Beastly Affairs   Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Animal pictures this  week; some personal friends of mine,  some not so much.

The anthology I chose to feature this week is The Rag and Bone Shop of the Heart.  It  was published in 1992 by HarperCollins.

In addition to my own new stuff this week, I'm using poems from my book earlier this year, Always to the Light, available at eBook retailers everywhere for $5.99 or less. Mostly less, if  I remember  right.

And all my other standard good stuff.

Here's a list.

I have an affection for squirrels

Ethridge Knight
The Bones of My Father

Theodore Roethke
My Papa’s Waltz

my cat looks like Charles Laughton

Lorna Dee  Cervantes
Night Stand

pleasant greeting

Galway Kinnell 
After Making Love  We Hear Footsteps

Ranier Maria Rilke
Sometimes a Man Stands Up During Dinner

no days off

Edgar Lee Masters
Alfonso Churchill
Elija Browning

angry birds

Three Quatrains

Anne McNaughton
& Balls

Anna Akhmatova
I Wring My Hands under My Dark Veil

D. H. Lawrence
To Women, As Far as I’m Concerned

Idn Hazm
Separation by Death

safe  passage

C.N. Bialik
I saw  you silent
at twilight
from Come on  out  
at the gate

it was an emergency, officer

Li Po
Conversation in the Mountains

James Wright

Bob Dylan
Three Angels

Felix Pollak
The Dream

the god of obedient service

John Ashbery
Like a Sentence


Langston Hughes

Russell Edson
The Ox

how I came to dream of gnawing Bambi’s bloody bones

Naomi Shihab Nye
Coming into Cuzco
At Mother Teresa’s
You Have to Be  Careful

sic transit mundi

Here's my first poem for this week.

I have an affection for squirrels
I have an affection
for squirrels,
standing straight and tall
like soldiers on review
one minute, playing like children
on a playground the next…

thieves and rascals,
every one,
living a life
in the thick branches
and leaves of tall trees
that in our more
moods we might envy
for ourselves


and so we see
the bottom of the well,
dark, with no hint
of any living
water, blood, piss, or whiskey,
none of the juice
that lets a body

the muse
still drunk and hung over
from last night’s bacchanal,
leaving me to write a poem
about fucking squirrels,
and on Sunday no less, Jesus Christ,
as they say, the holy day
of one of the world’s great religions
- in which I don’t believe, but never
mind about that -
the grand history of trial and tribulation
and victory - on the cross some say,
but more likely having to do
with highly effective lobbying in Rome
because when the Emperor of the world
switches to your side of an issue
you’ve pretty much won the day…

holy wars and evil saints and martyrs
and those who martyr the innocent,
and kings and queens and high placed
personages ready to fight to the death
over misplaced commas in holy writ
(or not - cause it’s true either way,
a war with the infidel
can be good politics, most any
infidel will do)…
soldiers of the cross and
cross-eyed popes and double-crossed
believers who trust in the intentions of pedophile-
priests and the ecclesiastical bureaucracy
that considers the deflowering of children
of less consequence than the reputation
of those who prey on those who, in the
innocence of belief, pray
for their souls blackened by abuse…

but that’s another story

perhaps I should stick to the
innocence of squirrels, of whom,
to their benefit and relief, religious
authority of all persuasion
say almost nothing

there are no holy-
moly squirrels to my knowledge,
making them even more greatly to my

First this week from the anthology, The Rag and Bone Shop of the Heart, I have  two poets.

The book is divided  into sections of related poems. These two poets are from Section Five, "The  House of Fathers and Titans.

The first  of the poets is Etheridge Knight.

Knight was born in  1931 and died in 1991, shortly before the anthology was published. He was an African-American poet who came to critical and popular attention  in 1968 with his debut volume, Poems from Prison. The book recalls his eight-year-long sentence after being arrested for robbery in 1960. A prose version was published in Italian as Voce negre dal carcere, and in English as Black Voices from Prison (1970), which includes other prisoners' writings. He is considered one of the major poets of the Black Arts Movement, which flourished from the early 1960s through the mid-1970s.

The Bones of My Father


There are no dry bones
here  in this  valley.The skull
of my father grins
at the Mississippi moon
from  the bottom
of the Tallahatchie,
the bones of my father
are buried In the mud
of these creeks and brooks that twist
and flow their secrets to the sea.
but the wind sings to me
here the sun speaks to me
of the dry bones of my father.


