July Ramble   Friday, July 31, 2009

"Desert Sunset"
Photo by Taylor Houston

I have a very short post this week. I'm traveling all week, trying to inject some fresh air into a brain stuck on "pause" and working on this in hotel rooms at night.

Got good stuff anyway. Here's who the are.

And Wan-li
Written on Cold Evening
Boating Through the Gorge
Taking the Ferry to Ta-Ko
Going to Hsieh's Lake by Boat
Evening View From a Boat
Staying Overnight at Hsia-sha-Stream
Passing the Lake of the Fighting Parrots
On the Way to T'ung-lu

to the mountains - seeking a cure for what ails me

Sigfried Sassoon
A Subaltern

Lee Minh Sloca
Just the Two of Us by Grover Washington Jr. with Bill Withers, Will Smith, Porter Wagoner and Dolly Parton, and Eminem

Luis J. Rodriguez
Dancing on a Grave
The Village

to the mountains - day 2

David Rivard
Baby Vallejo

Walter Durk

William Childress
Desert Springs Night
Juvenile Hall at Night

to the mountains - day 3

Naomi Shihab Ney
For the 500th Dead, Palestinian., Ibtisam Bozieh

Dan Flore
To Sam

to the mountains - and back

to the mountains - last leg home

I start this week with poems from China's Sung Dynasty by poet Yang Wan-li. The poems are from the book Heaven My Blanket, Earth My Pillow, published by White Pine Press of Buffalo, New York, in 2004. In addition to the poetry, the book includes some beautiful pen and ink illustrations.

Yang's lifetime (1127-1206) coincided with a period of Chinese history during which were created some of the greatest masterpieces of chinese art and literature. He is considered one of the "four masters" of the Sung Dynasty. He had not been widely known in the West until publication of this collection.

The poems in the book were translated by Jonathan Chaves.

Written on a Cold Evening

The poet must work with brush and paper,
but this is not what makes the poem.
A man doesn't go in search of a poem -
the poem comes in search of him.

Boating Through a Gorge

Here turtles and fish turn back,
and even the crabs are worried.
But for some reason poets risk their lives
to run these rapids and swirl past these rocks.

Taking the Ferry at Ta-Ko

Fog veils the river and the mountains,
but sounds of dogs and chickens
      show that a village lies ahead.
The wooden planks of the ferry deck are covered with frost:
my boot makes the first footprint.

Going to Hsieh's Lake by Boat


The wind blows toward the north,
      then it shifts to the south.
I blink - and we've traveled from the Yellow Fields
      to Hsieh's Lake.
The shadow of a mountain floats past my cabin;
I lift the curtain and see purple cliffs.


I pour two cups of clear wine,
then open my cabin door.
Here are ten thousand wrinkled mountains
      that no one ever sees,
The highlights picked out for me by the morning sun.

Evening View From a Boat

We sail past a pine-tree forest on the riverbank.
A man is walking where the trees end.
A mountain moves in front of the man, blocking our view.
The blue flag of a wine shop flutters in the wind.

Staying Overnight at Hsia-sha-Stream

Trees, laced in mountain mist,
      patch broken clouds;
the wind scatters a rainstorm of fragrant petals.
the green willows, it is said, are without feeling -
why then do they try to hard to touch the traveler
      with their catkins?

Passing the Lake of the Fighting Parrots

Painted barges like mountains floating on the water;
small boats like ducks avoiding the shore;
red banners, green canopies, the clang of gongs -
people everywhere, saying hello or saying goodbye.

On the Way to T'ung-lu

I sit napping in my palanquin
      as my cup of tea wears off.
There are no words on the milestones
      along these long mountain roads.
The crows and magpies jabber in a language I can't understand.
We pass a loquat tree; every leaf is yellow.

This is the first of the poems i wrote during my little drive this week. The title is self-explanatory.

to the mountains - seeking a cure for what ails me

through weeks
of constipation of the
poetical nerve,
the poet decides
to break free of the
summer routine that has
begun to stifle the brilliance
of his insight and the lyrical flow
of his words and images, settling
on a little trip to the mountains
as the cure for what ails him, hoping for,
if not total renewal, at least a little
brain fart to move things along

it's off to the mountains, but
before the mountains there's
a half a day driving, San Antonio to Fort
Stockton, of dry limestone hills and
the brown grasses of the Southwest Texas Plains

- obedience to the ideal that poetry
is truth and truth is poetry, the poet
should at this moment note that
the limestone hills are not dry
and the plains grass is not
brown, the drought affecting the rest of the state
apparently dumping all the water here, normally
the driest part of the state, but dry hills
and brown grasses are what the poet had in mind
when he started this and given the fact that he's here
and you're not, he is not prepared to adjust the facts
of his poem to the trivial facts of reality, so dry hills
and brown grasses it is -

and it's on to the mountains tomorrow and they will be
tall and majestic, with snow-packed peaks reaching
to a clear blue sky above grand, sweeping slopes of

and since
the poet not driving this far
for dinky mountains with no snow
and dinky little dried up trees
that's the way it will be
once again
he'll be there and you won't
you'll just have to take his word for it

While the techniques of war have changed, the people fighting them haven't. Siegfried Sassoon, who was one of those fighting in the World War I, tells us about them through his poems in The War Poems, an anthology first published by Faber and Faber in 1983.

Here are two of those poems, complete with the poet's note after each poem.


Through Darkness curves a spume of falling flares
That flood the field with shallow, blanching light.
    The huddled sentry stares
   On gloom at war with white,
   And white receding slow, submerged in gloom.
   guns into mimic thunder burst and boom,
   And mirthless laughter rakes the whistling night.
The sentry keeps his watch where no one stirs
But the brown rats, the nimble scavengers.

March 1916

Written in trenches. The weather beastly wet and the place was like the end of the world.

A Subaltern

He turned to me with his kind, sleepy gaze
And fresh face slowly brightening to the grin
That sets my memory back to summer days,
With twenty runs to make, and last man in.
He told me he'd been having a bloody time
In trenches, crouching for the crumps to burst,
While squeaking rats scampered across the slime
And the grey palsied weather did its worst.
But as he stamped and shivered in the rain,
My stale philosophies had served him well:
Dreaming about his girl had sent his brain
Blanker than ever - she'd no place in Hell...
"Good god!" he laughed, and slowly filled his pipe,
Wondering "why he always talks such tripe."

March 1916

D. C. Thomas, killed on March 18. I wrote this about ten days before, when he'd been telling me how my sage advice had helped him along.

I have a new friend of "Here and Now" this week, the poet Lee Minh Sloca. Lee was born in Saigon, Vietnam, where he escaped two weeks prior to its collapse. He majored in Psychology at University of California at Santa Cruz. After college, he worked for 14 years in the mental health and the psychoeducational field with special needs
children. Feeling unfulfilled, he shifted his life path to being a poet and a webdesigner. Lee lives in Los Angeles, CA. After campaigning for Obama in the '08 election, he is currently seeking work that will align with the President's philosophy of serving the

Just the Two of Us by Grover Washington Jr. with Bill Withers, Will Smith, Porter Wagoner and Dolly Parton, and Eminem

1. No 1 Listens

I talk 2 Melissa
              who cracks, "You sure like being masochistic."
              2 dad
              who shoos, "Just be cool."
              2 Racquel
              who ages, "She is too young."
              2 David
              who echoes, "I, too, am in love with someone else's woman."
              2 Julia,
               who weights, "She is being unfair to you."
              2 playboy playmate of the year,
              who models, "WoW, love can be very lonely..."
               2 my writing sister,
              who glues, "Be gentle - she is very fragile so are you."
then I talk 2 the butterflies
              who are 2 flighty.
              And 2 the wind
              who lingers at a distance.
And as I talk I walk past a mirror
              whose deep eyes sight,
              Our heart overflows where it must.
              It washes us places & faces
              we don't expect; we don't see coming
              with debris, without direction, neither east nor west nor above nor below.
              We tell ourselves we will never let our heart be drunk again.
              but because we are liquid;
              we are reborn - again & again -
              in2 courage,
              in2 faith,
              the truer the loves
              the redder the madness.

2. A Second Opinion

After looking over my x-ray
My doctor consigns,
"You have a big heart
for someone your age.
What are you holding back?
Because your blood pressure is about to burst."
After a round renal scan + 24 hours urine analysis + EKG +
I confide from one bachelor to another,
"Maybe it's broken, doc"
He laughed,
"2 funny - you are 1 funny poet."

3. 3 Last Requests

this is a message from the public library with information for Sloca, Lee M.
The items you reserved have arrived:

1. CD Film/TV. Cast Away: The Films of Robert Zemekis & The Music of Alan Silvestri [SOUNDTRACK]
2. DVD 92 O12Ye. Yes we can! the Barack Obama story
3. 497 C672-1. Breaking The Maya Code / Michael D. Coe
They will be held for 10 days.
A $1 fee per item will be charged if they are not pickedup.
Thank you.

Luis J. Rodriguez was born in El Paso in 1954 and grew up in Watts and the East Los Angeles area. Many of his poems spring out of his experience working as a steelworker, carpenter, blast furnace operator, truck driver and chemical refinery mechanic. Previously director of the Los Angeles Latino Writers Association, he was living in Chicago 1991 where he wrote for an all-news radio station in that city.

The next two poems are from his book The Concrete River, published by Curbstone Press in 1991.

Dancing on a Grave

Old Man Lopez -
with 14 children
from four wives -
wanted to be buried
with Sinaloenses
dancing on his grave
to the tune of
"La Ultima Paranda"
and Mexican beer
poured over the casket
in the sign of the cross.

The Village

Aliso Village. East LA.
Brown/black villagers
wade in a sea of stucco green

imitating cool, as 14-year-old
girls, with babies by their feet,
sing oldies from the darkened porches,
here, across the LA River,

concrete border
of scrawled walls,
railroad tracks, and sweatshops,
here, where we remade revolution

in our images. Here,
where at 18 years old and dying,
I asked her to marry me.

I carry the village in tattoos
across my arms.

