Browns and Grays and a Touch of Blue   Thursday, March 10, 2011


Welcome, again.

This week I feature a friend from Western Australia, Sue Clennell, with two of her poems.

The pictures this week are, once again, mine, taken earlier in the week on a drive in the Central Texas hills, northwest of San Antonio, specifically in the area of Welfare, Texas, a very small town whose retail/financial/and governmental center is pictured above. Ranches surround the town, some cattle, some horses (including the miniatures, about the size of a large dog, like the one in the last picture), but mostly sheep and goats.

This is the season, between winter and spring) for clear blue skies, with everything else in shades of brown and gray. I'll go back in about a month and come back with pictures of pastures and hills covered in the colors of wild flowers.

I have a good mix of poems this week, with Sue and my library poets and some new and some old poems of my own. Here's what I have.

Tao Lin
“Untitled” (I think)

“let me tell you about me”

Patricia Fargnoli
“The Eagle, the Wild Sow, and the Cat”
“The Fox and the Grapes”
“The Little Fish and the Fisher”
“The Wolf Accusing the Fox Before the Monkey”

“last words”
“still reeling”

Charles Bukowski
“big time loser”

“the fellow in the blue denim shirt”

From "Hands on Stanzas"
Salvador Hernandez
Rolando Lopez
Jeff Maldonado
Mario Ortiz

“the musician”

Sue Clennell
“Chagall Would Approve”
“Mosman Park Meditations”

“for Katie’s Nana”

Shiela Ortiz Taylor
“Mid-Life Love”
“Playing Possum”


Anna Akhmatova
“To the Memory of a Friend” and three untitled pieces


Catherine Bowman
“The 54 Figures of Lotetia”


As an aside, I'm posting this week via and unusual venue and I don't think "spellcheck" is working properly. So, who knows what spelling horrors abide within the text below.

I start this week with a poem by Tao Lin from his book Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy. It is a strange poem from a strange book, with hamsters representing, I think, the "Every Man." Maybe not - you can draw your own conclusion.

The poet, born in 1983, is the author of a novel, a collection of short stories and a previous book of poetry. He lives in Brooklyn.

The book was published by Melville in 2008.

The poem I chose, at least I think it's a single poem, is longish and either untitled or a part of a titled poem which comes before it in the book that doesn't seem, in terms of content, anything to do with it.

Whichever, what counts is that it is, I think, very slyly funny.

untitled (I think)

In its room the hamster stared at a book by and author who had died.
"What if I died?" the hamster thought a little confused. The hamster
had not yet met its hamster friend. The hamster was alone. It was an
urban variety of an uncommon species of vegan hamster. Its room was

It had stacks of stolen books. The hamster had organic green tea
extract that was stolen..

The hamster's toothpaste was stolen and it used stolen flaxseed lemon
soap on its hair, which it cut itself. The hamster had an eleven-dollar

The toothbrush was stolen. The hamster was a recent college
graduate. Some days it felt terrible, then realized while walking that it
didn't feel terrible, but very good, and then felt relieved and consoled
for the rest of the day until it went to sleep, though most days
after a few hours everything outside its head became a single unit of
experience that entered its head - which was also its body - and then
included its head, creating a single mass the hamster carried home and
laid on a pillow.

The hamster's pillow was made of goose feathers. The hamster had
found it in the refuge room.

The hamster's philosophy of life included rather than was dictated by
veganism. If the hamster saw cheese or meat in the garbage it would
process its choices - to eat or not to eat - and in most circumstances
eat the cheese or meat, so that later on it would not require as many
resources to continue to exist and so could spend more money on
things that would contribute to increasing the life-span of other
organisms while also reducing pain and suffering in the world.

The hamster conceived this philosophy by observing that it did not
commit suicide. "I am perpetuating a conscious state of being by
eating and breathing an thinking and no slitting my wrists," the
hamster thought unexcitedly, "therefore my philosophy - derived from
my actions, which are pre-philosophical, or something - is that i am
a conscious being and I want to live, that all conscious beings not
working towards or in the act of suicide also want to lve, and that I
should therefore behave in a way that allows the most organisms the
most life."

The hamster sometimes thought about war, politics, globalization,
and world trade but mostly about thins like death, writing, existence,
loneliness, and meaninglessness that to it often preempted - despite its
philosophy regarding the value of life - economy, capitalism, society,
and materialism. The hamster lived in Manhattan. Later it moved
to Florida; then, to be near its hamster friend, Pennsylvania. It had
read over three hundred books of literary fiction, including almost
all of Jean Rhys,Lydia Davis, Joy Williams, Lorrie Moore, Frederick
Barthelme, an Richard Yates.

