Places and Spaces, a Preview   Thursday, February 02, 2012

Not much opportunity for picture taking lately (as if that wasn't obvious from the past couple of posts) so once again using this week, in no particular order, old pics from a trip a in 2009 to Denver. I traveled to and from alone, but for my good friend Reba (shown above), then met my wife in Denver where we stayed a couple of days before she flew back to San Antonio. Really lousy weather, late heavy snowstorm, on the day we both arrived, but beautiful weather while in Denver and for my drive home.

I have poems this month, my own, new minted, as well as selections from my next book, Places and Spaces, which will be available later this year. I also have some work by my friend Alex Stolis.

The rest of the poems this week are by Wistava Szymborska, the Nobel Prize winning Polish poet who died last week at the age of 88. The poems are from her collection Poems New and Collected, 1957-1997.

Here are the specifics.

I hate it

Wistava Szymborska

From To the Rockies (“Places and Spaces” preview)

Wistava Szymborska

From Sleeping with Andy Devine ("Places and Spaces” preview)

Wistava Szymborska
Notes from a Nonexistent Himalayan Expedition

about those Pletamanians

Wistava Szymborska
Nothing Twice

From On the Cusp of Confederate Winter (“Places and Spaces” preview)

Wistlava Szymborska
The Joy of Writing

I have a secret

Wistlava Szymborska
Returning Birds

weathering the storm

Wistlava Szykmborska
In Praise of Dreams

two women, observed

Wistlava Szymborska
To My Friends

From Silver City and Beyond (“Places and Spaces” preview)

Alex Stolis
New Year’s Day
Dear _____
Untitled (During a layover after crossing two time zones)
Holiday Stationstore #209 (January 12th 3:45 PM)
the memory of skin
Un titled (Window table)
Night bleeds all colors
Everything you believe is true; green is the color of sincerity, shyness is a refuge, desolation a virtue
would you still love me if I never wrote another poem
New Year’s Resolution
Upon discovering that Kim Addonizio is not in love with me

From Ruidoso (“Places and Spaces" preview)

I read a really good poem the morning I wrote this.

I hate it when that happens.

I hate it

I hate it
when I read a really good poet
who makes clear by her example
what a sloppy, slapdash gurgitating
of words I do
and call it poetry

I have no shame,
in moments like this
when my own incapacity
is held, squirming, beneath the light of actual
craft and sensitivity

my stuff?

this is what I did today and this what I think
of this or that, safely espoused on paper,
but if I tried to corner a stranger on the street
and so emote
I would be whisked away
in a nonce (now there’s a poet word for you)
to some highly-fenced facility
where white-coated
guard their charges
from the attack of killer carrots
or whatever

I’m just lucky I write this stuff
and never say it
out loud

I flatter myself
and say I am of the ancient Chinese
poetry convention,
art, maybe or maybe not, but precious
for persons interested the lives and times of ancient
lives and times
while you may read this and say
what a waste of time that was,
I am assured
than in millennia hence
the Pletamanians
freshly arrived from the Pletamania galaxy
will discover my trove
of daily musings
and say

what a bunch of crap,
but how very interesting
were these ancient peoples
before their inevitable reduction
through kaboom and kabash
to the bone and ash
of those lost and forgotten

and by the way
as an un-serious wordsmith
I insist upon the right
to use words like gurgitate
instead of regurgitate because it is not possible
to re-anything until one has done the thing referenced first

this kind of logical approach
will greatly impress the Pletamanians
I am assured
is another way of saying
I don’t care what critical thinkers might think
because my time in the Pletamanic sun
will someday come

Wistava Szymborska died last week. A Polish poet and winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1996, she was 88 years old.

I have enjoyed her poetry, simple, elegant, straight-forward and often slyly funny, and have used it here a number of times. I took the poems from the only collection of hers I have, Poems New and Collected, 1957-1997.. The book was published by Harcourt in 1998. Though the only book of hers I have, she appears in a number of anthologies in my library.

All the poems in this book were translated from Polish by Stanislaw Barazniczak and Clare Cavanagh.