Here's the second of my mountain-drive poems.

to the mountains - day 2

300 miles today,
to Ruidoso, music
carrying me along, Mamas
and the Papas, Grupo Fantasma from
Austin, Niko Case, Susan
Tedeschi, Shostakovich,
Jenny Scheinman, Bob Marley,
Monk and Coltrane, Van Morrison,
and just as we pass the exit
for Rocksprings and Mountain Home,
Peter, Paul and Mary, and for a few minutes
i was 20 again, believing things
will be better someday

8 hours of music all together,
flying behind me, leaving
a sonic wake in my rear view mirror


Pecos, Texas
poor little Pecos, sinking
beneath the weight of the
21 century
that has no place
for dirty little towns stuck, alone,
on the dry West Texas plains

dried up as it is,
it is still the largest thing around
and it has its federal courthouse,
so hope is undeterred, and across the street,
Sally's North Side Cafe & Bail Bonds, where
feeds them
coming and going


an hour north
of Pecos,
a congregation of buzzards,
gathered in the middle of the highway
in their Sunday-best black, our scavenger
cousins, dependent, like us,
on meat killed by others


15 to 20 structures
along the highway, all
abandoned and in ruin

no sign of life in Orla,
but a single tarantula making
its creepy crawly way
across the highway, a cheering
sight, this fuzzy, black
extinct now where i grew up,
along with the horned toad and the
red-winged blackbird, a survivor
where little else finds a home


across the line
into New Mexico and the road
to shit
and the speed limit drops
by 10 miles an hour
and the hour i picked up
when entering mountain time zone
is lost,
just like that - the way
it is
between the mountains in southern
New Mexico, lousy roads and
insular people
who do their best to get rid of you
by eliminating highway signs,
that by never telling you
where you are or where you're headed
you will either drive around
in circles until
you eventually go away or
you die in the desert,
fine by them


the mountains, finally,
in the midday haze
between Roswell and Ruidoso
i think...
i hope...
i'm going west,
the only thing i know for sure,
but i'll recognize Arizona
if i miss Ruidoso
and find myself there in the end
so i'm not too worried


83 degrees at 6,000 feet
at mid-afternoon

i call D
to tell her how great it is
it's probably 102 degrees
in San Antonio

she's not impressed
nor particularly amused
by my attempt at gotcha humor

the air conditioner in her office
and she was just leaving to go outside
to cool off
when i called

i'm thinking
the call might not have been
a good

The next poem is by David Rivard from his book Wise Poison published by Graywolf Press in 1996. The book was winner of the 1996 James Laughlin Award of The Academy of American Poets.

Baby Vallejo

Take the night Myron Stout shut his sure blind eyes,
his pale head tilted back awhile, smiling
and swaying to an Eric Dolphy solo, or that morning
a sea otter, having fed, preened in the cove
below Tomales Bay, wolf gray & magpie black -
both times
it was easy to feel how
each left his mark on me.
Out of my happiness they carved an intensity.
Though the same might be said of my hatred.
Take the moment my grip loosened
so I couldn't stop my cousin
punching out his wife. His mark shaped
like a stony, contemptible hand,
but even its lines
flawlessly chiseled, cunning all coaxing me,
even not, to go inside to look it over.
No matter who made them
I love each of these marks, whoever it was
whispering or shouting near me.
Nostalgia has nothing to do with it,
and neither loneliness nor grief.
Again & again I go
into myself to study them, bypassing only
that mark fashioned in June of 1976,
set there by a worried face, all phlegmy voice
asking why a bus should swerve into a crowded plaza,
a school bus, blue, gutted of seats,
soldier at the wheel. Why the washed-out
white star stenciled
on its hood? Inside, men hang by their wrists,
naked, beside two calves,
two flayed & stiffened carcasses
swinging on meat hooks
as the bus pulls over.

                              It was simply a dream,
and the man recounting it, a tile mason, Pakistani, wanted
only the least implausible interpretation.
But I never answered,
out of ignorance or indifference, some job-site superstition.
I stood with him, silent, at that development
where I slapped up drywall.
Hands grizzled by dried grouting pastes,
he spoke the concise, elaborated English
a former lecturer in linguistics might -
since, in fact, that is what he had once been,
that & a cipher for the wrong politics - his words filtered
through a crushed windpipe, a nose smashed
during several precisely engineered & official beatings.
Suffice it to say
the mark carved inside me by that voice
is probably exquisite, intricate,
a grave & sinuous as the graying hairs
of the beard that covered his scars.
But I don't go in to look it over.
Because he knows why
in my poems a querulous gray rain sometimes sweeps down,
and, knowing refuses
to believe, as I do, that the roofs of our houses,
of the huts & pavilions & civic centers,
will withstand the rain's buffeting.
why, in other words,
sadly, happily, luxuriously, it is often
Rivard against Rivard.

Now, here's a poem by our friend Walter Durk


I cannot go to the sea anymore
it will have to come to me
half of me supports me
the other half undecided
even as I walk I know I am a half man
I cannot cruise a great river anymore
it will have to come to me
half of my life has tightened like
a knot in a sisal rope

half my life is you
you have a half life
and like me you are
a half man

soon the sea will come
as it always does
and the river to navigate
at a point where two halves
equal one

William Childress> was born in Hugo, Oklahoma, February 5, 1933. He is a Pulitzer Prize-nominated writer, author, poet, and photojournalist and has received numerous awards, prizes, and accolades for his writing and poetry, and is regarded as one of the foremost poets of the Korean War.

Born the oldest son of a poor family of migrant sharecroppers, Childress joined the Army at age 18, serving in the Korean War as a demolitions specialist in 1952. After the war he reenlisted as a paratrooper, making 33 jumps, and twice narrowly escaping death from parachute malfunctions.

After leaving military service Childress attended Fresno State College in California, studying English and Journalism, and set a record as the only undergraduate to publish poetry, fiction and photojournalism in national magazines.This helped him get two fellowships to the University of Iowa Writer's Workshop and a Master of Fine Arts degree. His thesis later became his first book of poems, Lobo.

During his 45-year photojournalism career, Childress has published some 4,000 articles in various magazines and other publications, as well as approximately 6,000 magazine and newspaper photos.

For 14 years (from 1983 to 1997), Childress wrote a regular column for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch called "Out of the Ozarks." His column became so popular that in 1988 He wrote a book, also titled Out of the Ozarks, which was published by Southern Illinois University Press, and became a regional bestseller. It was during this period that he was nominated (twice) for the Pulitzer Prize, in the Commentary category.

I have two of his poems this week, from his book Burning the Years and Lobo, Poems 1962-1975, a compilation of his earlier writing published by Essai Seay Publications of East St. Louis in 1986. In the book, he includes notes on each poem about what he was doing and thinking when he wrote the poem.

This first poem first appeared in Arizona Quarterly. in 1969. Childress includes this note with the poem.

While at the University of Iowa Writer's Workshop, the grandaddy of them all, I decided I wanted to get into being an American Indian poet - so I took the pretentious name Young Hawk. "Young Hawk" - quite a jump since I'm of Danish extraction - produced half a dozen poems at most before going to the Happy Hunting Ground. All were published.

Desert Springs Night

The desert in the rains
is like that shining , unstrung water,
and if you have an Apache's patience,
you can sit at night afterward,
alone in the wetness and be the blue
hesitant opening of Angel's Breath.
Be also the scarlet flowers of Cholla,
the bright, brief flame of saguaro,
and the crimson fur of ocatillo.
And here in all this lie, be the little
deaths of little things; the grinding
dry of a rabbit taloned by a hawk,
the chalk-squeak of kangaroo rats.
Such is my desert, austere in the sun.
It's only beauty burns in darkness
and the weak creatures dormant in its day
only sleep more deeply in its night.

Instead of using Childress' note for this poem, i'll write my own, dedicating this poem to my wife, Dora (the oft-mentioned "D" in my poems), who has worked in the juvenile justice system for 30 years without losing faith.

Juvenile Hall at Night

My flashlight probes
the dark rooms where childhood, denied by day,
returns in sleep. Their
faces are more open
when their eyes are closed,
but each expression
holds dreams
that are darker
than bruises.
For the little I can do
at this late hour,
their lives are placed in my keeping.
I am their temporary father,
they are my momentary sons,
yet I am their prisoner
far more than they
are mine.

This is my poem for the third day of travel.

I'm heading back tomorrow the same way I came, so there'll be no poem for the fourth day. It'll be boring enough, without having to write a boring poem about it.

to the mountains - day 3

a single black cloud
rolling over the mountain crest,
lightning and thunder
breaking the dawn
with raindrops the size
of jawbreakers, that candy
eaten more because the name
seems a dare than
due to any enticing taste
of hard, colored sugar

5 minutes
and it's over


crossing Apache Pass,
7,700 feet, another day
of climbing almost unnoticed
but for the temperature change,
one degree
for every 500 feet

a soft stealthiness
to the climb
to those familiar
with the more rugged horizons
further north


passing Mescalero -

across the road
from the Tribal Center
2 Apache boys
King of the Hill,
over and over each other
in the rose-colored dust

stylized art
on concrete abutments
along the highway tell
the tribe's

which of the stories
do the boys


the down slope
from Mescalero to Tularosa
opens up between wooded mountain sides
to the desert below,
desert grasses so dry
they are white
in the morning sun,
like sand,
like a wide ribbon of white sand
between the mountains


i had thought to do a mountain drive,
but a third of the morning
is spent crossing the white grass desert
from Tularosa to Carrizozo,
a desert so unremarkable
i have to stop three times before
Reba finds something interesting
to pee on

my quiet travel companion
is bored,
sleeping in the back, head
between her paws


a spike of interest
as i pass the Oscuro Bombing Range

but nothing blows up

the Spanish word for dark or dim

maybe something did blow up
and i just didn't


i skirt the Valley of Fire,
a wide crater-valley created
by a so, so ancient volcano leaving
a jumble of black lava
the size of large automobiles
across the valley

a vision of hell
after the fire goes out


driving through Capitan
i think again of the last time
i passed along
it's tree-shaded main street,
an old man
riding his horse to collect his mail

i wonder if he still rides

and i think of man i knew
45 years ago,
a sailor from Ruidoso,
17 years older than me
but moved like me by
the assassination of the president,
moved to leave his sailor life
for greater service,
a comrade for three months,
training like me,
for chance at greater service

his life went one way after that;
mine went in another

in his 80's now
if still alive


hwy. 48
back to Ruidoso,
climbing again, this time
through the Lincoln National Forest,
but still no feel of mountain
to the drive

i stop at a little park
in the city
for Reba to sniff and pee
along the Rio Ruidoso,
still muddy
with run off from this mornings
brief rain


done for the day,
time this afternoon to investigate
the artsy-craftsy shops in that part of Ruidoso
they call "mid-city"

take a nap

write a poem

The next poems are by Naomi Shihab Nye, poet, songwriter, and novelist. She was born in 1952 to a Palestinian father and American mother. Although she says she regards herself as a "wandering poet," she refers to San Antonio as her home.

The poem is from her book Red Suitcase, published in 1994 by BOA editions, Ltd.

For the 500th Dead, Palestinian, Ibtisam Bozieh

Little sister Ibtisam,
our sleep founders, our sleep tugs
the cord of your name.
Dead at 13, for staring through
the window into a gun barrel
which did not know you wanted to be
a doctor.

I would smooth your life in my hands,
pull you back. Had I stayed in your land,
I might have been dead too,
for something simple like staring
or shouting what was true
and getting kicked out of school.
I wandered stony afternoons
owning all their vastness.

Now I would give them to you,
guiltily, you, not me.
Throwing this ragged grief into the street,
scissoring news stories free from the page
but they live on my desk with letters, not cries.

How do we carry the endless surprise
of all our deaths? Becoming doctors
for one another. Arab, Jew,
instead of guarding tumors of pain
as they hold us upright.

I had planned one poem by Nye, but I always end up doing one more than I planned with her. I do like her work.


Each morning from the dim secrecy
of the school kitchen, that single scent
sweetens the day - rectangle already baking,
legions of bread on long silver trays.
Like history, it won't stop happening.
Bread spreading its succulent flesh
whatever we learn or unlearn
in the room with faded snapping maps.

Once the map flipped so hard
Greenland caught me on the jaw
and I had to go to the health room.

