7 Beats Revisited   Friday, August 05, 2011

by Vince Martinez>

It's too hot to go take photographs and, even if it wasn't, these dry days there's nothing to take pictures of but dead things anyway.

So, I decided to go back to the art in my first book, Seven Beats a Second, by my collaborator on the book, Vincent Martinez.

Here's the poetry line-up for the week, including a couple of poems from Seven Beats a Second to accompany the pictures.

Also, a treat I'll let you discover on your own.

From Everywhere is Somewhere Else
Susan Bright
Red Dog
Margo LaGattuta
Up an Unfamiliar Trail
Polly Opsahl
The Bite of Mink


Anna Akhmatova
Lot’s Wife
The Last Toast

from In 1940

like soft hands

From Exchanges - Bengali Poets
Samsal Haque
Kajal Charkraborty
Amitav Dasgupta
Mallika Sengupta
Tebhaga's Diary


Jane Hirshfield

least I can do

Mary Swander
Frog Gig

my place

Cornelius Eady -
From Running Man - What Happened

what God don’t like

Charles Bukowski
polish sausage

lotsa hots

From Keeping Company
Billy Jackson
From Hillsborough Peak
Carol Coffee Reposa
For My Mother
Barbara Evans Stanush
Late February

how brown now cow

Linda Dove
The Dog from Pompeii
Cowhand, Traveller, Cow

life is

Stephen Dunn
One Moment and the Next in the Pine Barrens

what will Uncle Festus and Auntie Willardina say?

Message in a Bottle - Part I

they stack their enchiladas here - from Places and Spaces - Silver City and Beyond

by Vincent Martinez

I start the week with three poems from the anthology Everywhere is Someplace Else. Published by Plain View Press of Austin in 1998, although it is not fully explained, the book was apparently a collaborative project of the poets featured in it, funded in part by the Texas Commission on the Arts.

The first poem is by Susan Bright, author of fourteen books of poetry and editor of Plain View Press. Her work as a poet, publisher, activist and educator has taken her all over the US and England.

Red Dog

As I travel back home to a dark and bloody ground,
I reminisce and Appalachian song:
      O will there be red dog in heaven,
(Is is on earth that heaven is found?)

Where will these red roads through Appalachia lead?
Will our future from the past its lessons read?
      O will there be red dog in heaven,
Or have the mountains truly begun to bleed?

Like the red dirt tinted tears in a wise man's eyes
Running down the crevices of his face's lines:
      O will there be red dog in heaven,
Or are the mountain's red roads blood from wise men's lives?

Man construct endless roads from strip mined land
Where Gaia had built the mountains by time's hand.      O will there be red dog in heaven,
And who is the greatest architect, earth or man?

The second poem from the book is by Margo LaGattuta. LaGattuta has published four books and her work has appeared in numerous journals. She earned her MFA from Vermont College and teaches writing at the University of Michigna (Flint) and hosts a weekly radio program in Michigan.

Up an Unfamiliar Trail

I see tiny hairs on the back of my
idea stand up. Wind combs through them
as if pushing curtains back, and I see
various trees and a sly mountain.

The mountain is what I don't know.
It stands over me, ominous sometimes
in its silent snow, has a trail for goats
to wander up, a ragged trail full of
potholes and a cool, dancing river.

The river runs right through what I
don't know, invites me in for a dip.
One toe, another, and a shiver goes
up my back. What I don't know is
getting deep now, and by nightfall I
might be afraid. But still i walk in,

knowing I'll never see the full
view in this waking world.

Ah, but the water, the buoyancy
when I stop resisting the flow.
The river in what I don't know
holds me up, prepares me
for the complicated climb.

The last poem from the anthology is by Polly Opsahl, a letter carrier and union activist. She writes a regular column for a union newsletter and has published her poems in various journals.

The Bite of Mink

In the far corner of my childhood,
a large walk-in closet olds so much
there is no room for e. A wooden rod
along the back wall bows with the weight

of Susan's prom dress, midnight blue crepe
with crinolines, Grandma's mid-calf skirts,
Grandpa's wool great coat, Mother's
homemade dresses that no longer fit

her cancer-ravaged body. A white box
on the floor preserves her satin wedding gown,
the waist so tiny none of her daughters will
ever wear it. In a photo album, my father
has hair, and mother's face beams.

Grandma's mink stole lies near the door.
I srpe the two furry bodies, sewn head
to tail, over my bony shoulders, pinch
behind one head to open jaws.
Sharp teeth bit to clasp,
clamps of soft underbelly when I let go.

"Like White Furry Cat"
by Vincent Martinez w/Mark Taylor

Seeking to channel the elegant simplicity of W.C. Williams. (Seeking, I said.)


of pigeons flies in
lands in the parking lot
at the asphalt
I don’t know

"Pork Chop Reflected"
by Vincent Martinez w/Mark Taylor

Here are several shorter poems by Russian poet Anna Akhmatova. Beloved of her people and persecuted by her government, Akhmatova was born in 1889 and died in 1966.

The poems are from a collection of her work, You Will Hear Thunder, published in 1985 by Ohio University Press.

The poems in the book were translated by D.M. Thomas.

The first poem is from "Anno Domini."

Lot's Wife

And the just man trailed God's messenger,
His huge, light shape devoured the black hill.
But uneasiness shadowed his wife and spoke to her:
"It's not too late, you can look back still

At the red towers of Sodom, the place that bore you,
The square in which you sang, the spinning-shed,
At the empty windows of that upper storey
Where children blessed you happy marriage-bed."

