Snow Days   Thursday, March 25, 2010


The weather in San Antonio this week has been ideal, cold nights and warm sunshine days, the nights a reminder of winter leaving and the days warning of a slide back into another South Texas summer.

I know most everyone reading this isn't nearly as unhappy as I am to see winter coming to a close. For those few like me who find the best of life in the winter and the worst in the summer, I offer in my images this week a tribute to winter and to snow. The pictures were taken over five years with three different cameras in six different states - Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Texas. Most of them have appeared here before.

The last photo is my concession to the rest of you who can enjoy spring without thinking of the summer to come. It helps, I suppose, if, unlike South Texas, spring lasts more than three days, six hours and forty-five minutes before jumping into most of the rest of the year, which is summer.

For those who don't care about the weather one way or the other, I have a fine feature poet this week,Kevin McCann. Kevin has been a full-time writer for 16 years now. He's published six limited edition pamphlets in England. He also writes for children.

You've read Kevin here before but this is the first time, I think, he has been my featured poet.

Here's what else we have this week along with Kevin and my winter pictures.

14 Haiku

Kevin McCann

freak show

Rolph Jacobsen
Moon and Apple
Light Pole


Kevin McCann
To Time Travel

Patricia Monaghan
The Woman of Bagdad

Holly Thomas

Kevin McCann
First Contact

king of the gone frontier

Frederick Seidel


Kevin McCann
On the day after...

Ishley Yi Park
Meat Trucks
A Simple Bridge

Kevin McCann
The God Delusion

breakfast with the president

Julia B. Levine
This would be a good way to die

Immanual Kant, but i can

Philip T. Stephens
Viewing "Easy Rider"

Carlyn Luke Reding
The Dollmaker


I begin this week with haiku by Basho, the greatest of the haiku masters. The poems were translated by Robert Bly and are taken from his book The Winged Energy of Delight, Selected Translations.

Basho was born Matsuo Munefusa in 1644 in a small town thirty miles from Kyoto. His father died when he was young, causing him to enter into the service of a local feudal lord. When the lord died ten years later, Basho left home and began to travel. He studied with a well-known priest for a while and edited a collection of haiku by thirty different poets. When he was thirty-six, a group of his students build a hut for him on the Sumita River near a banana tree, or, "basho," and he took the name for himself. He lived sparsely and, when he was about forty,taking only his knapsack and a walking stick, he began a series of wanderings, that were to be the basis for his haiku for the rest of his writing life, which ended when he was fifty years old after one last walking trip.

Here are some of his haiku, the product of his close observations as he wandered. The greatest thing about these little poems is the way they make it seem you are walking and observing right alongside of him.

Spider, if you had a voice,
what would you sing,
swaying in the wind?


It's fall and dusk.
And no one is walking
along the road.


The temple bell stops -
but the sound keeps coming
out of the flowers.


It's late fall.
I wonder how the man
next door lives.


It's fall and a full moon.
I walked around the shore
of the pond all night.


Dried salmon
and Kuya's breakthrough into the spirit - both
belong to the cold time of the year!


Storm on Mount Asama!
Wind blowing
out of the stones!


Give your longing to wound
and to own more things
away to the willow.


The sea grows rough.
The Milky Way reaches past
the islands of Sado!


How marvelous the man is
who can see a lightning flash
and not think, "Life is short!"


It's spring, all right;
that hill we named
is hidden in the mist.


The sea grows dark.
The voices of wild ducks
turn white.


It's quiet, all right.
The cries of the cicadas
sink into the rocks.


Octopuses caught in floating pots,
dreams that are not eternal
under the summer moon.

Here's this week's first poem by featured poet, Kevin McCann.


At what seems like milepost
Intervals : possum, porcupine,
A broken backed snake still
Rolling, crow mixed in
With rabbit,
Somebody's cat : blood trail,
Long as a fanfare,
One antler snapped,
Head twisting
Pink guts
Fly sucked
And blackening.

Cars slow up.

Windows roll down.

Mouths open.

Just a minute
Down the road,
A flattened skunk,
Whose scent bag,
Still potent,
                              Spills wide.

Maybe it's just some kind of empathic vibe I feel with the pain and gathering panic of the planet under attack; or maybe it's just the paranoia of the times. But I have felt it for several years now, like an itch between my shoulders.

Something is not right.

freak show

i feel
a great unwinding,
a wobble
like the way a top
as it loses its spin

i feel it in my own

a queasy reality-shift
in the pit of my stomach

i see it in the world
around me

a momentary
of things and the spaces
a coloring outside the
lines of universal time -
like the universe in a box
so all the pieces shift
and come together again
not quite right,
but not so wrong as to draw
immediate attention, mis-
construsions and mis-
caught only in the corner of
an eye while watching
other things, fraudulent reality,
shucking and jiving
like the carnival man
selling tickets
to the freak show,
another boardwalk fake-show, fake-
freaks, fake-
bearded women,
pillow stuffed fatmen,
and a strongman lifting
cardboard weights,
freaks in night's dark, accountants,
lawyers, and beauty parlor
operators in the light of day

it just doesn't seem right
and i can feel it

a great unwinding,
a wobble,
like a drunk man
walking home
at 3 a.m.,
his path dimly
in barely-

Here's another poet, a Norwegian, from Bly's book of translations.

Rolf Jacobsen was born in Oslo in 1907. He produced twelve books of poems in his life, winning the Norwegian Critics' Prize in 1960, the Bergen Prize in 1968, the Aschelough Prize in 1986, and the Grand Nordic Prize from the Swedish Academy in 1989. Editor of a small town newspaper for many years, his poems reflect his knowingness of small closely observed things and events.

His poems were translated into more than twenty languages before his death in 1994 when he was eighty-seven years old.

Moon and Apple

When the apple tree blooms,
the moon comes often like a blossom,
paler than any of them,
shining over the tree.

It is the ghost of the summer,
the white sister of the blossoms who returns
to drop in on us,
and radiate peace with her hands
so that you shouldn't feel too bad when the hard times come.
For the earth itself is a blossom, she says,
on the star tree,
pale and with luminous
ocean leaves.


What sower walked over earth,
which hands sowed
our inward seeds of fire?
They went out from his fists like rainbow curves
to frozen earth, young loam, hot sand,
they will sleep there
greedily, and drink up our lives
and explode it into pieces
for the sake of a sunflower that you haven't seen
or a thistle head or a chrysanthemum.

Let the young rain of tears come.
Let the calm hands of grief come.
It's not all as evil as you think.

Light Pole

My street lamp is so glacially alone in the night.
The small paving stones lay their heads down all around
where it holds up its lightumbrella over them
so that the wicked dark will not come near.

It says: We are all far from home.
There's no hope anymore.

Birds seem so optimistic in the morning, singing in their trees; you almost ever see a bird on a downer. Doesn't that just piss you off sometimes, all that chirpity chirpity brightness when you're just awake and not feeling that way at all.


frisky this morning

but i'll get over it
when the sun comes

up -
something about fresh

wakens the dog asleep

on a soft pillow
in me -

there are two ways to see
the glory of a rising

sun, wake up very early
or stay up very late

and i've done

but more of the second
than the first

which may be why
early blue morning skies

and hustle bustle
of traffic on the freeway

and people
walking their dogs

and the songs of birds
welcoming the day

chirping and singing
as birds do

as birds do

that dark is gone forever
oh joy joy chirp chirp

that's why they do it

you know
because bird-brains that

they are
they are certain that

the sun having come up

will never go down again
and that kind of stuff

just makes me so damn

Here's a second piece by Kevin McCann. I might try his suggestion here. Who knows, can't hurt.