I pull from the book this week for all of my library poems, beginning with this one.


You expect a hermit to live in the wilderness,
but he has a little house and a garden,
surrounded by cheerful birch groves,
ten minutes from the highway.
Just follow the signs.

You don't have to gaze at him through binoculars from afar.
You can see him and hear him right up close,
while he patiently explaining to a tour group from Wieliczka
why he's chosen strict isolation.

He wears a grayish habit,
and he has a long white beard,
cheeks pink as a baby's,
and bright-blue eyes.
He'll gladly pose before the rosebush
for color photographs.

His picture is being taken by one Stanley Kowalik of Chicago
who promises prints once they're developed.

Meanwhile a tight-lipped old lady from Bydgoszcz
whom no one visits but the meter reader
is writing in the guestbook:
"God be praised
for letting me
see a genuine hermit before I die."

Teenagers write, too, using knives on a tree:
"The Spirituals of'75 - meeting down below."

But what's Spot up to, where has Spot gone?
He's underneath the bench pretending he's a wolf.

I have a book of "road poems" I expect to have out sometime this year. The book, Places and Spaces, essentially done, is now in the process of edit and proof. The book consists of seven poems, five very long poems, each recounting a single trip, bookended front and back with two very short introductory poems.

The next piece is excerpted from the third of the long poems, which is about the same trip to Denver as this week's pictures.

From To the Rockies

...little twisters cross
a quiet Sunday morning

just like in the
another 500 miles
to do today
and I’m getting started
a little later than I’d like

but there’s plenty of time

    after about 40 miles
    I look behind,
    a long straight road,
    gradually rising

the wind is blowing hard
again today
and like most of yesterday
it’s blowing hard against me

    little twisters cross brown fields
    on both sides of the highway,
    most throwing up clouds of dust
    that move with the wind, but one,
    a smaller one, forms a perfect funnel,
    about five feet across, keeping
    it’s shape up to a hundred or more
    above the ground

    a tumbleweed the size of a beach ball
    blows in front of me,
    seems to pace the car for several seconds
    then crosses the road

green fields,
perfect circles, planted
to fit path of the irrigation sprinklers
that circle
circle, circle,
spraying their water around and around
like a merry-go-round whose horses
spit as they past

    the perfect circles of irrigated green
    laid across the landscape
    of dry and dusty brown, the part
    that lives or dies depending on the rain

Here's my second poem this week by Wistava Szymborksa, Polish Nobel Prize Laureate deceased last week at 88. It is from her collection, Poems, New and Collected,1957-1997.


They were or they weren't.
On an island or not.
an ocean or not an ocean
swallowed them up or it didn't.

Was there anyone to love anyone?
Did anybody have someone to fight?
Everything happened or it didn't
there or someplace else.

Seven cities stood there.
So we think.
They were meant to stand forever.
We suppose.

They weren't up to much, no.
They were up to something, yes.

Hypothetical. Dubious.
Never extracted from air,
fire, water,or earth.

Not contained within a stone
or drop of rain.
Not suitable for straight-faced use
as a story's moral.

A meteor fell.
Not a meteor.
A volcano exploded.
Not a volcano.
Someone summoned something.
Nothing was called.

On this more-or-less Atlantis.

The next excerpt from my pending book, Places and Spaces, is from a long poem about a trip to Lake Tahoe.

From Sleeping with Andy Devine

...lunch in Flagstaff

    light snow

    moving on
    through the national forest
    and between the mountains
    the snow gets much worse,
    hard across the road,
    the sky closes in,
    and the temperature
    drops to near freezing

after ten miles of steep
I'm back near desert level

    the clouds clear,
    the temperature goes back up,
    and fat driving snowflakes
    hitting my windshield
    turn to fat splashing raindrops

as the weather clears,
to her bed in the back

sensing my sub-tropic native
on this freezing icy highway,
she had moved up to lay at
my elbow

as well
as the weather clears,
I begin to think of coffee
as the little town of Winslow

and on a roadside sign,
“Mojo’s Gourmet Coffee”

just in time

    I find Mojo’s
    and a skinny barista with more tattoos
    than lots of folks have skin,
    and in the corner
    a little group of old cowboys
    sitting a round table,
    some just listening,
    two singing
    and picking their guitars -
    country ballads, Marty Robbins
    and the like, and some of their own

    “I once loved a girl in
    Albuquerque,” sang one

    “I wanted to be a cowboy,”
    sang the other
    as i was leaving,
    “but I was always afraid of cows”

Remembering Wistava Szymborska, number three for the week.