Her eyes were still turning when a bolt
Of pain shot through them, were instantly blind;
Her body turned into transparent salt,
And her swift legs were rooted to the ground.

Who mourns one woman in a holocaust?
Surely her death has not significance?
Yet in my heart she never will be lost,
She who gave up her life to steal one glance.


The next poems are from "Reed."


When at night Ii wait for her to come,
Life, it seems, hangs by a single strand.
What are glory, youth, freedom, in comparison
With the dear welcome guest, a flute in hand?

She enters now. Pushing her veil aside,
She stares through me with her attetiuveness.
I question her: "And were you Dante's guide,
Dictating the Inferno?" She answers: "Yes."


The Last Toast

I drink to your demolished house,
To all this wickedness,
To you, our loneliness together,
I raise my glass -

And to the dead-cold eyes,
The lie that has betrayed us,
The coarse, brutal world, the fact
That God has not saved us.

This portion of the poem was written in 1934

Dust smells of a sun-ray,
Girls' breaths, - violets hold,
Freedom clings to the wild honey,
But there no smell to gold.

The mignonette smells of water,
Apple-tang clings to love,
But we were always taught that
Blood smells only of blood.

So it was no use the governor from Rome
Washing his hands before the howls
Of the wicked mob,
And it was in vain
That the Scottish queen washed the scarlet
Splashes from her narrow palms
in the thane's gloomy suffocating home.


Some gaze into tender faces,
Others drink until morning light,
But all night I hold conversations
With my conscience who is always right.

I say to her, "You know how tired I am,
Bearing your heavy burden, many years."
But for her, there is no such thing as time,
And for her, space also disappears.

And again, a black Shrove Tuesday,
the sinister park, the unhurried ring
Of hooves, and, flying down the heavenly
Slopes, full of happiness and joy, the wind.

And above me, double-horned and calm
Is the witness...O I shall go there,
Along the ancient well-worn track,
To the deathly waters, where the swans are.

The poem was completed in 1936.

The last poem is from The Seventh Book

From In 1940


When you bury an epoch
You do not sing psalms at the tomb.
Soon, nettles and thistles
Will be in bloom.
And only - bodies won't wait! -
The gravediggers toil;
And it's quiet, Lord, so quiet,
Time has become audible.
and one day the age will rise,
Like a corpse in a spring river -
But no mother's son will recognize
The body of his mother.
Grandsons will bow their heads.
The moon like a pendulum swinging.

And now - over stricken Paris
Silence is winging.

"Chente's Hente"
by Vincent Martinez

Still seeking, Williams, the good pediatrician.

like soft hands

soft hands

summer breezes

midnight lover

by Vincent Martinez

The Fall, 1997 issue of Exchanges has a section of poems by Bengali poets, with both the original and translated versions on facing pages. The translator is Carolyn Brown

By Samsal Haque


if the dark hours put life in our hands
then does dawn lay death at our feet?

as a boy, Krishna had no desire to kill
nor did he aspire to heaven

dark hours are spun wit delight
but sorrow returns at dawn

By Kajal Charkraborty


one wave draws intricate designs
on the sand, the next wave washes
over them - it's the same every day

another life is going to wash over mine.

By Amitav Dasgupta


Splash - a face shatters.
Lotus breasts surface.
Thin blue eels
finger my eyes.
Down I plunge, deep down,
not drowning, but being cleansed,
my innocence washed away,
my sins scrubbed clean.
Shelter me on the watery slopes
of your body,
rivers course within woman
not drowning - cleansing

By Mallika Sengupta

Tebhaga's Diary

I embroider clothes for pampered ladies - it's a poor woman's job
they fill my cupped hands with wormy potatoes and leftover rice

I keep away from my husband's brother when my hair is down
I'll coil it in a bun, tie it with a red ribbon - the sickle's blade

will split the crop in three - two shares for the house mice
I'm sitting in the corner by the oven, warming my hands

wrap the news in sal leaves and take it to the farmer
bring some kerosene - today I might need to light a fire

"Peruvian Landscape"
by Vincent Martinez

Still chasing the ghost of William Carlos Williams, getting no closer. I can't seem to do what he did without slipping into surreal, the very opposite of what he did.



the sun

the river
orange and

as dragonflies

"Katherine, Jenny, Jackie, Lisa & Tony"
by Vincent Martinez w/ Mark Taylor & Dennis Hodges"

Next, I have two poems by Jane Hirshfield, from her book The Lives of the Heart, published by HarperCollins in 1997.

Hirshfield was born in New York City in 1953 and received her bachelor's degree from Princeton University in the school's first graduating class to include women. She later studied at the San Francisco Zen Center, including three years of monastic practice at Tassajara Zen Mountain Center. She received lay ordination in Soto Zen in 1979.

Hirshfield has worked as a freelance writer, editor, and translator. Her six books of poetry have each received numerous awards. I have, and have included in "Here and Now" poems from two of those books.

Although never a full time academic, she taught at the University of California, Berkeley, University of San Francisco, and as the Elliston Visiting Poet at the University of Cincinnati. She has also taught at many writers conferences, including Bread Loaf and The Napa Valley Writers Conference and has served as both core and associate faculty in the Bennington Master of Fine Arts Writing Seminars.


A woman tells of watching a hyena
eating her body.
Part of an arm first, then part of a leg.

It looked back at her
in a steadiness without malice or affection.