To Time Travel

                              A random coin
                              That always
Comes up heads

                              Mix in

                              Spilled salt
                              Broken mirrors
                              A breaking dream


                              Can't wait
                              To grow up


                              Wish I was
                              A kid again

                              With a lucky guess...

Poets Against the War, published by Thunder's Mouth Press in 2003, is a compilation of poems selected from the website, "Poets Against the War" which included thousands of antiwar poems (including several of my own) at the height of the war in Iraq. Most of the poems are very much a product of the time and circumstances particular. My poems, for example, were howls of outrage at George Bush's stupid initiation and prosecution of the war, even the best almost unreadable now as being out of place and out of time.

Among the poems, though, are many that are universal, speaking to the humanity and wars of any moment and any circumstance, reminding the reader that the tragedies of war have nothing to do with politics or justice, nothing to do with "good wars" and "bad wars," nothing to do with necessary wars or foolish follies of foolish men. It is all the same to the dead.

That's what I was looking for when I selected the following two poems from the book.

There is almost no information included about the poets. Of the first poet the book indicates only that she has some connection to DePaul University and of the second only that she is 46 years old and from Seattle.

The first poet is Patricia Monaghan. This is her poem.

The Woman of Bagdad

She rises in the glow of a red sun
to make strong coffee. She fills her
cup with sugar from the bowl
her grandmother used. She sits
drinking slowly, beneath her lime tree.

I can see her through the blue glow
of the news: she moves with deliberate
grace in the silence of her morning.
As she reaches up to pull her hair
back from her neck, I see the tiny age
spots beginning on the back of her hand.

Men are talking somewhere, but she
does not hear them. She hears the murmur
of a dove in the tree. She hears the tiny
roar of a city wakening. She hears her heart
as we all hear ours, a soundless sound.

The men are saying she will die. The men
are saying the bombs are coming.
She, hearing nothing, gets up heavily
and picks a single lime from her tree.
She breathes its oily fragrance. These
are the last breaths she will take.

And the second poet, Holly Thomas, wrote this.


I don't know you, child.
I've never seen your country
or spoken your tongue.
But I see you burning
like an oil-soaked rag
in one of the old farm trucks
torched to terrify your people,
burning alone
because you fell asleep
after a long day's bending
in stony fields,
too tired at day's end
to walk back home.
Or, because you were
dragged there
conscious, and
set aflame.

Your mother devours your murderers' hearts
in her drugged dreams.
Your father, "disappeared" after the burning,
eats his own.

This is another poem by Kevin McCann, his third so far this issue, this one a reminder that our own little obsessions might not be, as Rick said, "worth a hill of beans" against a larger scale.

First Contact

               His satellite dish
               Had scanned the sky
               For fifty years
At last,
He heard


And fed through his computer
               It became numbers
That fed through his computer
And became letters
That fed through his computer
               And became words :
                   get a life
               They said...

This next poem of mine fits in with Kevin's above, a reminder that the biggest thing in our life might be, some years later, history that no one else remembers.

king of the gone frontier

i was feeling
really tired this morning,
like a whole lifetime of tired
had been dropped on me
all at once,
worn out like an old rug
in $25-a-week fleabag hotel, just
worn down and out

used up

and feeling even worse
after i read Fess Parker died

and i was telling Chris
the coffee shop guy
about it
and he said,


and i said,

Fess Parker

and he said,


and i said,

Davy Crockett

and he said,


and i said,

Daniel Boone

and he said,


and i said,

coonskin caps!

and he said,

what kind of hats?

and so now i'm feeling
really very tired
and really very, very,

The next poem is by Frederick Seidel, from his collection Poems, 1959-1979, published in 1989 by Knopf.

Seidel was born in 1936 in Missouri. He earned an undergraduate degree at Harvard University in 1957 and is the author of numerous collections of poetry. A finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and a finalist for the 1999 Pulitzer Prize in poetry, his awards include a Lamont Poetry Prize and a PEN/Voelcker Award.

His first collection, Final Solutions, created a controversy in 1962 when it was chosen for an award sponsored by the 92nd Street Y which included a $1,500 honorarium and publication by Atheneum Press, only to have the award withdrawn after the Y rejected the manuscript, claiming that one of the poems libeled a famous living person, and Seidel was unwilling to make the requested edits. Initially, Atheneum agreed to publish the book, even without the Y's support, but eventually dropped the book which was published some years later by Random House.

Seidel did not publish another book for seventeen years.

I originally wanted to use the poem Sunrise from the book, but it is much too long, so I chose the next poem, instead, which has somewhat the same feel as Sunrise. Should you want to look the longer poem up somewhere, it is worth the search.

Seidel's poems remind me of Nathanael West's Day of the Locust, a witheringly matter-of-fact look at his culture and his time.


A football spirals through the oyster glow
of dawn dope and fog in L.A.'s
Bel Air, punted perfectly. The foot
That punted it is absolutely stoned.

A rising starlet leans her head against the tire
Of a replica Cord,
A bonfire of red hair out of
focus in the fog. Serenading here,
A boy plucks "God Bless America" from a guitar.
Vascular spasm has made the boy's hands blue,
Even after hours of opium.

Fifty or so of the original
four hundred
At the fundraiser,
Robert Kennedy for President, the remnants, lie
Exposed as snails around the swimming pool, stretched
Out on the paths, and in the gardens, and the drive.
Many dreams their famous bodies have filled.

The host, a rock superstar, has
A huge cake of opium,
Which he refers to as "King Kong,"
And which he serves on a silver salver
Under a glass bell to his close friends,
So called,
Which means all mankind apparently,
Except the fuzz,
Sticky as tar, the color of coffee,
A quarter of a million dollars going up in smoke.
This is Paradise painted
On the inside of an eggshell
With the light outside showing through,
Subtropical trees and flowers and lawns,
Clammy as albumen in the fog,
And smelling of fog. Backlit
And diffuse, the murdered
Voityck Frokowski, Abigail Folger and Sharon Tate
Sit together with out faces.

This is the future.
Their future is the future. The future
Has been born,
The present is the afterbirth,
These bloodshot and blue acres of flowerbeds and stars.
Robert Kennedy will be killed.
It is "68, the campaign year -
And the beginning of a new day.

People are waiting
When the chauffeur-bodyguard arrives
For work and walks
Into the ballroom, not recording studio, herds
Of breasts turn round, it seems in silence,
Like cattle turning to face a sound.
Like cattle lined up to face the dawn.
Shining eyes seeing all or nothing ,
In the silence.
A stranger, and wearing a suit,
Has to be John the Baptist,
At least, come
To say someone else is coming.
He hikes up his shoulder holster
Self-consciously, meeting their gaze.
That is as sensitive as the future gets.

A really fierce storm blew in this morning, heavy wind and rain dropping the temperature from 60 degrees when I got up to the high 40s an hour later. Got me to thinking about storms, all kinds.