One night the hamster read a book that said HIV probably wasn't
the cause of AIDS. the hamster told three other hamsters that HIV
probably wasn't the cause of AIDS and two of the hamsters got angry
at it.

An angry hamster looks exactly like and unangry hamster because the
anger is within.

The hamster was unemployed. It stole from Whole Foods and other
grocery stores and Virgin Megastore.

Each day the hamster walked in stores, put items in a black duffel
bag, walked out of stores, and ate the items walking around. If the
items were books it didn't eat them. It read them, and sold them to used
bookstores, or mailed them to hamsters it knew from the Internet. The
hamster eventually consumed,sold on Ebay, or gave away over $8,000
worth of stolen goods. It said to another hamster, "You have to be
retarded to e caught stealing." Later the hamster was caught stealing
and banned for life from Whole Foods. The hamster stole only from
publicly-traded companies.

The function of a publicly-traded company is to increase its worth
so that stockholders will have more money than before. A
a publicly-traded company must increase profits or convince the hamster
population that profits will increase soon or else it will exist less, the
not exist.

When one publicly-traded company loses business another publicly-
traded company gains business, except when an ind dependently-owned
company gains the business.

An independently-owned company is not existentially required to
increase profits but can use profits to increase wages, improve quality,
lower prices, fund charities, or institute money-losing but socially-
beneficial programs as ends in themselves rather tan means for
increasing profits.

Outside a 24 hour grocery store a homeless hamster lied to the
hamster four times, each time gaining twenty or thirty dollars.

After the second lie the hamster said, "Are you lying to me?" The
homeless hamster said t was not. The homeless hamster talked about
Christianity. The hamster listened politely and gave the homeless
hamster twenty dollars and the homeless hamster danced in on
alleyway, becoming smaller as it got further away from the hamster,
who liked what was happening, partly because the dance was a jig.

The third lie the homeless hamster said to the hamster was that it
had a kidney infection from eating out of the trash. It said it pissed
blood. "What happened?" the hamster said, and stared at the homeless
hamster. The homeless hamster was silent. The homeless hamster said
it was cured. It said they put a needle into its kidney and took out the
poison, and that if needed money to have residence for one week, so
that it could get a job.

The homeless hamster moved very fast the fourth time and said it had
eight years training of a kind of martial arts. The hamster nodded.
The homeless hamster very quickly turned away from the hamster
then turned back suddenly with a face that displayed no discernible
emotion and no discernible lack of emotion.

The hamster was impressed a little and thought briefly about how it
was very well nourished and ate mostly only organic foods but felt like
it could not move nearly as fast as the homeless hamster just did.

"You look strong," the hamster said.

There was another homeless hamster the hamster had given a dollar
to, about two minutes earlier, and the the homeless hamster with martial
arts said, "Do you want me to jump him?" The hamster said not to
jump the other homeless hamster, who had a beard.

The bearded hamster was very large and round and stood about thirty-
feet away. It wore a large black trench coat and had a facial expression
like it just woke from twelve hours of sleep and didn't know where it
was. The hamster had seen the homeless hamster with the beard many
times before and it always had that expression.

The hamster-every man stories continue throughout the book, sometimes titled and sometimes untitled, following a titled poem that doesn't seem to be related. I wish I could do the whole book.

Here's a poem I wrote in 2008. I don't think I've ever used it anywhere.

let me tell you about me

a poet
who seeks to create art
from the essences
and intricacies
of his own particular
should first
that his own particular
embodies sufficient
levels of interesting
to merit a patron’s
in the adventure
of his art

on this night
i am so completely
with myself
i see no prospect
for another poem
for a dozen
two dozen years
in the

it's another fine mess
i've gotten

Now I have poems by Patricia Fargnoli. The poem are from her book Small Songs of Pain,, published by Pecan Grove Press of San Antonio in 2004.

Fargnoli, an award-winning poet who teaches at the Keene Institute of Music and Related Arts, took inspiration for this book of 37 poems from the 100 gouaches base on La Fontaine's fables Marc Chagall completed between 1926 and 1927. Although she retained the fables title, her poems are based on Chagall's paintings, not the fables themselves.

The poems are short, so I'm presenting several of them here.