Though for months she had fed it,
watered it,
it swallowed looking.

And I think of those three sisters,
the Fates,
sharing their single eye.
Each spared seeing the whole.

How the tearless, almost-human blinking allowed them.


Day after quiet day passes.
I speak to no one besides the dog.
To her,
I murmur much I would not otherwise say.

We make plans
then break them on a moment's whim.
She agrees;
though sometimes bringing
to my attention a small blue ball.

Passing the fig tree
I see it is
suddenly huge with green fruit,
which may ripen or not.

Near the gate,
I stop to watch
the sugar ants climb the top bar
and cross at the hatch,
as they have now in summer for years.

In this way I study my life.
It is,
I think today,
like a dusty glass vase.

A little water,
a few flowers would be good,
I think;
but do nothing. Love is far away.
Incomprehensible sunlight falls on my hand.

"Jazz Splice"
by Vincent Martinez

Detail from "Jazz Splice"
by Vincent Martinez

(Sidenote which has nothing to do with the next poem:

Vince, a friend of my son's, included this detail representing my son, Chris, and his friend, Andres Londono, who, as "The Ray-Guhn Show Choir" recorded the improvisational jazz CD, chimeras, ideals,, errors!, which accompanies the book.)

And, back to the poem, except for several years away in the military, I've been through 67 years of South Texas summers. This is the worst I remember, including the several years of drought in the 1950s when it was equally dry, but not so hot.

the least i can do

sitting here,
waiting for October,
when the Devil’s fire dogs
are returned to their kennel
and smiles are back
upon the land,

until then,
I’m just going to sit here
being a pain in the ass, complaining,
complaining, complaining,
about the weather

least I can do

"Finger Tips on an Inca's Back"
by Vince Martinez

Here's a poem by Mary Swander, from her book, Heaven-and-Earth House, published in 1994 by Alfred A. Knopf.

Her poem reminds me of when I was a kid, driving the couple off miles to the arroyo to get frogs for frog legs. We didn't gig them, but used a swatter instead, made by my father from thick multi-strand wire, spread on the end like a fly swatter. Much easier than trying to gig them, but you still had to watch out for the water moccasins who were as unhappy about getting stepped on as the frogs were about getting swatted and turned into dinner. Pretty good deep fried in a beer batter, but don't know about steamed. Sounds kinda disgusting.

Frog Gig

It took a whole plateful to make a meal -
food #7 I could eat without blacking out -
those little white pairs of pantaloons.

Oh, I'd pithed Kermits - needle from the tray,
lab partner, socholarshipped wrestler, locking
thumb and index finer around the squirmer's neck.

No, it was the pileup of those limbs, steamed and soggy
like wet laundry, that made me pick the tendons
from my teeth with special care, and know

those doctors lied who said it'd taste like chicken.
These were no white feathers beside a red wheelbarrow
glazed with rain, no Sunday dinners, the whole family

gathered in the kitchen, home from ten o'clock Mass,
still singing hymns,pressure cooker on the stove
so my grandmother could gum her portion.

Once, due to expense, I went out with friends
to Corker's pOnd, the water quiet, clear.
Tiny piece of bandanna dangling from the end

of a fishing line, we groped through the dark,
sun going down, and followed their croaks and plops,
our hooks tangling in the cattails. We lay on the bank

for hours and held our rods just above their heads,
but not one hopped at the cloth, not one crooned
so much depends upon. nor shot out its forked tongue.

"Orange Grey"
by Vincent Martinez

Some days it's just really hard to get in the zone.

my place

to much
in the material-moment
this morning
to find the forever-moment
that we all carry within

too many
streaming by,
too many people
living too many lives
around me,
too much music
to loud

the icy pond
of persistently-real
I skate across
to find my-place,
the place I came from
and where I’ll go to when I die;
the eternal place
of one is all
and all is one
where the multiplied essence of me
is succoured
by the source of all that ever-be,
like an egg
within the fragile shell of this passing
I am succoured

except today,
this hard and insistent day -
the eggshell is cracked,
the ice is broken, and
the well from which I drink
has devoured the drinker
and I am back in the land
of me
and only me


"Breath Felt"
by Vincent Martinez

The next poem is from the book Brutal Imagination by Cornelius Eady. It is made up of two long series of poems. The first, for which the book is named, tells the story of Susan Smith and her murdered children from the imagined vantage point of the "black man" upon she first laid blame for the children's kidnapping. It is a fascinating approach. The series ends with parts of Smith's actual confession, interspersed with commentary from the imaginary black villain. It is a terrific exercise in poetry, as it follows Smith through the act of murder. I've used that poem twice here; unfortunately it's the only part of the series that stands on it's own. The series was the basis for his libretto for the music-drama of the same name which was a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 1999.

This week I'm going to the second series in the book "The Running Man Poems." It is the story of another black man, caught in the web of an unpromising life. Many of it's poems, including the one I chose, do stand alone.

The poet, Eady, was formerly director of the Poetry Center at SUNY/Stony Brook and is currently visiting professor in creative writing at the City College of New York.

What Happened

Everyone in town's
Swagging their finger.
Clucking behind my back.
Haven't seen Dollie
In a while,
She go visit her people?

And they smile like I ought
To drop to my black knees
And beg the Lord Jesus to forgive me.

But you know what?
I will walk up and down
The neighborhood,
I will look these so-called
Solid citizens
In their countrified eyes,
I will sing them the blues:

I once loved a gal
But she found another,
I tried to hold on,
But I just couldn't
Please her.