There are no dry bones
in the northern valleys, in the Harlem alleys
young/black/men with knees bent
nod of the stoops of the tenements
and dream
of the dry bones of my father.

And young white longhairs who flee
their homes, and bend their minds
and sing their songs of brotherhood
and no more wars are  searching for
my father's bones.


There are no dry bones
here, my brothers.We hide  from the sun.
No  more do  we take the long straight strides.
Our steps have been shaped by the cages
that kept  us.We  glide  sideways
like crabs across the sand.
We perch on green  lilies, we search
beneath white rocks...

The skull of my father
grins at the Mississippi  moon
from the bottom  of the Tallahatchie.

Conn - Feb. 21, 1971

The  second poet from  Section Five  is Theodore Rothke.

Born in Michigan in 1908, Rothke was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1954 for his book, The Waking. He also won the annual National Book Award for Poetry twice, in 1959 for Words for the Wind and posthumously in 1965 for The Far Field. He died in in 1963 after a  long and distinguished  career as a poet and academic.

My Papa's Waltz

The whiskey on your breath
Could make a small  boy dizzy;
But I hung on like death:
Such waltzing was not easy.

We romped until  the  pans
Slid from the kitchen shelf;
My mother's  countenance
Could not unfrown itself.

The hand that held my wrist
Was  battered on one knuckle;
at every step you missed
My right ear scraped a buckle.

You might time on my head
With a palm  caked hard by dirt,
Then waltzed me off to bed
Still clinging to your shirt.

This is my first poem this week from my eBook, Always to the Light.

my cat looks like Charles Laughton

my old cat
looks like Charles Laughton
in that Witness for the Prosecution

movie, especially
during her dramatic

when she wakes up
to discover

her food dish
is empty -
same quivering

same fierce glare
from beneath stormy

brow -
though it is true
that cat has only one

and one eye can glare
much more fiercely

than two,
giving her dramatic advantage
over Laughton,

an advantage
undone  by her willingness
to forgive

and forget
all when allowed
to curl up on my lap

which Laughton
would never do -

still she
does pretty darn good for a

From my library, the next poet  is  Lorna Dee  Cervantes. I have several of her books, a sign of my affection for her work. This poem is from From the Cables of Genocide: Poems on Love and Hunger, published by Arte Publico Press of Houston in 1991.

Born in 1954, in San Francisco, California, Cervantes is an award-winning Chicana, Native American (Chumash) feminist, activist poet considered by many to be one of the most  important Hispanic  poets of the past 40 years.

Night Stand

"Onions, lettuce, leeks, broccoli,
garlic, cantaloupe, peaches, plums..."

The man whose work is hard
slides  onto  me glistening
as a bass wielding the sheen
I'm mirrored with when  I
step  out of the bath.
He  wears the patch the sun
has x-rayed to his chest.
He's the color of work.
I'm the color of reading.
I hold my sembrador
under the august calabasas
of his arms.At first
light drifts though the gauze
I have eyes the half wild
know  with:  half  bitch,
half  wolf; here I  am
in the divisions,
extinctual  as  a missing
lynx. Its a foreign well
I  drag my sullen bucket to -
in a western bar on a frontage
road where we recognized the past
and find we have escaped the thing
which in the night  would  eat us.

We  are gouged by the machinery,
we fill  the hole with fire.
We pull the pails another sloshing
day up through the cracks in our
overdue finality. He is wearing
hundred dollar  shoes, wool slacks,
linen. He's making better money
now  filling holes and digging.
A better life for less is lost.
But if the dirt where I was born
still tamped beneath my feet,  if
the concrete avalanche of progress
hadn't  filled my love and the
rivers of my youth hadn't iced me
into  middle age,  I might have
stayed. But no
one stays.

His touch is like a man's
despite his age. His Moorish
fur, his Saturn eyes, his sadness
says, although he may not know
beyond the suicide of soul
the poor possess, the threshing race
machines, the names of Goering,
Himmler, Buchenwald, Farben...
and all the written fables
spell for us - this he knows -
Esta gente no entienda nada.