Lying on the small cot,
closing my eyes under the ice bag,
I could smell the bread better from there.

Sometimes it seemed so obvious.
I should have been a slab of butter,
the knife that cuts, the door
to the oven.

Now a piece from our friend Dan Flore.

To Sam

I made plans for us
away from the dusty road
I wanted to watch morning
fall across your sleeping face
and when you did rise
you would scrape off from me
my meanderings of the night before
with a yawning "just don't do it again"
I would have told you about my grandmother's tan
before it faded from my memory
and we would have went to the same beach
where I took horse shoe crabs back to the bay
I would have liked to have had you close,
your own golden pallor
and love of righteousness
when it was finally time for me to go home too

I know I said earlier there wasn't going to be a Day 4 travel poem, but I hate to leave anything unfinished. So here's Day 4, plus Day 5, two poems in the series I didn't plan to write.

to the mountains - and back

day four,
day two in reverse, going back
the way i came,
seeing the other side of the cows
and barns and cactus trees
i saw Monday

55 degrees
when i left the forest and mountains
this morning

105 degrees
here on the West Texas Plains
as i check into my hotel
for the night.

i'm going the wrong way
i think


meanwhile, a
single deer,
a doe,
grazes on a green hillside

she's home,
as i will be tomorrow -
no mountains,
no forest,
but dry and hot as it is,
it's still home,
the place where my butt fits
its custom made indention
in the easy chair
in the den -
D says good morning
and i don't have
to tip -
where the fellas
at the coffee shop
have been saying dumbass
things in the morning
without me there
to make fun of them -
where Kitty Pride waits
to sleep again on my stomach -
i know what's going on,
most of the time

for a while

to the mountains - last leg home

up at 5 a.m.

breakfast at I-Hop

on the road
by 6:15

the sky
clear overhead,
but all around
dark clouds
lightning flashing
within the clouds,
blossoming pools of
soft white light through dark

strong winds from the north
and a morning chill
in the air

in the east, a small
break in the clouds,
like a knothole in a fence,
and through it the peach-orange
of the rising sun

still too dark
to see anything
but the sky

no le hace

i don't need to see,
i have eyes for nothing
but the road ahead



depending on Dairy Queen
than 4 hours

Before we close up shop for the week, I want to respond to a comment, a question, really, posted to the blog last week. Perhaps I'm overly sensitive to this but the question is one I always try to respond to because I want to be clear to all about what I'm doing and why. Those of you who are more interested in reading poetry than long explanations of purpose, can just skip this and come back next week when we'll have more poetry.

Understanding that I may be talking to no one but myself now, I'll be brief.

The questioner noted that much of what I use each week may not be in the public domain and asks if I get permission to post it from the copyright owners.

The answer is, no, I do not get permission. Here's my rationale for that.

I do not consider "Here and Now" to be a commercial enterprise. If it was a commercial enterprise, I would consider my use of copyrighted material to be stealing something of commercial value to other poets. So I can see why some people might consider what I do questionable.

But "Here and Now" is purposefully noncommercial. I have, for example, enough traffic on the blog to sell advertising. But I don't and never will. "Here and Now" produces no income, I carry the full cost of maintaining the blog myself. (A hundred something a year web costs, plus the cost of all the books I buy to pull material from.)

All the copyright material I use in "Here and Now" comes from books I've purchased and the poetry library I've accumulated since starting the blog. Though some might (and do) disagree, having purchased the books gives me some sense of, at least, moral ownership of the poems I use. The fact that I pull poems from these books to use in "Here and Now" is, to me, the moral equivalent of taking my books to a city park, climbing on a park bench and reading them aloud. Since, as I've noted elsewhere, I'm a much better typist than public reader, it is probably to everyone's benefit that I'm typing the poems and not reading them aloud.

I like what I do on "Here and Now," mixing new and old poets, masters and beginners and don't know of anyone else who does it. I think it brings more people into the poetry circle. And more people in the circle, more people reading and writing poetry, seems to me to be a good thing for everyone. And, along the way, introducing readers to poets they may never have heard of otherwise seems to me to be a good thing as well, even, sometimes, selling a book or two. I know of at least two books that we sold because a reader of the blog found a poet they loved and went out looking for their books.

If any poet disagrees with my use of one of their poems, I will immediately remove it from the blog. So far, the only feedback I've had has been from two poets who thanked me for using their work. However, if a poet is really, really displeased, I'll remove their poem, give them my copy of their book and turn over to them all "Here and Now" profits for the past four years. (A check for zero dollars and zero cents seems like it might be a fun thing to write.}

It is true, I do have a book on the market myself and and a couple more coming. Unfortunately, as attested to by my closet full of unsold books, "Here and Now" hasn't led to a rush, or even trickle of sales. Any plans I may have had in that direction when i started, sure didn't work out.

So, that explanation complete, I hope you'll be back with me next week for poetry and sometimes good art. When you do, remember all of the material used in this blog remains the property of its creators. The blog itself was produced by and is the property of
me...allen itz.

And, just for the record, if you want it, you're welcome to any portion of the above I created myself, as long as you say where you got it.

at 8:30 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK, so despite your elaborate rationalization and your no doubt good intentions, you are violating copyright law.

Post a Comment

On a Rock in a Hard Place   Thursday, July 23, 2009

Photo by Andre Lamar

We run a little longer than usual this week, making room for some fresh, new stuff for you. Here's your preview.

William Carlos Williams
The Great Figure
Death the Barber
The Red Wheelbarrow

what we do until we can think about sex again

John Ashbery
The Story of Next Week

Thomas Snelgrove
Boy's Brigade

Carl Sandburg
To Whom My Hand Goes Out
The Dead Sea Apple
A Homely Winter Idyl

the threat of polite people to advancement of art

Arlene Ang
Six illustrated poems
There's a Postwoman in Your Bath
The French Maid Outfit Turned Up For Its Close-Up Today
Further On, With Richard
Please Meet My Table
Why Do I Show My Body
And She Ripped the Turtle Soup Recipe

Philip K. Jason
Wisdom Poem

Maggie Rosen

Jennifer M. Pierson
The Important Things

Cornelia DeDona

Lynn Crosbie
Carrie Leigh's Hugh Hefner Haikus

an idiot's guide to happy living

Charles Simic
Pretty Picture
The Scarecrow
Love Talk
Love Worker

Sue Clennell

Jan Napier

Wistawa Szymborska
I'm Working on the World

the rug

Ani DiFanco
Your Next Bold Move

taking a moment to watch the kittens play

I'm starting this week with poems by William Carlos Williams from his early period, when he was still in the process of becoming the poet of the red wheelbarrow and plums in the refrigerator, before he, with Walt Whitman, became godfathers of the beat movement.

The first poem is from his collection The Wanderer, published in 1913.


Even in the time when as yet
I had no certain knowledge of her
She sprang from the nest, a young crow,
Who first flight circled the forest.
I know now how then she showed me
Her mind, reaching out to the horizon,
She close above the tree tops.
I saw her eyes straining at the new distance
And as the woods fell from her flying
Likewise they fell from me as I followed
So that I strongly guessed all that I must put from me
To come through ready for the high courses.

But, one day, crossing the ferry
With the great towers of Manhattan before me,
Out at the prow with the sea wind blowing,
I had been wearying many questions
Which she had put out to try me:
How shall I be a mirror to this modernity?
When lo! in a rush, dragging
A blunt boat on the yielding river -
Suddenly I saw her! And she waved me
From the white wet in midst of her playing!
She cried me, "Haia! Here I am, son!
See how strong my little finger is!
Can I not swim well?
I can fly too!" And with that great sea-gull
Went to the left, vanishing with a wild cry -
But in my mind all the persons of godhead
Followed after.

For the next poem, we move forward several years to Al Que Quiere! (To Him Who Wants it), published in 1917.


When I was younger
it was plain to me
I must make something of myself.
Older now
I walk back streets
admiring the houses
of the very poor:
roof out of line with sides
the yards cluttered
with old chicken wire, ashes,
furniture gone wrong:
the fences and outhouses
built of barrel-staves
and parts of boxes, all,
if I am fortunate,
smeared a bluish green
that properly weathered
pleases me best
of all colors

        No one
will believe this
of vast import to the nation.

And this, from Sour Grapes published in 1921.

The Great Figure

Among the rain
and lights
I saw the figure 5
in gold
on a red
to gong changes
siren howls
and wheels rumbling
through the dark city.

And, finally, these two poems from Spring and All published in 1923.

Death the Barber

Of death
the barber
the barber
talked to me

cutting my
life with
sleep to trim
my hair -

It's just
a moment
he said, we die
every night -

An of
the newest
ways to grow
hair on

bald, death -
I told him
of the quartz

and of old men
with third
sets of teeth
to the cue

of an old man
who said
at the door -
Sunshine today!

for which
death shaves
him twice
a week

And the one everyone knows, almost 90 years old and still as fresh and bracing as the day it was written.

The Red Wheelbarrow

so much depends

a red wheel

glazed with rain

beside the white

Here's another of my adventures in trying to be a poet. At this rate, I may never make it.

what we do until we can think about sex again

i was working
at my poem
of the day
she walked
in, about five-
four, long dark
hair, long, long
hair hanging
almost to the
beginning curve
of her butt -
and a very nice
butt it is i notice
as she passes -
tight white dress,
short, about mid-
thigh, and did i
so tight
i can see
of the freckles
on her rear,
yes, that same
rear end, the
very same
slightly above
hangs her dark
straight hair

i know
it is a moment
in her life
when every man
she passes
has to stop
and breathe
deep, lost
temporarily in the
fantasies that
male nature
at even the
the natural
of the human
male firing
on all eight
cylinders, the
secret of our
rise from the
from which
we came, the
lingering imp
of that brut
that hides behind
all our best
and will not
leave us
until the day
we die

i don't think
get this about
us, rational
beings that
they are, they
view life
as an entirety,
sex a part
of that whole
thing called
life and living -
men see life
as what
you do to
kill time
until you can
think about sex

like me
this morning -
i could have
written a poem
deep in meaning
and purpose,
in fact i really
meant to do
just that -
one young woman
in a tight dress
with a well-shaped
rear twitching
when she walked
and long hair
and legs
up to, well,
you know where
walks past me
and i end up with

Here's a poem by John Ashbery from his book, And the Stars Were Shining, published by The Noonday Press in 1994.

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
where in 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.

Next I haveThomas Snelgrove an almost new friend of "Here and Now," appearing here as he did once a couple of years ago. I'm glad to have him back.

Tom is 21 years of age. He was born and raised in England and lives in a small town called Felixstowe. He says he loves listening to and writing music, almost as much as poetry. He says that although he's been in shipping his whole working life, he'd rather be reviewing music.

Boy's Brigade

barely a man,
with a toy in his hand,
with all the joy and excitement
of the latest addition
to the playstation,
Xbox and Nintendo Wii,
silently trudging through the
rock hard terrain,
they'll be an element
of public debate
to this one,
I can guarantee that,
people already getting their
backs up over here,
"the next Vietnam" my boss says,
obviously with different and
morally correct political motives,
for once
and of course an appearance
from us Brits,
still all that bang, boom,
break, crash, smash,
but this is a war
and a war worth fighting,
I'm afraid,
...but this is a war
worth fighting that we're not winning
and I can't see that changing
anytime soon.

