Cave Painting   Monday, May 14, 2012


My photos this week are from the archives, in that big warehouse, three shelves over from where they stored Indy's ark. I didn't even do anything to them to fool you into thinking you haven't seen them before.

Instead of an anthology, I'm featuring a book this, described as "film-noir in verse." It is huge fun, Mike Hammer's world versified. The book is Black  Maria, by Kevin Young. In addition to my regular portion of poets and poems, I'll have pieces from the book.

I also have, from myself, selections, in addition to new  work, from my book of road  poems,  Places and Spaces.

Here's the haps for the week, good stuff,  all.

jimmy crack corn

Kevin Young
The Set-Up (from Black Maria)

from On the Cusp of Confederate Winter (Places and Spaces)

Robert Hass
Forty Something
Frida Kahlo: In the Saliva

among the black helicopter  brigade

Kevin Young
The Suspects (from Black  Maria)

Ruidoso (Places and Spaces)

from Exiled from Main Street: the autobiography of a Midwest town


Kevin Young
The Boss (from Black Maria)

the sweet songs

Denise Duhamel
Dinner Party Horror

from To the Rockies (Places and Spaces)

Kevin Young
The Rake (from Black Maria)

church of the latter-day punk

Richard Howard

from Sleeping With Andy Devine (Places and Spaces)

Kevin Young
The Grift

a mountain man  considers the dismal  plain

Joan McBreen
The Wedding Ring
My Space

from Silver City and Beyond (Places  and Spaces)

Kevin Young
The Dive

cave painting

Here's my first new poem of the week.

jimmy crack corn
out in the backyard
this afternoon
in my Tarzan pants
where city zoning requirements
prohibit immodest exposure of certain
never-to-be mentioned
body parts
so that,
while I partake of all
the cool spring breeze
I can, I must do so without
too much of my business,
to which
I say,
well, hell, tell it to Tarzan
the backyard ape man
who will take every damn bit
of this cool breeze that the law
allows, and jimmy crack corn
and I don’t care if the sheriff’s
on the way

seriously though, you know,
I just may have to build a higher
fence before my fat, nosey neighbour
next door has cardiac arrest
with her eye glued to the knothole
and her tongue hanging
like a old hound dog eyeing
prime rib on a platter
of afternoon

the reason I was out
enjoying the sunny-breeze day
was to straighten
some pots that had got
all cock-eyed, tilting from one side,
following the tilt of the yard
as it gets ever steeper
with each heavy rain,
and picking up dead branches
blown down by the week’s
heavy wind, and, doing so,
I was careful to observe city zoning
requirements, careful to bend
with my knees and not at
my waist so as to insure
my Tarzan pants
don’t ride up too far
in the posterior, presenting
a wide-load view to the
nosey neighbour
who probably just couldn’t
take the excitement
in good health
and I do care about my neighbours,
I mean I’ll kill to enjoy
these fine spring
but only if I have too

I suppose
I’ll get another nasty note
from her tomorrow
but I put that down to
a kind of demented
courting ritual

jimmy crack corn
and I don’t care

Kevin  Young is the author of three previous collections of poetry. His most recent prior to this  was  Jelly Roll:  A Blues, a finalist for the National BookAward and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, won the Paterson Poetry Prize. A recent Guggenheim Foundation Fellow, Young  is currently Ruth Lilly Professor of Poetry at Indiana University.

The book, Black Maria (a slang term for the police van as well as a hearse) was published by Alfred A.Knopf in 2005. It is sub-titled "being the adventures of Delilah Bedbone & A.K.A. Jones."

The main characters, as described in the book, are (and this is so cool) are:

The Killer - Only good thing about him was his aim -

The Detective - No more Mister  Knife Guy -

The Gunsel - Even his smile stank like a still -

The Snitch - Told you so. His words are an unshuttered window -

The Champ - Club-headed, fat--footed, punch drunk, sleazy, spiffy, parolee, flunky, shade tree. Loves puppies -

The Boss - Thick as his hair isn't, he rules with an iron lisp -

Goon #2 - So ugly that his mirror broke, pled self-defense,  then sued for damages -

The Moll - Running late to catch the gravy train, worried it won't stop here again.

Here's the first of  several  poems I'll  be pulling from the book, in story order.

The Set-Up

Snake  oil sales
were slow. So I hung

out my shingle on
a shadow.

Desk-drawer liquor

A dead man's loan. Soon
chinless stoolies

slunk & doorjambed -

that she ain't no
good, that she wears a watch

on both wrists. too
many midnights.

Evidence mounting like butterflies

Still I made  them informants
for phones,  phoned

to hear her  breath.
She was faith

enough to  believe.
She's a peach. A  pistol.