Notes from a Nonexistent Himalayan Expedition

So these are the Himalayas.
Mountains racing to the moon.
The moment of their start recorded
on the startling, ripped canvas of the sky.
Holes punched in a desert of clouds.
Thrust into nothing.
Echo - a white mute.

Yeti, down there we've got Wednesday,
bread and alphabets.
Two times two is four.
Roses are red there,
and violets are blue.

Yet, crime is not all
we're up to down there.
Yet, not ever sentence there
means death.

We've inherited hope -
the gift of forgetting.
You'll see how we give
birth among the ruins.

Yeti, we've got Shakespeare there.
Yeti,we play solitaire
and violin. At nightfall,
we turn lights on, Yeti.

Up here it's neither moon nor earth.
Tears freeze.
Oh Yeti, semi-moonman,
turn back, think again!

I called this to Yeti
inside four walls of avalanche,
stomping my feet for warmth
on the everlasting

Interesting folk, those Pletamanians.

about those Pletamanians

early scouting reports
from the Pletamania Galaxy
indicate a highly advanced
recently recovered from the
deprecations occasioned by
to a political system much
like our own

such system
being divided into two
primary parties
and various outlying
third, fourth,fifth and sixth parties
that never amount to much
because their leaders and most followers
are of very poor taste

the principal parties,
the Dimginches and the Mittens
battle fiercely
for dominance and the right to name
the Great Overlord of all Things Material or Not-for-Life, such life
ending when they are skinned, parboiled and eaten
to celebrate their party's victory

this occurs promptly and precisely
every afternoon at 5 pm,
Central Pletamania Time (CPT)

over a period
of several thousand
pruncyclical doodlebuggels
(about 1,047 years as measured
by our calendric system)
this elaborate electoral system
began to severely
the number of Pletamanians
willing to stand for election as either
a Dimgintch or a Mitten,
leaving the two major parties
in such difficulty in their daily vying
for the august office
of Great Overlord of all Things Material or Not-for-Life
that both the Dimginthces and the Mittens
began to raid the third, fourth, fifth and sixth
despite their being of poor
in order find volunteers willing to accept
the honor

ropes and chains and various caged
conveyances were eventually required
to get the victorious
Great Overlord of all Things Material or Not-for-Life
to his victory dinner

until there were no more
third, fourth, fifth, or sixth party
nominees to elect,
moving the two major parties,
to develop a new political
based upon thumb-wrestling,
but since the issue of which of their
twenty eight digits were thumbs,
though long and laboriously debated,
was never settled,
a state of anarchy
described in their language
as squiqual, squack, and 5-cent cigars
(sex, drugs, and rock ‘n roll
in standard American English)
and there was no longer need
for victory celebration dinners,
except at weddings
where mother-in-law were
the most frequently selected
guest of honor

a political compromise that,
though inadvertant
and unforeseen
was satisfactory to all

Another poem by Wistava Szmborska.

Nothing Twice

Nothing can ever happen twice.
In consequence, the sorry fact is
that we arrive here improvised
and leave without the chance to practice.

Even if there is no one dumber,
if you're the planet's biggest dunce,
you can't repeat the class in summer,
this course is only offered once.

No day copies yesterday,
no two nights will teach what bliss is
in precisely the same way,
with exactly the same kisses.

One day, perhaps, some idle tongue
mentions your name by accident:
I feel as if a rose were flung
into the room, all hue and scent.

