Night Lights   Monday, January 02, 2012

Continuing the age-old tradition I started last week, my first picture this week has nothing to do with the rest of the post, being, instead advanced promotion for my next book, Places and Spaces, a book of travel poems, for which the picture will be the cover. The fella on the rock is my son, and neither his mother nor I want to know how he got there, though we are pleased he found his way down. The picture was taken by his friend and fellow backpacker, Andre Lamar.

The rest of the photo this shift were, again, taken on the Riverwalk. This time there were taken just as night was coming on, before the Christmas lights were taken down at the end of the week. I took the pictures with my new camera, which, it turns out works pretty good under low light. The problem is me. I need either more or less coffee, whatever it takes to stop my shaking hands, which really shows up when the shutter stays open for more than a blink.

Maybe if you think of it as a photographic exposition of light and color, rather than of photographic detail, it will work better for you.

I have good poems from my library, including several international poets I haven't heard of before.

My mini-story-a-day-for-30-days experiment continues, much more difficult than I imagined when I talked myself into trying it. I have completed my first eleven mini-story days, plus the thirtieth, which will end the story arc, written. So I know now how the series ends, but don't have a clue about stories twelve through twenty-nine.

Writing the stories each day has been an interesting, even exciting, process, but much harder than the poem-a-day routine I've been in since 2007. My poems,for whatever they're worth, are easy, usually written in fifteen or twenty minutes about what ever is passing through my mind at the time.

This is why I'm not a prose writer, which requires actually making connections day to day and which I lack the attention span to do for very long. But the thing is, my poetry has become stale and boring, even to me. I'm hoping this 30 days of prose will rejuvenate the poetic spark.

Anyway, this is what I have for you this week, a short post because, out of 75 pictures I took of the Riverwalk lights last week, only 19 were at least marginally acceptable for use here.

Paul Hannigan
Child Builds a Chair
As If It

Moving to the Almost-Country

Ted Hughes
The Literary Life

at just dark

Robert A. Fink
The Ghostly Hitchhiker
A West Texan Looks at Vermont

The Secret Hide-Out

Lawson Fusao Inada
Listening to Hmong Radio
In So Doing


Amir Or
Drowning, he breathes live water
Evening Prayer #2

Workingman Blues

From Room for Me and a Mountain Lion
Short poems and songs from Ice Cakes and the Snow’s Crust

an unsunny day

Jack Spicer
From A Book of Music

The Kiss

Olav H. Hauge
Slowly the Truth Dawns

and all is good this morning

a mid-winter poem

Hsia Yu
Writing for Others

Miguel Angel Bustos
My Angel Will Bring You
I am Immortal


I start this week with several poems by Paul Hannigan. The poems are from his book, Laughing, published in 1970 by Houghoh Mifflin Company.

In the bio for his book Hannigan wrote that he was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1936. Since then,he wrote,he has been a gas station attendant, a stockboy in a supermarket, a college student, an electrician's helper, a book-store clerk, a research assistant, a technical writer, and a poet, the last, he said, the one he liked the best.

I know nothing about the poet, and can find no detailed biographical information on him in Google, other than suggestions that he continued to write to a wide audience until his death in 2000.

Child Builds a Chair

This ineptitude
Could move mountains.
Concentration of a murderer -
He doesn't know what he's doing.
(Women write poetry sometimes.)
By the time he's done
He will be too big to sit in it.
All the nails are longer than his fingers
And the hammer is longer than his shank.
He is shorter than the saw
And he is younger than the wood.
He neither wants nor needs a chair.
He wants to build a chair;
Only the devil mocks desire.

That flat board seat may make it
The most uncomfortable unelectrified
Chair in the world. Monstrous chair,
And symmetry. chair with
Four variously long legs and
Chair with two arbitrarily short arms.
It is,like an oddly shaped rock or
Some stars in Cassiopeia, a chair
By virtue of its being nothing else.
This carbuncle is a chair
So shyly balanced always
On some three of its
Only a great equilibrist could
Sit in it seriously. William
Wordsworth could not sit in it.
Emily Dickinson might sit in it
For a second, just to be nice.
It bristles with its kinship
To members of a class.


There is no natural religion,
Brush your teeth.
A tooth lost
Is a headstone.

In the empty socket
In the strong gum-di-um-dum,
There's the heart and the soul of grief.
There is no natural religion.
Brush your teeth.


A man so grand
He could define time

Fell down the stairs
And discovered pain.

A man so thin
He could skip in church

Fell out of a plane
But continued to fly.

A man so lame
He limped when he slept

Leapt so high on his crutches
That his legs danced in the sun.

As If It

Of the women I saw that year
One girl had the beauty
Of a plain girl in love.
Her plain face was the place
Where it was.
               As if it
Were a formality or a scar
She carried it down the street -
The burden of all our wisdom
Corrupting her otherwise
Wholesome life.


The freedman is known
By his freedom spotted
And envied thereby
As buttercup
Is a pretty name
For that poisonous flower.

More from Sonyador.