I waived my fee

I left my agency

Came home to rooms ran-
sacked, tossed

by invisible hands.
Hip  flask.  Blackjacked.

micky slip, slug.

I woke doubled & crossed

Drug, ferried
through whisky alleys

Bruisers, suicide doors

The crooked chief interrogated
me about her body

She's no more mine, no eye
witness,  or alibi

No one will attest she ever
did exist.

I was her autumn guy

By the wharf was left
waterlogged & wise

My dogs dead
tired. I humped it

home, humming gumshoe blues.

I thought I might this week include a few excerpts from my recently appeared, disappeared, and reappeared (soon, I hope) new book of road poems, Places and Spaces.

The book includes, in addition to a short introductory and concluding poem at the beginning and end of the book, five extended poems, accounts of five different road trips.

The following is from the first of the long poems On the Cusp of Confederate Winter, an account of a trip up through the more western of the southern states to Columbus, Ohio, then over to Virginia and then along the Blue Ridge Parkway and back south, through the eastern tier of the southern states to Texas.

This selection is from the first day of the trip, having left San Antonio and traveling up through Texas to cross into Little Rock, Arkansas, where I spent the night.

from On the Cusp of  Confederate Winter (Places and Spaces)

i like it
saying the name
makes my mouth feel good
and the only reason
to say it
is when you’re passing through it

orange sky
     like mist
     through a forest
     of orange leaves

where a line down the middle
of the street
in a business district
one state from the other -
appealing to my dislike
of lines and boxes
and borders
that don’t mean anything 

      lakes and ponds
     and waterfowl,
     a crane passes over the road,
     long neck outstretched
     wings spread,
     a dark shadow
     a nearly dark sky

dark dark

in Arkansas

     red sky
     in my rearview,
     the road like a tunnel
     through the dark,
     tall, thick forest
     on either side

Hope behind me
Little Rock ahead

Next, I  have three pieces by Robert Hass, two  original poems and one informal translation. The work is from  Hass' collection, Sun Under Wood, published by The Ecco Press in 1996.


A man talking to  his ex-wife on the phone.
He has loved  her  voice and listens with attention
to every modulation  of  its tone. Knowing
it intimately. Not knowing what he wants
from the sound of it, from the tendered civility.
He studies, out the window, the seed shapes
of the broken pods of  ornamental trees.
The kind that grow in everyone's garden,  that no one
but horticulturists can name. Four arched chambers
of pale green,  tiny vegetal proscenium arches,
a pair of black tapering seeds bedded in each chamber.
A wise  geometry, miniature,Indian or Persian,
lovers or  gods  in their apartments. Outside, white,
patient animals, and tangled vines,  and rain.

Forty Something

She says to him,  musing, "If you ever leave me,
and marry a younger woman and have another baby,
I'll put a knife in your heart." They are in bed,
so she climbs onto his chest, and looks directly
down into his eyes. "You understand? Your heart."

Frida Kahlo:  In the Saliva

In the saliva
In the paper
in the eclipse
In all the lines
in all the colors
in all the clay jars
in my breast
outside inside -
in the inkwell - in the difficulties of writing
in the wonder of my eyes - in the ultimate
limits of the sun (the sun has no limits) in
everything. To speak it all is imbecile,  magnificent
DIEGO in my urine - DIEGO  in my mouth - in m
heart. In my madness, in my dream - in
the blotter - in the point  of  my pen -
in the pencils - in the landscapes - in the
food - in the metal - in imagination
in the sicknesses - in the glass cupboards -
in his lapels - in his eyes - DIEGO -
in his mouth - DIEGO - in his  lies.

Transcribed and translated from a manuscript in her  hand,  at Diego Rivera's studio near the
Hacienda San Angel in Mexico City

Politics  is so  extreme these days, partisans on both sides shouting such stupid things at each other. I'm more concerned about the radical right than the far left. The left crazies are generally more into street theater than actually doing something and might hit you over the head with one of their protest signs, but nothing more drastic than that; the right wing crazies, on the other hand, are generally armed, cocked, and ready.

Sane people going insane, it  seems to be catching.

among the black helicopter  brigade
he’s running
about a half a lap
in front of the crazy wagon
these days
and losing ground all the time

and that’s too bad
before he joined the black helicopter
brigade he was
an interesting fella and a good poet,
a little raw, some might think, young-
Bukoswki double-prime,
but the honest aspiration for true vision
shone through
occasional posturing
and the result was a life-brimming read...

but somewhere along the line
he must have fallen in with some
political types,
although you always have to wonder
if the nutsy political types
were the cause of his decline
into apocalyptic raving
or was that sour craziness there all the time,
just waiting for the needed jolt
of obsessive
does the chicken find the egg
or does the egg drift dormant
in the shadow world
until the right chicken finds the right nest
and the dream-egg becomes
the thin-shelled ovoid
it was always meant to be

this is an important question
to me…

I know so many people now,
falling like nuts,
from the lunacy tree
that I wonder,
could it be as was sometimes claimed,
slipped into the water supply
in the dead
of paranoid night

Here's the next poem from Black  Maria, the "film noir" book of poems by Kevin Young. I'm picking pieces out of the book, but trying to  keep the pieces in the order of the book so that if any of the story leaks out of these little pieces it will make some kind of sense.