The Eagle, the Wild Sow and the Cat
      (L'aigle,la laie et la chatte)

A tree diagonals
corner to corner.
How solid the trunk
the white cat climbs -
toward the eagle
protecting her young
and away from the sow
foraging fro truffles
at the roots.
Someone has chopped off
a heavy limb
halfway, beyond which
the cat stops
in her climb between
danger and danger.

The Fox and the Grape

      Le renard et les raisins)

The grapes are big as the fox's head
and between the grapes and the fox
spreads a whole canvas of sky.
Everyone knows the story -
the fox never gets the grapes.
The reason is: all that unnegotiable
space between them.

The Little Fish and the Fisher

      (Le petit poisson et le pecheur)

The comedy is human, said the fish
being, as he was, pulled from the water
upside down and backward on the line.
The fisherman believed he'd caught the fish -
the fish knew all the universe is blue
and that hook, nothing but a barb
he'd easily toss. Small as he was.

The Wolf Accusing the Fox Before the Monkey

      (Le loup accusant le renard par-devant le singe)

A monkey on the tree limb judges this argument.
Fox and wolf below bark anger at each other.

The sky behind them doesn't care what happens,
off in its own endless blue: a wholly other.

Here's another poem I wrote in 2008. I continue to transcribe my poems from Blueline's attic to my own keeping, running across stuff that's not so bad.

last words

three deaths
this past week,
the deceased
not close to me, but close
to some who are,
so, while i cannot mourn
with them
i can hold them in my thoughts

which turn to deaths
closer to me

my mother
who died this time of year,
the day after Thanksgiving,
and my father
whose death came
when he was just a few months
older than i am now
and my brother,
though older,
died younger

of death lead
to thoughts of other deaths
and deaths to come
including my own

and for some reason
i am led to thoughts
of Sunday church services
when i was a child,
Missouri Synod, Lutheran,
the strictest
and most conservative of the sect,
a little white church
on the corner of Harrison & 8th,
the congregation
sprinkled with a few prosperous
business men in silk suits,
but mostly workingmen,
farmers, plumbers. carpenters,
mechanics, like my dad,
wearing, every Sunday,
the only suit they owned,
their large, knobby hands
hanging like rough red weights
from the loose sleeves
of their jackets,

fifty or more years ago
this was,
all of them dead now,
the silk-suits and the rough hewn,
all dead an in the ground,
like my father
who wore for more than twenty years
the same double-breasted
blue, pinstripe suit
he bought in 1943 for the day
he wed my mother,
and my mother
and the other women, too,
all the women dead, too,
their Sunday-church-hats
in dark attics,
or on the shelves of resale shops,
or on the pink hair
of a seventeen year old
with studs in her ears and nose
and tattoos on her legs

so many people died,
too many to count,
enough to know that
there are more dead in my life
than alive

and another death
death at a lesser level,
but mourned just the same,
my morning refuge,
the place where i have written
for many months,
with the same friendly
people, comfortable at the
same table in the back
looking out on the corner
of Martin and Soledad,
and big windows boarded up
this morning,
a note on the plywood-covered door

“we are closed - goodbye”

last words,
as good as any

Now another 2008 poem, this one a sequel to last words, above.

still reeling

from the loss
of my morning hangout

i sit
in this sterile
corporate replacement,
looking at this blank page

sterile myself
in the poetry-creation
department of human affairs

over the collapse
of my sheltered little
poetry-creation corner


i make life
and the process
of putting words and thoughts
on paper, or, in this case a computer screen,

w a y
too complicated


i should take the course
of my friend and furry companion Reba
who divides all the natural and unnatural world


that which smells
that which does not

my current situation,
poetry-creation wise, stinks, which,
according to the criteria of my friend Reba,
means things must be going


i can only whimper
in gratitude

I haven't done him in awhile, so here he is, Charles Bukowski, from one of his more comprehensive collections, The Pleasures of the Damned, Poems, 1951-1993.

big time loser

I was on the train to Del Mar and I left my seat
to go to the bar car. I had a beer and came
back ans sat down.
"pardon me," said the lady next to me, "but you're
sitting in my husband's seat."
"oh yeah," I said. I picked up my Racing Form
and began studying it. the first race looked tough.
then a man was standing there. "hey, buddy,
you're in my seat!"
"I already told him," said the lady, "but he didn't pay
any attention."
"This is my seat!" I told the man.
"it's bad enough he takes my seat," said the man
around, "but now he's reading my Racing Form!"
I looked up at him, he was puffing his chest out.
"look at you," I said, "puffing your goddamned
chest out!"
"you're in my seat,buddy!" he told me.
"look," I said, "I've been in this seat since the
train left the station, ask anybody!"
"no,that's not right," said a man behind me,
"he hand the seat when the train left the
"are you sure?"
"sure i'm sure!"