Next, I have three short poems by Carl Sandburg from Selected Poems. The poems were taken from Sandburg's book In Reckless Ecstasy , his first volume of poetry, printed in 1904 by his professor and mentor Phillip Green Wright.

To Whom My Hand Goes Out

The unapplauded ones who bear
  No badges on their breasts,
Who pass us on the street, with calm,
  Unfearing, patient eyes,
Like dumb-cart-horse in the sleet!

The unperturbed who feel the oldness -
   All the sadness of the world -
Yet somehow feel the sacredness
   Of grime upon the hands,
And even know the rush of pity
   For those who know not
That some Power builds a callus out of blisters.

   The eyes! the eyes that pierce
The dust and smoke of unrewarded toil
   And count it gain and joy
To have lived and sweat and wrought
   And been a man!

The Dead-Sea Apple

Had it been beauty past my reach,
   Or far beyond my humble kin,
There would have been a tint of joy
   In all the pain of longing then.

But that the red, sweet hues should fade
   Into a dust, and nameless ash,
And promises to gray-sick rot -
   O God, that sight and sense thus clash!

A Homely Winter Idyl

Great, long, lean clouds in sullen host
   Along the skyline passed today;
While overhead I've only seen
   A leaden sky the whole long day.

My heart would gloomily have mused
   Had I not seen those queer, old crows
Stop short in their mad frolicking
   And pose for me in long black rows.

This is serious business. I'm telling you!

the threat of polite people to advancement of art

polite people
are a real threat to artists,
even to bush-league poets like

what am i to make of it
when a polite person compliments
something i've done - is it good manners
or is it true appreciation, true recognition
of the superiority of my work

were they truly moved by my art
or are they just trying to move on
to some subject less controversial

if i know i'm up against a polite person,
calibrations are required, how many exclamation
marks mark true approval, is "WOW" good enough
or must i hold our for "WOW!!!!!!!" before
i accept the polite person's response as showing
real enjoyment and not just,
well, the mark of a well-mannered person
who does not feel it polite to be less than
appreciative of something
another person has put their
heart and expressive skills into, like,
"Wow, grandma, i've been so hoping you
would give me another of your tasty
homemade fruitcakes - no, none now
please, i just ate - but can't wait
to get home to have a great big piece"

a real problem is when you are
dealing with someone not familiar
to you so you can't tell
if you're dealing with a true
appreciator of your work or just
another polite person.

this, a case of the paradox
of the truth-aversive critique -
a person who knows you well
will not want to make you feel
bad due to exposure to the
full blast of critical review because
by golly you're a friend and friends
need to stick together and be
aware of friends' feelings, while
the person who doesn't know you
at all will be hesitant to begin
the relationship by telling you your
epic poem is crap good only for
his backyard compost pile, not worth
the computer widgets that cause it
to glow on the screen, that glow
the result of electronics and not
the effervescence of your product

best for the artist, i think, is the
horse's ass whose critiques
are nothing more than exercises
in destruction for the sake
of destruction

it is from these harsh critiques
that the artist learns to
appreciate the strength
and value of his work

either that,
or they give up and go into

Sim by Arlene Ang

I have something new and special this week, featuring our friend and four-time Puhcart nominee Arlene Ang.

Arlene has been with us before, with poems from her book, The Desecration of Doves, published in 2005. At the time, she lived in Italy and I believe she still does.

This week, we feature Arlene with six illustrated poems. We haven't done that before.

I should tell you that I know nothing about Sims, Arlene's method of illustration for these poems. She can tell you much more, including, for example, important information such as, as she says, "Arlene Ang means lobster thermidor in Simlish. It is one of the dishes included in the staff cafeteria menu of The Pedestal Magazine and Press 1. If interested in trying out varieties of Arlene Ang at an area near you, please consult your local directory at www.leafscape.org." I suggest you make the trip.

Anyway, here's some fun with Arlene's Sims and their poems.

Sims by Arlene Ang

There"s a Postwoman in Your Bath

As you can see you're not exactly
arranged for fire rescue. You left the toilet seat up again.

Which is to say there's a reason the licking
of stamps has been abolished. What does a postwoman

know of indoor plumbing, everyone says.
Then she appears one day, like superstition

or Jesus Christ Superstar, knee-deep in the water
you're sitting in. There are dead skin cells

behind your knees, but she is wearing a blue uniform
with a name tag called Maurice. Somehow

this makes you feel worse. Had the showerhead
been a bullhorn, you could be listening

to a real hangover. She's nowhere near asking you
to sign here please, but this is only because

she is distracted by the alcohol percentage
in the shampoo you use in place of a real mother.

There aren't many places to hide.
If only for this reason, you continue washing.

Sims by Arlene Ang

The French Maid Outfit Turned Up For Its Close-Up Today

Of course, I'm pissed.
It was scheduled for a photo shoot
six weeks ago. I should've combed my hair
while I still had doctors in the wall mirror.
No, I haven't been drinking
again. Sobriety itself is the animal. My ex-husband
painted honest-to-goodness sofas into cows
for a living. Personally, I can do
weirdos. I like Chinese take-aways
myself. Still some days the French maid outfit
smells of all the food that went wrong
in my house. It has a plunging neckline
instead of a lover. Cat's pajamas,
Dr Vick calls the state of perpetually arranging
a special night for someone
as if it was really worth it.
I owe him an apology for the way I treat
his pictures in the shower.
He wears a rabbit's paw chain
around his waist to hold the camera.
I don't remember asking him in.
He makes me shake my fists at him
like an experimental drug.
It's all right, he says.
He's slipping on the gorilla costume.
He has everything under birth control.

*** revision of "The Gorilla Suit Turned Up For Its Close-Up Today," published in the Zygote in my Coffee (4th Print Edition, August 2007).

Sim by Arlene Ang

Further On, With Richard

  I'm in love. In love with extra-long acrylic noses. I'm wearing one of them. There. I'm hanging out my clothes. I'm hung up on Richard. Richard's bunny slippers. The ones that ended up in my pockets as rabbit head keychains. Pocketses, they would correct me, as if I could be wrong. A wrong turn can drive you national tv crazy, they say. The voices are shiny, itemized as homeland security even though they sound foreign. They come unabridged from the dictionary, pages 568-642. After all this time, I still have my ambitions, my fridge with its 1964 turkey leftover. I keep staring at my feet. They are furry around the toes. Mannish, like Richard. Potentially, I've got what it takes to make a rabbit head keychain. I can hold several keys. I have faith that one of them unlocks a car. Not the car I learned to drive before undergoing gingivitis. It's a Buick - all dents and Swiss cheese holes on the hood. My ex-spouses have had a rough ride. They're not ashamed to undress in the middle of a busy street. Richard, I hear him soiling himself in the hallway, in a night made of rabbit hair and something odd. Marble.

Sim by Arlene Ang

Please Meet My Table

  It's Formica. We're in, what you would call, a relationship. One day I woke up under it. I know. It looks better on film. You look as if you haven't lain under one for sometime. At least, that's what my hairdresser says. She uses saran wrap to cover her furniture. It was a bad idea inviting my neighbors to the New Year's Eve party. You're bound to learn these lessons once you're seeing someone you should stay away from. A therapist, for one. Or a spouse with sweaty hands. I can still fit my first marriage into a coffee mug. Thirst can drive animals out of the cave art. I've recently moved from Cincinnati myself. Scabs never lie. I'm not sure I should've stuck my head out the window. I like to observe what I vomit, watch the fizzle. That night the fireworks burst at ten-second intervals into flower-shapes. Love me, love me not. I find that if I lie softly under the table, I can identify the feet of those going in and out the room. You shouldn't talk politics before you've put on your teeth. That's my grandmother's advice. A bed of egg sandwiches is still a bed.

***previously published in Zygote in my Coffee (issue #93, 08/06/07.)

Sims by Arlene Ang

Why Do I Show My Body?

The anonymous letter leaps to the screen.
Sunday morning coffee swirls steam beside
the mouse. I am grateful everyone is at Mum's.
Like reflected lights on a disco ball,
the rotator switched on, men dance to mind.

Could it be the Uluru National Park guide
whose eyes whistled up my mini-skirt when I
bent to collect his coin? That was twenty-six
years ago. He moaned deliriously about wombats
while I burrowed deeply into his faded jeans.

The most likely remains the Alemain archivist.
He had big dreams, long monologues that begged
subvention for his telluric sounding rocket,
a poor tongue when it came to French.
We separated in anger; he must be 92 by now.

Sweetly, I revive the hotel manager in Mumbai.
He was a gentleman, taciturn and rational
when it came to laying his fingers on a woman's
skin. Eighteen hours nonstop, we generated
heat in bed under unclean sheets and slept.

Nothing compares to the Taranaki bellhop
in Sri Lanka, the only one without a camera.
His station wagon, its rust like unwashed
excrement, was economical. We broke springs
in the backseat that day and called it love.

At 56, married with three children, I am suddenly
implicated in indecent exposure, perhaps
adultery. I do not panic. I calmly open
the attachment. Later, my husband finds
the worm, raises hell for all the wrong reasons.

*** previously published in flashquake (Volume 6, Issue 2).

Sim by Arlene Ang

And She Ripped the Turtle Soup Recipe

It was her husband's secret.
She could smell his after-sex cigarette
from it folds. Alice: how else
could she have called this paper cut?

A kitchen draws out many
sharp knives. Like valentines folded
into soup recipes. She knew
there was more where it came from.

He said he could cook easily
for 500 guests. What is a stolen tart
made of? She emptied what
recipes she could into the saucepan.

His. Hers. Their children.
Singed pepper choked the curtains
brown. She tossed in
the cayenne. She shook the curry.

She pestled his golf balls,
his blue pills. And still all she could
smell was the other woman's
ejaculate on her bleeding finger.

*** previously published in Wicked Alice (November 2006)

Hungry As We Are is an anthology of Washington area poets published by The Washington Writers' Publishing House in 1995.

I have two poems from the anthology, beginning with a poem by Philip K. Jason.

At the time the book was published, Jason was a teacher of literature and creative writing at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis. He had published ten books in 1995, including two collections of poetry.

Wisdom Poem

Chew slowly
not only for the taste,
but for the rich noise
of that great mill of your maw
and for the brazen flexing
of those muscled hinges.
Eating is all of this,
and more.

It is waiting
a long time
between swallows.

Fell those twinned harrows
arc apart, meet, rub,
release, and meet again -
one glad curve partly
enclosing the other.

And your tongue,
that old dodger,
let it have its head,
sliding and swirling about
like Peggy Fleming,
our cleaning rhe blades,
sore with delight.

Eating is all of this
and more.

The next poem from the book is by Maggie Rosen.

In 1995, when the book was published, Rosen taught English as a Second Language and had worked as an editor and writer specializing in education.


He is my student of the five senses:
a seventeen-year-old-boy, two years into American,
out of Sierra Leone. His language is not here,
and his tongue meets words they have to know
but do not meet the sense of: Olfactory, larynx, neuron.

Avoiding my eyes, he words the book,
asking it to speak, spare him as middle man.
My inward net casts far into a clear pool,
pulls up stars of words, a gurgle of laughter.