The Suspects

Threatening rain

The boozy,
overdressed dame

with a voice to match

The unbent bootblack

the one-armed pickpocket
with a nose

for the horses
Informant shot in his tracks

Pullman porter
with a chemistry degree

A well-mixed martini

Last of the light

Too much shadow
around the eyes

Newshound nosing round
the place

Throat cut
like a phone line

Ann assignation
The asinine accomplice

Here comes the bribe

The day player
who flubs his line

The prizefighter's
blackmail fall

Mousey majorette
at the used bookstore

who unbuttons her hair
& lets down her blouse

Misplaced lightning

Face full of smoke

Character actor
whose accent changes more

than a leading lady's wardrobe

The once-over
The okie-doke

The moon a thumb-
print pressed

in the black police book
kept by the night

Put your hands
where I can see em

Cryptic telegram

Slow cigar ash

And Death, the well-
dressed doorman,

his pockets stuffed with cash.

The next selection from the book Places and Spaces is from the second poem about a trip to Ruidoso, New Mexico and a roundabout way home. It's from about the middle of the drive.

from Ruidoso  (Places and Spaces)

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

stylized art
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 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

My good friend, Anonymous, returns with another book, Exiled from Mainstreet: the autobiography of a Midwest town. The book is presented by Philistine Press, which specializes in non-profit online publishing.

This is just a taste. To read the whole book,  go to

Clash City Rockers

we were born
in this nowhere town,
with no heroes,
stuck on some nowhere highway
with too many excuses
and too few exits.

the last one to cry was always the mother.
she had too many worries lined up
and ready to take over.
in order to make sure the children were fed
she made herself stand hard
against the losers and shakers
because every dollar counts
when you’re flat out of love
and your belly’s full of empty promises
from all the men you’ve been pawned to.

what I remember most,
after the sun beat its way out of reach:
the smell of cigarettes,
wet clothes and stale perfume
drifting up from the downstairs apartment.

If Mary Tyler Moore had really lived here

she would have taken a job as a waitress
or maybe something in the more respectable
secretarial/office worker profession,
a real career girl on her way somewhere for sure girl

she’d save her money, hide it from Rob
in the bottom of a sugar canister -
no, flour
because she knows there is no way

he could ever find it being only interested
in dinner work
breakfast work fucking on demand
sleep work

because she is patient,
she would bide her time, wait
for that just right moment when she knew

there was enough money stashed away
grab the next bus to anywhere, leave a note for him
taped on the refrigerator
she wouldn’t be angry
not really

that wouldn’t be like her

Reason #1 to not believe in god

He hates this town
and every time he speaks
of it you can see his eyes
roll and a smirk

spread across his face.
He closes the Steel Plant
for kicks, tells Gabriel

it was either that or flood

the Mississippi, says
he’s bored with water,
wants something quieter,
longer lasting.

Something that would move people,
shake them and start some action
is the way he puts it.
This town never was sharp

but word spread wild
and the mean breath that blows
over Superior fills our lungs
as bars empty and wives leave -

husbands grind their heels
in black dirt and wait
for the miracle that never happens.

The Holiday Boys

Tony-boy- busboy

tonight there are two moons
one is full, the other half asleep
lying in the water

Jeff-Bob- bar back

two birds fly a straight line to the sun
it’s easier to see the clouds
when our mouths are dry

Cody- room service waiter

moonlight casts a shadow into the sea
after midnight our glasses
will be emptied again

The Holiday Girls


the truth of a flower will spill
from its petals
after the falling rain

Becky-popover girl

three birds on a wire
there are two different songs
but only one sun

Beth & Michelle-hostesses

sky slowly darkens
the sound of a water jug cracking
awakens our thirst

The Last Picture Show

year by year passes by with a rush

until a murmur is all that remains

of yesterday; there will be boasts,

puffed up false pride and put-on

bar room courage and in the end

you will know what it really means

to crash - how it feels to have sounds

pushed out of your head and blood

stop dead in your veins

A wonderful couple of weeks here, rain  every several days and beautiful cloudless skies in between.