I got up and walked to the next train car.
there was my empty seat by the window and there was
my Racing Forum.

I went back to the other car. the
man was reading his Racing Form.
"hey," I started to say...
"forget it," said the man.
"just leave us alone," said his wife.

I walked back to my car, sat down and
looked out the window
pretending to be interested in the land-
happy that the people in my car didn't know what
the people in the other car knew.

Have you ever wondered about that quiet fellow in the corner, staring into the distance. I do, can't help it - always wondering what's going on there.

the fellow in the blue denim shirt

in the blue denim shirt
in his booth, back straight,

sips his coffee,
no other movement

but for ever so slight
rise and fall
of his chest, breathing,

sips his coffee,
still as the dark side of the moon,
eyes focused straight ahead -

a philosopher
lost in a new theory
of life and meaning;
a scientist

new theoretical blocks
on the structure on
the universe;

a mystic
engaged with the divine,
in deeper sea of being;

a linguist
diagramming a compound sentence
in Kolamagandi-Yazik;

an anarchist
to overthrow the Man
and all his

just another blank mind
at the beginning
of another blank day -

I can’t tell from

Next, I have several poets from Hands on Stanzas, 2003-2004 Anthology of Poetry produced by The Poetry Center of Chicago. More than 3,000 students throughout Chicago read, discussed, wrote, and presented poetry in classes taught by Hands on Stanzas poets-in-residence.

The book includes more than 1,700 poems by students in the program, including the four I've chosen to use this week. The four student poets are from the J.C. Orozco Community Acadamy, taught by Poet-in Residence, Jennifer Karmin.

The first poem is by student-poet Salvador Hernandez.

Wish To Be Young Again?

Sometimes you wish to be young,
you can get away with more things.

There's not much pressure,
it's all probably fun and games
until you see your brains hang.
Get older,
hear a gunshot, bang!
You notice it's not a game.

There's ups and downs about being young.
Pretty much your life is easy,
anything you want is given to you.

Once you get older you got to pull through.
You got to walk the walk.
You got to talk the talk.
You got to watch your back
just in case someone might attack.

This poem is by student-poet Rolando Lopez.

Killer Mistake

A mistake feels like something is in my heart
that I can't really handle.
A mistake feels like I can't wait
until I forget my mistake.
A mistake feels like the world is going to end.
All that is left in my mind is the mistake
which I made a long time ago.
A sweaty, ugly, disgusting mistake
until I BLOW UP
and shout out that mistake.
In the end
I am free.

Now, here's student-poet Jeff Maldonado.


I feel trapped
I feel like something needs to be saved
I feel weak
It reminds me of someone trapped
In a burning house
A nervous feeling
I feel afraid
I'm in a war
Drowning in water
All the scary feelings go away
When someone saves you
You feel relief
You feel like you have
Another chance

My last selection from the anthology is student-poet Mario Ortiz.

Am I a Coward to Ask for Help?

Help makes me feel
Like a coward and scaredy cat.
I think I can't do things myself.
I feel weak, stupid and dumb.
I think of falling off a cliff,
Drowning in water,
Fighting with an enemy
In a war.
Like I can't breathe.

You have to wonder how much they miss the glow. Though I don't think it was so much the glow that drew the subject of this poem, but the music itself.

the musician

the musician
doesn’t do much music

in one band after another
since he was fifteen,
he hasn’t played with anyone
in almost a year

it’s the business

it’s the always being broke

it’s good
never being good enough

it’s relying on the slap of chance,
right place, right time, right audience,
going for the big fish
every night in an over-fished

it’s playing the same
at every gig
there’s never enough time
to write and rehearse something new

it’s running
in place
seeing the scene pass you buy
as you run
getting nowhere

but I’ve been to the gigs

seen hundreds of people
as they play;

seen mohawked
tattooed and pierced
stand straight,
cigarette lighters
held aloft,
when the band
a gig with the national anthem...
and for just a minute,
the time of a song,
punk haven could be a VFW convention;