And I - am the way I had intended.
I've come to what  I wanted.
And here,  writing, wearing things
the discarded dead have
bought and sold:  we  know.

This is a poem from last week, a desperation day on the poem-a-day circuit.

pleasant greeting
“Pleasant greetings,
earth creature….”

it’s O-five hundred
and I went to bed at
O-1 thirty
and I had to take
the dog out to pee
three times between then
and now and I’m
and this sort of thing
always seems to happen
when I suffer insufficient
my normal snapcracklepop
morning displaced
by encounters of the very
third kind, strange folk,
green-skinned and scaly, smiling
with fearsome teeth
twitchy orange eyes (all eight
of them flittering and jittering
like Mexican jumping beans
in a tea cup, tickling
the crawly backbone of the
great worm of tequila destiny)
and all I want is a cup of coffee,
a jack of joe-juice, and maybe
a danish, “ Oh, I love the Danish,”
says my green friend, eyes
twittering and flittering, “they are
so tasty, with smoked eel on rye,
worth the trip,” he says
as he smiles
with his sharp little fearsome teeth,
twinkling in the morning light
twitching and switching
through the kitchen window,
and I would be very frightened
if I wasn’t sure I was still asleep
and dreaming and I swear I’m never
going to stay up past O ten hundred

and I hear, as the bedroom
door closes,
“Sleep pleasantly,
earth creature, it has been tasty
meeting you this morning”


next comes the commentary:

though usually well hidden,
my poems almost always have
some meaning, some message,
some selection of jams and jellies
of deep philosophy,
some lesson to the world
for better and more moral living...

but, of course,
that's bullshit, any lesson
or message or meaning in my poems
is completely inadvertent, this pitiful claim
of relevance merely an attempt
at this late moment
to obscure the fact that I can think
of no reason for this poem, can find
no message for anyone except maybe me,
a goad to myself
to recognize my limitations,
to swear a promise to myself
that I am never going
to stay up past 0 nine hundred
no matter
how great the promise
of a championship-level basketball game,
a big boy game,

Next from this week's anthology, I have two poets from Section Two of the book, "Fathers' Prayers for Sons and Daughters"

The first poet is Galway Kinnell.

Born in 1927,  Kinnell was poet  laureate for  the state of Vermont from 1989 to 1993. )  For his 1982 Selected Poems he won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry and split the National Book Award for Poetry with Charles Wright.

A great  admirer of Walt Whitman, one of Kinnell's most anthologized poems is the following.

After Making Love We Hear Footsteps

For  I can snore  like a bullhorn
or play loud music
or sit up  talking with any reasonably sober  Irishman
and Fergus will only sink deeper
into his  dreamless sleep,  which goes by all in one flash,
but let  there be that  heavy breathing,
or a stifled come-cry anywhere in the house
and he will  wrench himself  awake
and make for it on the run - as now, we lie together,
after making love, quiet, touching along the length of our
familiar  touch of the long-married,
and he appears - in his baseball  pajamas, it happens,
the neck opening so  small
he has  to screw them  on,  which one day make him
about the mental  capacity o baseball players -
and flops  down between us and hugs us and snuggles himself
     to sleep,
his face gleaming with satisfaction at being this very child.

In the half darkness we look at each other
and smile
and touch arms across his little, startlingly muscular body -
this one whom habit of memory propels to the ground of his
sleeper only the mortal  sounds can sing awake,
this blessing loves gives again into our arms.

My second poet from the second section is Ranier Maria  Rilke.

Sometimes a Man Stands Up During  Supper

Sometimes a  man stands up  during supper
and walks outdoors, and keeps on walking,
because of a church that stands somewhere in the East.

And his children say blessing on him as if he  were dead.

And  another man, who remains inside his own house,
dies  there, inside the dishes and rhe glasses,
so that his children have to go far out into the world
toward that same church, which he forgot.

    Translated by Robert Bly

Here's another piece from my eBook, Always to the Light, available  wherever eBooks are sold...etc.

no days off

a cool
and sunny
Saturday morning,
time to take the family
out for a wall before the chores
of the day begin

a stop-off
for coffee and fresh apple juice

I see them out front
at an outside table, mom
and dad and three little girls
and their terrier pup
who watches each
coming and going, ever alert -

no days off
in the family protection biz

Next, I have a couple of old-fashioned poems from an old-fashioned poet, Edgar Lee  Masters. The poems are from his book Spoon River Anthology, first  published in 1914. Funny how this book seems so old-fashioned when it is  really so modern in its world view and innovative in it's approach.