my grass
out of ICU, but still
a shadow of its former green
self; my elephant ears, planted
a month ago, full and high and
happily waving in the pre-
storm breezes; the other bulbs
I planted, unknown their botanical
heritage to me who knows only
the difference between flowers, which
have colorful blossoms and plants
which remain stubbornly green,
and while these, with great
determination having pushed aside
the rocky dirt I planted them in,
have not yet matured enough
to blossom, if they intend to do so,
so I don’t know yet
if they are flowers or just your
regular, run-of-the-mill plants that just
hang out green for a season, with no ultimate
embellishment planned…

and the dark, sweet scent
of wet oak...

my four transplanted oak trees
are the pride of this quasi-rainy
season, all, from the twenty-footer
to the nine-footer, to the eight-incher,
to the tiny three-incher I thought
was dead, are showing new leaves,
green-brown in their immaturity,
alive, continuing their journey, however
far they may still have to go, to the clouds,
their personal green reaching for the blue
that covers us all, oak trees all, now or to be,
where squirrels scamper and chase,
from where birds call to greet the new day sun,
oak trees, from tiny acorn seeds to grand, aged
glory, rare evidence of the existence
of a god who created from his majestic throne
with pure aesthetic intent the occasional
beauty of his week-long labors

and squirrels, too, like the one I just saw
climbing head first down the trunk
of the oak tree by my window, reversible
claws, what creature was ever made more
perfect than the squirrel
for it’s earthly home,
evidence that when that purposeful god
made the oak tree he knew also
to make it’s perfect companion, the jester
squirrel to lighten the load
of it’s heavy, out-reaching limbs

and beneath the oak tree,
great rough roots, half-buried, half-
exposed above the ground forming,
between them,
a place for me to rest,
leaning on the great rough trunk, drinking
from an ice-filled glass
a draft of perfect
limestone-cured, cave-cooled
water, clear as the glass
that is it’s above-ground vessel,
resting myself in deep shade among the
squirrels that bark at my presumptive
presence, among the birds that call
the morning to account


Here's another tidbit from Black Maria.

The Boss

Even his walking
stick was crooked.

He didn't need it,
or me, he'd say - let me

know he kept us both
for show. His hands

clean as a cop's whistle,
nails filed

to toothpicks.  Slick -
he taught me

to  kiss, & silence,
hows to tell tons

just from the eyes.
His were ice

picks, raised,

on icebergs tearing
into the berth

of some Titanic.
Watch em sink.

He was never in between -
either gargantuan

or thin
as a lie. He sharpened

knives on other men's spines.
He hated losing

even a dime, would bet
the farm, then steal

from the till.Weed'em
& reap.

He treated me
like his money - took me

out only
when he needed something

& fast.
Even his toupee -

Imported,  real
human hair - was one-sided

& levitated
above his head like a lightbulb

burned dim.
No wonder when

the detective stumbled in -

smelling of catharsis
& cheap ennui,

begging to be
given an extra week

with his knees -
I wanted him like nobody's

business. His
blown kiss

Never laundered
like money, that dick's suit

stayed rumpled like the pages
of a paperback dropped

in the tub, drowned, the end
you read first to find out

whodunit, never
mind why.

Sometimes all it takes is a passing moment to forget, for that moment, that we're old.

the sweet songs
with sure hands
the girl
at the coffee shop in Austin
with green hair
that matched perfectly
her smoky green
made my espresso,
settling the ground beans
with a confident click
of metal on metal

and she smiled
and, oh, I felt so young
and alive
and for a a few minutes
in love

and, oh, how good it felt,
those three
together again,
memories re-
my cob-webbed heart
and brain
singing the sweet songs
of youth

The next poem is from Ka-Ching, a book I just picked up this afternoon at the second-hand book store. The poet is Denise Duhamel, associate professor of English at Florida International University. Author of ten poetry collections and five chapbooks, Duhamel is the recipient of many awards,  including a  National Endowment of the Arts Fellowship and has appeared in six volumes of The Best American  Poetry.

The book was published by the University of Pittsburgh Press in 2009.

Dinner Party Horror

After desert, my friends and I try to figure out the order in which we would die in a horror movie.

Stan, the aggressive male, would be murdered first.  His macho-ness would lead him out  into the woods or up into the attic, unprepared for what he'd find there. Chatty Peg would go next - too innocently boisterous. She'd walk right up to the killer and try to make friends.Then David would go,   through no fault of his  own, but because he's black - sorry to say,minorities never  make  it  to the end of horror  films. Susan would also meet  a grisly fate because (she admits this herself) she's a bit of a slut and sluts are always punished in movies.