Febrero loco, y Marzo mas poco

5:30 on a Saturday
and a storm blows in

a big one,
red and yellow on the radar
sweeping across the hill country -

the wind and the rain and thunder
wake me
and wakes the dogs

who whine by my bed,
wanting me to sit on the floor
with them

where we can huddle up,
a quivering mass
of dog and man huddled up

the best cure
for thunder as all good dogs
know -

the rain comes hard
and the wind
blowing branches to the ground

high water on the road
where high water usually is not,
the creek up

at least 10 feet,
brushing against the bottom
of the footbridge

high lightning
behind clouds shearing
open the whole sky

from horizon to horizon,
and i can't stay inside,
the wild weather calling me

to breakfast
so i gather up my old raincoat -
forty-five years since it was issued to me,

and i think of that day,
January 10th, 1965, the strangeness
of that day, a blur voices shouting

and faces nose to nose,
hard eyes,
the first day of basic training,

the coat still pristine this rainy day,
not even a button lost, only
the man inside showing the wear

of all the years he's worn it
and i think of the man i was
and the life i had years ago when i was

as old as the coat is now, and i think
of the miracle and mystery of time
how it carries us with hardly any notice

by us
through the eddies and flows
of our lives,

the mystery of a life
that passes with almost no notice
of its passage,

another storm passing
and we, the storm riders
to busy to feel it buck under us -

like this morning as through the rain
i run,
gathering up the news of this day

on the way to the car,
then off though the rain, pulse
thumping, wild as the morning,

alive as the new day,
the deep sleep of winter broken
by the wet waking of spring -

a block from the house,
a very large black dog walking
slowly through the rain

he stops as i approach, turns his yellow timeless eyes
to my headlights, does not move,
black truth waiting on this wet-blowing day -

i go around
and do not look back

Here's another piece by feature poet, Kevin McCann

On the day after...

                    All the papers
                              Give extensive coverage

To something else.

On the day after :

A cardboard sign,
Hand written,
Is briefly displayed
At his local station.

Within an hour,
Its twin appears
At the next stop
Down the line.

And the next

And the next

And so on.

On the day after that

Dozens file through his house.

Some kneel.

Many sob angrily.

On the day after that

They carry him,
Shoulder high :

His coffin draped
With birdsong.

The next two poems are by young Korean-American poet, Ishle Yi Park, from her book The Temperature of This Water, published by Kaya Press in 2004.

Meat Trucks

When I cannot look at your face,
I look at your back
curled away from me in sleep,
half buried in polyester sheets.

I know it supports you
under wooden crates of packed beef
hauled off loading trucks
on lamplit streets. It's almost geometric
in its tight bend, hoist, pull
that cranks you through the morning.

In these strange lights,
its ridges are reptilian and fierce,
but when my fingers graze your spine,
it shudders like a quiet earthquake.

A Simple Bridge

These days I feel out of touch with lightning,
fire, even the loneliness of wind.

My soul sings to itself
because it is alone.

And then, I think lightning,
fire, wind are all solitary forces:

they can't help but touch
things in their path. It is the reaching -

the space between the paper's edge,
the blue fingers of flame,

between the wind
and sharp, breathless leaves,

between the whiteblue jolt,
the one bare tree,

branches open to light
and burning -

it is a simultaneous distance
and longing my body recognizes.

A simple bridge inside me
waits to be crossed by lovers

in both directions - who meet
in the middle of the arc at four hours:

the pink hour, the pitch hour,
the starless hour, the soft, waking hour.

And, now, the last poem for this week by feature poet, Kevin McCann. Thanks, Kevin, for letting us read your work.

The God Delusion

Once there was a drought.

Fish ponds shrank down,
Paddy fields dried up,
Rice shoots scorched brown,

                              So out of
And rice paper,
                              People built a dragon

Then set fire to him.

Smoke rose,
                              A desperate calligraphy,
                              Until the dragon
That controls weather,
                              Finally woke up
                              And as he started
Beating his wings

                              Wind blew.

                              Clouds grew.

                              The pale blue sky
Turned black.

                              Rain fell :
                              Paddy fields were ankle deep :
                              Rain fell :
                              Rice shoots grew green :
                              Rain fell :
                              Stinking ponds refilled.

                              But that was then
                              And no-one really believes it.

                              Now we build
                              Radio telescopes
                              Out of steel,
                              And lasers

Then broadcast
Our frantic equations :

That an answer
Will come.

This fellow comes in about once a week to The Egg & I where I have breakfast every day. He seem to be to be the archetypal Vermont farmer, to the point where I always a little surprised when I notice he's not wearing overalls.

breakfast with the president

the guy
at the table next to me
reminds me of what Cal Coolidge
might look like if he happened to stop in here
at The Egg & I for breakfast at 7 a.m.
on this second day of Spring
of the year 2010

short, trim build, bald head
all angles and planes,
heavy, plastic-rimmed glasses,
pink cheeks like he had spent yesterday
facing that strong north wind
that blew in about the time the sun came up

the kind of look
makes you think of a guy in a big floppy hat
guiding a plow
across a rocky field in Vermont

and he wasted no words
ordering breakfast

just 5

each separated by a pause,
demonstrating the thought behind each,
emphasizing his commitment to the word
and all it might mean or suggest
before actually uttering it
for the world to hear

except at the end
when he threw 2 words together
in an explosion of orgasmic verbosity





thanks, he said
when they brought him his

and thanks, again,
when they brought him his check

7 words all together;
two of them repeats, from the time
he walked in until he paid his bill and walked
out the door, putting his big, floppy hat firmly atop his head

back to the farm,
where the mules pull the plow
and don't just sit around all day chattering about it

Now I have two poems by Julia B. Levine, from her book Ditch-tender, published in 2007 by the University of Tampa Press.

Levine lives and works in Davis, California, and is the author of three books of poetry. Her awards in poetry include the Discovery/The Nation Award for Emerging New Writers and the Pablo Neruda Prize.


Now the geese are crying for the falling year.

Adrift and on fire, flickers return from the blue hills.
Moths tear open the fierce green lawn,

like directions to the next world, tattered into bits.,
shredded handfuls thrown up to sun.

Remember last Halloween, when our neighbors called
the animals and archangels, one by one, across his doorway,

and in they came, to his wife's hospital bed, frightened
but obedient, while he lifted their hands into hers.

Some things need to know they can still be touched.

Some things astonish us with the deeper names
of what was never meant to be

like the dream the child had of your guitar,

so certain that you'd brought the music back,
that she woke and padded down the hallway

to find me, here, alone, sewing her black cape and own,
listening to the strange lantern of the geese

passing on...

This would be a good way to die

he says, and swims out into the bay,
thought I understand he's only thinking about his heart,

his death imminent and impossible
as the hard wind working against sky.

My daughter stands on shore, watching dusk redden
the far hills, asking, Why is it more beautiful over there?

What is clear to someone on the edge of a life?

Once I came down here alone, dragging my kayak behind,
astonished to see three otters rising like slender reeds
from the mouth of a vaster music,

and followed after,
through a wall of white fog, thinking, The soul is a small vessel
paddling into the living fire of time.

That morning has been working in me ever since

like threshold, like my old friend
trudging up the beach,

my daughter leaning against my chest,
a strand of her hair against my lips,
the hour like a window
out to where two kites collide and fall

into an endless aisle of waves going out,
coming back, one by one...

I'm one of those people who think by writing, unable to get a clear idea anything until I can clearly state it on paper. It's one of the reasons I hardly ever know how my poems are going to end until I get to the ending. It is also why I can be very pleased with a poem that is not of any interest to anyone else, but satisfies me because of how it led me to its conclusion.

This might be one of those poems.