Moving to the Almost-Country

Sonyador remembers standing with his father in front of the house he was building for them. Brother Tug was still in high school and bother Conch wasn’t born yet, so, with Mom, so the house was just the for four of them.

Dad had been working on the house nights and weekends and on this Saturday let the boy come along to help, hold the nail bag, hold the boards down while Dad sawed, that sort of thing. The house was about half finished, a big kitchen for Mom who cooked three hot meals every day, a living room, a dining room, two bedrooms, one for Mom and Dad and one for Tug and him, and one bathroom right in the middle of the house.

Dad was taking a break, drinking a Pearl beer, and the new neighbor came across the street to say hello, to visit, to welcome his new neighbor, but mostly to get a beer his churchly wife wouldn’t let him have at home. He was tall, tall, skinny man in a mechanic’s cap with a big, big brown and gray ugly dog - a street dog, living on scrap, ready to eat anything that didn’t move.

Sonyador knew life was changing - a new neighbor, a new house half built in the almost country and good-bye to the old house in the city on a paved street with a paved sidewalk and grandma and grandpa on one side and his friend, the little blond girl, on the other.

it was nice to have a paved street and a sidewalk where he could pedal his trike, tall and red and wonderful, zooming up and down the sidewalk, and it was nice to have grandma and grandpa right next door and he knew he would miss them and the sidewalk, but most of all, he knew he would miss his friend, the little blond girl.

He knew there was nobody like the little blond girl around here, no one at all, if fact except the tall, tall man and his squinty, skinny wife and the hungry, ugly dog and he didn’t think the squinty, skinny wife would want to make cookies for him like grandma did nor did he think the tall, tall man who looked so serious all the time would want to play with him like grandpa did and there were no kids around at all, except for some Mexican kids down the road who didn’t seem to want to have anything to do with him. And the dog, of course, but the dog just looked too big and too hungry to play with.

Sonyador wanted to go down and see if the Mexican kids would play, but they had dogs too, three of them, big, not hungry, but just plain mean looking, barking and growling every time he walked down the road past their house.

Sanyador remembers that he did finally go down and talk to the Mexican boys and girls, met them on the road in neutral territory, and the dogs turned out to be not so mean, once you got to know them, and the boys and girls turned out okay to play with especially the girl, a little bit older, who would yell, "Let's play wild indian," and strip down and run naked in the woods that ran along below the canal bank. That was fun, too, especially the times everyone played "wild indian" with her.

But the boys’ and girl’s parents had to go north to work every summer and they took the kids, who also did a little work with them. They did that for a couple of years, coming back a couple of weeks after school started, until one year they left and never came back at all.

Next, I have a poem by Ted Hughes, from his book, Birthday Letters, published by Farrar Straus Giroux in 1998.

The Literary Life

We climbed Marianne Moore's narrow stair
To her bower-bird bric-a-brac nest,in Brooklyn.
Daintiest curio relic of Americana.
Her talk,a needle
Unresting - darning incessantly
Chain-mail with crewel-work flowers,
Birds and fish of the reef
In phosphor-bronze wire.
Her face, tiny American treen bobbin
On a spindle,
Her voice the flickering hum of the old wheel.
Then the coin, compulsory.
For the subway
Back to our quotidian scramble.
Why shouldn't we cherish her?

You sent her carbon copies of some of your poems.
Everything about them -
The ghost gloom, the constriction,
The bell-jar air-conditioning - made her gasp
for oxygen and cheer. She sent them back.
(Whoever has her letter has her exact words.)
"Since these seem to be valuable carbon copies
(Somewhat smudged) I shall not engross them."
I took the point off that "engross"
Precisely, like a bristle of glass
Snapped off deep in my thumb.
You wept
And hurled yourself dow a floor or two
Further from the Empyrean.
I carried you back up.
And she, Marianne, tight, brisk,
Neat and hard as an ant,
Slid into the second or third circle
Of my Inferno.

A decade later, on her last visit to England,
Holding court at a party, she was sitting
Bowed over her knees, her face,
Under her great hat-brim's floppy petal,
Dainty and bright as a piece of confetti -
She wanted me to know, she insisted
(It was all she wanted to say)
With that Missouri needle, drawing each stitch
Tight in my ear,
That your little post-posthumous memoir
OCEAN 1212
Was "so wonderful, so lit, so wonderful" -

She bowed so low I had to kneel. I kneeled and
Bowed my face close to her upturned face
That seemed tinier than ever,
And studied, as through a grille,
Her lips that put me in mind of a child's purse
Made of the skin of a dormouse,
Her cheek, as if she had powdered the crumpled silk
Of a bat's wing.
And I listened, heavy as a graveyard
While she searched for the grave
Where she could lay down her little wreath.

