to pass it on to you.

Foundry Poem: For All Children Burned Alive

It is Friday, the day for fish
and mold-pouring: I can still see the men
peeling waxed paper from trout, unrolling tin from sardines, waiting for ovens
to finish their work
so that something might come
of melted iron: wheels, anvils,
spikes for keeping trains
forever on their tracks.

My grandfather once turned his smoked face
to me and explained smelting, how all boiled down
to ore and slag, how sand learned
not to shift when pressed far from wind into casts.
He did not say how he used the same process
for raising his children, their skins on fire
not for his Lord but from their own core.
The furnace was no metaphor, but the blackslider's real
foundry, its latch loose enough for a child to open,
loose enough to open on its own
the way it opens to me
again and again without warning.

I stand in my grandfather's abandoned ironworks,
pretending I can question his hard, fixed visions
of evil and good, his dark saints coagulating
in molds me crush their bones on.
I stand here unable to swallow
slag eating the roof of my mouth,
fearing I might prove the body's flexibility,
its knack for being melted and reshaped
into ash, bone chips, cables of my brain

where despite all I do
I feel arteries hardening
like iron coming into its own.

By the third day, after 1,440 miles on the road, I was in Charleston, West Virginia.

day 3

West Virginia

1,440 miles

a cool
brisk morning
starts my day

and a waffle
at the Waffle House,
everywhere here
but long gone from where i live

in the remembering
than in the here and now

less than an hour out of Nashville,
i find the best roadside park
in the USA,
surrounded by trees
with a slow muddy river flowing nearby

the forest colors
have changed,
the yellows gone
as we have journeyed
further north
and the gold is starting
to fall as well, a shower of golden
around me
as I stand by the river

and just a little farther
down the road,
something new
with something old

Huddle Inn
with friendly servers,
dark thick coffee,
and pie,
not homemade, i'm sure,
but good,
without the usual taste
of something
made by robots
and child slave labor
in East Berserkistan

all before 10 a.m.

i'm surprised
by Knoxville, a small city, i thought,
but with expressway traffic
that reminds me of Houston or Dallas,
by highway closure that routes me
on a loop around the city,
leaving me
at detour's end
concerned that i had missed the turn-off
that would route me to Virginia
rather than North Carolina

the colors now
are mostly shades of red and brown

on a hill
surrounded on four sides
by forest
a horse enjoys a pasture
all his own

i notice
how all the pastures and grass lands
are cut short,
manicured as if for golf -
only the woods
seem to harbor the wild

in a dell
green as spring,
a small church,
white clapboard with a white wooden
rising twice the church's height

on a hill behind the church
rows of tombstone
in rank and line,
the hillside like steps
to an afterlife that,
if we are all lucky, would look
exactly this green little dell
and this white little church


i've lost an hour somewhere
when i changed time zones
and am another hour
behind besides

i stop at a park
just across the state line
so Reba can walk and pee

just across the highway
line a ridge, dark cut-outs
against the sky

we are climbing

unlike mountains
in the Southwest that stand starkly
against a dusty desert floor,
mountains here are discreet

only the popping of my ears
tells me they are there

the road rises in front of me
bordered, as always, by red and brown forests,
at the top,
a silver-dollar moon
on a pale blue sky

finally, the road to Charleston,
i turn
and traverse the mountains
in the dark

two long, long

you know you're
in the company of miners
when the solution
to getting to the other side of the mountain
is to go through it,
not over
or around

an industrial city
of smoke and steam and light
the path of a long mountain hollow

Diane Wakoski was born in 1937 in Whittier, California. She studied at the University of California, Berkeley. She has published over forty books of poetry and is best known for a series of poems collectively known as "The Motorcycle Betrayal Poems."

Wakoski teaches creative writing at Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan and won the prestigious William Carlos Williams award for her book Emerald Ice.

The poem I'm using this week is from her book The Rings of Saturn published by Black Sparrow Press in 1986.