The next day, though you're here with me,
I can't help looking at the clock:
A rose? A rose? What could that be?
Is it a flower or a rock?

Why do we treat the fleeting day
with so much needless fear and sorrow?
It's in its nature not to stay:
today is always gone tomorrow.

With smiles and kisses, we prefer
to seek accord beneath our star,
although we're different (we concur)
just as two drops of water are.

Now, from my next book, Places and Spaces, I have a section of the first long poem in the book, On the Cusp of Confederate Winter, about a round-about trip through the south to the Blueridge Parkway and back.

From On the Cusp of Confederate Winter

    ...I wanted to write about

    the forest,
    the colors, gold and yellow
    and the red-brown color the Crayola people
    used to call
    Indian red or Indian brown
    or something like that

    and in the middle
    of all that gold and yellow
    and red-brown Indian whatever,
    some low bush that’s flaming bright red
    scattered among the trees
    like little fires
    burning in the woods

    and I wanted to write about
    the flock of ducks that flew over
    in perfect V formation,
    near enough to the ground
    so that each duck could be seen
    and counted
    as an individual,
    close enough to the ground
    that I could hear the flapping
    of their wings
    and the mutter-quacks among the ranks

    and i wanted to write
    the hills, reminding me
    of the hill country of home,
    but soft hills, none of the hard face
    of caliche and cactus and mesquite,
    just soft
    forest-hills, trunks climbing close

    I wanted to write about the sun
    this morning
    and how it lit the colors of the trees
    and the covered the sky
    from mid-afternoon, bringing
    and mystery
    and darker colors of the night

I wanted to write
about those

In further remembrance of Wistava Szymborska.

The Joy of Writing

Why does this written doe bound through these written woods?
For a drink of written water from a spring
whose surface will xerox her soft muzzle?
Why does she lift her head; doe she hear something?
Perched on flour slim legs borrowed from the truth,
she pricks up her ears beneath my fingertips.
Silence - this word also rustles across the page
and parts the boughs
that have spouted from the word "woods."

Lying in wait, set to pounce on the blank page,
are letters up to no good,
clutches of clauses so subordinate
they'll never let her get away.

Each drop of ink contains a fair supply
of hunters, equipped with squinting eyes behind their sights,
prepared to swarm the sloping pen at any moment,
surround the doe, and slowly aim their guns.

They forget that what's here isn't life.
Other laws, black on white, obtain.
The twinkling of an eye will take as long as I say,
and will, if I wish dividing into tiny eternities,
full of bullets stopped in mid-flight.
Not a thing will ever happen unless I say so.
Without my blessing, not a leaf will fall,
not a blade of grass will bend beneath that little hoof's full stop.

Is there then a world
where I rule absolutely on fate?
A time I bind with chains of signs?
An existence become endless at my bidding?

The joy of writing.
The power of preserving.
Revenge of a mortal hand.

Enough hilarity with the Pletamanians.

Let's talk about death.

I have a secret

I mentioned
Ma and Pa Kettle
in a crowded room
and no one knew what
I was talking about

as in a couple of weeks
I complete my 68th and begin
begin my 69th year on this earth,
a reminder of the things I know
that those still struggling with the
challenges of youth
do not

important things
not restricted to Ma and Pa Kettle
and The Bowery Boys
and Boston Blackie

important things,
I can see,
for better or worse,
the string of my life fraying
and know the string which frays will someday

an epiphany
denied to the young of 28
or 38 or 48 or even
who never notice
the string of life
they traverse
in the humdrum of their daily
until the day
its sorry state is made clear to them

until then,
death is an unfortunate event,
affecting others,
never them in all their glorious

not that they ever think in those terms

and immortality,
issues, like the price of potatoes
in Cambodia,
that just don’t apply to them
no matter how many they see
laid out cold and still in a box,
no matter how many they follow
with their eyes as the unfortunate
are lowered into the earth, no matter
how many losses of those they know and those they love
they experience in their lives -

the idea of one day it might be them lost,
them cold and still,
their physical essence beneath a mound fresh-turned earth

an abstract
like the collision of galaxies in a faraway star system

the relevance of death to all living creatures,
the inevitability of decay's deconstruction,
is the shock that comes unbidden
on a birthday like the one I have coming,
the unwelcome candle that flutters and dies

this flesh and blood recognition of the fate
of our own flesh and blood
comes only with the fatigue of age,
it cannot be imagined before the dues are paid -
innocence must be lost
before the loss of innocence can be known

this is when
like me, begin to face
the all we still want to do
and the uncertain time we have to do it