He knows what walking means to legs. He knows without a
we would be like tiny ants. Without a brain
we would be like our books, telling without saying
a page of eyes with no sight.

He could draw me his meanings,
he could tap them with his feet like any young boy.
We depend on waves, he wanting, the letting go,
a nod that means no while it says yes,
a blank.

We are waiting at the foot
for the mountains to send wind.

And, finally, from the anthology, I have this poem by Washington D.C. poet Jennifer M. Pierson

The Important Things

she wanted to name a child Cosmo or Delilah or Ustis
something grand and memorable
she wanted a son taller than she a football-playing son
a blond son
she wanted to be a star in the evening sky
the one that everyone sees
she wanted to get married just for the memory
to have a bouquet of long white roses to throw
and a thousand-dollar gown
she wanted to lust after someone dark and greasy
someone wrong for her definitely wrong
she waned to kiss a stranger a man
or a woman kiss them hard
then walk away into a crowded street a parade
and become someone's dream
she waned long curly red hair and big boobs
and perfect nails
she wanted women to envy her no to hate her
she wanted to drive a blue Porsche
down to the very edge of the Grand Canyon alone
she wanted to be Jacques Cousteau and
she wanted to roam the Alps
she wanted to live in a cave in India for forty years and
talk until the sun rose with the Dalai Lama or
someone dead magical and dead
she wanted a guru and she wanted God
she wanted God to visit her in her cave
to give her messages special secret messages
she wanted to die to be buried at sea
to have fish peck at here until she was bone
bone white and covered with weeds
most of all she wanted to remember
the very moment she was born

As you'll see later in this issue, we've developed a little klatsch of "Here and Now" friends in Australia. The same is true, also, in Hawaii where we have four friends, beginning with Alice Folkart who have joined us. Three have appeared in the last couple of issues.

And now, here's the fourth, Cornelia DeDona, who says she lives in Hawaii on an estate nestled beneath the Koolau Mountains.

Connie has published two books, Meadow Pause and Boogey Fever. You can learn more about the books by going to


Connie has joined her friends at the Blueline's "House of 30," which is where I first read and enjoyed this poem.


Get into
my canoe.
Let's paddle out
into Kaneohe Bay
to the Sandbar.
Let us make a plan
to stick together
rain and
Our oars
marking time
in sequence.
Focused and
on our goal
as one
and get there.

Here's a strange, bitter, funny poem by Lynn Crosbie from her book Miss Pamela's Mercy, published by Coach House Press of Toronto in 1992.

Crospie is a Canadian poet and novelist, born in 1963 in Quebec and presently living in Toronto.

Carrie Leigh's Hugh Hefner Haikus

Hef brings me flowers
tiger lilies, ochre veined
downcast, sleek black cups

small shadows, are the
puckers in his pajamas
where his skin caves in

tired profligate, I
sigh and pour the oil along
your circular sheets

thinking of all the
times, or women on this bed
glossy old bunnies

I imagine their
breasts, plate of fried eggs, a row
of tonsured monk's heads

his tongue slithers, gaunt
voluptuary, ugly
old man, my eyes close

when I roll his name
Ner. along my tongue, like the
line of cold test tubes

thin bottled semen,
he wants to plant it, deeply
in my flat belly

Hugh junior, and, or
Carietta, a child is
packed in dry blue ice

in silky pajamas
they have an emperor's crest
it is dark in there

but it's cold as
the green jacuzzi, bubbles
are clouds on its face

I will crush the glass
with the fingers in his back
and pile on my rings

and all the fur coats
and move down the circular
stairs, bloated with gold

the flowers are a
venus-flytrap, with red curls
flames and noxious breath

his betrayal gives
me granite fists, girls scatter
movie stars crumple

as I run away
from the gaudy prison cell,
of tinsel and skin

I'll sue him and write
and build a home, in the
desert, on the sun

a sequined empress,
a mirage - in loungewear and
harlequin glasses

Everybody has to have a guiding principle to live by. Here's mine.

an idiot's guide to happy living

how are you?
they say, by way of polite greeting

great, i say,
where i started

is part of my philosophy
for getting through the day

being of good cheer
whatever the temptation to be otherwise,
that's my life strategy

assume the worst is past,
for even if it isn't
why ruin a perfect, sunny day
with thoughts of dark and stormy skies

it's an idiot's guide to happy living,
this good cheer philosophy,
denying the truths of close attention -
but a happy idiot
i think i'd rather be
than any of those others
so miserably aware

I stopped by the used book store earlier today and picked up several books, including this fun (but overpriced) book with poems by Charles Simic and drawings by Howie Michels. The book is Aunt Lettuce, I Want To Peek Under Your Skirt, published by Bloomsbury in 2005. I can't share the drawings, which remind me of Shel Silverstein in his earlier Playboy days, but I can share several of the shorter poems.

Pretty Picture
    For Kurt Brown

She thought being stark naked
Made her more interesting to cows,
So she strolled over with a glass of red wine
To pay them a visit,
Greeting each in turn
While they stared at her with bloodshot eyes.

One occasionally saw a fox
Step out of the woods.
Where, where? she cried out,
And set at a trot across the field.
We saw her climb over the wire fence
And start picking daisies.

In the end, we didn't dare call her back,
Worrying it might draw attention
Of the mailman due to drive up any minute.
In the meantime, only the crows
Flying back and forth over our heads
Appeared to be frankly scandalized.

The Scarecrow

God's refuted but the devil's not.

This year's tomatoes are something to see.
Bite into them, Martha,
As you would into a ripe apple.
After each bite add a little salt.

If the juices run down your chin
Onto your bare breasts,
Bend over the kitchen sink.

From there you can see your husband
Come to a dead stop in the empty field
Before on of his bleakest thoughts
Spreading its arms like a scarecrow.

Love Talk

The truth is, we are nearer to heaven
Every time we lie down.
If you doubt me, look at the cat
Rolled over with its feet in the air.

A sunny morning after a storm
Is one more invitation to paradise.
So we leapt out of bed together
Having every intention to dress quickly.

Only to dally naked
Giving each other little pecks
As we buzzed with love talk
Edging our way back to bed.

Love Worker

Diligent solely in what concerns love;
In all else, dilatory, sleep-walking, sullen.
Some days you could not budge me
Even if you were to use a construction crane.
I work only at loving and being loved.
Tell me, people, ain't it right
To lie in bed past noon
Eating fried chicken and guzzling beer?

Consider the many evils thus avoided
While finding new places to kiss
  with greasy lips.
Easier for Schwarzkopf to take Kuwait
Then for us to draw curtains.
The sky is blue. It must be summer already.
The blind street preacher is shouting down below.
Your breasts ad hair are flying -
Like the clouds, the white clouds.

Laurel Lamperd, good friend of "Here and Now," recommended us to her friend, fellow Australian Sue Clennell, who, in turn, recommended us to her friend, also a fellow Australian, Jan Napier.

Friends that they are, I thought it'd be cool to present them together in the same issue.

So here they are, Sue first. Her poem Scarborough was previously published in Mayk Magazine.


The bus is littered with sand scaled youths.
Pirate palms pirouette on the horizon,
canvas roofs yawn
covering the cleanskins.
Today is a combo of choc milk and grit
saris and snickers              with
Mona Lisas against a toweling backdrop.
At the markets            a grain boled horse
frim fram      Indian glitter      chipped mirrors.
Do seaside porches lattice us into
cream bowl contentment?
Are we licking our limbs
with Oz self-satisfaction?
There must be a reason
poets turn their gaze insland.

Before we get to Jan's poem, here's something unusual for us. We don't usually use photos of our contributors. But then, never before have we had two contributors who are friends and who have a picture of the two of them together.

So here it is, a picture of our two poet-friends Sue and Jan.

Left to right Jan Napier & Sue Clennell

Next, here's Jan who traveled the length and breadth of Western Australia for 20 years, working in Side Show Alley (the Oz term for Midway). Her experiences are summed up in her book All The Fun Of The Fair.

Now Jan has turned her attention and her talents to poetry. Here's her poem.


Plundered from the wreck
of your dangerous nights,
I am a prize, your yo ho ho,
and pieces of eight, me hearty,
to be taken as salvage
and spent as you please.

Rum drunk and a swagger
you heave and skirmish ahoy,
amid scalloped flounces,
wild, frolicsome sheets,
and as dark's doubloons
revert to brass,
set course to roister
under different stars.

I shout a beach of words,
coarse,      sibilant    sounds.
Gulled, I skim the surface
of your fishy deeps,
squall, and storm,
see you wonder.

The next poem is by Wistawa Szymborska, from Wistawa Szymborska, Poems, New and Collected, 1957-1997 published in 1998 by Harcourt. The poems in the book were translated from Polish by Stanislaw Baranczak and Clare Cavanagh.

Szymborska was born in 1923 in Poland where she lives today. She has worked as a poetry editor, a columnist, and a translator. She received the 1996 Nobel Prize for Literature.

I'm Working on the World

I'm working on the world,
revised, improved edition,
featuring fun for fools,
blues for brooders,
combs for bald pates,
tricks for old dogs.

Here's one chapter: The Speech
of Animals and Plants.
Each species comes, of course,
with its own dictionary.
Even a simple "Hi there"
when traded with a fish,
makes both the fish and you
feel quite extraordinary.

The long-suspected meanings
of rustlings, chirps, and growls!
Soliloquies of forests!
The epic hoots of owls!
Those crafty hedgehogs drafting
aphorisms after dark,
while we blindly believe
they're sleeping in the park!

Time (Chapter Two) retains
its sacred right to meddle
in each earthly affair.
Still, time's unbounded power
that makes a mountain crumble,
moves seas, rotates a star,
won't be enough to tear
lovers apart: they are
too naked, too embraced,
too much like timid sparrows.

Old age is in my book
the price that felons pay,
so don't whine that it's steep:
you'll stay young if you're good.
Suffering (Chapter Three)
doesn't insult the body.
Death? It comes in your sleep,
exactly as it should.

When it comes, you'll be dreaming
that you don't need to breathe;
the breathless silence is
the music of the dark
and it's part of the rhythm
to vanish like a spark.

Only a death like that. A rose
could prick you harder, I suppose;
you'd feel more terror at the sound
of petals falling to the ground.

Only a world like that. To die
just that much. and to live just so.
And the rest is Bach's fugue, played
for the time being
on a saw.

Here's another coffee shop horror story.

the rug

i am looking
at a man
with the worst toupee
i have ever

i am reminded
of high-gloss
aluminum siding
or the white plastic
they put around
new cars now when
they ship them, except
his toup is coal-in-the-hole
black, not white like
the plastic

it's hard
not to stare

the vanity
of middle aged men
is not something that can be
nor their capacity for denial

but this rug...

has the guy
ever looked in the mirror
after he puts it on
in the morning?

i don't see how he could,
and still walk
out the door with it on his head

maybe he's blind
as well as bald,
which seems to me
it ought to be the solution
and not the problem

i mean
how much can you care
about how you look
when you can't see yourself

not much,
i'm an optimist
by nature
and barring proof
from my own eyes otherwise
i'd just imagine my bald head,
if i had one,
as the chrome on a 1957 DeSoto,
the shining, blinding apex of me,
and assume i look

Next, I have a poem by singer-songwriter Ani DiFranco from her book Verses published in 2007 by Seven Stories Press in association with Righteous Babe Records.