Cannon Beach

One week of early morning sunshine, like a perfect rose
    frozen in an ice cube,
made us so grateful, we then loved the mist
which rolled in and blanketed us for days.
When the sun shone, we walked
the beach at dawn
while most people slept, but on the foggy mornings,
we slept too, not even hearing the horns
sounding from the rocks. Two thousand miles away,
I can only pretend to see the Pacific Ocean
no matter how early I rise.
The mist that steams up from this autumn ground
over pumpkins, the dried dinner-plate sun flowers
with bowed heads, the final red tomatoes on the browning
vines, a different beauty. It is as if everyone
in Cannon Beach is sleeping
while I'm awake, everyone, everywhere,
different from this landscape sleeping,
only I awake, not knowing the images in each head;
as we all sleep through others' lives.

Only a few even try to imagine
what others simultaneously perceive,
and then know its futility. An act of faith
lets me believe the Pacific Ocean's still there, since I now
can't see it. That the sun exists,
through the fog entirely covers it today, or in death
pass beyond what I know I am.

My next poem is by Robert Bly whose poetry and biography has been featured here many times. The poem is from Bly's book Selected Poems, published by HarperCollins in 1986.

Sometimes I find Bly sublime; other times he seems just plain silly, a stereotypical left wing blowhard. And sometimes I can't make up my mind, like in this poem.

Hatred of Men with Black Hair

I hear spokesmen praising Tshombe, and the Portuguese
In Angola. These are the men who skinned Little Crow!
We are all their sons, skulking
In back rooms, selling nails with trembling hands!

We fear every person on earth with black hair.
We send teams to overthrow Chief Joseph's government.
We train natives to kill the President with blowdarts.
We have men loosening the nails on Noah's ark.

State Department men float in the heavy jellies near the
Like exhausted crustaceans, like squids who are confused,
Sending out beams of black light to the open sea.
Each fights his fraternal feeling for the great landlords.

We have violet rays that light up the jungle at night,
    showing us
The friendly populations; and we teach the children of
The forest children, to overcome their longing for life,
    and we send
Sparks of black light that fit the holes in the generals'

Underneath all the cement of the Pentagon
There is a drop of Indian blood preserved in snow:
Preserved from a trail of blood that once led away
From the stockade, over the snow, the trail now lost.

And here's the fourth day of our adventure.

day 4


1,603 miles

a grey day,
damp and overcast,
fog drifts
over the hills

an hour out of Charleston,
hwy. 35
became 810
last week

on any of the maps

find someone at a quik-stop
who tells me
"ahh, well..."
and he points to the road
right outside
his store,
hwy. 810, the road
i've been traveling the wrong direction on
for 25 miles

straightened out
i follow the road,
a narrow two lane that twists
with a river north,
on the river side
square little homes
with junk cars
and several hundred dollars
worth of scrap metal
in front
and on the other side of the road,
great brick houses
with wide green lawns
and barns
and horse stables

i pass a little village
where all the houses seem new
side by side and a little village green,
everything green and fresh
and i wonder where the old houses went,
the little square houses
with junk yard
and the people who lived in them

a sign across the road
to Ohio and the tiny little road
widens to four lane divided,
a beautiful road
but the speed limit is 15 to 20 mph
too slow
and i am stuck, watching
the hills go by, mostly bare now,
leaves fallen in the night freezes,
trees tall and stark against the gloom

an hour lost early
now another lost to the snail-paced
speed limit
and my two hour drive
turns to four hours

it is dark
when i arrive

and i still need to find the airport,
in a strange dark city,
on strange dark streets

i pick up D tonight
as she joins me for the six day

The next two poems are by Hirsch Lazaar Silverman from Explorers, A Collection of Contemporary Literature, an anthology that also includes one of my poems. It was published by Cyberwit.net of Allahabad, India.

Silverman, a clinical and forensic psychologist and teacher has authored 23 books, including ten volumes of poetry, and over contributor to over 270 national and international journals.

He lives in New Jersey.