It's down to Mary and me - I think she'd be the lone survivor since she's the most  likable.  She thinks I'd be the lone  survivor since I'm the most likale. And surely, if one of us were to die, it would be as she tried to save the other.
 Then Stan says, Before you start congratulating yourselves, remember one of you two bitches has to be the killer.

We are horrified.  Did he  really say bitches?

It's  a joke, he assures us.

David chimes in, It's definitely an outside killer. Not Mary or Denise. Besides, Susan says her autopsy shows she was molested before she was butchered, so that means her killer was  male, right?

Peg says,  Wait! - maybe Stan stabbed his twin right off to fool us, and he'[s not really dead, but has been lurking as the killer in the movie all along. Stan likes the idea of his character coming back in the final scene. David  still thinks it's an outside job. Mary says the whole conversation is giving her the creeps. Anyway,  she has to get up  early in the morning.She gets up  from the couch and reaches for her car keys.

Wait! Don't  go  out there alone!

I  try to warn her, but she won't listen.

This next selection is from the third poem in my book Places and Spaces. It's about halfway through a trip from San Antonio to Denver and back.

from To the Rockies  (Places and Spaces)

and from
the mile-high city,
i take a westerly course,
gradually ascending
to the two-mile-high
Vail Pass, then
descending for over
a hundred miles to Grand Junction -
a turn south,
and a faraway view of the Rockies,
like billowy white clouds,
white like fresh laundry
hung in the sun to dry, hugging 

the horizon instead,
growing taller into the sky
as we approach for one last passage
     twelve bison
     in a line across
     a snowy slope,
     each following the tail
     of the other -
     at the head of this
     strung-out regiment a bull,
     the leader,
     knows where to go
     and when to go there

     and two or three miles
     down the road
     elk scatter among
     a stand of pines,
     pushing aside the snow
     and pine needles
     to graze
canyon wall
reaching high above me,

the Colorado River
fast and muddy from snow melt 

     at ten thousand feet
     the melt
     sloshes down the rocky
     mountain side
     in a torrent

     at eleven thousand,
     thick icicles, long,
     long as a tall man,

     hang from overhangs
     on the canyon walls,

Here's the next bite from Kevin Young's Black Maria.

The Rake

Maybe it was the baby
face he carried

round like a calling
card, but older ladies

loved the cad,
though his shinola

didn't stink. Casanova,
Lothario,  Don

Juan de Pollo,
he got widows

to buy
whatever he said,

& him what all
he wanted -

No, I couldn't -

If you insist -

and how.
His sweatless brow.


Slick, the playboy's pomade
made the girls curl

their  toes.
Even  some boys...

For him marriage
was a sacrament he honored

by being put to the test.
More wine

with your  dress?
Once he even passed

as a sheik, dark
as  he  was -

that's how good
his talk -

left a gaggle
of manicured fingers

fumbling in the night beside
sacked-out husbands

so quietly dial The Embassy -
SHadowtown5-4903 -

which meant his rented room.
He's never home.


This cat used up
most his  nine -

what got him
in the end wasn't the bottle

or a bullet -
though many a shot just missed

his ears, feathering
his hatband

as he slid
the back stair & ducked

out the maid's entrance

after caught kissing the missus
& making the maid

a maiden no more -
No, what

did him in was  time,

that jealous son
of a gun.


On him the years didn't  so much
creep up

as jump -
Cut to him

with skin like linen
& no iron. His nose blooming

carnation red.
He went from vain

to in vain - even
his conk had conked

out. his head's alley filled
with only a few stray

hairs. Homemade
remedies. Here

he is asking for change
like advice -

I give him whatever's left
weighing my purse

& remember that even

tomcats can be treed,
that even hound  dogs

may lose the scent
& can't o more fox

or run free.
Are best envied,

not believed -

A new poem  from last  week. How interesting are my early-morn breakfasts.

church of the latter-day punk
I was thinking
like a slow poem
today, something
that just ambled along,
taking forever
to get where it was going -
maybe not ever getting
there at all

but then I saw this woman
sitting in front of me,
an older woman, not as old
as me, but getting close,
hair dyed a kind of moldy-wheat-
field color, a wheat field
post-tornado’s passing, all sticking
up and about this away and that,
looking kinda like she washed her hair
in the shower, then dried with vigorous
rub-a-dubs of a towel and forgot to comb

at least that’s what my mother,
white hair always tightly permed,
would have said - but dear Mom,
long gone now, can’t know
that it’s one of the styles of some older
women now, early-punk, from back in the day
ten years ago when I’d go to the punk clubs
to listen to my son’s band, women, eighteen-
twenty years old, with hair just like this,
pierced and tattooed, black lipstick and
nails, doe-like in the knowing innocence
of cut-short jeans
and belly-baring tee shirts - hot
in other words,
in dangerous and unexpected ways