I'll give them
the details:
My emptied purse.
A train ticket,
A high-yellow boy
From Richmond,

and they'll think
Of their own
Back doors.
The rhythm
High-heels make
After a woman sets
Her mind.

If you think about it
Real careful,
It isn't like I'm telling
A full lie,

The woman did drive me
To distraction,
There really was a moment
I couldn't tell
Up from down,

For awhile
I was bedeviled.
When I buried her
I howled like
A wolf had caught me
In its jaws.

There are mud
And pine needles
On the soles of
My boots,

A confession
Ground into
My work clothes.

I'm the running man.
A good-timer,
A high-stepper
As long as I supply,
I'm allowed.

If I say my baby has hopped
A train,
You can bet
That train has smoked
And gone.

I can lie.
They can kiss my ass.

"Myth Melt"
by Vincent Martinez

Since I'm using art from my first book, Seven Beats a Second, I might as well go ahead and use a couple of poems from it too.

This first one I wrote probably two or three years before the book was published in 2005. A lot has changed since then.

what God don't like

I was seeing this preacher fella on tv the other day
and he was saying that God don't like men fucking men

I don't know how in the world he would know that,
except maybe he was talking to God
and just straight out asked him. like, hey, God,
what do you think about this men fucking men thing

I'd be afraid to do that, but maybe it's ok for preachers,
especially this particular preacher fella
since it seems like he's pretty close to God and
like he must talk to him about all sorts of things
because he's all the time on tv
talking about what God likes and don't like
(mostly about what he don't like, from what I've seen),
not just about fucking, but about all sorts of things
God don't like, you know, treehuggers and feminazies
and Democrats and evolutionists and poor people
and those wussy-pussy perverts who think
we ought not be killing raghead foreigners
without some kind of pretty good reason

but, mostly what I get from listening to the tv fella
is that mainly what God most often don't like
are people who aren't exactly like that same tv fella

so I'm thinking maybe I ought to study that fella real good
and try real hard to be as much like he is as I can

then maybe God won't don't like me, too

by Vincent Martinez

Haven't followed up on the doings of the late great Chinaski in a while, so here he is, a poem by the outlaw Charles Bukowski. The poem is from his book Open All Night, published by HarperCollins in 2000, six years after his death in 1994.

Polish Sausage

come on, she said, I want you to meet my friends,
it's a lovely drive, I'll drive,
and we went
and she said, look, all this sky, all the
mountains, doesn't it refresh your

she drove around the curves
she liked to drive around the curves
it went on for house and then we were

there was a young girl in the yard planting a young
there was a young man there

we went inside and drank some beer.
there was a parrot with a very yellow
there was a bag of dry cookies.

then the won who had driven me up
went to the bathroom and vomited up her
dry cookies.

afterward she got on the motorcycle with the young man
and they drove off for some more beer and some

meanwhile, his girl played me some
redneck music.

she said it was great.

how many minutes we got before they get back?
I asked.
8, she said.

when they got back
there were some jokes about the
fire department
and some minor brilliancies about nothing in

we decided that someday we might have a party up there,
no more than
12 people.

on the way back
driving down the mountain
driving down the curves
she said,
you know, you're a very strange

I reached forward to the dash
took a cigarette
lit it.

and the curves wen down and around and
and I thought
yes, it's true.

there's nothing likeable
the trees or the mountain
or the

I took a piece of paper
and wrote:
love is a tiny spot
3 quarters of an inch
below the left

then I felt

"Cloud Exits"
by Vincent Martinez

Here's another poem from Seven Beats a Second.

lotsa hots

I've worked in August
under the noon-day sun
digging post holes
in hard-packed caliche
on the Texas-Mexican border

that's one kind of hot

I've won six months pay
throwing dice in Reno

that's another kind of hot

I've seen pretty little whores
in Piedras Negras
hot enough to melt the silver tips
off a cowboy's dress-up boots

that's pretty hot too

but no kind of hot
is as hot
as thinking of you and me
in a big white bed
in a room with curtains whispering
to a low midnight breeze,
soft lights, satin shadows
shifting over pale skin

your dark eyes shining
liquid in their knowing

by Vincent Martinez /w Dennis Hodges

Next, I have poets from Keeping Company, an anthology published in 1996 by Pecan Grove Press of St. Mary's University.

The three poets are part of a group of seven poets here in San Antonio who began some years ago to meet with a common interest in poetry, calling themselves "Poetry and Company."

I do not involve myself in local poetry functions here in San Antonio, mostly, because after a 35 year career of going to many more meetings than I wanted to, I just don't like to go to meetings for any purpose. The point is, though I know I should, I don't personally know any of the seven poets. My poetry circle is restricted to those poets I know and work with on line.

One of the seven, Cyra Dumitru, has appeared a number of times in "Here and Now" with poems from her books.

I chose poems from only three of the seven poets for this week. I should say I know nothing about these poets beyond the 1996 bio included with the book.

The first of the poets is Billy Jackson, a native of Austin and a graduate of both University of Texas - Austin and Texaa A&M University. Most of his professional career has been spent as a biostatistician working for the Air Force in San Antonio.

From Hillsboro Peak

We climb all morning
to ten thousand feet and lunch
where the Continent

divides. A lookout
tower, perfect for pictures,
commands the Black Range.