Grim Reality

Man paints over
The grim realities
  Surrounding him
  With idyllic portraits
Of personal life
cut from the timber
  Of self-deception
  Often unknowingly.

Winter Scene

The winter snow throws
  Skeletal shadows
Of barren trees
  on gray ice
Reinforcing the sounds
  Of shuffling feet
In heavy shoes
  Of people subdued
  With wintry depression.

Wistawa Szymborska, born in 1923 in Kórnik, Poland, is a poet, essayist and translator. She was awarded the 1996 Nobel Prize in Literature. Although she has published no more than 250 poems so far, her books when they appear, rival most prominent prose authors in sales.

The Joy of Writing

Why does this written doe bound through these written woods?
For a drink of written water from spring
whose surface will xerox her soft muzzle?
Why does she lift her head; does she hear something?
Perched on four slim legs borrowed from the truth,
she pricks up her ears beneath my fingertips.
Silence - this word also rustles across the page
and parts the boughs
that have sprouted from the word "woods."

Lying in wait, set to pounce on the blank page,
are letters up to no good,
clutches of clauses so subordinate
they'll never let her get away.

Each drop of ink contains a fair supply
of hunters, equipped with squinting eyes behind their sights,
prepared to swarm the sloping pen at any moment,
surround the doe, and slowly aim their guns.

They forget that what's here isn't life.
Other laws, black on white, obtain.
The twinkling of an eye will take as long as I say,
and will, if I wish, divide into tiny eternities,
full of bullets stopped in mid-flight.
Not a thing will ever happen unless I say so.
Without my blessing, not a leaf will fall,
not a blade of grass will bend beneath that little hoof's full stop.

Is there then a world
where I rule absolutely on fate?
A time I bind with chains of signs?
an existence become endless at my bidding?

The joy of writing.
The power of preserving,.
Revenge of a mortal hand.

Finally, a day off. Here we are,in Columbus, Ohio, on the fifth day of our travels.

day 5


after four days
on the road,
rest day

dark day,
gray and overcast
rain hanging back
like the word that gets caught
on the tip of your tongue,
but not there,
waiting in the wings,
waiting for its cue
to bring on the storm

up early
for a short drive
down to Bob Evans
for breakfast

along the way
by a very polite
Columbus police officer
who explains
the State of Ohio's view
of u-turns -
don't do it, he says
with a smile
and passes us on our way

then a drive down Dublin-Granville
to Old Dublin,
along the way
the houses that line the street
as we creep through the Village of Worthington
(established 1803, the sign says)
and its school zones

D prowls the little shops
of Old Dublin
while i enjoy
the luxury of a latte
and a Times at Starbucks,
this, assumed as an entitlement
a week ago, this fancy-shmancy
upgrade of regular old joe
and daily national news,
now joins my list of things
to be thankful for

intense map scrutiny
and airing of differing opinions
of the relative merits of South Hwy 71
as opposed to South Hwy 315
until we find ourselves
on Broad Street,
the Columbus Museum of Art
where we had intended to go all along,

their show this month, "Objects of Wonder,"
which could as well describe
our success in arriving at our
without bopping each other over the head
with our competing maps

all in all
a good show,
but i went to school with Art
(Fastinbinder Jr.)
and once you've seen one Art
you've seen them all

we drive around downtown
for about an half an hour,
mainly because we're lost
and can't find Short North,
the arts district
and i notice there seems to be
a church on every other corner,
and not just churches,
but huge cathedral looking things,
D thinks they’re beautiful,
I think they demonstrate why gothic
went out of style,
as the sin they're trying to get
the faithful to renounce

and by accident, as you might expect,
we find ourselves on High Street,
right in the middle of Short North,
the arts district, but the galleries
all seem to be closed,
so we settle
for a late lunch at Betty's Food & Spirits,
named, it might be, after Betty Page,
whose photos, along with other mid-century
pin-up girls, paper the walls

the most vivid dreams
of my 14-year-old days and nights
revisit me
as i enjoy a bowl of beef vegetable soup,
a bit thin of broth for my taste,
but full of vegetables, and thick chewy bread

the day ends darkly again before 4 p.m.