Here's a series of short pieces I did in 2007.

at just dark

birds unfurl
from trees
black flag
cloud of dark


end of shift
green scrubs
soft shoes
at Starbucks
in secret voices
of doctors
and patients
and extended


car lights
on the Loop
one after another
three abreast
in both directions
on this side
those who work
in the east
and live in the west
and on the other
the reverse
such is
the state
of our affairs


“_ood fo-d”


neon sigh
with incomplete
green shadows
on the cracked sidewalk
in front of the diner
at 5th and Grand
three old men
at the counter
for a meal
fit to meet
their meager
every night
then as morning
when they’re riding high
don’t care
about the broken
quit seeing the sign
years ago



don’t walk the streets
in this neighborhood
but a little later
when it’s not so early
they’ll all be at the bar
and in the back booth
over at San Miguel’s
across from the barber shop
just a phone call
and a cab ride away
mostly young
mostly pretty
the black tar
of too-many tricks
just a small spot
not yet spread
to their

hard clunk
of a heavy switch
in San Pedro
tennis court
dark tide


Millie Sands
of the dark
to give Bixbie
his walk
before shadows
hard his leash
as he stops to check
his mail
and Robinsons’ oak


passes on Callahan
siren screeching
like five o’clock
sound this time
of day as
on the Loop
maneuver for
sets the dogs
to yowling

Here are three poems by Robert A. Fink, from his book, The Ghostly Hitchhiker, published in 1989 by Corona Publishing Company of San Antonio.

Fink is the author of four collections of poetry, including The Ghostly Hitchhiker,which was his second book.

He earned a BA in English from Baylor University and his PhD from Texas Tech University in 1977, and, since 1995, has been the W.D. and Hollis R. Bond Professor of English at Hardin-Simmons University in Abiline, Texas, where he is director of the Creative Writing program.

I start with the book's title poem.

The Ghostly Hitchhiker

    l the most widely told
    l ghost story in america

Always dark. Pouring
and you're late, a salesman coming up
on Monterey or Albany or Dallas.
You cut your speed and lean toward the glass
to squeeze a glimpse of yellow lines and muddy shoulders.
The windshield wipers set the pace:
you start to nod, think of home
and bed. Then you see her

tall and white in the corner of your eye.
You wonder why you stop, back up;
the wife is waiting, will not approve.
You lean across and swing the door
into the wind and rain. She hesitates,
asked if you are going into town.
Do you know this address? Can you take me home?
You tell her yes. Even then you know your lie.


are passing in the night
dripping through our sun porch,
secret as the smell of thunder.
They are back from 1951
when my mother whispered not to make a sound
or else they'd mark the house.
She said they wanted food.
The back door rattled lightly at the knock.
Soft. An angel's touch.
My mother's hands paled against her ears.

Tonight I hear them pass. In between the rain:
the smack of cardboard soles
soaking up the street, the cadence of wings
brushing past the house. This time they do not stop
but chant Come Out. Come Out.
My wife and sons toss in dreams.
Tomorrow they will ask about the storm,
the sun porch roof, why my ears are red.

A West Texan Looks at Vermont

Past Abilene, land spreads flat as Time.
From the east come tales of rain and trees
but to the west: distance duplicated.
Over all is sky,
blue as the underside of mirrors,
clear as the hum of midnight trains.

Angles are straight here,
pure as the railroad tracks
converging to a point
disappearing at the edge of sound,
in time, returning
to the place of origin.

Vermont is vertical,
No room for left or right
where trees and mountains block the sky.
The past is never far,
the future close at hand.

Sonyador goes to school.

The Secret Hide-Out

Sonyador has a little hidey-hole, a little space he’s found between the back of the chicken shed and some prickly-pear cactus. It’s his hide-out, a place to be that no one knows about but him. He thinks about stuff there that he wouldn’t want to be seen thinking about anywhere else.

In school now, Missus Pearson’s first grade, where’s he’s learned the A,B,Cs and the numbers up to 10 and how to raise his hand if he needs to go to the bathroom (one finger or two) and how important it is to always line up quietly after recess so Missus Pearson can count everyone before they go back to class.

The only hard part was the numbers to ten. Uncle Otto had showed him how to make a "5" - just five straight lines straight line across, staight line down, straight line across, straight line down, straight line across backwards. Uncle Otto knew a lot more about arithmetic than Missus Pearson, so Sonyador didn't like it when she told him he couldn't make his "5s" that way and made him write it all curvy on the side instead. Four straight lines and a curve on the side. Wrong. Uncle Otto wouldn't have told him about the five straight lines if it wasn't right.

Sonyador decided he would make his "5s" Missus Pearson's way until he went to the second grade where he could start making them right again, like Uncle Otto showed him.

Sonyador left at recess twice the first week, walked home, because he liked Mom more than he liked Misssus Pearson. Mom was pretty surprised when he showed up the first day, but not so much the second.

Mom took him back to school both days, where he got a paddling after the second time.

It was right after that that Missus Pearson started the lining up and counting, no one knew why. None of the other classes lined up before going in after recess.

Sonyador didn’t know any of the other kids in his class, having grown up almost in the country where none of them lived, but they seemed ok. There was a guy that tried to push him around at first, but Sonyador knew how to push back so it didn’t take long for the pushing to stop.