North and West, blue skies
decorate New Mexican
forest, a harem

among feral hills.
Southeast, like a buffalo
rolling in the dust,

El Paso/Juarez
throws haze on the horizon.
South -southwest, machines

ugly as maggots
mine Santa Rita's open
pit. The Gila flees

West, a gathering
stream of refugees seeking
the Promised Land.

The next of the three poets for this week is Carol Coffee Reposa, an English teacher at San Antonio College ( just a few blocks down the street, in fact, from my usual morning coffeeshop/writing station.)

For My Mother

You look fragile now,
A sigh in shapeless white
That tosses, rail to rail, in your iron bed,
Your door just like the other doors
That open on a road of disinfected tile
While monitors continue flickering
Lost messages
On rows of gray-black screens.

But I remember
When you clubbed a diamondback to death
Sun glinting off the hissing writhing skin
At even angles
Like the motion of your arms
Across the lake
Your body locked in measured reaching
As it pulled blue distance into breath,
A song in icy water.

And I remember
When you pounded Gershwin
On our dreary spinet
Filling hungry rooms with city lights
And scores of red silk gowns.

The old piano now lies mute.
I touch it briefly
But my hands sigh helplessly
From key to key
And I must stop
To listen
For the rustle of red silk.

And the last poet from the anthology for this week is Barbara Evans Stanush, a New Jersey native, who graduated from Duke University and worked in North Carolina and New York before moving to San Antonio in 1962. She has worked as a teacher, a poet-in-schools, and an educational consultant. She also writes a regular column in the San Antonio Express-News.

Late February

Towards evening
I hear them,

the clicking leaves
of live oaks,
the ends of tiny lives

They held on through winter,
leathery ovals green
among the hardwoods.
In the still grey season

sap rises in the oaks.
Urgent branches pulse
and push against
the old.

Winter-weary leaves
into crisp bronze
and fall, sounding

a hearing
before Spring.

by Vincent Martinez

One last poem from Seven Beats a Second. This one I'm not sure means anything, but it was fun to start and run with, without, as is most often the case, not knowing where I was headed.

how brown now cow

fire burns
the turning worm
and God helps those
who drop folding
in the plate
on Sunday morning
but time passes
and never moves
so it's always
is the time
for all good men
to get the best deal
they can for their
pound of flesh
give it up for the
but no sense
to it now
and tomorrow
but always now
I see time passing
in the graying
of your
you're on candy
like the one I had
when I was a kid
back then
now again
I see time passing
but it's always now
and that's a real
because you left me
and tomorrow now
will be lonely

by Vincent Martinez

Here are three poems by Linda Dove, from her book In Defense of Objects. The book, winner of the 2009 Dorothy Brunsman Poetry Prize was published by Bear Star Press.

Dove retired in 2004 after fifteen years of college teaching to take up ranching in Skull Valley, Arizona. She holds a PhD in Renaissance literature and taught most recently at Prescott College and Yavapai College in Arizona.

The Dog From Pompeii
     sculptural installation by Allen McCollum, 1991.

Fate replicates. The chained dog of ancient Pompeii, caught
     on his back, writhing in his collar against the tile floor
swept with ash, is now many dogs, all their fours in the air

It's as if the one dog, the main attraction, turns in the dessert case
     of meringue pie, rotates his hindquarters, his open mouth,
spinning all sides of himself past that August afternoon. He is back

in motion, freeze-framed on long tables,back to the contortionist
     he became when the volcano blew, when the people
of his house ran past im into the street, holding hands. He hated that

collar, its thick leather rib such a nuisance when the need to run
     reawakens. Now body after body drains ofcolor, ghost-meats
that ask you what to do about such a thing as this - the domestic cast

as the heavy, the sort of weight you might carry around in a bad
     like footed moons. When ash smothered the body/bodies,
legs twisted upright in nursery beds, row after row of double helix.

Cowhand, Traveller, Cow

In the field, there is already what's left in the field after.
Cowhand, traveller, cow. The one who moves, the one

who moves through, the thing that tells them both what
they are. Where. In a John Ford film, watch the scenery.

The background, rocks, the mesas. The silver sky-glint jettng
across the nineteenth century. Context can turn into object.

What you believe is also concrete, like a curiosity stashed
in the saddlebag next to the blanket and knife. The lucky coin.

Natural disasters are anything but - the flood, the storm,
the great quake emanate from a disturbance of words.

While we're at it, look how landscape alters; field, pasture,
meadow, range. Language role-plays as the objects themselves.

All stories come back to a moment like this. A field at dusk,
wind picking up. Cowhand, traveller, cow. After.


Twin calderas sputter inside,
eggs shooting away like stars,
children running down tunnels.
Stems of sunflower grow, arch
through the summer, bend
September. Tops burst yellow
balloons hovering over, scattering
tiny jewels into sow's ears.
A TV anchorwoman tells me
the experience is essential,
birth brings us together
as Americans. There are hands
to hold in life's last room.
A place to put the silver.
The barmaid's Zippo lighter flames
orange and blue, like the silk purses
of Geishas, which rattle
with coins and lipstick tubes,
things inside getting smaller, dry.
Voices won't form there.

by Vincent Martinez

Oh, hell, one more from Seven Beats a Second. I don't read often, but when I do, I like to start with this one. Audience reaction to it pretty much tells me what I have to look forward to for the rest of the reading.

life is

is like a duck hunt

every time
you really start to fly

assholes in the weeds

your feathered butt

right out of the sky

"Words Like Birds"
by Vincent Martinez

Here are two poems by Stephen Dunn, from his 2000 Pulitzer Prize winning book, Different Hours. The book was published by W.W. Norton.