Immanuel Kant, but i can

the religioso mosos
were late yesterday

didn't get here
until i was finished with my poem
and was packing up to leave

but they started right in talking about
Immanuel Kant
and his theories of what can be known

through the human mind
and what cannot,
the difference as he defined it

between scientific questions
which can be investigated and known
and metaphysics which cannot

and i've been wondering since then
what i thought about that, me, being
a person who does not believe

in metaphysical questions or any other
question that cannot be addressed
by thinking human beings

though i admit,
not by all human beings, thinking
or not, none of us as smart

as is surely required
to be a real know-it-all, rather
than just the know-it-all

that some of us of lesser self-knowledge
sometimes claim to be -
even smart people can be stupid

when it comes to understanding
their own limitations
and i try not to be one of those -

but as to that metaphysical stuff,
i just don't buy it,
believing instead that all questions

are subject to rational structures
and honest experimentation,
and though there may be many things

i'll never know,
the only thing i know i'll never know
is what's going to happen tomorrow

time being a different dimension
subject to it's own laws
and maybe under those laws

there is a God who created all and
who continues to care for all
his creations

and a Jesus,
God and Son of God, who died
for His/His Father's creations -

but that's a dimension
where i am not and cannot be
and in this dimension where i can be

it seems clear to me
that i'm on my

and if my best friend, Reba,
waiting so patiently in the car,
gets her walk today

it's going to be with me
and not with

I have a couple of poets now from the anthology Feeding the Crow, published by Plain View Press of Austin in 1998.

The first of the poets is Phillip T. Stephens, a self-styled, "creative catalyst," specializing in his business consultancy in the field of ontology.

Viewing "Easy Rider"

In the end, after Nicholson was dead,
after Peter Fonda, Karen Black and Dennis Hopper
had freaked out on the bad acid in the French Quarter,
after they had been invited into communities of love
and ended up with prostitutes in their laps,
in the end Peter Fonda understood. He said to
Dennis Hopper, "We blew it, man," and Hopper said,
"What do you mean, man? We're rich."
And it's plain as the daylight on my face,
at least it’s plain all these years later,
that only Fonda was looking for beauty or truth
or even love, but Dennis Hopper was an asshole.
and my generation, my friends who passed around
the Panama Red in the theater while we waited for
those two-shit faced rednecks to point their shotgun
at the asshole shooting the peace sign, My generation,
who knew this movie was addressing some vital truth
but could never get it straight just what the truth was,
My generation grew up to be Dennis Hoppers.

The second poem is by Carlyn Luke Reding who is a native of Brazoria County and identifies herself as a sixth generation Texan. That seems like more generations than there were Texans, but counting it out on my fingers, it turns out I'm a fifth generation Texan myself, old grandpa Henrich arriving just after the revolution was won, in the years between nationhood and statehood. Never thought of it before.

The Dolmaker

molded second grade girls
through magical twists and turns
into great big Brownie smiles,
then managed a nursery school at home
before daycare was popular.

The dollmaker
painted the kitchen, baked a pie,
ironed alter linens in front of a fan,
fixed a tire, changed the diapers,
and sang in the choir,
grew saucer-sized Peace roses,
coaxed sweet-peas in the spring,
sold real estate,
taught Special Ed students like gifted,
swam in the Gulf of Mexico; beach combed for hours,
ignored the dirty dishes, read arm loads of books,
then polished the hardwoods on hands and knees,
finished my first communion gown early Sunday morn,
fashioned and dressed Snowflakes for the Christmas pageant,
redesigned Easter bonnets,
outmaneuvered hurricanes,
survived a nervous breakdown.

Once the doll maker
created a doll with needle and thread; taffeta and old lace,
crushed tissue paper shaped the burgundy gown and cape.
she decorated its fragile eggshell head
with a tiny face, curls, and bonnet.
Alarmingly, the fabric sculpture
 lacked shoes
lacked feet.

We all fall into the habit at times of beginning to think that everything that is is going to always be, that everything we have will always be there for us. Many people, fortunate people, die with that illusion intact.

Not me. It seems to me that everyday I am reminded of the frailty of all we have and know, the certain knowledge that some morning I will write a poem and it will be the last one, that on that morning I will face a dry well of inspiration that will never run wet again. The immediate effect of that is to be very grateful for every morning when I drop my bucket and it comes up with a poem.

That's the thought that led to this one, the last poem for this week, an expression of faith that, by believing, there will be another one tomorrow.


about six thirty
to nine thirty every morning
i crank up the day

and a newspaper
and lots of coffee and a poem,
just one, no more until the next day -

the rest of the day
is mostly just
small chores and little

the kind of things a person does
because the day
is more than 3 hours long
and must be filled with something

i don't know how long this will last

i know life is a transitory thing
and all the events and habits of life
in transit
until the next thing comes

i learned my lessons
about permanent long ago,
nothing is forever, nothing last longer
than your everyday sweetening of it

learned that lesson
from watching all my monuments
crumble, the pride of my prides
eroded by the wash of time

leaving nothing in this world
of me
but the pleasure i had in it -
the monument of me to me daily built

and i know that one day
all that will end, the little "that"
of the daily poem, the big "that"
of the daily poet

and the thing within me that makes a poem
will make something new, a tree, a leaf,
a spider on a web between the leaves, a web
or something that struggles within the web

every day a thousand thousand poems,
poems of sunshine; poems of rain,
poems of me in all my pieces spread again, becoming again
part of the universal poem of everything and everywhere

and any part of me that still floats in that ether
capable, still, of pleasure,
will smile
and call it well and goodly done

The week is done.

Everything here, though borrowed by me, remains the property of it's creators. Take my stuff if you want it, just give credit where credit is due.

I am allen itz, owner and produce of this blog and, in the end, it's all my fault.


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Just Another Little Stab At Immortality   Thursday, March 18, 2010


We have a special treat this week. First, we have as our featured poet, Australian
Laurel Lamperd, then, for a first, we have Laurel's daughter, Dawn, with seven photos from the outback.

Laurel lives within sight of the Southern Ocean on the south coast of Western Australia. She writes novels and short stories as well as poetry. With a friend, she published The Ink Drinkers, a poetry and short story anthology of their work.

Dawn has a professional career that keeps her very busy, but is an avid photographer and especially enjoys traveling the rugged Australian outback to take photos. Here photos are together about the middle of the issue.

The rest of the photos are my own, old pictures taken in and around Big Bend National Park on the West Texas border with Mexico. The pictures inside the park were taken on two separate visits, one in the spring and one in winter. The pictures from outside the park were taken on a small two-lane road that runs along the Rio Grande River, sometimes level with it and sometimes high above it, from the Park to the border city of Presidio.

I did a little processing on my pics, aiming for (and getting, I hope) a kind of fresco-effect. A couple of times, when I got the mix just right, I also got the kind of deep, rich color that you used to get with early Polaroid color film.

Although the wildlife may have some differences, there is much similarity between the landscapes pictured by Dawn and those of mine.

And here's the rest of us.

Yuksef Komunyakaa
Body of a Woman

Laurel Lamperd
Happy Families

show, don't tell

Ralph Angel
The Local language
Late for Work
And So Asks

Laurel Lamperd

we know a sad day is coming

Simon Ortiz
Two Coyote Ones

it is in the nature of all birds

Laurel Lamperd

Dawn Lamperd
Photos from the Outback

Zhang Ji
Moored by the Maple Bridge at Night

Han Yu
Losing My Teeth

Bei Dao

Laurel Lamperd
In Memoria

a rant of an educational nature

Cluster R. Byers
The King of Travis Park

the secret of my success
the day after

Laurel Lamperd
That Direful Spring
Towards 2010

Lawrence Ferlinghetti
Reading Apollinaire by the Rogue River


I start this week with a poet, Yusef Komunyakaa I had never read before buying the book for "Here and Now." The poems are from his book Talking Dirty to the Gods, published in 2000 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Komunyakaa was born in Bogalusa, Louisiana in 1947. He is the author of twelve books of poetry, including Neon Vernacular: New and Selected Poems for which he received the 1994 Pulitzer Prize. He has been Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets beginning in 1999 and is the winner of the 2001 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize. He is a professor in the Council of Humanities and Creative Writing program at Princeton University.