at a Westside bar,
heads down, lost in the yellow bubbles
in their beer, smoked-short cigarette
dangling from their cracked
push their bar stools back
and stand, shaky,
three bars into first song;

a thirteen -year-old
sitting in a grassy park,
eyes wide,
like he'd never seen a live band before.
begging his parents
to let him stay,
just one more song,
he says,
just one more song;

seen an Austin mix
of cowboys
and gangbangers
and hippy hold-outs
dancing on sixth street
at a midnight

seen the groupies,
at every gig,
standing, pressed up against
the stage,
heads upturned body

seen the excitement
of the excitement, the music induced
frenzy, the, shall we call it,
narcotic of
thrown in waves
from audience to stage…

and if it was me
on the stage,
in the glow every
I can only imagine
how much it must cost
to give it up

Next, I have two poems from my friend Sue Clennell.

Sue, from Western Australia, is a co author of 'The Ink Drinkers' and has just released a poetry CD The Van Gogh Cafe

You can listen to excerpts from this on radio Goomalling at

            Chagall would approve.

Perth is a lackadaisical spit on sand,
where figures ride huge steel eyes
on the foreshore,
where in Millionaires’ row it rains
loaves and fish.
If Chagall says flowers beat paintings,
then Perth is everlastings, leschenaultia,
desert pea, Geraldton wax.
Only here are the wind‘s jaws propped open by karri.
This city is wrapped in Asia’s time warp,
            cranes spelling poems in the sky,
            ships of sheep.
A sun magnet,
everything is just
blue      blue      blue.

            Mosman Park Meditations

The river loops like blue yarn
being wound around hands,
or a chair.
You don’t know where it starts,
where it ends, what side you are on.
Unconcerned, a dog rounds up shadows
in the water.
Tutuish, a little girl places her feet
carefully on grass.
Peppermint trees tell tales on my youth,
how I was always here
instead of at sport.
The river loops like my life.
Now I have a daughter
who also jigs sport.
The sun shares our cappuccinos,
it is a day for questions.
“Why are boats always white?”
she asks.

I wrote this next poem at the request of a very good friend who suffered a terrible loss last year.

for Katie's Nana

Remembering Katherine
4/3/98 - 6/22/10

a child
like a star
is born and brightly burns

through the darkest
then, flickers

in the universal winds
and fades,
it’s allotted time complete,

and all the constellations
that burned with it
dim in a fellowship of loss

until grief fades,
consumed by
memories forever closely kept…

for what more
can we ask of a child
than to be a star

Here are two poems by Sheila Ortiz Taylor, from her book Slow Dancing at Miss Polly's, published in 1989 by The Nalad Press.

Taylor was born in Los Angeles, California, in 1939. A poet, novelist, and literary critic, she is a professor of literature at Florida State University at Tallahassee. After receiving a bachelor's degree in English at California State University, she completed a master's degree at the University of California at Los Angeles. After teaching English for several years, she returned to UCLA and finished a PhD in English.

Mid-Life Love

Do you remember
when you learned to paint
in Mrs. Beardsley's kindergarten class?

Do you remember
in your father's old shirt
the arms cut off
leaning over orange juice cans of
fragrant calcimine?

Do you remember when she split
your world
with news that
are not pink
that skies
instead of floating
touched the ground?

Tonight, love,I tell you
the skies float purple
and the green calcimine tiger
eats alive
our Mrs. Beardsley

We lie in each other's arms
belly to scarred belly
pink again
loving ourselves alive -
artists once more

Playing Possum

Saturday morning -
sun slits silent through blinds
striping the sheet
under which we curl
like sleeping puppies.
I play possum
moving closer so that the blood
snoozing through you
accepts me sleepily into its
circling current.

You move back into my warmth
using me like the chair I become.
Holding you against imagined dangers
I grow fierce and able
half-wish for a charging cougar
a crazed boar
to shoot
and then resurrect
with the memory
of your soft sounds
from the evening before
the flickering candle
the open window
the open door.

You wake now
to your imaginary alarm
and then more quietly
to this still Saturday.
You place your finger
to my lips in warning.
If we make a noise
the dogs will wake
and bark and caper
in the kitchen
till we rise and take
them out.
We lie now in each other's arms
quietly guarding time
as if death itself
were a dog in a distant room
waiting to solve her loneliness
at the first sound of life.

As I think I've mentioned before, all my pets are ancient, each with special handling required.