Another by Wistavba Szymborska

Returning Birds

This spring the birds came back again too early.
Rejoice,O reason: instinct can err, too.
It gathers wool, it dozes off - and down they fall
into the snow, into a foolish fate, a death
that doesn't suit their well-wrought throats and splendid claws,
their honest cartilage and conscientious webbing,
the heart's sensible sluice, the entrails' maze,
the nave of ribs, the vertebrae in stunning enfilades,
feathers deserving their own wing in any crafts museum,
the Benedictine patience of the beak.

It is not a dirge - no,it's only indignation.
And angel made of earthbound protein,
a living kite with glands straight from the Song of Songs,
singular in air, without number in the hand,
its tissues tied into a common knot
of place and time, as in an Aristotelian drama
unfolding to the wings' applause,
falls down and lies beside a stone,
which in its own archaic, simpleminded way
sees life as a chain of failed attempts.

Big storm last night.

weathering the storm

the night

shakes the roof
simultaneous with the strike
of blue-white flash down the street,
all around,
rain pounds the ground
like marble hammers, ice
in the form of pressure pitted
hail slaps the roof
and the window by my bed

the creek rises, almost to my fence,
15 feet above its normal

the morning

still falling
hard, streets, aflow
to the curbs, but
no thunder
no lightning
no hail, a wet
but quiet interlude

I wear my old
given to me free,
no immediate charge,
46 years ago, January 11, 1966,
second day of basic
still as good as the day
I got it,
than this storm, stronger
than any storm
for 46 years

I hate it when my clothes
better than I do

And again, Wistava Szymborska. Our dreams are remarkable similar.

In Praise of Dreams

In my dreams
I paint like Vermeer van Delft.

I speak fluent Greek
and not just with the living.

I drive a car
that does what I want it to do.

I am gifted
and write mighty epics.

I hear voices
as clearly as any venerable saint.

My brilliance as a pianist
would stun you.

I fly the way we ought to,
i.e. on our own.

Falling from the roof
I tumble gently to the grass.

I've got no problem
breathing under water.

I can't complain:
I've been able to locate Atlantis.

It's gratifying that I can always
wake up before dying.

As soon as war breaks out,
I roll over on my other side.

I'm a child of my age,
but I don't have to be.

A few years ago
I saw two suns.

And the night before last a penguin,
clear as day.

The difference a couple of hours makes, this picture about 9 a.m., the picture before about 3 p.m. same day.

Practicing my seeing, a little observational.

two women observed

the first,
a student, maybe 20, 21,
no older

long blond hair,
healthy, but unpampered,

dressed loose
and casual,
sweater over quiet
loose trousers
or shorts,
scrapped knees,
on one knee,
then the other

when friends join her,
exuding solitude
when alone,
a ferocious frown,
little furrows alongside her nose
from squinting her eyes,
studying her laptop
disdaining glasses,
I don’t think so,
the athlete
impatient with the bother
of sweaty glasses
slipping down her nose
as she plays
it is she plays
that skins her knees

wafting voice
like a breeze through silent
when I say hello…

the other,
a police officer, older
than the student, but not yet
or only shortly past
30, dark hair
tied back, dark eyes,
tiny freckles bridging her nose,
a wedding ring,
short nails,
a tough, competent woman,
but not forbidding,
sitting with her fellow officers
as an equal,
(low, husky)
with her fellow officers
as an equal,
shares with her fellows
a short religious message
on her I-Pod,
a preacher
blessing the day
on her I-Pod,
her gun,
her baton, handcuffs
a radio, and other tools of her trade
on her heavy
cinched tight

and still looks trim
and beautiful…

two women
ready for the world
and all it might bring,
two competent
women, each beautiful
in her own way

pride of their fathers

Now, my last for the week of Wistava Szymborska

To My Friends

Well-versed in the expanses
that stretch from earth to stars,
we get lost in the space
from earth up to our skull.