There were four swings and a teeter-totter and a slide in the playground and Sonyador had fun with those. He didn’t have anything like that at home. The boys were always playing chase and the girls like to line up against the fence and draw imaginary houses in the dirt,with imaginary doors where you could get in and out and where they could play house. They got really mad if you didn't use the imaginary doors and just walked across a wall instead.

Most of the boys didn’t want to play house, but Sonyador did a couple of times with a little black-hired girl named Sasha. It was a little fun, but it felt kind of funny, playing house with a girl and, anyway, he liked playing chase better.

Sonyador had been sitting in his secret hide-out in the afternoons after school, thinking about, among other things, inviting one of his new friends to come over to see the hide-out, but he hadn’t made up his mind. The hide-out was a secret and his mom always said that a secret wasn’t a secret anymore if you told someone. That was when her saw her hiding the present she was getting for Dad for Christmas.

But still, he thought, it might be more fun if he could play with someone in his secret hideout.

He was kind of thinking about Sasha.

Next I have several poems by Lawson Fusao Inada. The poems are from his book Legends of the Camp, published in 1993 by Coffee House Press.

Born in Fresno, California in 1938, Inada is a third-generation Japanese American. When he was four years old, Inada and his family were interned for the duration of World War II at camps in Fresno, Arkansas, and Colorado.

He became a jazz musician, a bassist, following the work of Miles Davis, John Coltrane, and Billie Holiday, to whom he would later write tributes in his poetry, citing jazz and his time in the internment camps as his chief influences as a poet.
He studied writing at the University of California, Berkeley, the University of Oregon, and the University of Iowa and began teaching poetry at Southern Oregon University in 1966.

In 1994, Inada's Legends from Camp won an American Book Award. He has received several poetry fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and won the 1997 Stafford/Hall Award for Poetry.

In 2006 Inada was named Oregon's fifth poet laureate.


     For Herbert and Henry Palomino

West Fresno is the only place I know
where "sweaty" is a term of praise.

"Sweaty" this, and "sweaty" that -
and you really had or were something -

money, job, car, style,clothes...
I've got some of that, I suppose -

as some might say I'm "sweaty."
If not, I'm ready. I aspire

to perspire in some sweaty poems.

Listening to Hmong Radio

A woman sings intersection
after intersection
in the gathering dust.
Listeners can join in -
reciting, in rhythm,
something over and over,
"One, two,three,four,
five, six, seven..."

Repeat as needed,
as the whole clan
gathers on the trail:
Grandfather, look at all
these other people
visiting the village!

In So Doing

I. In So Doing

The blue jay
Takes flight
In the pine.

In so doing,
It becomes,
As large
As your life
And mine.

II. Clearing

There's nothing
Quite like
Your throat
In the forest.

III. Keep Quiet

It won't
Rain tonight.
The stars
Just can't
Keep quiet.

IV. Just Made It

I look at the tree
As if had
Just made it.
I count the leaves.

V. Migrants

The migrants
To harvest
My orange

VI. Put There

The wind chime
Swings from
A string
Of barbed wire
I put there.

VII. Ventriloquists

You took
The words
Right out
Of my mouth

VIII. The List

Where is the
The list
Of things
To not

IX. Forest Family

Pine Cones


Pine Trees.

X. Pledge

Repeat after me:






(Repeat as necessary)


The sunlight of her hair.
The shape of luminous
water filled with leaves.
The song of wind
going to pieces in the pines.

With nothing better
to say, or do,
than look at one
another, and smile,

while planning the afternoon.

I wrote this in 2008, an expression of pride dedicated to the young girl I saw in a coffee shop, sitting at a table near me, talking about the state of Arizona and its racist immigration laws.


young girl
maybe twenty
not much more
in speech
and manner

there ain’t no
called Hispanica
so how can I be

and there ain’t
never been no
called Latin
and if they was
they been dead
a couple of thousand

so no way

but there is a
and that’s where
my blood roots lie
so that makes me
Mexican -

you got a problem
with that?

I have two short poems by Amir Or, from Issue IV 2000 of Poetry International. Both poems were translated from Hebrew by Lisa Katz.

Or was born in Tel Aviv in 1956 and holds degrees in philosophy and comparative religion. The founder of the Helicon Society for the Advancement of Poetry,heedits Helicon magazine. Six of his books of poetry have appeared in Hebrew and in a number of translations. He has also published a volume of erotic Greek poetry translated into Hebrew, as well as two other books of translation. He is teacher.

Drowning, he breathes live water

My Narcissus, in the end you got used to it, you grew gills
at the sides of your throat, and sliding down down

you stretched between reds and water and the echo became a wave
and the reflection a place, and you looked and looked and looked

at the water's sky&nbps;    and jumped
out - back to me.

And the thunder turned back into silence, the eater - into a screen,
and the eye to marble. You turned back into me.

The echo became a voice, and the reflection a face,
and you were relieved.