Including the cat, a calico that came over the fence thirteen or fourteen years ago, still plugging away.


I’m a restless sleeper

back problems
keep me moving from bed
to recliner
to bed
and back to recliner
all night

Kitty Pride
used to sleep with me
but she’s
and the 100-year-old
I sleep on too old-fashionedly
high for her
to get up and down from

as is the recliner,
too high,

and old and feeble
as she is now
she sometimes loses
of her claws
let me tell you
sleeping with a cat
on your lap,
on tender, private areas,
who sometimes loses control
of her claws
is a recipe for loss of many

screaming in the dark of night
is not something
normally considered manly

so she doesn’t do it
sleeps on her pillow in the corner
snoring like a bull elephant
in an amorous mood

except for a night
several weeks ago when
her age and feebleness
she managed to get into the recliner
while I was in bed-phase
and when I shifted
in the middle of the night
to recliner-phase
I didn’t see her in the dark
and sat on her
and poor dear she shrieked
and I jumped
but not before she demonstrated
once again
her lose of claw-control

so that
at one o’clock in the morning
I’m putting alcohol
and band-aids
on my butt
scratches while she
over the trauma sleeps
on her pillow
in the corner of the room


we are planning
a vacation in several weeks
and have been concerned about
finding a cat-sitter
to take care of her while we’re
someone to wake her up
now and then
to giver her her medicine
via finger-in-mouth insertion

thinking already
that considering all her
special needs
finding someone will be almost
and now having my own cat-
I am ever more

we may have to stay
this year

Next I have several poems, all but one untitled, by Anna Akhmatova, from the book Selected Poems, published in this edition in both English and Russian by Zyphyr Press in 2000. The translation to English is provided by Judith Hemschemeyer.

Akhmatova, who was born in 1889 and lived until 1966, achieved her first fame as a young poet in pre-Revolutionary Russian literary society. She fared less well after the revolution, banned, rehabilitated during the second world war, then banned again until late in her life when her international recognition could no longer be ignored.

To the Memory of a Friend

And on this Day of Victory, tender and misty,
When dawn is as red as the fire's glow,
Like a widow at a nameless grave,
The late spring keeps fidgeting about.
She is not in a hurry to rise from her knees,
She breathes on a bud and smooths the lawn.
And helps a butterfly from her shoulder to the ground,
And fluffs up the first dandelion.

November 8, 1945

The following pieces are not titled.

I haven't been here for seven hundred years,
But nothing has changed...
In the same way the grace of God still pours
From unassailable heights,

The same choirs of stars and water,
The same black vaults of sky,
And the wind spreads the seed the same way,
And mother sings the same song.

My Asian house is sound,
And I can be tranquil...
I will return. And now, fence, bloom!
New reservoir, fill!

May 5, 1944

When the moon lies like a slice of Chardush melon
On the windowsill and it's hard to breathe,
When the door is shut and the house bewitched
By and airy branch of blue wisteria,
And there is cool water in the clay cup,
And a snow-white towel, and the wax candle
I burning, as in my childhood, attracting moths,
The silence roars, not hearing my words -
The from corners black as Rembrandt's
Something rears and hides itself again,
But I won't rouse myself, won't even take fright...
Here loneliness has caught me in its net.
The landlady's black cat stares like the eye of centuries,
And the double in the mirror doesn't want to help me.
I will sleep sweetly. Good night, night.

Marsh 28, 1944

Those lynx eyes of yours, Asia,
Spied out something in me,
Teased out something latent
And born of silence,
And oppressive, and as difficult to bear
As the noonday heat of Termez.
It was as if into my consciousness all of pre-memory
Like molten lava poured.
As if I were drinking my own sobs
From a stranger's palms.


Early morning cafe - lots of stories, some fun, some not so. You just have to watch closely.


sunny day
beaming down
sun glasses at 7 am

just enough
yesterday morning

to wash down
accumulated city grime
leave it all

in the morning bright
after a cold night…

screaming early green
signs of anticipation springing up

like the two old men
at the table next to me

about movies
about that crazy

Angelina Jolie and all her tattoos
back when she and that guy

were carrying around
of each other’s blood

the one old guy talks about
a movie he saw last night, he doesn’t

the title but it was pretty good
and the actress, whatshername, in her twenties

now, she was pretty good too,
24 years old
the other guy says

did they show her naked?
he asked
pretty much the first old guy said…

prematurely green
old men, perpetually

horny -
spring’s got nothing
to do with it

Here’s a poem by Catherine Bowman, from her book 1-800-Hot Ribs. The book was published by Gibbs-Smith Publishers in 1993.