(and I should make it clear right here
that I don’t object to this older woman’s
hair style - though I don’t think she’ll make it
back to “hot” no matter how short she cuts
her jeans or how bared her belly or how too-short
her tee - it’s just my curiosity at this sociological
marvel of how, over the space of only ten years,
that twenty year old girl in the chaos of punk
could become this sixty-year old grandma in this
quiet family restaurant at 6 a.m. on such an ordinary
Thursday morning in such an ordinary city like San Antonio.)

all this just more of the changes that confuse me,
running into my memories at breakfast
and finding them just as strange and out-of-time
as me - making me think
I should have stuck to the slow poem
I intended instead, something that could have
ambled slowly to its end, or maybe no end at all,
if an end has to require such uncomfortable
reminders as the mortality of leaves falling from trees,
old dogs whimpering in their sleep,
the broken-down face
that jumps me at my bathroom mirror,
and wild-natured punk girls
with long bare legs and black lipstick
smiles under wild haystack hair
morphing into grandmas
eating their grits
at breakfast

I think this might be the third time I've  used this next piece. I'm sorry, but I just think it's funny as  hell.

It's by Richard Howard, and it's from his book Trappings, published in 1999 by Turtle Point Press.


The text of Bach's St. John Passion, performed tonight unabridged,
is largely derived from the Gospels, portions of which are  alleged
(by some) to be antisemitic. Such passages may well disclose
historical attitudes fastened (by Bach himself) to the Jews,
but must not be taken as having (for that very reason) expressed
convictions or even opinions of the Management or of the cast.


The Rape  of the Sabine Women, which the artist painted in Rome,
articulates Ruben's treatment of a favorite classical theme.
Proud  as we are to display this example of Flemish finesse,
the policy of the Museum is not to be taken amiss:
we oppose all forms of harassment, and just because we have shown
this canvas in no way endorses the actions committed therein.


Ensconced in the Upper rotunda alongside a fossil musk-ox,
the giant Tyrannosaurus (which the public has nicknamed "Rex"),
though shown in the act of devouring its still-living prey implies
no favor by public officials to zoophagous public displays;
carnivorous Life-Styles are clearly inappropriate to a State
which has already outlawed tobacco and may soon prohibit meat.

The next short section is from the fourth poem, Sleeping  With Andy Devine. In the piece, I'm in the middle of Nevada,  a day out of my destination, Lake Tahoe.

from Sleeping With Andy Devine (Places and Spaces)

     snow clouds
     over mountain peaks
     on both sides of me

     like buttermilk
     over hot cornbread
     light snow
     dusts desert stones
     and plants
     with points of silvery

     the snow falls
     and soon they all
     sport white

     they all disappear
     under the white sea
a herd of horses,
     twenty or thirty of them,
     chase and play

     in a field of snow

past Hawthorn
my route begins
to take me into new mountains

Here's the next piece, and another character,  from Black Maria.

The Grift

On his back
he  lugged around his life

stuffed into a croaker sack
full as  a thought balloon

in some cartoon.


   Flimflam man, seven
   dollars & a plan.


His face looked
like a pool table, deep

pockets for eye sockets,
faded red - but felt

was something he never did.


   Flamflam man, ten
   fingers & a plan


His real  home was six feet
beneath ground, he  was just

up here renting breath
with the rest of us,  short-term lease

he's fallen behind on.


   Flamflam man,
   two empty hands.

Here's another new poem from last week, considering vacation plans.

a mountain man considers the dismal plain
I don’t do so much driving
like I used to, dog and me,
both, getting to old for all those
on the road

thinking about
a trip to Mount Rushmore
in October,
but I’m also thinking
do I really want to park
my butt in a car seat through
the Texas Panhandle,
and, finally,
just to get to
South Dakota
to see some big-headed presidents
on a mountain top…

I’ve never been to the
Texas Panhandle,
or Nebraska
and, having never heard
any real good reason
to go there, I’m wondering
if, lacking any other reason, never
having been someplace is a good enough
reason to go there…

(that is the reason I give myself
for being happy to have spent a year
in the Northwest Frontier of Pakistan,
having never been there before
I went there and there being no reason
to ever go back it must have been
a really good deal that
I got to go - so good am I at finding
good in inevitable experience)

and thinking now of days in a car
passing through the dismal
the way I think of them -
plains of the Texas Panhandle,
when, just
a smidge on the map
to the west,
lie the mountains of
New Mexico
and Colorado, mountains
I love and may not ever see again
and thinking that makes me
think that maybe the experience
of experiencing the unexperienced
might be overblown;
but I’m thinking that way
a lot more now that I’m getting
seeking new experience,
I’ve come to believe,
is what people do who are dissatisfied
with the old experiences
that made them who they are
and that their constant
for the new is mostly
about trying to find a new
more interesting self
and since I find my old self
quite interesting and
a search for new experience
is not something I do much of