Dunn, author of ten books previous to this one, teaches at Richard Stockton College in New Jersey.


The silhouette of a mountain. Above it
a dark halo of rain. Dusk's light
fading, holding on. He thinks he's seen
some visible trace of some absent thing.
Knows he won't talk about it, can't.
He arrives home to the small winter pleasures
of a clothes tree, a hatrack,
his heroine in a housedress saying hello.
He could be anyone aware of an almost,
not necessarily sad. He could be a brute
suddenly chastened by the physical world.
They talk about the storm in the mountains
destined for the lowlands, the béarnaise sauce
and the fine cut of beef it improves.
The commonplace and its contingencies,
his half-filled cup, the monstrous
domesticated by the six o'clock news -
these are his endurances,
in fact, his privileges, if he has any sense.
Later while they make love, he thinks of
Mantle's long home run in the '57 Series.
He falls to sleep searching for a word.

One Moment and the Next in the Pine Barrens

One moment a crow
on the highway's white line
is eating a dead thing,
the next a falling pinecone
leads my eye to a lost wallet.
I tell my wife
I think I'm in a story
the world is making for me.
In it I'm merely a bit player,
a walk-on. I'm saddened
when she doesn't disagree.
The wallet has $80 in it,
a slew of credit cards.
Hungry for praise
more than anything else,
I know I'll return it intact.
One moment a possum or
groundhog or small gray thing
allows itself to be frightened by us,
the next we see a trail
through the woods
marked with white thumbtacks.
Someone has placed them
eye-level on the tree trunks,
and we follow them
to an old wooden bridge
over a brook. My wife says,
We've lived in a kind
of story where much is promised
and little happens,
the kind of story a fancy writer
might call "The Conundrums
of the Palpable,"
believing we could save it.
I don't disagree.
One moment mysterious thumbtacks,
next I'm standing on a bridge,
a tourist in the comedy
thoroughly lost with a clear view.

"Peruvian Landscape #2"
By Vincent Martinez

Change at an advanced age can be quite unsettling.

what will Uncle Festus and Auntie Willardina say?

this has happened
to me twice
recently, a unsettling
for a dedicated Texas

I grilled a steak
last night,
ribeye, did it just right,
thick and juicy,
warm and red
on the inside, crispy fat
around the edges,
onion slices on top, blackened
& sweet

after dinner
I settled in the den
to watch a blue-ray version
of the “Wild Bunch” - the second
best western ever made

as I began to watch
the movie, I felt
in a stink of meat,
dead cow
on my breath,
on my hands, on my beard,
a butchered cow
that followed me
no matter where I sat,
& I had to pause the movie
& go take a shower,
scrub down,
cleanse myself
of the stench of


my god,
what will I tell my friends

how will I explain
the carrots,
& endives
I carry in my little zip-lock
as i sit with my wrangler buddies
around mesquite-smoky
chewing Spearmint gum
and spitting
into the
for god sakes,
what will Uncle Festus
and Auntie Willardina
when they hear
the news!

…will I be
forced renounce
my six generations of
my Texas roots,
forced to move to
or New York
or Boston, Mass.
or some other such place with juice bars
celery stockades
on every


I fear
my life could be

"It Is What It Is"
by Vincent Martinez

I received a remarkable email last week, from a poet-friend. Attached to the email was his/her 42-page chapbook, Message in a Bottle. True to the title, my friend was sending the chapbook to a few of his/her friends, like a message in a bottle thrown into the sea. Once sent, such a message is gone, just as his/her chapbook is gone, deleted, once sent, from his/her computer.

His/her request to those of who received his/her email - do whatever we want with the chapbook, with one condition, that we never identify its author.

What a concept, once dropped into the sea, the message no longer exists for the author; the author, in turn, unknown those who receive it.

I admire this poet very much, both for his/her art, for his/her imagination, and for his/her dedication to both.

Here's Part I of the book. Remaining parts will be posted in future issues.

Message in a Bottle - Part I

I. Tuesday’s child is full of grace

My, oh my Brother John,
what have we gone and done and
where have we done and gone.

Two days in the alone and cold

…but I was there shortcake
but I was there…

Before it became a holy city, New York was hollow
and money-less. Its pockmarked face didn’t do well
with the pretty women. Now it’s the land of aplenty,
land of the freed. Home of the breathless and the last
stop before paradise.

To do list:

Later Brother John, later,
for the moment
let us chill.

Harlem Renaissance

The moon is the size of a dime, half the night is gone, the other forgotten;
she shrugs off a shoulder strap, knows she’s cliché but prefers to believe
herself ironic. Once upon a childhood, miracles could change the direction
of the sun. There were chances to run. There were uneven yellow fields,
a clear river to wade in up to her thighs. Tall summer grass that told her
stories when the wind picked up from the east. She had secrets, plans.
Believed the star shaped birthmark on her ankle was a personal message
from God. Spent days skimming stones, imagined herself in a well lit room:
white light, white walls and all the time she would ever need to make
herself over again and again.

M o t h e r f u c k e r

It was a whisper. It was the cock crow. You’re so pretty when you’re unfaithful to me. Get dressed. They’ll be home any minute. Who came first: the madness or the booze, booze or madness. She shaved her pussy, shortcake. It was a special occasion. Just for me baby. I am used up and useless. Where is the loaded gun when you really need one. The roof top garden offers a view of the downtown skyline. We are bound and determined, left too far apart to ever be right.