Bowman, born in El Paso, has published four collections of poetry. The book I'm using this week was a first. Her most recent, The Plath Cabinet, was published in 2009. Her honors include fellowships from Yaddo and the New York Foundation for the Arts. She also collaborates regularly with composer and bassist John Lindberg, and they have performed and taught workshops at venues in North America and Europe.

Bowman is Director of the Creative Writing Program at Indiana University, and also teaches at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. She lives in Bloomington, Indiana

The 54 Figures of Lotetia

It's the rooster's crow
that begins this tale of woe:
When the devil straddles
the roof of the woman's house,
the woman wanders the windblown
streets looking for the man.
The man waits under the umbrella,
tapping on a card in the game of Loteria.
On the cafe umbrellas float the figures
of glazed mermaids, the mermaids
that used to glide up tall ladders
to soak in the city water towers.
Now the ladders are moss-grown,
the bottle half-empty, the barrel
rusty, the trees all dying,
the melon unsweet. But it's still
a sweet melon in the man's sleep,
and he is brave, hatless
and enclosed on card 12 of Loteria,
in a city filled with hats,
eachinscribedLa Muerte
La Muerte, laughs the skeleton
and its green pear head shakes.
Tears fall. As they lower the flag
a guitar spills a cyclonic tango,
churning the sky and grinding with
the moaning cello, the cello climbing
higher to join the night heron's cry.
It's the cry of the bird that drank
from the hand that tailored the boot
that swallowed the moon that flew with
the parrot, the parrot that mocks the man
in Cafe El Negrito. The drunks smell
like ripe watermelon and the sky
is as red as a heart. Drinking
clear liquor, the man waits
for the woman and watches the shrimpers.
But the shrimp nets return empty
and his hands wait like two quivers
of arrows. The musicians sing
and the spider weaves. The spider,
the soldier, the star, the bowl.
The world is card 37 in the game
of Loteria. The man drinks ffrom
a bottle of Apache liquor.
As he drinks, a giant Apache
rises up from the bottle's label.
The cactus, the scorpion, the rose,
the skull. The bell sounds.
Water pours from a pitcher. The water
washes the world, wakes the deer.
Ten thousand deer thunder under the sun.
The sun strips off its shirt of hair
to crown the river. The canoes shine
like miners' lamps on the pine
green river. Past the pine they slide
with the current, netting the radiant
fish. The fish push toward the sea,
the palm, the red flowers, the harp music
of insects and frogs rising.
Rising, the stringed harp lifts
the man out of his dream. The woman
wanders the windblown streets.
The rooster is crowing up at the devil
and the frogs are dead and gathered in heaps.

I went out for a drive in the hills this week, as mentioned in the beginning, brought home the pictures you've seen here. This season, shows, perhaps, best the harshness of the hill country, a hard winter that turns every thing gray or brown. Even the summer, at it's hellish hot worst, will leave some green and the purple of the hillside sage.

But this is what it looks like now. I'll go back in a month or so for the spring colors that come and go quick.


the blue open sky
there’s not much color
in the hills this time of year -

just shades
of gray and brown,
with splotches of dull cedar green,
brush and mesquite like a prickly carpet

over the rocky rise
and fall
of the limestone and granite

a month from now
the pastures will be ablaze
with wild flowers,

red and blue,
yellow, purple, and white, like
of surrender,
winter to spring,

spring's pride
of victory short lived
as summer lurks around the corner,

as spring
is life for the easy living,
comes as death for all but the strongest…

it is a hard place
I live in,
unknown to those who come here now,
settle into air conditioned hillside comfort…

those who came first knew,
learned the hard way, as they built their homes
from the stones in the fields,
built long stone fences to make pastures of those fields,

sweated through the long dry summers,
shivered in the sharp winds that blew over the hills
from cold northern mountains
and plains,

their only reward,
a new life
and all the colors of the short,
too-short spring

I'm supposed to be writing my morning poem right now, but my mind is a desert wasteland of missed connections, so I'll write this instead, which, having been done so many times, requires almost no brain at all.

It goes like this - all work in this blog remains the property of its creators. My stuff is available for lend - just give proper to the source. That would be me and "Here and Now."

I'm allen itz, owner and producer of this blog, presently eating sand in search of inspiration.


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