Evening Prayer #2

This me who's quiet only when not oozing,
who isn't a face or a limb, who isn't

anything but a wound, a finger that used to be and is not
at the edge of the Siamese stump between us -

this me who oozes, only what he drinks,
that has no leaf, no fruit, but rises anyway -

enormous stump at the edge of the chasm
opening to a sea, its cliffs, its prey here among us, bitter, pitiable

no shade, no breast, no comfort, endless thirst,
the me who's left outside the garden, worthless, despised -

This me who's not me, who isn't you -
what should we do with him? - Let's not.

Sonyador always does his chores.

Workingman Blues

Beginning when he was eight, Sonyador had two jobs to do.

Every day, after breakfast and before he went to school, he was to check in the chicken pen and all around the yard for any eggs the chickens laid since the day before.

Every Saturday morning, it was his job was to clean out the chicken pen, which meant he had to scrape all the chicken poop off the plywood board that set under the chickens’ roost. He was surprised to learn that chickens poop all the time, wherever they happen to be, and that includes while they’re sleeping on the roost at night. After he collected the poop, it was his job to spread it in his mom’s garden.

For this work, he was given Saturday afternoon off and twenty five cents, which gave him fifteen cents for the movie downtown (the Abyssinia Theater) and a nickel each for popcorn and a coke. He truly loved the cowboy movies, Hopalong and Tom Mix and Lash LaRue, and even Whip Wilson, who was okay, but not nearly as good as Lash. There were also Roy Rogers and Gene Autry movies, but Sonyador didn’t like them so much because it seemed every time it started to get good they would start singing to their horse or something. But he went anyway; it was little town with just one movie theater and there wasn’t anything else to do anyway.

Abbot and Costello came with a new movie every several months, and Sonyador, thought they were funny but always felt bad that Costello was so stupid and did stupid thing and it seemed like laughing was like laughing at him and sometimes Sonyador was embarrassed for him and ashamed about laughing.

When he was ten, his mom and dad got rid of the chickens and got some tame white acrobat pigeons instead. The pigeons weren't good for anything but watching, but were more fun than the chickens and didn’t poop so much, so he didn’t have to clean the pen and was given different jobs instead.

…Two new jobs, washing windows and cleaning flowerbeds.

It was a long house, shaped like a cigar box, long on two sides, short on two, with lots of windows and lots of flowerbeds, so by the time he’d get all the way around the house and back to where he started, he’d have to start all over again. That was bad, but it was also good, since his Dad didn’t expect him to do it all at once. One day he was expected to wash two windows and the next day clean five feet of flowerbed. When he was through with his two windows or five feet of flowerbed cleaning, he was free to hop on his bike and play.

He was paid two dollars a week for his window washing and flowerbed cleaning which meant that even though the price of the Saturday afternoon movie had gone up (35 cents for the movie and 10 cents each for popcorn and a drink), he had enough for a nickel Babe Ruth at the movies and some left over for a Grapette or Orange Crush to drink a couple of times a week while he was off riding his bike around up and down the canal banks.

Now that he’s twelve, his little brother Conch has taken over the window washing and flowerbed cleaning, and Sonyador has a regular job at the little grocery store down by the highway.

The little store is owned by Mr. and Mrs. Pertts. They live in the back of the store and are old and pretty grouchy most of the time. But Sonyador has always been a boy eager to please, so he gets along with them and they don’t ever yell at him much.

He works about an hour every afternoon dusting shelves and putting up new stock, pricing the new cans with a marker thing that you set the price with a little roller and then press it down on the top of the can to mark the price. The only bad part of the job is cleaning the potato bin, pulling out all the rotten potatoes and throwing them away. Rotten potatoes stink pretty bad, but the worst part is sticking your hand down in the bin and poking your finger right through a really rotten, really stinky potato.

Sonyado also works at the store all day Saturday, from 7 in the morning until 5 at night. Mostly he keeps things cleaned up, but after couple of weeks, Mr. Pertts lets him wait on customers, totaling up the purchases on an noisy adding machine that goes "clickity clickity clackity clackity," then ringing the total on the old cash register with big round number buttons that you have to push down on real hard and taking the customers’ money and making change. Mr. Petts always knows when the boy is putting money in the register because it makes a great big “cha-ching” noise every time the cash drawer opens.

He was paid twenty five cents an hour which worked out to barely more than he was making with the window washing and flowerbed cleaning, leaving him with less time in the afternoon and no time at all for movies on Saturday.

“It’s good experience and it’ll pay off in the end, “Dad says.

He always says that.

Next I have several pieces from Room for Me and a Mountain Lion, subtitled "Poetry of Open Space." The book was published by Bantam Books in 1975.

The pieces I've chosen to use are from the section of the book titled "Ice Cakes and the Snow's Crust."

The first piece is from an Eastern Eskimo song.

Ayii, Ayii,
I walked on the ice of the sea.
Wondering, I heard
The song of the sea
and the great sighing
Of new formed ice.
Go then go!
Strength of soul
Brings health
To the place of feasting.

The next piece is an Alaskan Eskimo Song.