Alfonso Churchill

They laughed at me as "Prof. Moon,"
As a boy in spoon River,born with the thirst
Of  knowing about the stars.
They jeered when I spoke of the lunar mountains,
And the thrilling heat and cold,
And the ebon valleys by silver peaks,
And spica quadrillions of miles away,
And the littleness of  man.
But now that my grave is honored, friends,
Let it  not  be because I  taught
The lore of the stars in Knox College,
But rather for this: that through the stars
I  preached the greatness of man,
Who is none the less a part of the scheme of things
For the distance to Spica or the Spiral  Nebula;
Nor  any the less a part of the question
Of what the drama means.

This next thing seems different to me from the normally earthbound, matter-of-fact and more than a little  cynical Masters, more lyrical and mystical.

Elijah Browning

I was among the multitudes of children
Dancing at the foot of  a mountain.
A breeze blew out of the east and swept them as
Driving some up  the slopes....All was changed.
Here were flying nights and mystic moons, and dream-   
A cloud fell upon us. When it lifted all was changed.
I was now amid multitudes who were wrangling.
then  a figure in shimmering gold, and one with a
And one with a sceptre stood  before me.
they mocked me and danced a rigadoon and van-
All was change  again. Out of a bower of poppies
A  woman  bared her beasts and lifted her open mouth
    to mine.
I kissed her. The taste  of  her lips  was like salt.
She left blood on my lips.  I fell exhausted.
I arose and ascended higher, but a mist  as from an
Clouded my steps. I was cold and in pain.
Then the sun streamed on my again,
And I saw the mists below me hiding all below them.
And I bent over my staff, knew myself
Silhouetted  against the  snow. And above me
Was the soundless air, pierced  by a cone of ice,
Over which hung a solitary star!
A shudder of ecstasy, a shudder of fear
Ran  through me. But I could not return to the slopes -
Nay, I swished not to return.
For the spent waves  of the symphony of freedom
Lapped the ethereal cliffs  about me.
Therefore I climbed to the pinnacle.
I flung away my staff.
I touched that star
With my outstretched hand.
I vanished utterly.
For the mountain delivers to Infinite Truth
Whosoever touches the star!

Watch our feathered flying objects, especially when they're mad.

angry birds
she is one angry
this mama mockingbird,
scaring the bejeezus
out of grouchy old mama cat
sheltering herself
on the front porch
where the winged terror
cannot quite reach

this old cat,
boss of the porch and the yard
and the neighborhood
cowers behind the rocking chair
the inmates made for Dee
the first time she

the bird perches on the mail box
out front and watches,
(yes, this bird growls -
I heard her do it),
and swoops like a dive bomber
at the cat
whenever she leaves the porch
for other shelter

such a tiny little birds,
mockingbirds, with their white-striped
wings and gray torso, pretty
even, in their shades
of drab,
and fierce, too
when they spy a threat
to their offspring…

little things,
I could probably grab and crush it
with one hand when it swoops past me -
but I don’t, thinking
I could draw back a nub...

I duck and run with the cat

Next,  I have several poets from Section  Eleven of the anthology, Earthly Love.

The first poet from Section Eleven is 8th century Persian poet, Rumi.

Three Quatrains


Never too many fish in a swift creek,
never to much water for fish to live in.

No place is too small for lovers,
nor can lovers see too much of the world.


Let the lover e disgraceful, crazy,
absentminded. someone sober
will  worry about events going badly.
Let the lover be.


A night full of talking that hurts,
my worst held-back  secrets:  Everything
has to  do with loving and not loving.
This  night will pass.
Then we have work to do.

     Translated by John Moyne and Coleman Banks

The next poet from Section Eleven is Anne McNaughton.