Intergalactic reaches
divide sorrow from tears.
En route from valse to true
you wither and grow dull.

We are amused by jets,
those crevices of silence
wedged between flight and sound:
"World record!" the world cheers.

But we've seen faster takeoffs:
their long-belated echo
still wrenches us from sleep
after so many years.

Outside a stream of voices:
"We're innocent," they cry.
We rush to open windows,
lean out to catch their call.

But then the voices break off.
We watch the falling stars
just as after a salvo
plaster drops from the wall.

This Places and Spaces preview is from the last of the book's five long poems.

From Silver City and Beyond

...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
    white 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…

Usually, I get poems from my friend Alex Stolis in chapbook chunks. Not this time.

He named the file he sent me "Disposable Words" (because nothing is forever, he says). Instead, he says,just a few poems.

New Year’s Day

Had a dream last night. You were there. It had been raining. Streets running water. I was
barefoot in faded jeans and white tee. There was music, Interpol maybe. Haven’t listened
to them in quite a while. You have a daughter, no sons. Your hair is darker. You walk
towards me. I smile. The girl, who looks a lot like you, takes your hand. You don’t know
me. I am in front of an elevator. No idea what button to press. I am misplaced, motionless.
None of this really means anything. It’s just something I remember.

Dear _____

It’s January and snow melts. You are in town somewhere, on a block, in a neighborhood,
in a house; yard garage one too many bedrooms. There is no real future for us, and anywhere
I am and wherever I may go will always be another place without you in it. I whisper your name to no one and nothing to make it real; watch the sky turn five shades of blue. Think in clichés:
of moons and suns and loss and love and grief of your hands of your mouth, eyes and voice;
I remember wrong, it suits the weather.

Untitled [During a layover after crossing two time zones]

My phone goes off while I am in the airport x-ray machine; the one that does the whole
body scan. My arms are up in the air. For a moment I believe it is you. For a moment
it changes my life and for a moment I believe it is you. For the entire time I never think
about death. Instead, there are clouds looped into rings into chains, there is bliss in the face
of certain immobility. The next moment is Radiohead coming out of the PA; a conversation
in an unidentifiable Eastern European language, a young boy tying his shoes. And the sky
becomes a brilliant heavy blue. No, more like ice. No; it is the crush of impermanence.

Holiday Stationstore #209 [January 12th 3:45 PM]

Pumping gas it starts to snow. Three flakes, then half a dozen. I stop counting
after twenty. I am always counting; counting firsts and lasts. First kiss/last fuck,
first bloom of spring /last message. The last time your eyes cut a blue arc through
a room/the first accidental brush of hand against hand. There’s a flicker of dim
gray dollars, cents and gallons; I count on the crows to change white to black.

the memory of skin

crescent moon hangs
from a tree; we watch twilight
colors fall like leaves

Untitled [Window table]

You’ve repaid your debt. Call the waitress over. I’ll reinvent suicide,
leave you with a slender heart to dream this world complete. We split
the check, careful not to under tip. The last time we touched, it was in
that dim bedroom, the light clinging to your skin; me, thinking much
too loudly. Right now the snow looks like rain, little blades ready to
cut my story to ribbons.

Night bleeds all the colors

to the ground and we’re halfway; absolved. You've moon-lines, apple
pathways, breasts that fit perfectly in my hand. Please, don’t leave

my mind when beauty has hardly begun. Ask about clouds, grasp
at the rain. Hips curve into mine. You are the sea; forever, vast

and open, a sanctuary. It’s December, snow melts into rivers.
It’s sundown, it’s a desperate goodnight. We are gravity, complete

and deliberate. I thought I knew you. What we feel we know
is a scarcely heard rumble. There is a touch of hand to hip.