Glorious it is
to see long-haired winter caribou
Returning to the forests,
While the herd follows the ebb-mark of the sea
With a storm of clattering hooves.
Glorious it is
When wandering time is come.

Next, I have two pieces by William Stafford, poet and pacifist, was born in 1914 and was the twentieth Poet Laureate of the United States. He died in 1993.

In Fur

They hurt no one. They rove the North.
Owning the wilderness, they're not lost.
They couple in joy; in fear, they run.
Old, their lives move still the same -
all a pattern across the land,
one step,one breath, one...

Winter bundles them close; their fur
bunches together in friendly storms.
Everything cold can teach, they learn.
The stand together. The future comes.

The View From Here

In Antarctica drooping their little shoulders
like bottles the penguins stand, small,
sad, black - and the wind
bites hard over them.

Edging that continent they huddle to turn their eyes.
Penguins, we can't help you; and all that cold
hangs over us too, wide beyond thought.
We too stand and wait.

My last piece from the anthology is this, a Tlinglit Indian song.

When Spring came,
Leaves grew with a green fresh
And he warmth of the sun
Was beginning to be felt,
And the Animals of the Earth
Awoke, breathing the fresh new
Of life all over again.

It's like the wind,
Gently blowing,
Making love to everything
Before it moves on
Yet returning.

Reading this next piece I wrote about this time of year in 2009 and thinking how desperate we were for rain,and how much more desperate we got before if finally rained a little in December, two years later.

an unsunny day

i could see past
the red oak grove
to a steady stream
of east-west traffic

in mist
and thick winter fog,
i can’t even see the trees

after weeks
of bright sun and cloudless
clear blue skies,
a damp overcast day
is welcomed,
us that though we haven’t see it
in months
there is a chance of rain
in the world
some of it, possibly,
falling on us

two days of rain
would be nice, as,
with aquifer refreshed
and prospect of green
somewhere in our environment
we could open our arms
and hearts
to more cloudless,
sun-bright days,
fear of fires
and desertification
set aside
for another couple of weeks
at least

I have several poems now by Jack Spicer from the anthology American Poetry since 1950,published in 1993 by Marsilio Publishers.

Spicer was born in 1925 in Los Angeles where he later graduated from Fairfax High School in 1942, and attended the University of Redlands from 1943-45. He spent most of his writing-life in San Francisco and spent the years 1945 to 1955 at the University of California, Berkeley, where he began writing, doing work as a research-linguist, and publishing some poetry. During this time he searched out fellow poets, but it was through his alliance with Robert Duncan and Robin Blaser that he forged a new kind of poetry, and together they referred to their common work as the Berkeley Renaissance. The three, who were all gay, also educated younger poets in their circle about their "queer genealogy", Rimbaud, Lorca, and other gay writers.

In 1954, he co-founded the Six Gallery in San Francisco, which soon became famous as the scene of the October 1955 Six Gallery reading that launched the West Coast Beat movement. In 1955, Spicer moved to New York and then to Boston, where he worked for a time in the Rare Book Room of Boston Public Library.

Spicer died in 1965 as a result of his alcoholism.

From A Book of Music

Improvisations on a Sentence by Poe

"Indefiniteness is an element of the true music."
The grand concord of what
Does not stoop to definition. The seagull
Alone on the pier cawing its head off
Over no fish, no other seagull,
No ocean. As absolutely devoid of meaning
As a French horn.
It is not even an orchestra. Concord
Does not stoop to definition. No fish,
No other seagull, no ocean - the true

A Valentine

Useless Valentines
Are better
Than all others.
Like something implicit
In a poem.
Take all your Valentines
And I'll take mine.
What isle ft is better
Than any image.


How the space between three violins
Can threaten all of our poetry.
We bunch together like Cub
Scouts at a picnic. There is a high scream.
Rain threatens. that moment of terror.
Strange how all our beliefs


Sharp as a arrow Orpheus
Points his music downward.
Hell is there
At the bottom of the seacliff.
Nothing by this music.
Is a frigate bird or a rock or some seaweed.
Hail nothing
The infernal
Is a slippering wetness out at the horizon.
Hell is this:
The lack of anything but the eternal to look at
The expansiveness of salt
the lack of any bed but one's
Music to sleep in.

Song of a Prisoner

Nothing in my body escapes me.
The sound of an eagle diving
Upon some black bird
Or the sorrow of the owl.
Nothing in my body escapes me.
Each branch is closed
echo each song form its throat
Bellow each song

Jungle Warfare

The town wasn't much
A few mud-huts and a church steeple.
They were the same leaves
And the same grass
And the same birds deep in the edge of the thicket.
We waited around for someone to come out and surrender
But they rang their church bells
And we
We were not afraid of death or any manner of dying
But the same muddy bullets, the same horrible

Ahh,sex. Or something like it.

A Kiss

Sonyador (or Sonny, as his friends call him now) is thirteen-years-old and Sasha, who left town about five years ago, is back. Her father is some kind of union welder and the family travels all over the world for his work.