Born in Arkansas and raised in Houston, MacNaughton worked briefly at the Texas State Library as archivist for historical manuscripts before dropping out of graduate school in 1970 and moving to Libre, an artists' community in Colorado where she started an alternative grade school. Relocating to northern New Mexico in 1979, she has worked as a desk clerk, childcare worker, librarian, baker, prep cook, paralegal, copy editor, book designer, journalist, remedial reading specialist, Indian education tutor, an instructor in Taos High School's international education program and for several years ran her own educational testing and tutoring services business. She co-founded the Taos Poetry Circus in 1982 and has been a poetry activist ever since, currently serving as Director of the World Poetry Bout Association and the annual Taos Poetry Circus. She is a visual artist, organic farmer, teacher, playwright and a founding member of The Luminous Animal jazz-poetry performance ensemble.

& Balls

Actually: it's the balls I look for, always.
Men in the street, offices, cars, restaurants
it's the nuts I imagine...
firm, soft, in hairy sacks
the way they are
down there rigged between the thighs,
the funny way they are.
One in front, a  little in front of the other,
slightly higher. they way they slip
between your fingers, the way they
slip around in their soft sack.
The way they swing when he walks,
hang down when he bends
over. You see them sometimes bright pink
out of a pair of shorts
when sits wide and unaware,
the hair sparse and wiry
like that on a Poland china pig.
You can see the skin right through - speckled,
with wrinkles like a prune, but loose,
slipping over those kernels
rocking the smooth, small huevos.
So delicate, the cock becomes a diversion,
a masthead overlarge,  its  flag  distracting
from beautiful pebbles  beneath.

The Russian poet Anna Akhmatova is next from Section Eleven.

I Wrung My Hands Under My Dark Veil

I wrung my hands under my dark veil...
"Why are you pale, what makes  you reckless?"
- Because I have made my loved one  drunk
with an astringent sadness.

I'll never forget. He went out,  reeling;
his mouth was  twisted,  desolate...
I  ran downstairs, not  touching rhe banisters,
and followed him as far  as the gate.

and shouted, choking: "I meant it all
in fun. don't leave me, or I'll die of pain."
He smiled at me - oh so calmly,  terribly -
and said: "Why don't you get out of the rain?"

Translated by Max Hayward  and Stanley Kunitz

Also from Section Eleven, D. H.  Lawrence.

To  Women, As  Far As I'm Concerned

The feelings I don't have, I  don't  have.
The feelings I don't have, I won't say I have.
The feelings you say you have,  you don't  have.
The feelings you would like us both to have, we  neither of 
     us have.

The feelings people ought to have,  they never have.
If people  say they've got feelings, you may be pretty sure
     they haven't got them.

So if you want either of us to feel anything at all
you'd better  abandon all idea of  feelings altogether.

And finally, from Section Eleven, this very short piece by Ibn Hazm.

Born in 994, Hazm died in 1064. He  was an Andalusian philosopher, litterateur, psychologist, historian, jurist and theologian born in Córdoba, present-day Spain. He was a leading proponent of the Zahiri school of Islamic thought and produced a reported 400 works of which only 40 still survive, covering a range of topics such as Islamic jurisprudence, logic, history, ethics, comparative religion, and theology, as well as The Ring of the Dove, on the art of love.

Separation by Death

She was pure and white, resembling the sun as it rise.
all other women were merely stars!
Love for her  has  made my heart fly off its permanent branch.
And after stopping a while, it is still hovering in the air!

     Version by Robert Bly
     adapted  from the translation by A.  R. Naki

A poem from last week, a slow, dim morning, only one thing moving, another squirrel poem.

safe passage
crosses parking lot

scramble scramble scramble


tall stand - survey
asphalt horizon

scramble scramble scramble


future - bright eyes
and fluffy tail
a-fluffing dim morning air

hustle hustle hustle
up a tree

find of limb
of safe nesting

the past
gray asphalt
under pale-light-dripping

safe passage
another day


button eyes closed
brown fuzzy belly

a twitch here
a twitch there

squirrel awake

a message here -
I’ll rewrite the poem
if I find it

My next poem is by C.N. Bialik, from the collection of his  work, C.N. Bialik, Selected Poems, published by Overlook Duckworth, Peter Mayer Publishers in 2004.

Bialik was born in the Ukraine in 1873 and died while on a visit to Vienna in in 1934. He is buried in Tel Aviv where he moved in 1924.

He was  a scholar, author, and teacher, as  well  as a businessman. In his later  life he was a public figure, revered as the poet laureate of Jewish nationalism.