I’m writing this today
at the same booth
in the same restaurant
where I have written my daily poem
for several years now,
it’s worked out so far
- except maybe for today -
so why would I want to

and why in the world
am I thinking
about driving across
the Texas Panhandle,
and Nebraska
when Colorado is right next

how we are seduced by the new
and unknown; see how we must
for our happiness

Here are poems by Irish poet Joan McBreen from her book The Wind Beyond the Wall, published by Story Line Press in 1990.
This book was McBreen's first collection. She has published four more since. She also produced a CD, That Long Light on the Land - Selected Poems, read to a background of Irish airs and classical music.
She was awarded an MA from University College, Dublin in 1997. She has given readings and talks in many universities in the USA including Emory, Villanova, De Paul (Chicago), Cleveland, Lenoir Rhynne, N.C. and the University of Missouri-St. Louis.


Waiting in the heat
near the butcher's door
she made circles
with the toes of her shoes
in the sawdust.

stood in jam jars
beside lamb chops
and pictures of "Our Lady Queen of Peace"
and the "Mother of  Sorrows."

On Saturdays
the butcher sold skinned rabbits
for half-a-crown
and her mother told  the shop
how  much her children liked rabbit  stew.

When rabbits dark
among rhododendrons
it is Saturday again
and she has  pressed
herself back
between the sides of beef.

She is watching her mother
count her change
over and over
and she is looking
down at the sawdust
on her shoes.

The Wedding Ring

In my sleep
I search the woods;
I am with a woman whose fingers
reach deeply into the earth.

She wears no wedding ring
for she has lost it in the undergrowth.
Her other children have climbed trees
and are throwing scaldings from their nests.

As thunder mounts behind us
trucks of  cattle roar past,
their faces pressed close
to slats for air.

I see my mother, her  hands
in wet dirt,  searching,
searching for her ring among  pine needles
and the blood of young birds.

My Space

is somewhere
under  our waking
from nights' oblivion,
small bodies diving
for  the warm  space

between us,

under black crumbs
spilt milk,
mounds of sheets,
or hanging in silence

between  me,

the telephone receiver
and my tone  deaf

For years, driving in New Mexico, I had  seen road signs  pointing the way to Silver City but had never been there. Deciding it was time, I took off and headed that  way. Silver City, it turns out, is not such a big deal (but for  a great huge coffee shop and cafe in the middle of town),  but the drive was excellent, including a several hour side-trip on a tiny little gravel road over some mountains.
This selection is from early in the trip, still  in  Texas. It is a problem when traveling from Texas; the first day is always about getting out of the state before you can get anywhere else.

from Silver City and Beyond (Places and Spaces)

and little towns along
the way
Segovia Senora Saragosa
Sierra Blanca
and Van Horn

all pass
the miles and hours
and skies and hills
and deserts
and all the little towns
pass quickly

     on the ridge
     a line of dead trees,
     oak blight killing scrub oak
     all around

     reminding me of a picture
     i once saw
     of a lone tree,
     bare and burned,
     among the ruins at

     these trees like that,
     bare limbs
     reaching up, grasping
     at the sky

     in the pasture below
     a mare and her foal eat grass
     generous and green
the roadway
blasted through stony hills,
in the rock walls on either side
of geologic time...

     near the top,
     a woman and a man passed,
     nearly human,
     and down here, by my feet
     a fish
     crawled awkwardly
     from the sea
a large buck
half in the grass
half in the road

muscle and blood
and bone and heart
metal and plastic,
old times of safe and open graze
and new times of death on black tar

Here's the last piece for this week from Kevin Young's Black Maria.

No good noir book or movie can be without it's passage through one or more gin joints. I used to frequent one such place in Bloomington, Indiana. I swore I would never forget the name,but it turns out fifty years later I can only remember  half of it. "something, something, something, Bill & Bones,  Incorporated." Linoleum table tops, pickled eggs on the bar sharing space with bar files completing  their tenth hour as their stool position.

Here's too you, something,  something,  something, Bill & Bones Incorporated.

The Dive

Young men here guzzle
& dream f becoming  drunks

& regulars, the drunks
here dream of becoming

young. I wait

for her one hour, promise
myself no more, then  wait

half hour over.
As I'm pretending

to don my fedora,some hood

arrives to  tell me she ain't
coming, never, no matter

& I better quit calling.
Pats his pistol-padded side.

I wish that I was a wish,

that rubbing this  bottle -
gin's djinni - would give me

more than mist.
The stooge suggests

I find another date,

to learn a place
where the smoke don't  stain you

& your glasses wash up new.
Like fatback

his knuckles crack.