Gods, with your great golden
Shields & winged feet, you
Granted me a perfect wish,
& then threw in a second one

As bonus. I didn't know
One was a blessing, the other
A curse. You know I don't care
About gold, the bright burdens

It buys. I have seen a world
Of chains & ankle bracelets,
but I never could stomach pure
Unadulterated illusion - or endless

Situation comedy. Lord, magicians
Sure can conjure an openmouthed
Crowd. One wish grew worthless
After driving the other from my door.


We turn away from the flesh
On paper, but find ourselves
Praising the flow of feudal silk
& rice powder, as a sumarai's gaze

Unfastens a windfall of blossoms
In some house of assignation
The other side of Hiroshige's forecast
Of slanted black rain. Somehow,

We face Utamaro’s hairy ape
Who brandishes his penis
Like an untutored sword
At a pale maiden against indigo.

The two are brushed into a tussle
Of fire with water, a fury of silk
In a floating world, a season
Of flowered branches breaking.

Body of a Woman
Cadavere de Donna

Here you are, still
Reposed behind glass
Like a work of art. Yes,
body of precious aloneness,

There are times I desire you
In a lover's arms. Sometimes
I want you making fierce love,
With moans like through bubbles

Of pleasure forever in Pompeii's
Lava & ash. Yet, other nights,
As Miles Davis plays ballads
In the background, like tonight,

There's only irony: I see
You're gazing out toward
The House of the Faun,
Waiting for someone.


They made a fancy catch
For a nightgown out of me.
Fashioned into a silver hook's
Accomplice, a dumb eye

Against her skin, eager
Fingers fought each other
To unhook me, like an unkind
Thought in a man's brain.

Sometimes, I am a silk bud
Straining not to bleed open
With the rise & fall
Of her breasts. Desire

Snapped the wire hook
One night. Her own fingers.
Now, I am a little noose
Around a mother-of-pearl button.

This is our first poem from this weeks featured poet, Laurel Lamperd.

Happy Families

When I was twelve
my father left.
"He'll send for us
when he's ready, "
my mother said
who believed in him
as we all did.

Except for postcards
in the first year
I was forty
when next I heard
of him.

My mother was dead.

He had died
of a heart attack
in some little town
in Queensland
I'd never heard of.

And this is my first poem for the week, a strange sort of love poem I wrote last week about how the best love poems are never written.

show, don't tell

so inadequate,
us poor poets, writing
our inadequate love poems, trying
to speak that
which cannot be spoken

for there is no true
for love, only
crude approximations,
like hand puppets
their lines to a deaf audience

a child's smile,
a flower's bloom opening in spring sunlight,
a mother's kiss
on fevered brow,
a father's embrace,
in all its truest forms -
all things
too deep and fine
for any clumsy accumulation
nouns and verbs and adjectival

such human truth
can only be mimed,
speaking louder than
words -

so don't say you love me -

show me

with you eyes
and your smile
and your welcoming arms
show your love
to me

and i will show you back,
all the best ways
i can

Now I have three poems by one of my favorite poets, Ralph Angel. The poems are from his book, Twice Removed, published by Sarabande Books in 2001.

Angel, born in 1951, had two previous books of poetry, Neither World, which won the 1995 James Laughlin Award of the Academy of American Poets and which I have lifted poems from often, and Anxious Latitudes. His poems appear frequently in top poetry and literary journals and in numerous anthologies. He is Edith R. White Endowed Chair in English at the University of Redlands and a member of the faculty at the MFA Program in Writing at Vermont College.

Born in Seattle, Angel has lived in Los Angeles, the subject of many of his poems, for many years.

The Local Language

The way she puts her fingers to his chest when she greets him.

The way an old man quiets himself,

or that another man waits, and waits a long time, before
Its in the gaze that steadies, a music

he grows into - something about
Mexico, I imagine, how he first learned about there.

It's in the blank face of every child,
a water that stands still amid the swirling current,

water breaking apart as it leaves the cliff and falls forever
through its own, magnificent window.

The way a young woman holds out a cupped hand, and doves
    come to her.

The way a man storms down the street as if to throw open
    every door.

And the word she mouths to herself as she looks up from her
    book - for

that word, as she repeats it,

repeats it.

Late for Work

In the throes
of winter a tropical storm muddies
the gutters

where traffic congests and then as always
eases us through.

Maybe I knelt there
for since they have vanished the lamps
in shop windows

flicker within. Somebody
flinching. A red
umbrella and that part of town swept from the hip

and the shoulder.
From my

open side. Somebody
pushing a bicycle. somebody's alone
on the square.

So much
springtime we clog to catch up
to the first wave
of heat. People chatting
and murmuring. A young man

pouring tea.
The way an old man dabs his wet face
with a napkin. The way

she reclines when she reads.
so much cinnamon
and bread.

God how I love Darjeeling.

And So Asks

Scissoring palm trees in the gorgeous light above.
Spires and gold-colored domes.
The blue of the avenue -
the air itself
handed down among crisscrossing
wires and rusted vanes

astonishes with our breathing
the pulse of shadows
and trains.

Blood blossoms the mortar -
newsprint and clutter and the chemical taste
the eye goes to
and savors,

and the stone too looks around.

From that which is not.
From that which is not but used to be and so asks
a stranger to snapshot our leaving -

that you were happy too,
relieved somehow and nicely tired,
and the smoke

and the hillsides drift by.

Here's Laurel Lamperd, with her second poem for the week. As with a lot of the poets I like, most of Laurel's poems come with stories attached.


He said get rid of it
and went up north

She couldn't remember their names
There were two years between some
less between others.
Her eldest girl always
had one on her hip.

She escaped to the river
to the moss covered rocks
and wind driven trees
to write a poem.

The poem was for her friend
dead from a backyard abortionist
The last word she wrote was

The children who survived
the homes and foster parents
returned to search for her.
The eldest girl looked under the moss
seeing the word


I've written a lot of poems about my pets, especially my dog, Reba. I wrote this a week or so ago.

we know a sad day is coming

i wonder
if Reba knows
she's going deaf
or if she just thinks
the world
is going quiet on her

we communicate now
mostly through hand signals
and close touching,
as when i hold her head
and, nose to nose,
whisper the secret names
of all the places
we've been to these
past 15 years
and all the secrets
of all those places that
only we know

used to
i could rattle her leash
four rooms away
and she'd be at the door
waiting for a walk
before i could get there

i have to go into the bedroom
and give her a little shake
and she rises slowly,
hesitating a little as she
sets weight on her hips, but,
once she has her feet under her,
she is as eager as ever
for a walk
or, on a bright, cool day
when the air is crisp and fresh,
a run and a chase
around the backyard,
fast, she runs,
her body low to the ground,
her long fur streaming behind her -
no reason for this,
a chase with nothing to catch
but the exuberance of memory,
the puppy-spring days
of long ago

she is an old dog,
getting very thin
under her thick coat,
more deaf every day,
seeing less and less
through clouded cinnamon eyes,
bones old
and joints stiff,

we know a sad day
is coming

Now I have a poem by Simon J. Ortiz, a poet I've used frequently in "Here and Now." Again, he's another storyteller. The poem is from his book Woven Stone, published in 1992 by the University of Arizona Press.