How cold it is now. It’s gone. We are gone. We drag ourselves
into the barely dawn, into the barest of blues and naked pinks.

Everything you believe is true; green is the color of sincerity, shyness is a refuge, desolation a virtue

December twenty-two. No news. No sun. No birds. No words.
I picture summer: blonde fields, a young woman in a sundress

waiting for the bus, brown suitcase against a telephone pole.
It begins to snow. Count one, unplanned destinations; count

two, unmapped roads; count three, the impatient shuffle
of clouds as they shift through the sky.

Would you still love me if I never wrote another poem

Would it make a difference in what you wear
to bed. Would you take another route to work
just to see if it might change the color of the sky,
spark some sort of flame of an idea. Would you
decipher the lines and angles scratched in frost
on the window and find our names. Do you think
birds would notice, or the wind or rain. Would
you paint in oils instead of watercolor, try pastels;
a self-portrait in charcoal. Would you read that
book by Pasternak, take the dog for extra long
walks. Would you resist the urge to sleep in,
watch for the mailman, hold your breath as he
rifles through the bag, see him smile in hopes
you may have developed a crush on him. Would
you stop feeling emptiness, grief; tell your kids
they have to start making their own breakfast,
that they are now old enough to take responsibility.
Would you take out that red dress, the one your
husband once said made you look like a slut.
Would you remember the last time we made love,
how you ran your fingers over me and laughed
at the thought of us never being together. Would
you buy that new car, fill the CD player with the
‘Mats, Husker Du, Pixies and a little Dylan or Waits
to roughen up the edges. Would you skip lunch, buy
a cup of coffee instead, take a couple sips then let it
get cold as you wait for me to walk through the door.
Would you still love me.

New Year’s Resolution

Whatever lies I tell will be for my own good: You are being held back, found
out against your will and have lost your way. One after another the untruths
will tumble. So many wheels going around until one more story comes undone.
I won’t be here. Won’t be a part of the left behind, the unwashed, arms stabbing
the air ready to fight. Oh, but I will remember the weightlessness of you; revel
in the shabbiness of knowing.

Upon discovering that Kim Addonizio is not in love with me

First: cancel the train tickets and any plans to fuck my way
to that Pushcart; stow away pen/paper/red dress/thesaurus/

notebook. Words are no longer mine, my voice is unfamiliar
as I try to prepare a speech. It will be a poem, a narrative:

We are down by the river, after the flood. We are gravity;
complete, deliberate. As I play with the buttons on her

coat, she bites my lip. The sky turns a deep and failing blue;
my hands become rough and cold from trying to make it rain.

The last piece this week from my soon-to-be book, Places and Spaces, is from the second of the long poems that make up almost all of the book. The title of the poem is Ruidoso, chronicle of short trip I made to Ruidoso, New Mexico. I knew someone from there a long time ago, a fellow Peace Corps recruit, and had never been there. I thought it might be interesting to go there.

Not so much.


...passing Mescalero -

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

on concrete abutments
along the highway tell
the tribe’s

which of the stories
do the boys

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

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

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

    a spike of interest
    as I pass the Oscuro Bombing Range

    but nothing blows up

    the Spanish word for dark or dim

    maybe something did blow up
    and I just didn’t

I skirt the Valley of Fire...

Photo by barista/poet whose name lost in the fog of time

Another week done, my sixteen tons loaded.

As explained before, everything here belongs to those who created it, including my stuff which I'll give away for a little proper credit.

I'm allen itz, owner and producer of this blog, still selling books, noticing recently that Amazon has raised the price on one of my books by a little, a sign, I'm intent on telling myself, (having not other information, sales reports being about six months behind) that overpowering demand has resulted in the classical economists supply and demand formulation. Or maybe not.

As mentioned before,in case you forgot:

my note last week that the eBooks are also available on Kobo and Copia, even though I still don't know what they are.

The rest is as per always.

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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