and now it's 8
and the rain that threatened
all day
has finally come

D is asleep
and Reba is asleep
and i am finishing up the last chore of the day,
trying to peddle a book
at the bookstore on Dublin-Granville
that used to be a church

owner's out,
won't be back for a week,
so i left a book and my email address

tell him to email me, i tell the clerk,
if he wants some more

she indicates,
without actually saying it,
that i probably shouldn't be sitting by my email
waiting to hear from him

oh well,
it could be worse,
i could be trying to sell
aluminum siding

back to Virginia,
to Roanoke if the weather holds

Carol Connolly, a lifelong resident of St. Paul, Minnesota, has been variously known as a political candidate, activist, journalist, poet, and playwright.

After an unsuccessful bid for elected office, women's rights emerged as the focus of her civic and political activities, which included serving as co-chair of the Minnesota Women's Political Caucus and coordinating the Wonder Woman Foundation, a New York City-based organization which recognized and rewarded women over forty for heroic accomplishments, as well as work with numerous other feminist and women-centered organizations in the Twin Cities area. In 1977 Connolly was appointed to the St. Paul Human Rights Commission, where she served for nine years, five of them as chair. As the first woman ever appointed to the commission, she worked to bring women's causes to the forefront. Motivated by a desire to make sure that women would have a presence in the new industry, Connolly sought and received an appointment from the governor to the Minnesota Racing Commission when it was formed in 1983 and served as chair of the commission's affirmative action committee.

Connolly began writing poetry in 1976 by accident, when the fiction class she wanted to take was full. She signed up for a poetry class instead and published her first collection, Payments Due, in 1985. The poems were later adapted for a stage performance that played successfully to audiences in the Twin Cities and Los Angeles. In 1989 and 1991 she appeared as a stand-up comic in the Dudley Riggs Experimental Theatre Company production entitled, What's So Funny About Being Female? From 1988 to 1991 she wrote a gossip column called "Connections" for the St. Paul Pioneer Press and Dispatch newspaper.

I have three poems from her first book Payments Due, published by Midwest Villages and Voices.

Last Resort

I am trapped here in a second-rate body.
I. Me with the proper address
and acceptable blood lines
and the appearance of a decent bank balance.
Trapped here at the pool
during he thigh show.
Sins of the flesh
are punished here. Exposed.
Sagging tits and a stretched belly
negate a person at this spa.
Here the only interest is in bones
and sinew and teeth and tan.
No flesh need apply.

Attention. Over here. I would
like to say that I am terribly sorry
if I have visually assaulted you.
I want to explain. I followed the rules.
It was seven pregnancies for me
and twins and nine-pound babies,
and do you know?

If you want to have your cake,
you must eat it.

An Ordinary Event

The fact that it happens
to all of us
doesn't make it any easier.

I turned a corner,
and suddenly
without warning
I stand full
before a mirror,
and there it is.
My mother's face
staring back at me
in disbelief.
The face
I swore
I'd never have.

In a Word

A woman I met
and only
by chance,
"I like your
but you are
than he is."
It had never
occurred to me.
I thought
it over.
He is taller,
and she's right.
I am
This news

Here are two poem by Diane Glancy from her book Long Dog's Winter Count.

Glancy was born in 1941 in Kansas City, Missouri, to a Cherokee father and an English/German mother. Her B.A. was received from the University of Missouri in 1964. From 1980 to 1986 Diane was Artist-in-Residence for the State Arts Council of Oklahoma. In 1987, she attended the Iowa Writers Workshop and subsequently obtained her M.F.A. from the University of Iowa in 1988. The following year she began teaching at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota, where she is now a Professor in the English Department In Creative Writing, teaching poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction and scriptwriting. She also teaches a Native American Literature course and a seminar in Native American Literature. She also taught in the Bread Loaf School of English M.A. program on the campus of the Native American Preparatory School in Rowe, New Mexico, in 1999.