Ortiz born in 1941 in Albuquerque, New Mexico is a Native American writer of the Acoma Pueblo tribe, and one of the key figures in the second wave of what has been called the Native American Renaissance. He continues to be one of the most respected and widely read Native American poets.

Two Coyote Ones

I remember that one about Coyote
coming back from Laguna Fiesta
where he had just bought a silver belt buckle.
He was showing off to everyone.
That Coyote, he's always doing that,
showing off his stuff.
it wasn't as good as he said it was,
just shiny and polished a lot.
I never saw it myself, just heard about it
from one of his cousins who said
the Navajo was kind of wobbly when Coyote
bought it for five dollars and a small sack
of wheat flour he'd "borrowed"
from a Mesita auntie.
            That Coyote,
I wonder if he still has that silver buckle
that everyone was talking about
or did he already pawn it at one of those
places "up the line."
He's like that you know and then he'd tell
people who ask,
        "Well, let me tell you.
I was at Isleta and I was offered
a good deal by this compadre who had
some nice ristas of red chili. He had
a pretty sister..." and so on.
And you can never tell.

One night in summer in southern Colorado,
I was sitting by my campfire.
Rex, the dog, was lying down
on the other side of the fire.
            I could see
the lonely flicker of the fire
in his distant eyes.
(That sounds like just talk
but Rex was a pretty human dog.)
                And this
blonde girl came along. I mean that.
She just came along, driving a truck,
and she brought a cake.
That was real Coyote luck, a blonde girl
and a ginger cake. We talked.
She lived south of my camp some miles,
just past the bridge over the Rio de la Plata.
Her parents and her brothers raised goats.
That's where the money was she said,
and besides goats are pretty well-mannered
if you treat them right.
            I said, Well I don't know about that. We used to raise
goats too.
      Coyote doesn't like goats too much.
He thinks they're smartass and showoff.
Gets on his nerves he says.
Goats think pretty much the same of him,
    Better watch out for that cousin.
He gets too sly for his ownself
to be trusted. He'll try to sell you
a sack of flour that's got worms in it
that somebody probably has thrown out.
they’d get into a certain story
about one time at Encinal when he brought
a wheelbarrow that was missing only one wheel
to this auntie he liked and he had a story
for why the wheel was missing...
And so on.

Anyway, the girl was nice, her hair shining
in the firelight, gentle soft voice.
She told me her name but I forget now.
Said she was going to Boston for med school,
said she like raising goats but it was time
for her to go East.
        Actually, we just talked
about the goats and what I was doing
which was living at the foot of the La Plata
Mountains and writing.
            I think I could have
done something with that gimmicky-sounding
line, which was true besides, but I didn't.
It was just nice to have a blonde girl
to talk with. I had to tell Rex the dog
to cool it a couple of times. He and I
were alone that summer, and we were
eager to keep our cool.
When she was leaving I asked her to come
back again. She said she'd like to but
she was leaving for Denver the next day.
Okay then, I said and thanked her
for the ginger cake and the talk.
"Goodbye and goodluck." Yeah, "Goodbye."

There's this story that Coyote was telling
about the time he was sitting at his campfire
and a pretty blonde girl came driving along
in a pickup truck and she...And so on.

And you can tell afterall.

Just watching for the little things, sometimes makes a poem.

it is in the nature of all birds

i'm watching
a bird running around
the parking lot,
one bird, a jay,
running with a gang
of blackbirds, wondering
it he feels any discomfort
hanging with friends so unlike

i've been watching birds lately,
and there seems to be a lot more
of that going around -

so will we soon
be seeing lions lying with lambs? i

think not,
for it is in the nature
of all birds

to eat bugs
squashed on parking lots

of race, creed, color
or tufted or untufed heads
which makes it an entirely different
from lions and lambs

one of whom
by nature
eats the other

though i did see recently
a dog
nursing a litter of kittens

but even that is different
from lions and lambs,

dogs and cats being,
not lunch one for the other,
but merely ideological
the cat life-view
being irreconcilable
with that of the dog

though they can
as mine do, as long as

they don't discuss
philosophy, politics
or religion...

i have friends
like that - we get along
very well

as long as we don't talk
about anything important

and only chase down
squashed bugs

Now here's a pastoral piece from feature poet, Laurel Lamperd.


Green and lush
were the pastures
that spring
when it rained and rained
and the washing wouldn't dry
and the children squabbled
and fought in the house.

This year the country
is bare earth.
Wind erodes
sending dust storms
eddying drunkenly across paddocks.

The children want to
dance inside them.

The dust comes on a face today
the day the trucks took
the last of the sheep.


Here's a first for "Here and Now," a mother/daughter combination as featured poet and featured photographer. You've been reading Laurel Lamperd's poems; now here are seven photos from the Australian outback by her daughter, Dawn Lamperd.

I'm hoping that Dawn will someday send me a full compliment of 20 to 25 pictures so that I can turn a whole issue over to here.

"Inland Australia"
Photo by Dawn Lamperd

"Breakaway, South Australia"
Photo by Dawn Lamperd

"Devils Marbles, NT"
Photo by Dawn Lamperd

"Kings Canyon. NT"
Photo by Dawn Lamperd

"MacDonnell Ranges, Alice Springs, NT"
Photo by Dawn Lamperd

"Chichester Range, Pilbara, Western Australia"
Photo by Dawn Lamperd

"Karijini National Park, Western Australia"
Photo by Dawn Lamperd

Here are several poets from The Anchor Book of Chinese Poetry, subtitled "From Ancient to Contemporary, The Full 3000-Year Tradition" The anthology was published by Anchor Books in 2005 and serves as a vivid reminder what newbies we in the West are when it comes to writing poems (and most everything else as well). Using my favorite word from "NCIS," we are indeed Probies at the art.

The book was edited by and most translations are by Tony Barnstone and Chou Ping.

First, I have a couple of poems from the Tang Dynasty, beginning with this very short piece by Zhang Ji, a scholar-poet from Xianzhou who passed the imperial examinations in 753 and held a number of regional and central government posts. His forty-odd poems are not well known, except for this one, and he was not considered a leading poet of the period.

This short piece, though, is very nice.

Moored by the Maple Bridge at Night

The moon sets, ravens crow, and frost fills the sky.
River maples, fishermen’s lanterns. I face sorrow in my sleep.
The Hanshan Temple is outside Gusu city.
At midnight the bell rings - the sound rocks my traveler's boat.

The next poem is by Han Yu, born in 768 in the Henan province, to a literary family. His father died when he was a baby and he was raised in the family of his older brother, Han Hui. He taught himself to read and write and was a student of philosophical writings and Confucian thought.

He, with his brother's family, was banished to Southern China in 777 because of their association with a disgraced minister. His brother's death in 781 left the family in poverty. In 792, after four attempts, he passed the imperial exam, and, a few years later, he began service with several military governors. In 802, he obtained a post as instructor in the Imperial University, until, after several periods of exile, he became rector of the university. After serving in a number of other high government posts, he died in 824, at the age of fifty-six.

The poem also illustrates to me how classical Chinese poets could find deep and enduring meaning out of pains and pleasures of everyday life.