The book includes terrific illustrations not credited to anyone other than a note that credits "design" by Ani DiFranco,Brian Grunet and Kyle Morrissey which may or may not refer to the illustrations.

The title of this poem seems familiar to me, though the text is not. So, it's possible I have used the poem before.

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 say 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
and left wing was broken long ago
by the slingshot of cointelpro
and now it's so 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 you 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 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?

Allergy prone as I've become since moving to San Antonio sixteen years ago I usually have a stopped up nose, so stopping to smell the roses doesn't do much for me. But that doesn't mean other things aren't worth stopping for.

taking a moment to watch the kittens play

coming home from morning coffee
i had one of those NPR driveway
moments, caught
by a piece of movie music
as interpreted by a French pianist

my appreciation of the music
first interrupted,
then enhanced by watching
the two kittens
the brave one,
the one with the little black
goatee-looking spot under his chin,
is working to bring down a small tree
by the door,
jumping at it, clawing at it,
wrapping himself
around the base of the tree
and clawing, clawing, clawing,
tractoring himself all the way around
the tree,
one claw-hold at a time

i think he thought he was winning
his battle with the tree
when he was beset by a sneak attack
by the other kitty, the shy one,
always last to the food bowl,
leaping from the swing by the door
to land squarely on little goatee's back,
the two of them rolling with kitten ferocity
across the the flower bed, kicking up
a kitty-sized storm of wood chips

shy kitty, the aggressor, disentangled her
self from little goatee and jumped
in a single bound back onto the swing

little goatee, freed from the distraction
of his sister, went back to his primary
opponent, the tree by the door, until
shy kitty, her retreat only a tactical feint
jumped again from the swing,
landing again on her brother's back, more
fierce kitty fighting ensued until shy kitty
once again took her tactical retreat, back
to the swing for sister-cat, back to the tree
for brother-cat - this pattern of attack
and retreat repeated four times before mama cat,
napping in the sun and having had enough
of this sibling-battling, put an end to it,
chasing the two kittens away
with the low pitched errrrrrrrrrrr you hear
when a cat reaches
the end
of its limited cat-patience

the French pianist and the kitten sideshow
i turned off the car and headed inside
for a blueberry pancake breakfast,
with fat little sausages and a glass
of very cold milk,
returning to his table
as the coliseum empties
and the games end for the day

That's it for this week. For next week, I'm working on poems by Siegfried Sassoon, Yang Wan-li, Luis Rodriguez, David Rivard, Naomi Shihab Nye, William Childress, and a surprise or two, at least to me.

Until we get there, remember, all of the material presented in this blog remains the property of its creator; the blog itself was produced by and is the property of me...allen itz.

at 9:07 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just wondering, have the copyright holders given permission for you to use their work? I know most if not all of the things you've reproduced here are not in the public domain.

at 11:59 PM Anonymous Arunansu said...

Allen, loving your compilation. Your blog gives me so much. I wish I could spend some more time with it.

Post a Comment

Serendipity   Thursday, July 16, 2009

Photo by Marc San Marco

Nothing special this week but our poets.

And here they are.

Tony Hoagland

dark poetry

Albert Goldbarth
Waking Alone in a Rented Room and Despairing Till the Phone Rings

Kelly Cherry
Going Down On America

Harold Witt
Johnny Walsh, Checkered Cab Co.

'Ilima Kauka Stern
An Absence of Light

Paul Durcan
Notes Towards a Supreme Reality

why i never miss a Clint Eastwood movie

Yorifumi Yaguchi
Praying Mantis
A Woman

Alice Folkart
I Thought I Saw...

Cid Corman
Chinese Painting
No Never
6 untitled poems

Charles Bukowski
Old Man, Dead in a Room
The Priest and the Matador


Jane Hirshfield
See How the Roads Are Strewn
I Have No Use For Virgins
Tonight the Incalculable Stars

Joanna Weston
Hidden Sweeps
From Now to Then

Tina Koyama
Quisan After the Stroke: Three Notes to Himself

Cyn. Zarko
lolo died yesterday

Jessica Hagedorn
Ming the Merciless

asserting my independence

William Meredith
An Account of a Visit to Hawaii

usual suspects

The photos this week, except for the first and last, I took during a little drive-around I did about a month ago in the hills north of San Antonio.

I start this week with a poem by Tony Hoagland from his book Donkey Gospel, recipient of the 1997 James Laughlin Award of the Academy of American Poets, published by Graywolf Press in 1997.

I like Hoagland's work, no grand pretensions, just wry humanity.


On two occasions in the past twelve months
I have failed, when someone at a party
spoke of him with a dismissive scorn,
to stand up for D.H. Lawrence,

a man who burned like an acetylene torch
from one end to the other of his life.
These individuals, whose relationship to literature
is approximately that of a tree shredder

to stands of old-growth forest,
these people leaned back in their chairs,
bellies full of dry white wind and the ova of some foreign fish,
and casually dropped his name

the way that pygmies with their little poison spears
strut around the carcass of a fallen elephant.
"O Elephant," they say,
"you are not so big and brave today!"

It's a bad day when people speak of their superiors
with a contempt they haven't earned,
and it's a sorry thing when certain other people

don't defend the great dead ones
who have opened up the world before them.
And though, in the catalogue of my betrayals,
this is a fairly minor entry,
I resolve, if the occasion should recur,
to uncheck my tongue and say, "I love the spectacle
of maggots condescending to a corpse,"
or, "You should be so lucky in your brainy, bloodless life

as to deserve to lift
just one of D.H. Lawrence's urine samples
to your arid psychobiographic
theory-tainted lips."

Or maybe I'll just take the shortcut
between the spirit and the flesh,
and punch someone in the face,
because human beings haven't come that far

in their effort to subdue the body,
and we still walk around like zombies
in our dying, burning world,
able to do little more

than fight, and fuck, and crow:
something Lawrence wrote about
in such a manner
as to make us seem magnificent.

Seems most of what i'm writing today is about not being able to write.

dark poetry

it appears
that Sarah,
our national
icy treat confection
from Alaska has decided
she had a better chance of
becoming president if she
doesn't have a record to run on
and, meanwhile, it's been more than
a week since a republican politician
has admitted to running around
on his/her spouse making this altogether
an exceptionally boring week in the weeds
of politics, but then they've all been on
vacations and we can't expect them
to be doing screwy stuff all the time,
even dingbats need time off...

but enough not about me...

the clock is ticking and the big hand
and the little hand have begun the big
squeeze of time's a'passing right on by
and i don't have a poem or a hint of a poem
or even sense of a poem hanging out there
in the big coming soon to a brain near mine,
like in the movie theaters where they show you
what's coming next week and what's coming sometime
in the future, a time ill-defined
beyond the single word
and i don't even have a poem like that, soon, for me,
being more like a great black hole in the ocean
filled with slippery dark eel-like writhing things, opening
lines to poems stuck in the black with nothing to follow -
soon, much more like that than any promise of a time
and events forthcoming...

oh jeez,
another poem about not having a poem -
could it be that i am the avant garde,
creator of new school of poetry,
dark poetry
like dark matter,
that which makes up most of our poetry universe
even though, to the best of what we can see,
it is not there

Next, I have several poems from Three Rivers - Ten Years, an anthology of poems from Three Rivers Poetry Journal, published by Carnegie-Mellon University Press in 1983.

The first poem from the anthology is by Albert Goldbarth.

Born in 1948 in Chicago, Illinois, Goldbarth received his B.A. from the University of Illinois, Chicago Circle campus, in 1969 and his M.F.A. from the University of Iowa in 1971. He lives in Wichita, Kansas and is Adele Davis Distinguished Professor of Humanities at Wichita State University, where he has taught since 1987.

Waking Alone in a Rented Room and Despairing Till the Phone Rings

the ceiling collects
in a single bulb. It burns
like a monk that hasn't heard
peace declared. Everything it touches
is martyred.

Often it's quiet, but never
silent. The wind
at the window, a hum in the walls...
this must be what it's like
to be a heart.

A clock is so round
it's misleading. Time
is long; you shoes would wear out.

The brain is gray like a cloud,
and shaped like a cloud, and some days
as heavy.

And there the resemblance ends.

The next poet from the anthology is by Kelly Cherry.

Cherry has published eleven poetry collections, eight books of fiction, five of nonfiction, and two dramatic translations.

Going Down On America

Turned on to the transcendent, he holds her
in his arms, strokes her sunny hair.
Such sweet skin is coming into view
as the clothes of Straight are shed
over New Jersey & kicked aside
into the wide Missouri River -

He pledges allegiance to lightfilled breasts,
to the drops of shine spilled
on Shenandoah's applerich harvest.

In this union of smoke & suck he enters a state just west
of grace where Wyoming is what cowboys do
on Saturday night when the boss has paid them up
& the smells of Montana carried downstream,
clean but unmistakable.

O Mount Rushmore,
move him to your eye of stone!
In wheat fields he may dream
of stalks of sun,

discover blue shadows
in the shingles of the fallen pinecone!

The seventh day dawns somewhere above the fabulous Sierras,
so high he can scarcely see it,
& in a whirlwind of contradiction funnels itself south
into the dusk of his throat,
enlightens his heart,
& sets the flesh to dancing upon bare bones
across known borders
into a land lost
to reality.

And my last poem from the anthology is by Harold Witt.

Witt has been published in a wide variety of periodicals, anthologies, texts, and books of his own. He is the winner of the Hopwood Award for Poetry, the James D. Phelan Award for narrative poetry, a San Francisco Poetry Center Award for poetic drama, and The Poetry Society of America's Emily Dickinson Award.

This poem especially amuses me because I drove a cab in a town not a lot bigger than this one when I was young. I know from whence the poet comes.

Johnny Walsh, Checkered Cab Co.

Not too much going on
in this two-taxi town -
I never delivered a baby
and nobody like in the movies
ever yelled "follow that cab!"

But it isn't all nice old ladies
either, I'll tell you that -
one time Zelda Keith
gave me a twenty to take her
up to Citrus Heights.

Before I could open the door
there she was on the seat
putting her hand on my thigh
and saying she thought I was cute
and what a husband she had.

Jesus, what could I do
with two kids needing to eat -
and how do you say no,
for half what you make all week,
to anything easy as this.

My next two poems are by 'Ilima Kauka Stern, a new friend from The House of 30 and an even newer friend here at "Here and Now." 'Ilma, a retired educator, has taught creative writing at a women's prison on O'ahu for five years. Through a prison writing project, she has helped inmates publish five editions of their work in Hulihia, a literary publication of women inmates funded by the Women's Fund of Hawaii. Her own work has appeared in Rain Bird. She divides the rest of her time between writing, teaching hula, and the study and practice of Hawaiian spiritual traditions.

'Ilima lives in Kailua with her family.

The first of the two poems is a Kyrielle, a poetic form that originated in troubadour poetry and which appears in many Christian liturgies

An Absence of Light

Outside the day was sunny, bright
No clouds, light winds, a day for kites
Would seem ideal to gazers, but
From within an absence of light.