I excuse myself to the head,
looking for an escape hatch -

cursing  her  name, planning
never to forget  her.

She gets under

& infiltrates, she's foreign

No  dice.  Windows sealed
by the past & paint -

Dreaming of a back way

I read some last words
on the wall, faint -

Don't sleep
With a gangster

Or his wife. Just don't.

Nor a waitress,
some wise guy retorts.

Then something I don't 
remember penning -

Reports of my death are

greatly anticipated -
but it's my hand sure

as shooting.

Here's my last poem, the title poem for the week.

cave  painting
you watch
people die all around you
and one day realize
that most of the people
important to you in your life
have passed on

and more pass every day

and you realize
death is not an aberration
but the natural terminus of life,
where we go
when we finally grow up,
when, unlike the young
who believe death
is a dark-robed creature
that jumps out of your closet
at midnight,
you understand
that all roads you might
have travelled
proceed to the same destination,
the depot
of all that passes
where dust meets dust,
where the great democracy
of death
asserts itself,
where we learn that
high or low
it is the same dust that made us all
and it is the same dust
to which we return,
to this place
where final payment
is collected
and passed on to the next

in this muddle
of creation and disengagement,.
why do young poets

I wrote poetry
when I was young
and quit
while still young as well

nothing yet to write about
I decided,
and no need yet to leave
my mark on the world -
time for that, I thought,
in the years ahead

I think of Baudelaire,
all his important work complete
while he was in his twenties,
the rest of his life
and exercise in routine,
then died in middle age, poor
and bedridden

how sad to be remembered
only for what you were in your twenties,
so like an early death
to be encased forever in your young
and most callow years

life as anti-climax

I’m an old man now, not as old
as I hope to be someday, but
old enough to look back and realize
that none of the great things
I did left a mark, that nothing I did
for three quarters of my life amounts
to any more than dust, sand
from the Sahara, blown by the wind
and gone…

but one day
a hundred thousand years ago
a human, a creature of our kind,
painted a hunting trophy
on the wall of his cave, this I hunted,
the painting says, this I killed, and
now I live another day…

we do not know this creature
but we know he was

so now in my later years
I write poems, and with those poems
I make books, my treasures, my drawings on the walls
of my cave, I was here, I say,
and my treasures are here, lying beneath
the sands that blow and both cover
and uncover treasure
that someday

All of the material in this  post belongs to the people who created it. My stuff,  also, but mine available on lend  to anyone who wants to use it. Just give proper credit for it to me and to "Here and Now."

I'm still allen itz, owner and producer of "Here and Now." I continue to plug my books below. They're not a major investment in any one's reading budget, ranging from cheap  to cheapest.

As I continue to try to upgrade my poetry habit from expensive hobby to non-profit enterprise, I hope  you'll  buy one  (of  each). If you do and like it, please rate the book, or if you want, review  it.

Prices for the eBooks range from $3.49, to $5.99, depending on book and seller. The print book, also available on Amazon, is priced at $15 new and $4.99 used. I get nothing out of sales of the print book  on Amazon. If you want to buy directly from me, send me an email ( and I'll ship a copy to you, same price as Amazon. (And I  get the money).

I'm still  showing my most recent book, Places and Spaces below, but the status on it is still DON'T BUY. It is being withdrawn from all the places below. Depending on the site, it  takes from two days to a month to get a book listed in the seller's virtual  shelves. And it takes just as long to withdraw them. The book has already been withdrawn from Amazon and the iBookstore and others will follow in their time. The corrected version of the book will not be uploaded to any seller until it is ready to be uploaded to all.

So, it's a helluva thing for an author to have to say, but DON'T BUY MY BOOK, not right now, anyway. I'll send out a signal as the corrected book is available at the various sites. (The other books are pretty good though, brilliant,  actually, according to thousands of my very best friends...well may not thousands, but hundreds, at  least....well, anyway, Grandma Gladys and Crazy Uncle Jaime said they liked them a lot.  And they're safe to buy.)

I'm  sure you're getting tired of hearing this, just as I am getting tired of saying it. But I have this fear that someone will buy the book as it is out now, and that's not the book I want anybody to read.
In the meantime, here's what I have out, or, in the case of  Places and Spaces, almost out, and where.

Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Sony eBookstore and Apple iBookstore for iPad,iPhone, i-etc, as well as  Kobo, Copia, Gardners, Baker & Taylor, and eBookPie

Places and Spaces

Always to the Light

Goes Around, Comes Around


Pushing Clouds Against the Wind


For those of a print-bent, available on Amazon (both new and used)

Seven Beats a Second



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