Losing My Teeth

Last year a tooth dropped,
this year another one,
then six or seven went fast
and the falling is not going to stop.
All the rest are loose
and it will end when they are all gone.
I remember when I lost the first
I felt ashamed of the gap.
When two or three followed,
I worried about death.
When one is about to come loose,
I am anxious and fearful
since forked teeth are awkward with food,
and in dread I tilt my face to rinse my mouth.
Eventually it will abandon me and drop
just like a landslide.
By now the falling out is old hat,
each tooth goes just like the others.
Fortunately I have about twenty left.
One by one they will go in order.
If one goes each year,
I have enough to last two decades.
Actually it does not make much difference
if they go together or separately.
People say when teeth fall out
you life is fading.
I say life has it own end;
long life, short life, we all die.
People speak of the gaps in my teeth,
and all gaze at me in shock.
I quote Zhuangzi's story -
a tree and a wild goose each has its advantages,
and though silence is better than slurring my words
and though I can't chew, at least soft food tastes great
and I can sing out this poem
to surprise my wife and kids.

As a reminder that the Chinese poetry tradition continues, here's a poem by Bei Dao, a contemporary poet born in 1949.

Bei Dao is the pen name of Zhao Zhenkai - a name he took to hide his identity while publishing in underground magazines. Though his poetry has long been associated with the Democracy Movement, earlier in his life he joined the Red Guard during the Cultural Revolution. After he became disillusioned by the excesses of the movement, he was sent to the countryside for reeducation where he worked as a construction worker from 1969 to 1980.

During the Cultural Revolution the Red Guards often raided the homes of intellectuals and suspect administrators, confiscating their books. He participated in the raids, but instead of destroying the books, he kept them and read them while in exile. It was through these books that he learned of Western literary traditions.

Very active in the Democracy Movement of the late 70s and 80s, he was out of China at a writer's conference at the time of the Tiananmen Square massacre and has not returned to China since.

His work has been widely translated and anthologized and several collections of his poetry are available in English translation.

This poem was translated by Bonnie S. McDougall and Chen Maiping.

   for the victims of June Fourth

Not the living but he dead
under the doomsdayk-purple sky
go in groups
Suffering guides forward suffering
at the end of hatred is hatred
the spring has run dry, the conflagration stretches unbroken
the road back even further away

Not gods but the children
amid the clashing of helmets
say their prayers
mothers breed light
darkness breeds mothers
the stone rolls, the clock runs backward
the eclipse of the sun has already taken place

Not your bodies but your souls
shall share a common birthday every year
you are all the same age
love has founded for the dead
an everlasting alliance
you embrace each other closely
in the massive register of deaths

This next poem by Laurel Lamperd has had a very active publishing history, appearing in Grass Roots Magazine, Preservation Times Magazine, and Promartian Magazine before this appearance in "Here and Now."

In Memoria

For eons
the land fought the elements.
The sea rose and the land waited
harnessing its strength
until the sea retreated.

The land gathered its forces
against the alien
and a truce was declared
with the spear and boomerang
and the flames which scorched
yet rejuvenated.
Weaponless against axe and machine
the elements triumphed
robbing the topsoil
and gouging great gutters
in its enemy's breast.

As a phalanx the enemy moved forward.
Behind lay stumps of forests
salt encrusted wastes
paddocks of sand
where few sheep grazed.

The land sighed
and gave up its life.

A good rant purges the system. However, I have to offer this warning.

If your are a right-wing fundamentalist whacko, this will probably offend you. Fair warning, more consideration than you usually give when you offend me with your whackadoodle political fantasies and aggressive and insulting assumption of moral superiority.

If you're not a right-wing fundamentalist whacko, pardon this interruption.

a rant of an educational nature

i was going to write about
the Texas Board of Education
which is in the process
of adopting standards for
history textbooks
for the next school year...

right-wing fundamentalist,
with a two to one
over board members
of a more rational persuasion,
feel free to exercise their Stalinist
to rewrite history
until it turns out the way
they want

cause this is a Christian Nation,
you know,
and since these folks hear from God
on a regular basis regarding
what kids
ought to be learning, it's completely
fair and proper for them
be in charge of this kind of stuff

i mean,
who wants to start up a big argument
with God over American History
and the white man's destiny
to run things
until the Big White Guy in the Sky
decides to come back down
and take care of things
his own self

but if you happen to be one
of those concerned
that education of our children
really ought
to reflect the realities of things
you'll not be pleased to learn that
history is just the warm-up,

and math are next

if political and religious
can be found in it,
you can be sure
there will be close scrutiny
of such left-wing propaganda as
global warming
and the earth's
relative to the sun
and the rest of the universe...
and what in the world do we need
germ theory for
sacrificing a goat
to the glory of He Who Likes
His Cabrito Bar-B-Cued
on an open pit
will cure most any disease
know to us, believers and nonbelievers
except for that Aids thing
that we don't want to cure anyway since
it's obviously God's punishment of all the
queers and lesbos and unborn children of drug addicts
for all the disgusting stuff they do

(tell me, johnny,
what did you learn in school today?

well, we learned
why the apple fell
from the tree
to land so precisely
on Isaac Newton’s head

and why is that, Johnny

cause little Isaac
was sleeping under the tree
rather than
reading his bible lesson,
that's why,
so God shook the tree to make
the apple fall
on Isaac's head to wake him
and remind him of the need for proper
religious study, ma'am.

And how do you know that
Cause that's what teacher said, and,
it's right here in my state-
science book!)

but that's not so bad

it's the whole business
of two plus two equals five,
as foretold in the first epistle
of Reverend Pat
on his TV show (have you sent your offering, yet),

that's going to cause a big problem
when we get to making change at the
five and dime

...i was going to write about
all that,
but decided not to
who cares since
the yahoos have mostly
already had their
way any-

I found a poet new to me last week, a San Antonio poet, Cluster R. Byers.

Byers describes the various roles in his life as "husband, father, grandfather, soldier, salesman, janitor, bowler, golfer, tailor, speaker, student, and teacher" and ascribes the world view he brings to his poetry as a product of all those roles. Currently, his role is as an English teacher at Northwest Vista College on the west side of San Antonio.

The poem is from his book, Revisions of Visions, published by Orchard Press in 2004. The Travis Park referred to in the is one of San Antonio's oldest park right in the center of downtown San Antonio about a block from the Riverwalk and, among other things, site of the city's annual jazz festival.

The King of Travis Park

Monarch of the minions traveling the trails of
flower-lined paths, he roams the realms of unreal-
ity, regal in his own way. Surrounded by a pollu-
tion of people, he reigns like a toothless lion over a
pried he has no longer. He concerns himself no
longer with a victim being mugged, a bike cop cruis-
ing cobblestone streets. Yet he attacks a scrap of
paper blowing from the grass, to the curb, to the
street like a serf scrambling for freedom. Clutch-
ing it in the fingers of his cut-out gloves, he raises
the scrap over his head like a priest holds the
chalice at Mass. He mumbles and plunges the
scrap into a public trashcan and smiles back over
his shoulder at no one. Bending over, he exposes
his royal blue underwear, the only hint of royalty
he allows passersby to see. The elastic holding them
up strains to conceal his moon as he strains to hold
on to a crap of reality. Yet he is the King of this
little acre, Travis Park, towered over by financial
firms, high-rise hotels, sky-high street lights. But
when the firms close their doors, and the guests
go to bed at night, he casts his shadow over all
beneath the lights as he scurries down the deserted
streets, trying to recapture a scrap of paper or the
last piece of reality slipping away just out of his reach.