Transgressions healed, errors made right
Yet still a heart, sealed, locked up tight
The world without - boundless, blue, but
From within an absence of light.

To view the world from space and height
Might solve this poet's inner plight
Lend hope where gloom and murk reign, and
From within an absence of light.


Always a sunburn


That summer with the house
By the mouth of a stream
Me and my sand-sliding board
Standing with the board in my hands
Waiting for that perfect moment
When the ocean waves
Would meet the water
At the mouth of the stream
There it is!
Throw the board and step on
Ride the splash of water above the sand

At night after showering
My burning back
Gran, applying Noxema to cool the burn
Saying, "Silly girl,
What were you thinking?
You should have come in earlier.
You see."

The next day
Out by the mouth of the stream
This time with a shirt on
Over my swimsuit

Always a sunburn


Irish poet Paul Durcan published his first book in 1967. Since then he has published 15 others. The next poem is from his book Greetings to Our Friends in Brazil, published the Harvill Press of London in 1999.

Notes Towards a Supreme Reality


Because the supreme reality in life is fiction
It is vital not to meet the writer in person.
There is no necessary linkage between the egotist who is
     overweight and vain
And the magic connections, dreams, constructions, of his brain.


Life's supreme reality is reading fiction
In poetry or prose, most likely prose,
(Fiction is scarce as water in poetry):
Afterwards telephoning Niall MacMonaagle in Rathmines,
Conversing nonstop for three hours,
Putting on aerial displays for our sleeping daughters,
Flying low, fast, looping the loop;
Or taking a Super Low Floor
Green Engine Kneeling Suspension
Dublin Bus into the city center
To Cormac Kinsella in the Dublin Waterstone's,
Stealingn half-hour with Cormac behind the bookshelves.

Thanks to Cormac Kinsella
I have spent the last five years
Reading Richard Ford and Don DeLillo.
Oh yes! Behind the bookshelves!
Like two haymakers siesta-ing
Behind a haycock in Provence
Cormac and I -
We repose vertically in a Ford sun
Cooled by a DeLillo breeze
Analyzing the Universals of light,
The particulars of power.


The evening is as long as life is short.
Reading Independence Day or Underworld
I am a tern detecting Dublin Bay
At a cruising altitude of thirteen feet;
Or a flock of swallows on a warm June evening
Trawling to and fro the mown lawn
Netting succulent midges, snaring thousands of 'em.
The evening is as long as life is short.

Lots of notables died a couple of weeks ago, in a very short span of time. This poem is about one of them, representative to many of us of many other deaths.

why i never miss a Clint Eastwood movie

Karl Malden died,
not so much noticed
in comparison to the
Michael Jackson
and he was 97 so maybe
he was ready
to take a last curtain call
but not me, for there is security
in knowing the icons you grew up
with are still around

when you're young
the old guys die and you wonder,
what's the fuss, just as younger readers
of this might be saying, Karl Who?
but as you get older,
the dead guys get younger, relative,
at least to yourself, and then one morning
you wake up old and realize
they're all gone, all your flicker-dream heroes
have faded to dark and you look at the new guys
and try to find another Karl Malden or Jimmy Stewart
or David Niven or Gregory Peck or Henry Fonda
and they all, all the new guys, seem so....incomplete,
though i'm sure the kids don't think so,
think they're just fine, thank you, and who the hell
are the rest of those guys you're talking about
and i can't argue because, truth is,
the old and the young live
on separate planes of existence that rarely cross,
and when they do
it's like studying a foreign language and learning
some things can't be said because there are no words
to say it, like an old guy trying to get the latest punk yowlers,
or trying to explain Perry Como
or Andy Williams
to the crowd at
a Slipknot

we can think we know things we cannot feel,
but without the feeling the knowing is always incomplete

Michael Jackson is dead, and while millions know
what that means, i do not and cannot and never will

Karl Malden is my loss, another in a long line of losses
known only to fading number of us for whom each new loss
is another partial loss of self - the young, so fortunate,
do not yet see
that end

Here are several short poems by Japanese poet Yorifumi Yaguchi, from the anthology Three Mennonite Poets, published by Good Books of Intercourse, Pennsylvania in 1986.
Yaguchi was born in 1932 in Ishinomati, Miyagi Prefecture, Japan. He graduated from Tohoku Gakuin University with a B.A. in English, from International Christian University with an M.A. in Education, and from Goshen Biblical Seminary with a B.D. in theology.

He spent a year as American Council of Learned Societies Visiting Scholar at the State University of New York, Buffalo and recently taught a semester at Shenyang, China. He is presently professor of American poetry in the literature department of Hokusei Gakuen College.
Yaguchi has published two collections of English poetry and five volumes of Japanese poetry, some of which have been translated. His work has also appeared in poetry magazines in England, Australia, India, the United States and Japan.

Praying Mantis

This morning I saw a male
praying mantis being
eaten by his female.

I could almost hear his
wild shout of ecstasy
as his wife ate him

and his joy seemed to increase
the more as his body was
violently bitten along.

The complete trance of
self-oblivion came at the moment
when his last part was bitten.

- Tonight when I am exhausted
after our long and
violent intercourse,

I think of the male mantis,
wondering if his swallowed body
was digested or is still praying in her.


Grandpa suddenly gets up at midnight and
shouts, "It's time!" and
throws off our futon and makes us get up and
sit in line in the living room.

After calling our names, he sits
before his desk with the blackboard behind and
begins giving a lecture he had repeated
for thirty years at a university.

We have to take notes on whatever he tells us,
because during his lecture
he checks our notes carefully and
scolds us if they are not satisfactory.

His clouded eyes glitter,
his bent back straightens and
his mustache trembles like a float.
But the lecture finishes too soon.

He collapses and starts snoring, pissing
in his pants, his snot forming a bubble
on the end of his nose, and repeating in his sleep,
"The Kamikaze are coming!"


I love peace
but when I wear a soldier's uniform,
I begin to wish a war would happen
and to feel like killing
as many enemies as possible
by raiding them, if so ordered,
and dying willingly
for the sake of the emperor
and our country.


withered leaf
hanging on a twig
heavy as the earth

A Woman

is lying
in the grass
on a mountain
with the red
between her

Next, here's a neat little piece by another of our Hawaiian friend, the transplanted Californian Alice Folkart.

I Thought I saw . . .

I thought I saw
the milkman delivering a pizza,
a sheep's-milk smile upon his face,
as he kissed the lady next door
who is married to the
car salesman
who I saw making out
with the lady cop
in the black and white and I don't mean cow.

I thought I saw
a little lavender woman
step out of a silver craft
behind the barn,
sprout antennae, roll her eyes,
wink, snap her fingers,
and become my Auntie Meg,
a woman from elsewhere,
an alien who'd dare.

I thought I saw
mama and papa wrapping up
a case of canned spinach
for me, for Christmas,
when all I wanted was a bike,
and not green and not canned.
But, I know they have
my best interests at heart,
damn them.

and then, I thought I saw myself free,
but now I know that cannot be.

Next I have a couple of poets from the quarterly Poetry East, Number 44, Spring 1997 issue.

I'll start with several short poems by Cid Corman.

Corman was born and grew up in Boston. His parents were both from the Ukraine. He attended Boston Latin School and in 1941 he entered Tufts University, where he achieved Phi Beta Kappa honors and wrote his first poems. He was excused from service in World War II for medical reasons and graduated in 1945.

Corman studied for his Master's degree at the University of Michigan, where he won the Hopwood poetry award, but dropped out two credits short of completion. After a brief stint at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, he spent some time traveling around the United States, returning to Boston in 1948.

Here he ran poetry events in public libraries and, with the help of his high-school friend Nat Hentoff, he started the country's first poetry radio program. A prolific poet from an early age, he was born in 1924 and died in 1984.

Chinese Painting

What's left

to let
in on.

No Never

As my brother says -
Mother - bless her -
used to say: Bring me

the roses now.
Here I am only
a lifetime late


In the hills
for a few days -
couldn't write

Gone further found
less - maybe
you know the place


I have come far to have found nothing
or to have found that what was found was
only to be lost, lost finally
in that absence whose trace is silence.


If poetry has
any meaning it
has to be this - it

has to be yours and
you it. Every
word finally fits


The cow
to the good
green grass

crops close
but doesn't
bruise or


Sometimes it feels
as though we had
never come. Stop

for a moment.
Ask yourself if
you are present

or even if
this is. Is it
a matter of

come and go? Who
is it asking?
What wants to know?


Sooner or later
it comes out of your
own pocket - the hole.

Also from the book, two poem by Charles Bukowski, a more thoughtful Bukowski than we often see.

Old Man, Dead in a Room

this thing upon me is not death
but it's as real,
and as landlords full of maggots
pound for rent
I eat walnuts in the sheath
of my privacy
and listen for more important
it's as real, it's as real
as the broken-boned sparrow
cat-mouthed to utter
more than mere
and miserable argument;
between my toes I stare
at clouds, at seas of gaunt
and scratch my back
and form a vowel
as all my lovely women
(wives and lovers)
break like engines
into some steam of sorrow
to be blown into eclipse;
bone is bone
but this thing upon me
as I tear the window shades
and walk caged rugs,
this thing upon me
like a flower and a feast,
believe me
is not death and is not
and like Quixote's windmills
make a foe
turned by the heavens
against one man;
...this thing upon me
crawling like a snake
terrifying me love of commonness,
some call Art
some call poetry;
it's not death
but dying will solve its power
and as my grey hands
drop a last desperate pen
in some cheap room
they will find me there
and never know
my name
my meaning
nor the treasure
of my escape.

The Priest and the Matador

in the slow Mexican air I watched the bull die
and they cut off his ear, and his great head held
no more terror than a rock.

driving back the next day we stopped at the Mission
and watched the golden red and blue flowers pulling
like tigers against the wind.

set this to metric: the bull, and the fort of Christ:
the matador on his knees, the dead bull his baby;
and the priest staring from the window
like a caged bear.

you may argue in the market place and pull at your
doubts with silken strings; I will only tell you
this: I have lived in both their temples,
believing all and nothing - perhaps, now, they will
die in mine.

I had thought I might get past the worldwide mania following the death of Michael Jackson without writing a poem about it.

But, I didn't.


i was going
to write a poem
of hype and glitter
and gold-plated
coffin, grown
man with
maybe not
and some
within all that
father and
millions come
out to mourn
the friend
the father
or the
the child
life brought
the poor
lost child
of him the
his fantasy
made real
in death

death poem
what i

Next, I have three poems by one of my favorites, Jane Hirshfield. The poems are from her book Of Gravity & Angles, published by Wesleyan University Press in 1988.

Hirshfield was born in 1953 in New York City and received her bachelor's degree from Princeton University in the school's first graduating class to include women. She later studied at the San Francisco Zen Center.

She has worked as a freelance writer and translator. She has also taught at the University of California, Berkeley, University of San Francisco, and as the Elliston Visiting Poet at the University of Cincinnati. She is currently on the faculty of the Bennington Master of Fine Arts Writing Seminars.