The book is  dual-language, the original  Hebrew with translation to English by David Aberbach on facing pages.

I saw you silent...

I saw you silent,desolate tonight
as I  lurked outside your room
    your eyes searching,
bewildered in the window,
    for your lost  soul -

searching recompense
for the devotion of your youth,
    and you did not  see, my love,
how I slapped and struggled at your window
     like a terror-stricken dove.


At twilight...

At twilight come to the window,
    lean against me,
envelop my neck  with your arms,
    press your head against mine -
cleave to me,

And we'll cleave with silent desire,
    we will look up
to the awful radiance, let fly our fantasies
        like doves
over seas of light

to vanish in silence on the horizon,
    in yearning flight,
come to rest on purple ridges
        of cloud,
islands of splendor.

Distant islands, lofty worlds
    of our dreams,
they made  us into strangers
        wherever we went.
They made our lives  hell.

Golden islands we thirsted for
    as for homeland,
all the stars hinted
         at them
with trembling light.

And on these islands we remain
    friendless,like two flowers
in  a desert, two lost  souls  searching
        for an eternal  loss
in a foreign land.

           Summer 1902

from Come on out...

Come on  out, sister bride,
get  up,come out -
i bring word from Spring:
behind my garden fence a flower buds,
above  my roof  a swallow sings.

Morning,  sunbeams guard your door,
rays of joy,  rays of joy,
they kiss the mezuzah:
come out to them bright and pure,
they'll  drench you and renew you
and light up your eyes.

We'll  go together to the spring,
and my song,delicate, happy as you,
with light and breeze, with spring
and sparrow, in open air,
will ring and shine


At the Gate

a baby dove
white and moaning
took me seaward
on boat  wings
to the land of promise.

Tell me, O
waves and fish of the deep,
how can I come
through the gate
of the treasure land
as my key is broken
and the door locked?

Silence -
dove and boy
still knock
at the gate.


And another from my book, Always to the Light, available for $5.99 or less at eBook...etc.

it was an emergency, officer

so I'm heading
from my afternoon
coffee den,
turning on Hildebrand
from San Pedro,
when Dee calls,  just home
from a couple of  days in Houston
on business and says Reba's
going nuts, talk to her,
so I say prrrrrreeeety Reba,
goooooood girl, preeeeeety baby,
gooooood puppy, and she runs
to the door looking for me, calm
now, sure I'm right outside and
will be walking through the door soon,
and Dee says, thanks, get yourself
something to eat on the way home,
I'm too tired to eat, and I say OK
and head for Popeye's to pick up
a couple pieces, dark meat, spicy,
and I'm thinking as I  load my drumsticks
in the car, thinking what I would say
to a police officer after he pulled
me over, I know, officer, I would say,
I know I shouldn't be talking on my cell
while I'm driving, but it was an

I needed to talk to my dog

Next, a couple more short poems from the anthology, The Rag and Bone Shop of the Hear.

These poets are from Section Fourteen, "The Spindrift  Gaze Toward Paradise."

My first poet from this section is the Chinese Master, Li Po.

Conversation in the Mountains

If you were to ask  me why I dwell among green mountains,
I should laugh silently; my soul is serene.
the peach blossom follows the moving water;
There is another heaven and the earth beyond the world of men.

     Translated by Robert Payne

Next from Section Fourteen is this by James Wright.


While I stood here,  in the open, lost  in myself,
I must have looked  a long time
Down the corn rows, beyond  grass,
The small house,
White  walls, animal slumbering toward the barn.
I look  down now. It  is all  changed.
Whatever it  was I lost, whatever  I  wept for
Was a wild,  gentle thing, the small dark eyes
Loving me in secret.
It is here. At  a touch of my hand,
the air fills with delicate creatures
From the other world.

Next, this by Bob Dylan.

Three Angels

Three angels up above the street,
Each one playing a horn,
Dressed in green robes with wings that stick out,
They've been there  since  Christmas morn.
The wildest cat from Montana passes by in a flash,
then a lady in a bright orange dress,
One U-Haul trailer, a truck with no wheels,
The Tenth Avenue bus going west.
The dogs  and pigeons fly up and they flutter around,
A man with a badge skips by,
three fellas  crawlin'  on their way back  to work,
Nobody stops  to ask why.
the bakery truck  stops  outside of that fence
Where the angels  stand high on their poles,
The driver peeks out, trying to find one face
In this concrete world full of souls.
The angels  play on their horns all day,
the whole earth in progression seems to pass by.
But does anyone hear the music they play,
Does  anyone even try?