She is at the end of summer party, the first boy-girl party for Sonny, and everybody is dancing and horsing around until Janie’s parents leave the kids alone and they start playing games, mostly kissing games.

And when it comes Sonny’s turn to spin the bottle, it turns and turns and ends up pointing right at Sasha, which means that Sonny and Sasha are suppose to go outside and walk around the house in the dark and somewhere along the way, kiss each other.

So they go outside and start walking around, through the big trees that are all around the yard, holding hands, not saying anything, until they came to a part of the yard where it’s very dark and Sonny is thinking they should do the kiss.

Actually, Sonny had thought they should do the kiss way before this but he wasn’t sure how to get the kiss started. Should he just stop, turn her around and kiss her, or should he wait for her to turn him around and kiss him or what.

And besides that, Sonny doesn’t know about the kiss. The only women he has ever kissed are his mom and his aunts and his grandmas before they died and he is pretty sure he shouldn’t kiss Sasha like he kisses him mom and his aunts or his grandmas. He has heard from some off the older guys about “French kissing” but it sounded like French kissing meant he should stick his tongue in Sasha’s mouth while she stuck her tongue is his mouth and that sounds pretty disgusting and besides that, what if Sasha doesn’t want to be French kissed, maybe even prefers a mom or aunt-type kiss the first time, maybe she prefers to do that kind of kissing for a while and then work up to a French kiss after a year or so.

So Sonny doesn't try to kiss Sasha until they got to the very dark part of the yard and then Sasha says, “I guess we should do the kiss so we can go back in. They might be putting the cake and the punch out for us by now.”

So they kiss. And it is kind of a mom, aunt, grandma kiss but dosn’t feel at all like a mom, aunt, grandma kiss, at least not to Sonny. He can’t tell what Sasha thought about the kiss, but she did seem to kiss him back, kinda, but mostly now she’s talking about getting inside before Johnny Buffomo eats all the cookies.

Sasha lives a little further out in the country than Sonny did, but on the same road his house is on. For two weeks after the party Sonny walks back and forth in front of her house, thinking maybe she might see him and come out on her porch to talk to him. But she never does.

And a couple of months later, her father gets a job in Wyoming and they left town again.

I'm back in Poetry International, Issue IV 2000, for two poems by Olav H. Hauge.

Hauge, one of Norway's most distinguished twentieth century poets, was born in 1908. He produced eleven volumes of poetry, a children's book, as well as numerous translations of German, French, English, and American literature. All this while making his living primarily as a farmer, orchardist, and gardner of a small plot of land near his birthplace of Ulvik, a village in the rugged fjord region of western Norway.

Hauge died in 1996. His poems were translated by Robert Hedin

Slowly the Truth Dawns

To rise, and know
your heart sinks
dark and heavy,
hardening like stone...

Slowly the sea lifts its waves,
slowly the trees turn red in the gorge,
slowly the fires begin to lap in hell,
slowly the truth dawns...


There's a nervous energy in everything now,
    anxiety in the sunlight,
anxiety in the stars, in the earth, anxiety
in the grass, in the hornet's nest, tension
in men and women, friction
in cars, planes, and wires,
a charge in the stove,
in the coffeepot,
in the cat -
jolt,jolt, jolt,
there's current
in everything one touches,
Olai claims.
That's why he stands in rubber boots,
digging himself down
to the blue clay and cold water.

A poem of pleasure in a morning of no place having to be. I wrote the poem in January, 2010, about this time of the month.

and all is good this morning

still a half hour
before sunrise, i pass
a 7-car fender-bender
on the loop, all cars safely
moved to the shoulder,
about a dozen people
standing around, about
half on their cell phones,
all victims of rush-hour
auto acrobatics, all pissed
that their morning rush
to wherever they have
to be has been interrupted
by that stupid whoever
who jigged when he should
have jagged leaving all
these people upon
whom the whole world
depends for proper
memo distribution, proper
grocery shelf stocking,
proper computer computing,
proper nail hammering, proper frozen
chicken delivering, proper real
estate selling, proper ad-writing,
all these rush-people essential to the daily
turning of the earth and maintenance
or gravity for us all, stranded now
for who knows how long by that
stupid whoever and his improperly
timed jigging and jagging

all these people with someplace
to be, stuck where they are,
as i pass by, slowly
in the turpitude of my

is good
in my world
this morning

A not-so-good-morning poem I wrote this time last year. A cold day I remember, not a day of much promise.

a mid-winter poem

I have the feel
of a string running out,
a slackness in my lifeline,
all I am reduced to

loose ends

I’ve done many things in my life
good and worthwhile things,
though none lasted longer than
it took for my shadow

to fade around the corner

my proudest legacies
remembered only by me -
like clouds blown apart
by the wind, so much more fragile

than I had imagined

and now the line that anchored me
to the future
has gone slack and I feel just another
of the world’s many forgettable

loose ends

Looking through Poetry International, Issue IV 2000, I'm finding so many excellent poets I never heard of I'm thinking it deserves a whole post of it's own.