See How the Roads Are Strewn

See how the roads are strewn
as if your hand, traveling my body,
came to be that flock of blossoms,
sent of February in the dark.
See how my hips eclipse your hips,
how the moon, huge as a grain-barge, passes by.
And promises do not hold,
certainties do hold hold,
the risen cries fall and fail to hold,
but my body, confusion of crossings, I give you
broadcast, to move with your hand,
where nothing is saved but breaks out in a thousand directions,
armful of wild plum weeds.

I Have No Use For Virgins

I have no use for virgins -
give me the cup
with a chipped lip,
whose handle is glued back on
and whose glaze is dark from use.
Let many men and women
drink from us before
we drink -
I taste their breasts on your breast,
you cover their blaze between my legs.

Tonight the Incalculable Stars

tonight the incalculable stars
have me thinking of
Catullus and his Lesbia,
who began counting once
and could not stop
until every schoolchild's tongue
pronounced their kisses
stumbling through memorized passion
past ancient, jealous crones -
the old arithmetic of love,
got down by heart,
the hard way
in a foreign tongue, too young.

Now, I have four short pieces from our friend and frequent contributor Joanna Weston

Hidden Sweeps

red palaces
against blue silk

cut my eyes
and inward

to scale
the brittle ladders
of history

into chimneys
that hide
small boys crying

A Poem of Birds

laugh the bird into a poem
sing it into a reading of poets
round the table with coffee

let the song laugh into rhythm
that lilts a sonnet into speech

then let the bird fly up
and out on wings of rhyme
undone by the past
sung into the present
with poems feathered
and spread to the wind

From Now to Then

I touch moss
   earth is
as it was
small, friable
in an immensity

I rub the bark of an arbutus
   nothing has changed since
your hand held mine

I walk on rock overlooking ocean
   it is what it was
before you and me

The Student

camera in hand
she paused to study
cherry blossom

I waited
at the stop light
until she raised
the lens

the light
I drove away
and I don't know
if she took
the photo

but she turned
smiled at me

I have a couple of poets now from the anthology Breaking Silence, An Anthology of Contemporary Asian-American Poets, published in 1983 by the Greenfield Review Press.

The first two poems from the book are by Tina Koyama, who seems to be a poet and a jewelry maker. I can't find any details beyond that.

Ojisan After the Stroke: Three Notes to Himself
        for my uncle

Early morning.
Small birds drop from the plum tree
to the yard. Every day, their patterns
in my window the same: my window
always the same.

Voices from the kitchen buzz in
and out of the room. I catch my name
in the corners like too much light.
Wasted on my left side.

The moon is half empty,
but I can't remember
if it's growing or shrinking. It creeps out
of my window
and into the rest of darkness.


Probing my mouth as if searching for gold,
eyeing the lower left molar, his raw, unpolished jewel,
the man with snaps on his shoulder leans into me, so
eager I'm surprised he doesn't jump
right in, take a dip in cool pools of saliva.

"Keep it open, please," he smiles, then asks about my dog,
undergraduate education, the muffler on my car,
smiling, always smiling, his kind moon eyes expecting
answers. He knows my life can be answered with a nod,
knows the stoney surface of my tooth
and the narrow parabola of my jaw
better than his own hand. He fears
extraction will be necessary, taps with his mirror

deep cracks that even promises won't fill. Here
decisions come in the shape of pliers. I nod,
swallowing old questions with a numbing tongue.

The next poet is Cyn. Zarco, native of Manila and a poet-journalist-photographer.

lolo died yesterday
    they called him bill
    short for villamor
    i called him lolo
    lolo doming
    even though he was my mother's uncle
    even though he wasn't my real
    i called him lolo
    star barber at the star barber shoppe
    on 6th & mission
    he talked about the navy
    the american navy
    he showed me the calligraphy
    on his silver lighter
    he showed me his diploma
    from cosmetology school
    lolo doming
    hung out with the boys
    at the mabuhay gardens
    gambled in reno
    got drunk with the pinoys
    kumpadres mga kassamahan
    died dancing
    on treasure island

The last poet from the anthology is Jessica Hagedorn. In 1983, she lived in New York city were she wrote and performed in the theater and led her band, The Gangster Choir. Her first book Dangerous Music was in it's third printing and her latest book Pet Food & Tropical Apparitions was the recipient of an American Book Award for that year.

Ming the Merciless

  dancing on the edge / of a razor blade
  ming / king of the lionmen
  sing / bring us to the planet
  of no return...

king of the lionmen
come dancing in my tube
sing, ming, sing...
blink, sloe-eyed fantasy
and touch me where
there's always hot water
in this house

o flying angel
o pterodactyl
your rocket glides
like a bullet

you are the asian nightmare
the yellow peril
the domino theory
the current fashion trend

ming, merciless ming
come dancing in my tube
the silver edges of your cloak
slice through my skin
and king vulgar's cardboard wings
flap-flap in death
(for you)

o ming, merciless ming,
the silver edges of your cloak
cut hearts in two
the blood red dimensions
that trace american galaxies

your are the asian nightmare
the yellow peril
the domino theory
the current fashion trend

sing, ming sing...
whistle the final notes
of your serialized abuse
cinema life
cinema death
cinema of the ethnic prurient interest

o flying angel
o pterodactyl
your rocket glides
like a bullet
and touches me where
there's always hot water
in this house

I wrote this next poem on July the 4th, not quite an independence day poem, but kinda.

asserting my independence

it being the day for it,
i'd like to write a sizzily
whizzily yankee doodle dandy
put on your star-spangled spats
4th of july poem, but it's more complicated
than that

to start with, i'm worried

despite the wars that have to be finished well
and economic crises and environmental crises
and health care crises and all the rest of the crises
known and not that lurk around the corner,
i'm reminded today of the early 1960s
when there was a feeling in the air that
whatever lay ahead, we had leaders
with the brains and courage and competence
to deal with it - many people feel that way now,
a return of confidence in our leaders
and our institutions and in our country

but also like the early '60s,
there is an undercurrent of fanaticism
fed by paranoia and contempt
for all those things that reassure the rest of us -
this disquiet emanating not from the neighborhoods
of the poor and dispossessed, but from plush suburbs
where, among the most pampered people
ever to live in this world,
a great sense of grievance flourishes, where "tea parties"
are organized by people who can't tell the difference
between those who don't want to pay taxes
without representation
and those who just don't want to pay taxes at all,
a class of disillusioned and delusional people,
enamored of their own imagined
finding corruption and malfeasance
behind ever idea not their own

i know where these dark roots led us in 1963
and i worry where they will take us today...

dark subjects, these,
and deep,
and my wrestling with them accomplishes nothing

making it time to put aside such thoughts on this day
we celebration our country's independence

and attend instead to my own independence,
my freedom to leave this unproductive
pondering and concentrate instead
on the fine beauty of the young Asian girl
who sits at the table
across from mine,

My next poem is by William Meredith, from his book Effort at Speech, published in 1997 by Northwestern University Press.

I picked this poem as especially appropriate for this week because our two Hawaiian friends, 'Ilima Stern and Alice Folkart, whose poems appear here this week.

An Account of a Visit to Hawaii

Snow through the fronds, fire flowing into the sea
At a goddess' will who does not ask belief -
It is hard to reconcile extremities
Of any size, or to find their centers out,
As paradoxes demonstrate, and griefs,
And this old kingdom running sweetly out.
You would not think to say of a custom here
"This is the place itself," as you might elsewhere.

There are no snakes and very little lust;
Many decorums have made life decorous.
Fish stands for food and hospitality,
And the innocence of symbols generally
Is surprising, now that we think absurd
The Noble Savage. Midmercy - one word -
Is perhaps the closest European concept
To name the culture, surely to name the climate

Which has the ocean's powers of deception
When unrippled. The women stringing flowers
To keep the shade describe a slow ellipse
From June to June, like sundials at their hours.
And people have mistaken toy ships
For the ship to take them back across the ocean
And later stayed too long. The practical
Chinese put ripples in the year with Catherine wheels.

Mildness can enervate as well as heat.
The soul must labor to reach paradise.
Many are her detained in partial grace
Or partial penalty, for want of force.
The canefields burn in fire that does no harm,
The cataracts blow upward in the Trades,
For all the world as if there were no rules.
It is no easy place to save the soul.

And there is danger to the native pride
Of a land where dreams make the economy
Like tourists, dreams distort the things they buy
And float an easy currency, until
There is no talking to the native heart.
Nightly descending through the baroque cloud
That decorates these hills, riding on air,
Thousands arrive by dream at their desire.

One of the last kings sold the Sandalwood
To buy a fleet. For every ship, they filled
An excavation dug to match the hull.
You can see these to this day - volcanic holds.
It rains at night. The trees the old king sold
Do not grow back. The islands have their perils
Which if you do not feel, no one can tell you.

There is another meaning for aloha,
A greeting as ambiguous as the place:
Not a promiscuous welcome to all strangers,
But what is more hospital than that,
Warning of taboos and a hundred dangers -
Whether to you, you must decide alone.
And it is not safe to come here yet,
One of the things aloha means is: wait.

A place to live when you are reconciled
to beauty and unafraid of time.
(They languish, abstract, when no more opposed.)
A placed to earn in more chastising climates
Which teach us that our destinies are mild
Rather than fierce as he had once supposed,
And how to recognize the peril of calm,
Menaced only by surf and flowers and palms.

I had a whole bunch of weird, disjointed days in a row for a week or two, then, finally, a regular old everyday day and my old familiar haunts with all the old familiar faces.

usual suspects

the old guys
are here
and the tattooed
fat lady is here
and the always neat
and clean homeless guy
with his tightly wrapped
foam bedroll, heavy looking backpack
and professorial look
behind little half-lens glasses
as he spends the day reading
in the air conditioned
and the mama
with her little blond girl trailing behind,
baby-doll in one arm and pink little purse
in the other, and little plastic dangly
bracelets on both wrists
that she shakes as she passes, and
the young mother with two little girls,
heading for the bathroom, double-time,
passing a new guy, a long, white haired
Sam Elliott looking guy in short pants
reading "Guns & Ammo" magazine,
and a couple of the medical student
regulars, and the short-haired cowboy guy
with the bad arm, and the two gay guys
that show up a couple of times a week
(and, ok, maybe they're not gay, but
they sure are sharp dressers),
and the middle-aged woman, a mid-life
student, who always looks like she's mad
at me because i always get here first
and take the table by the door
next to an electric plug where she'd like to be,
and the dorky looking guy and his dorky looking wife
who come in and stare at each other and never
say a word the whole time they're here, and
the old guy with the thick glasses and magnifying
glass who writes tiny numbers in tiny columns
in a spiral notebook, eyes inches from the
magnifying glass inches from the paper,
and the table of law students, arguing
with each other like it was a Supreme Court
appearance, and and the oriental guy reading
Shopenheimer haiku and the girl with the long auburn
hair and acne scared cheeks, a cheeky girl
with a constant air of amused observation
and i'm thinking if she was 50 years older
she might share the joke with me, assuming
it's not me that's the joke, of course,
a possibility i do not discount....

all the familiar faces in all the familiar
places on a mostly typical Thursday

Photo by Marc San Marco

Nothing of further interest to report this week, so, until next week, remember all of the material included 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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