And last from this section of the anthology, Felix Pollak.

Pollak, a poet and librarian, was born in Vienna, Austria in 1909. A Jew and liberal anti-fascist, he studied law and theater at the University of Vienna, but emigrated to the United States after the occupation of Austria by Nazi Germany. He worked as a door-to-door salesman in New York City before attending the University of Buffalo, where he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in library sciences in 1941.

While working as a librarian, Pollak was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1943, where he worked as a translator for German prisoners of war. After the war, he attended the University of Michigan, where he received a master's degree in library science in 1949. Pollak also received a Dr.Jur. from the University of Vienna in 1953.

From 1949 to 1959, Pollak worked as a rare books librarian at Northwestern University. He became a rare books librarian at the University of Wisconsin in 1959, where he remained until 1974. One of his primary duties was developing the Sukov collection of literary magazines (now called the Little Magazine collection, which remains to date one of the world's finest collections for small literary magazines and the publications of independent poetry presses. After his retirement, Pollak remained in Madison, Wisconsin until his death in 1987.

In addition to his work as a librarian, Pollak published his  poems widely in prominent literary journals and published seven volumes of his own poetry.

The Dream

He dreamed of
an open window.
A vagina, said
his  psychiatrist.
Your divorce,  said
his mistress.
Suicide, said
an ominous voice within him.
It  means your should close the window
or you'll catch a cold, said
his mother.
His wife said
He dared not tell her
such a
dangerous poem

Here's my last this week from my eBook, Always to the Light...etc.

Another poem featuring my old cat, since deceased, and I do miss her soft and silky presence.

the god of obedient service

I  like the way
my cat comes
and stares at me
when her food or water
bowls is empty

no sound,,
just the sharp
of her yellow

confidence she shows in
a god
of obedient service
who will sense
her need
and respond -
a little late, perhaps,
but still,
no prayers

a lesser god,
this god of excellent
customer service,
those on the mount,
no  doubt, than
the god of dog show
but not so strong
as the god of don't
burn the pot roast,
welcome, like service dogs,
where many of the greatest
those nosey,
pushy ones,
who always want it their way
are not

us atheists
will welcome into our household
a god
who will find our lost  car keys
us ever having to admit
our weakness
by asking

This poem is by John Ashbery. It's from his book, And the Stars Were Shining,  published by the Noonday Press  in 1994.

Like a Sentence

How  little we know,
and when we know it!

It was pettily said that "no man
hath and abundance of cows on the plain, nor shards
in his cupboard." Wait! I think I know who  said that! It was...

Never mind,  dears, the afternoon
will  fold you up,  along with preoccupations
that now seem so important, until only a child
running around on a unicycle occupies center stage.
Then what will  you make  of walls? And I fear you
will have to  come up with something,

be it  a terraced gambit above the sea
or gossip overhead in the marketplace.
For you to see, it becomes you to be chastened
for the old to envy the young,
and for youth to fear not getting older,
where the paths through the elms, the carnivals, begin.

And it was said of Gyges that his ring
attracted those who saw him not,
just as those who wandered through him were aware
only of a certain stillness, such as precedes an earache,
while lumberjacks in headbands come down to see what all the fuss
     was about,
whether it was something they could be part of
sans affront to self-esteem.
And those temple hyenas who had seen enough,
nostrils aflare, fur backing up in the breeze,
were no place you could count  on,
having taken a proverbial powder
as rifle butts received another notch.

I, meanwhile...I was going to say I  had squandered spring
when summer came along and took  it from me
like a terrier a lady has asked one to hold for a moment
while  she adjusts her stocking in the mirror of a weighing machine.
But here it is winter,  and wrong
to speak of other seasons as though they exist.
Time has only an agenda
in the wallet  at his back,  while we
who think we know  where  we  are going unfazed
end up in brilliant woods,  nourished more than we can know
by the unexpectedness of ice and stars
and crackling tears. We'll just have to make a go of  it,
a run for it. And should the smell  of baking cookies appease
one or the other of the  olfactory senses,climb down
into the workload of prisoners.