Hey Brother John:
Jerry Lee is the devil and the devil
loves fuckin’ details.

What you see? What you see?

She was soft & her breasts
were round & her lips, her lips
shortcake. You had to be there.

‘zactly what I thought baby,
ain’t no thinkin’
but fuckin’.

…and yeah, I was there brother
that’s part of the problem.

In the morning, when it was raining

It was this she feared. The end of words. A void so pillow-soft she would sleep forever. The woman-girl in a fairy tale. No witch. No prince to wake her. She could see the signs. The subtle shift in gravity. The feather lightness of grief. I see the curve of her hip against the door. Would you, could you. Can’t. It was cool for summer. The present a pastel green. The past a rusty oil on an off white canvas. I love. I love her shortcake. She don’t. She no longer believes. Can see it. Taste it. Smell it. Can’t no longer feel it. This moment is used up. Long gone shortcake. A brown bird appears on the sill. Flutters its wings. Flies away.

Summer Solstice

I slide my hand into the waistband of her jeans. She leans into me, doesn’t say no. She tells me about St. Mary’s cemetery. I feel the swell of her breasts against me. We’re too old for ghost stories and not stoned enough to fuck. Headstones etched with names. Dates. No angels. Earth is warm. We lay on the grass. She wraps her arms around me. We live in an abandoned world. Imagine how it would feel to melt into the ground until there was nothing but darkness.


Pop. 1280.
Eleven bars. Six churches.
No hope.

Psalms and antidotes:

lopsided sky
and lollipops
all that matters is you’re okay baby.

Fuck you. Save it for your next lover
I love you. For real and
for ever.

Never mind the mess,
rough night but mourning
is Kessler: smooth as silk baby.

Load the gun they’re on the way
shake, rattle, rock
‘n roll over.

… and don’t it feel good to be free
Brother John?

It’s a riot, shortcake; stone cold
motherfucker of a riot.

I got a secret,
I got a secret

Secrets will kill you,

Stars blink with your every exhale. It is beauty; truth. I can’t imagine night without your body.

What don’t kill me make
me stronger, Brother John

That’s destroy, shortcake.
          , dying’s the easy part.

A f t e r m a t h

I have forgotten her name, replaced it with narrative. She says her feelings are hurt.The sky breaks up into rain. I lose her voice. Can’t get used to her on my arm. Wantto ruin her. Break her words into easy to swallow regret. She takes my hand. Sits me down under a ragged oak. There’s a blanket. She tucks her feet under her sundress.
Says I love you. There’s the unbearable weight of grief. I’m packed. Ready to go.

Like it never happened (then)

Harsh traffic
Hard edges
An easel
Sleeping dog
Close the door
Go to bed
I wonder
does she remember
the scent of butterflies’ wings

What the air cannot hold

I’m tired of rain. Can’t remember anything but the scent of your hair. I put on Blonde on Blonde. Have memorized every scratch and hiss. Every line in the palm of your hand. Every strand of hair that has turned gray. You tell me you are an orphan. Tell me we can drift together. Your skirt, wrinkled from falling asleep on the sofa. Your pale eyes in a fuck-if-you-say-so squint. We have been here before. We are unafraid. Fierce. Take my hand, we’ll walk into the land of nod. Tell the infidels to save their prayers for the bored and non-believers.

Once upon a time in the west

We become one part
of a summer harmony
cicadas chirp
a bare branch scratches
the side of the house
we become air
and space
we are immortal

which one good
and which one bad, Brother John?

…don’t know shortcake but
I’m the ugly one.

The Good, The Bad &The Ugly

Ginsberg and Magdalena take Brother John to St Luke’s. Says he has a plan. Plan nine, baby. Means. By any means necessary, shortcake. Tells the Psycho-Dokter a tale. Not so tall and not too short. Just right, Goldilocks. He’s a man of the world. He’s a man o’ war. He steals a kiss
from Magdalena. She won’t go all the way. Not now. He’s got another tale up his sleeve. Later.

Like it never happened (now)


Dead bolt clicks
Swish swish of curtains
Muffled traffic
The city is gone
Sirens fade
A flash of jazz
Ice against glass
Skin against skin
Feels like jetlag
or culture shock

There’s only seven days in a week, Brother John


Two bits four bits six bits a holler
short hair long legs last call & gone.


2218 First Avenue South: free me up tie me
down ‘til I can see the Promised Land.


I Cried for You, Billie Holiday; Dear John,
Aimee Mann; Outro with Bees, Neko Case.


What was her name, the one that said
you lucky young man? She is beauty and light.


Just one. That’s all a man really needs.
What could a man possibly do with more?




Anything more than two.

                                                       all it takes is one, shortcake.


Once, when we were young, there were mountains with imagined lands
on the other side where everything was possible, where everyone knew
magic, spoke in colorful tongues; we were the explorer/conquerors
determined to tame what we couldn’t understand-determined to keep
it brand new.

"Chicken Wings & Pretty Things"
by Vincent Martinez

I have another book I'm planning to release in October or November, then sometimes in the first quarter of the new year, another book. This one a book of road poems tentatively titled, places and spaces. The book will include five extended poems, book-ended by a short opening and a short concluding poem. Each of the five longer poems will follow me on a particular trip.