Kemo Sabe

In my dream I take
the white man
slap him
till he loves me.
I tie him to the house
take his land
& buffalo.
I put other words
in his mouth
words he doesn't understand
like spoonfuls
of smashed lima beans
until his cheeks
Chew, now, dear
I say.
I flick his throat
until he swallows.
He works all day
never leaves the house.
The floors shine
the sheets are starched.
He whips grime
from the windows
until cloud dance
across the glass.
He feeds me
when I'm hungry.
I can leave whenever
I want.
Let him struggle
for his dignity
this time
let him remember
my name.

Portrait of the Artist As Indian

She severs the buffalo hide down the backbone
pulls the skin to the belly.
She separates the muscles, knifes along the grain.

She lifts the white flower-patches of fat to her nose
licks the blood from the wound in the hide.
She slices the hot belly
loosens the pouches, vessels, the stomach,
bladder, the bands that hold them.

Now she scrapes the skull, pulls the teeth,
stretches the meat on sticks to hang on the drying line.

The ribs like rungs of a rocker the wagons carry
across the land.
She dismantles the carcass
the way old stories are carried into the heart.

The entrails washed at the creek,
the hide tanned.

Finally a medicine pouch sewn from 2 little tufts
of the ears.

It is the end of the sixth day on the road. We rest for the night in Roanoke, Virginia.

day 6


1932 miles

early start
planned, but as usual,
early became late
and we didn't get out of the hotel
until 9:30

but rain closes up
the day,
wet street, wipers
on intermittent

we both thought
Columbus was good for another day or two
and we might have stayed,
but the Blue Ridge Trail
and the Great Smokey Mountains called,
and if we were going to spend any time there,
but we had to move on,

71 through the city
then connecting to 77
through Ohio
into West Virginia,
through Charleston,
and on toward Virginia
on a great,wide,
four-lane divided highway
paid for by tolls, three toll stations,
$1.25 at each one, a bargain
for travelers like us

when i passed this way
two days ago, it was dead-black dark
and i couldn’t see anything but the lighted island
my headlights threw ahead of me

today, i appreciate the tree covered hills
and vistas
as we curve around the mountain side

though the rain has stopped,
most of the color on the hills is gone
and what remains
is draped in drab by the overcast sky

instead of staying on 77 all the way to hwy 81
in Virginia, then east to Roanoke,
we take a short cut on 460
that will take us on a more direct route

a smaller, slower road
with dips and turns and twists
that takes us across a river
then alongside it for twenty miles

people here are different from people
in Texas who post the name of every
river and creek,
whether flowing water or dry,
that every road, paved,
caliche, or blowing dust,
crosses - we value water
for its scarcity and want a name
everywhere it might be found, even
if only a couple of days a year

here even rivers have no posted name

this river,
wide, with white-water rapids,
deserves a name
we thought,
even if only the name we gave it

a "man with no name" river
we have named
El Rio Sin Nombre

the rain stopped
two states ago, but as we approach Virginia,
the temperature dips
and fog rises from the hollows
and slides over the mountain tops

a white house
on a hill
surrounded by leaf-bare trees
and behind them,
showing bits and pieces
through the fog

on the road
short, thick-foliaged pines
stand, crowded side by side,
like spectators
standing shoulder to shoulder
watching a passing parade

or, i think of the hundreds of clay soldiers
lined in rank after rank
buried with the Chinese emperor

fog drifts around them
and that shifting fog, the soldiers
seem to move,
coming alive while their emperor
still lies as dust

we end our journey for the day

a full day in Roanoke

It is the seventh day or our tour of the mountains of the South. But it's also "blog day."

So, instead of my seventh day poetic travelogue, I give you this new issue of "Here and Now."

We will continue to travel until the middle of next week, so my next week's issue will carry forward with our Marco Polo imitation, beginning with a report on today, the seventh day.

In the meantime, you no doubt know to remember that all material presented in 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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