Until I do that, here are two more poets from the book, the last poems from my library this week.

Hsia Yu is a Taiwanese writer widely considered to be the first woman poet writing in Chinese to treat love in a manner that breaks with the conventions of Chinese woman's poetry. She is the author of four volumes of poetry which she designed and published herself. She divides her time between Paris and Taipei, where she makes her living as a song lyricist and translator.

Her poem is translated by Steve Bradbury

Writing for Others

I write a Chinese character in the palm of his hand
Making it as intricate as I can in the interest of
Arousing his interest write it wrong so I can rub
It out and write it right from scratch stroke by stroke
Drawing into one pictographic raft after another
Until I let the air out of the raft and we sink
Into the lake until I say I love you
With neither root nor branch nor a nest to rest
Until we barely move at all until we hear
The very mesh of the gears upon our flesh
There is a cone of light that bares the fact that whoever
Invented the motion picture did so just so we would turn
Down the lights and learn to make love like this
In slow motion and in the slowest possible motion
I love you as we slowly
Dissolve into grains of light I love you
Until we then turn wafer thin
Without end O I love you
I love you
Until we come to be strangers to ourselves
So that others will come to imagine
They have seen through us

The second, and last, I have a poem by Argentine poet Miguel Angel Bustos. His writing ended on a Sunday evening when a paramilitary squad entered his home where he lived with his companera, Iris and his four-year-old son Emiliano, who he had taken to the park that afternoon. At a time in his tumultuous life when stability and fatherhood promised a personal peace, he was taken by the paramilitaries from his home and never heard of again.

His poems were translated by Joan Lindgren.

My Angel Will Bring You

My country is mute, oh, my country
I don't want you to be alone
But what shall I do with my angel of death?
It walks by my side
reads my books
loves what I love
sleeps at my side.
If you love me as I am
with these dark wings
I will go on singing.
And when you come to life
my angel will carry you
and I will wear your body.

I am Immortal

i believe a poem
has teeth and a soul
can travel a hundred centuries
on one shot of blood
is alive.
Is naked
darkly human.
To speak freely
as one's tongue is free in the mouth of love.
the light rises
as the night falls
your face is gone.
Tell me
earth papers kisses
time inside the sea.
When I am deep
in the thickness of your light
animal and human
give me naked speech
the elementary speech of the sea.

Here's the last piece for the week, another Sonyador mini-story. This is number 11, leaving me 19 more days to go to reach my 30.


When Sonny was in the fourth grade, he took a test and it turned out he is really smart.

That got his teacher and his Mom and Dad very excited, and Sonny’s been paying for it ever since.

It seems whatever he does doesn’t get measured against Sonny, but against Sonny’s potential. And Sonny loses every time. Never matches up to his potential, that’s what they all say - “I’m disappointed,” they all say, “with your potential you should have done so much better,” - mainly because what they want his potential to do doesn’t have nothing to do with what he wants to do.

It’s true he likes to read, and reads a lot and reads very fast, but the kind of books he likes to read are not the kind of books everyone says his potential should be reading.

And instead of paying attention in math class, he’d much better be sitting behind the bus barn smoking Parliament cigarettes with old, slow-talking Charlie Barkley. Charlie never had much potential, and if he did, it got dropped along the wayside a long time ago. He cleans up the school buses every day, sweeps out the inside and washes the outside, squirting, mostly, no scrubbing except sometimes on Fridays. That's what Charlie does; that's all Charlie does. And he doesn't get paid hardly anything, but as long as he has a place to sit in the sun on warm spring days, it's all okay with him.

Charlie's got no potential, and if he did, well, he says, "If I thought I could do better I'd be unhappy with what I do."

"That's no way to live," he says, and asks for another cigarette.

And it really bothers Sonny that his teachers act as if they know so much more than he does (and they maybe even probably do), even though they aren’t as smart as him. His history teacher seems to know so much about American history but almost nothing about what it means and seems to want to teach Sonny only what he knows and not what else there might be beyond that.

And all the teachers are like that, having a little brown box of stuff they know, insisting that all what Sonny is supposed to know is what they have in their little box. All but Mr. Poston, who was very nice at first, always listened to what Sonny had to say as if it was worth listening to, until it turned out that all Mr. Poston really wanted was to grope Sonny’s private parts at the movie.

Every day, Sonny feels more and more lost.

He’d like to go back to the days when riding his bicycle was all it took to make a good day, but he knows he can’t. And he can’t see anything ahead of him that would give him such good days ever again.

But Sonny is a good soldier - and so, he soldiers on, thinking there must be a place for him somewhere.

That's it. Everything belongs to those who created it. My stuff is free, if your properly credit me and "Here and Now."

I'm allen itz, owner and producer of this blog.

And this is what I've been up to:

Available for Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Sony eBookstore and Appple ibookstore -

"Always to the Light"

"Goes Around, Comes Around"

"Pushing Clouds Against the Wind"

For those of a print-bent, available on Amazon

"Seven Beats a Second"


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