The next poem is from a section from the last of the five long poems, "Silver City and Beyond."

they stack their enchiladas here

     three horses
     a green pasture,
     grass high,
     up to their knees

     in single file,
     one after the other

     like carousal horses
     with somewhere to go

chasing down
a dirt road, pulling a cloud
of gray dust

looking for a
red iron bridge
I saw from the highway

never found it

instead of the bridge,
a rabbit
on the side of the road

     not one of your cute little bunnies
     or Peter Cottontails
     but a big male hare, three feet
     tall, two feet, not counting
     his ears standing
     proud and pink
     and scissor

     starts to run
     when I drive up
     but stops as I stop,
     as I ease the car forward,
     reaching for my camera

as I snap off a couple of pictures

thanks, I say

and he leaves,
as do I…
dissatisfied so far
with my drive, not having found
the mountain and forest
experience I came

I decide to take a loop that will
lead me right through the middle
of the Gila Mountains
and National Forest - Hwy 159
off 180.

a twisty-turnsy, upsy-downsy
road, but well-maintained,
two lane blacktop

but after three miles,
it turns to one lane and becomes
even more twisty-turnsy
upsy-downsy until
8 miles in
I come to the lost little village
of Mogollon - originally
a mining town, now, I think it must be
Federal Witness Protection’s
prime hide-out for persons wanted
by the Mob and other forces of evil

     10 to 12 structures
     including an old rock museum
     and several well-maintained houses
     lining the road - nice rustic houses,
      beautiful gardens

a very strange place,
a nice place
if you want to get away
from it all

     a one-lane bridge
     Mogollon from the National Forest

the paved road ends
and a Forest Service dirt and rock road begins

very rough

unsure as to how far
the dirt road goes before returning to asphalt
- none of this is on my map -
I have to decide whether I should
go forward
or turn back - see what comes next, which
could be worth the whole trip,
or avoid what comes next, which might not be so good

     disinclined by nature
     to ever back up, I press

the road, I notice,
travels along the bottom
of a deep canyon,
along side a dry creek

it is at about that same time
that it begins to rain
and I notice a large, very black cloud
hovering overhead

being from an area
where everyone knows
the dangers when hillsides and dry creeks
and heavy rain come together, I am relieved
when the road starts to rise,
leaving the canyon and dry creek

     the higher I climb
     the heavier the rain falls
     and the slushier
     and slipperier the road becomes

finally after an hour of twisting and turning
and climbing and sloshing and slipping,
the rain stops
and the sun comes out
and I can see more clearly the puddles
and the great gush of muddy water
rushing down the hill side, building new channels
as it races from the top to that dry creek
I am pleased to not be driving alongside

thoughts of mudslides
for a moment, until I decide
that I’m high enough to slide down the mountain
on top of the mud
and not under it, which doesn’t seem so bad

I choose to think of it as skiing
in mud season

     setting aside mudslides and all other hesitations
     - it is now considerably further back than forward anyway -
     I come to a break in the trees
     and stop and look out and see that i am on a high ridge,
     above the clouds, churning
      and billowy

unwilling to stop earlier
in the heavy rain,
I had unfinished and too long delayed
business which I took care of

peeing on the clouds,
the moist essences of me
joining the moist essences of the clouds,
becoming a part of someone’s
next rain storm

the grass will grow greener,
I know,
and the flowers more colorful
because I have made their cause
my own

     and I am

going down now,
still on the dirt-rocky-rough road,
but believing an end was in sight
and a herd of deer
cross the road in front of me

     a very large buck
     and 25 to 30 doe and fawns,
     fluffy white and brown stub-tails flicking
     in the wind,
     all together as a group,
     coming down the mountain
     in great bounds, over the road, then back up
     on the other side
     winged creatures
     who, through fate or folly,
     lost their wings
     but still they try to fly, almost succeeding
      with each great leap

passing through a burned out portion of forest,
pine and aspen tall and limb-less, black as the coal
they have become while still they reach for the sky,
I stop and listen to the wind,
all around deep-forest quiet but for the wind
passing through these poor standing-dead

ghost whispers…

the dirt road ends,
now I have loose gravel,
great, I think,
as I speed up to 35,
I may get off this mountain
before dark, after all

but the road washboards
at every curve and climb, and there are many,
many curves and climbs

back to 10 miles per hour

then, at last,
pavement, and though I have no idea
where I am, I know I’ll be able to tell soon...

and there it is,
Reserve, New Mexico -
and dinner that was supposed to be lunch
three hours ago...


they stack them here
instead of rolling...

talk with the cook
about the weather,

about the merits
of stacking or rolling...

I eat my stacked enchiladas
and move on

by Vincent Martinez

All the work here remains the property of those who created it. My stuff, as usual, is available for borrow - my only request that you properly credit me and "Here and Now" if you use it.

I'm allen itz, owner and producer of this blog, sweltering, a good 6 to 8 weeks before this awful summer retires until next year.

A note to those who may have bought my latest book, "Goes Around, Comes Around."

Through publisher error, the book was sent to retailers without a cover. My publisher, BookBaby says this is in the process of getting fixed. If you care about the cover, I think there is a way to recover it, once fixed.

On a Kindle, I'm told that, when the cover is in place, using your "sync" function will replace your original download with the most recent copy of the book. I don't know about the other retailers (Barnes & Noble, Sony EBookstore, and Apple IBooks) but I'm sure there must be someway to do this on their machines. I don't know of any kind of fix if you downloaded into your PC or Mac product.


I should add the book is complete everywhere,except for the cover. Every thing else is there. I'm mainly pissed because I really like the cover I came up with and am very unhappy with the publisher for what seems to me a very elemental and unprofessional screw-up.


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