I hate to give away my secrets, but, whattheheck, nobody reads this anyway.

the secret of my success

are back this morning,
at the table right next to me,
and i am soooo excited,
looking forward
to listening in on whatever
they're going to talk about,
which, right now,
is about needing soft food
this morning
they're having dental problems,
which i, currently
breaking in
a new, not-yet-properly-adjusted
bottom denture plate,
can fully appreciate
being on my fifth day of soft food
five pounds lighter,
but craving a cheeseburger
like never before in my life

i'm sure it'll get better
after they get some coffee in them,
but, right now, they talking about a fellow
who broke his jaw and had to live
on pureed food for months

that’s about enough of that


while i wait for the R-M's to get
to the good stuff,
i just note in passing
that i stumble into lots of good
and i say "stumble into" because
it's true - i have almost nothing
to do with it, other than having
the time and patience
to just sit and listen, kind of like
bird-watchers who do nothing to
bring the birds but, instead, just
go where birds might be and sit
and wait - which is what i do

having great faith in
which has been good good
good to me
all my life, not just in bird-
watching and conversation-
catching, but in almost every-
thing, time after time
stumbling into the right door
at the right time to discover
just what i'd been looking for
without ever previously having
any clue that i was looking for it,
and, flash! bang! there it was

like a career of over 30 years
discovered entirely by a right-place
after an aimless,
mostly misspent youth
of ambition-less wandering

who'd have ever guessed
i’d be so good
at doing that

so that's the secret of my success

i've never planned anything,
counting instead
on serendipity's smile
to take me places i hadn't the sense
to imagine
ahead of time

and it usually works,
but not always, like the religioso-mosos
this morning,
engrossed now in a discussion
of college basketball
and not a word of the conversation
i had been looking forward to

The next poem is a follow-up to the one above, both chronologically, this one written the day after the one above, and in content, a continuation of the themes of the first. Well, kinda.

the day after

they had been gabbing on
about dentists and
college basketball and i had
given up on them
and packed up my computer
and was headed for the cashier
when i heard one of them say

love is a verb - paul
talked about love as some thing
that was good - jesus loved

and i thought, well, that's
a nice line, though
it would of been better last week
when i was writing a poem
about showing love
and i could of stuck it in
and everybody would of thought
that i made it up,
which wouldn't have been
the first time the line was stolen
since i don't think this particular
moso-religioso made it up either
since he doesn't seem the type
to travel much in the direction
of creative expression

at this late point in time
it falls more into the category of
twice-chewed cabbage
and i almost never do that
except for frequent accidental
excess cabbage-chewing events

and that's
not my fault
cause i sometimes just forget
which of the cabbages
growing out of my brain
have been already chewed
and which have not

so while it is possible
i've said all this before
it's almost certain
i don't remember it,
just as i won't remember
saying it now

which is perfectly acceptable
since you won't remember it

deathless poetry
in my case
having an extremely short
life span

just as our false spring
has come and gone, living
shortly through several days
of tiny buds on trees all around
and back today to cold and wet

and that, too,
having now come will pass
just as everything comes and goes
from the teeny-tiniest microsecond
to eternity, which, though truly long,
will, in its time, also pass -
all that's required to see its passage
being sufficient patience
and a warm place to sit
as cold cold time rounds third
and slides into home and
the great umpire in the sky
calls the game
on account of, well, it's all over
and done
until whatever comes next

and the religioso-mosos
will be back here next Monday
and they may have some ideas
on that
but, as for me,
i know nothing
about it
at all

Here are my last pieces this week from featured poet, Laurel Lamperd.

Sometimes the wars come and go and in just a few years began to fade away. Laurel reminds us in the first poem of one war that is very close to that fading and reminds us in the new year of the decline of commitment in many of our lives.

The first poem previously appeared in Pixel Papers and the second in Micropress.

That Direful Spring

The screen shows night after night
the ethnic tensions of centuries past
erupting in Savajevo.

Old men threaten, cajole, make plans
take credit, give interviews
as food convoys struggle to the innocent
through sniper fire which wipes out children
while we fret and fume at the inhumanity.

Worshippers chant their prayers
light candles to their god
and beg for peace.

But remember Troy?
When instead of peace
the gods promoted war.

Towards 2010

Try the new way.
Live together.
No commitment.
If we part
split half and half.

He sat there
in his stovepipe jeans
and hand knitted sweater.
I asked
who had knitted the sweater.

Someone way back.

An old love?

You could say that.

I pictured the old love
weaving dreams
with needles and yarn.

The sweater had lasted
but she hadn't.

I was thinking this might be a good place for a short piece by Lawrence Ferlinghetti, except the only short pieces by Ferlinghetti are in that scattershot format that he used a lot and that is a real pain in the HTML butt to duplicate here, so I settled for this piece instead, from his book Wild Dreams of a New Beginning, published by New Directions in its ninth printing in 1988.

Also, the poem is about reading one of my favorite French poets, which appeals to me.

Reading Apollinaire by the Rogue River

Reading Apollinaire here
sitting crosslegged
on sleepingbag & poncho
in the shadow of a huge hill
before the sun clears it
Woke up early on the shore
and heard the river shushing
(like the sound a snake might make
sliding over riprap
if you magnified the sound)
My head still down upon the ground
one eye without perspective
sees the stream sliding by
through the sand
as in a desert landscape
Like a huge green watersnake
with white water markings
the river slithers by
and where the canyon turns
and the river drops from sight
seems like a snake about to disappear
down a deep hole
Indians made their myths
of this great watersnake
slid down from mountains far away
And I see the Rogue for real
as the Indians saw him
the Rogue all wild white water
a cold-blooded creature
drowning and dousing
the Rogue ruler of the land
transforming it at will
with a will of its own
a creature to be feared and respected
pillaging its way to the sea
with great gravity
still ruled by that gravity
which still rules all
so that we might almost say
Gravity is God
manifesting Himself
as Great God Sun
who will one day make Himself
into a black hole in space
whole will one day implode Himself
into Nothing
All of which the slithering Rogue
knows nothing of
in its headlong
blind rush to the sea
And though its head
is already being eaten
by that most cruel and churning
monster Ocean
the tail of the snake
knows it not
and continues turning & turning
toward its final hole
and toward that final black hole
into which all some day
will be sucked burning

As I sit reading a French poet
   whose most famous poem is about
      the river that runs through the city
         taking time & life & lovers with it
            And none returning
                     none returning

And finally, my last piece this week, investigation of a soon-to-be dusty artifact of our time, recognizable to anyone who spends any time around a teenage girl, especially if that teenage girl spends any time on Tweeter (which is about all of them, I think).



as they say in Twit
i mean
Tweet Land

my clock
to spring forward
and so did i

so the hour
and a half i had
to write this poem
is really only 30 minutes


i can't do that

the poem i had in mind
for today
would take at least
and hour
and twenty minutes
and that's only if i limit use
of consonants
to only three every two words


that'd never work -
would be incompre-
which would make
the poem

i should cut back on vowels

but that wouldn't work


this is the 1st poem
of my 35th cycle of 30's
and it's go-


maybe if i used all the
and vowels but just cut back
on -'s -





That's it, hope you enjoyed.

As usual, all the material presented in this blog remains the property of those who created it. My stuff is available if you want it, as long as you properly credit it.

I am allen itz, producer and owner of this blog, and it may not be Dostoyevsky, but it's what I do.

at 9:09 AM Blogger michi said...

dawn lamperd's pics brought back a lot of memories - the australian outback and its beauty: thanks.

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