The meter will be screamingly clear then,
the rhythms unbounded, for though we dame
to  life as a school, we must leave it without graduating
even as an ominous wind puffs out the sails
of proud feluccas who don't know where they're headed,
only that a motion is etched there, shaking to be free.

Sometimes you see someone or something of such great beauty, all other considerations seem irrelevant.

tall and slim,
long neck
like a swan
on a placid lake,
hair cut close
to well-shaped skull,
and dark from some
royal African lineage, moving
across the room with
the slow grace
of great beauty in its own
liquid realm

or female,
I can’t tell -
with such beauty,
who cares about details

Next,  I have two poets from Section Fifteen, "Zaniness," of the anthology, The Rag and Bone Shop  of the Heart.

The first  poet is Langston Hughes,


I don't have to work.
I  don't have to  do nothing
but eat,  drink, stay black and die.
this  little old furnished room's
so small I can't whip  a cat
without getting fur in my mouth
and my landlady's so old
her features is all run together
and God knows she sure can overcharge -
Which is why I reckon I does
have to  work after all.

And the second poet is Russell  Edson.

Born in 1935 in Connecticut, Edson is a poet, novelist, writer and illustrator.

He studied art early in life and attended the Art Students League as a teenager. He began publishing poetry in the 1960s. His honors as a poet include a Guggenheim fellowship and several fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts.

The Ox

There was once a woman whose father over the years had be-c
come an ox.
           She would hear him alone at night lowing in his room.

           It was one day that she looked up into his face that she
suddenly noticed the ox.
           She cried, you're an ox.
           And he began to moo with his great pink tongue hanging
out of his mouth.

           He would stand over  his newspaper, turning the pages with
his tongue, while he evacuated on the rug.
           When this was  brought to his attention he would low with
sorrow, and slowly climb the stairs to his room, and there spend
the night in mournful lowing.

This is my last poem this week from my eBook, Always to the Light.

how I came to dream of gnawing Bambi's bloody bones

does a number
of unhelpful things
to the body,
one such,
a reduction of testosterone
levels in men

some results
of this insufficiency are
mental fogginess,
weakness  due to loss
of muscle mass,
and an overpowering desire
to crochet coffee  table

of more  serious
long-term concern is that
one of testosterone's functions
is lubrication of the brain and when testosterone levels
so does this brain lubrication
allowing the brain to dry up,
becoming all crumbly and cracky
like play dough
left out too long in the sun

the simple solution, a little
steroid juice
applied daily
returns one to a state of vim
and vigor,
reverses muscle deterioration,
and produces the important wet
brain condition
as all the gray cells are bathed on
a regular basis,
thus avoiding the otherwise
certain state
of brain-crumble and crackle

aside from developing the
hairiest back
and knuckles
within twenty-seven square
and the daily urge to go into the 
and shoot Bambi,
negative side-effects are

I am,
left with  a number of carefully
coffee table
I'm thinking of putting on eBay

but that's another problem 

Last from my  library,  I have  my favorite San Antonio poet, as  well as one of my favorites of all, Naomi Shihab Nye. The poem  is from her  book, Words Under the Words, published in 1995 by The Eight Mountain Press.

Coming into Cuzco

"Being born is going blind and bowing down a thousand times."
                                                                         Townes Van Zandt

We  woe early and found the streets already crowded
with taxis,  travelers, Indians loading yams.
At the airport  we  waited for the plane that would lift us
out of those mountains and I was a broken jug,
nothing  could fill me. I wandered among the  Europeans
in their new alpaca sweaters, thinking everyone  has  a sweater,
this is Peru. You stood with your hands sunk in you pockets,
your  brown hat tipped back on your head.
How easily you joined the ticket  line, how easily you mentioned coffee,
but I was watching a funeral,black-cloaked  Indians
comforting an old  man with white hair
who had  just stepped off the plane followed by a casket.
I was listening to the herd of  them wailing on the runway,
thinking the man in the center was the same shape  as my father,
thinking, this is Peru, this is more than Peru.
I could not speak it.that morning my mouth was a buried spoon.
I wanted to throw my life down in front of me
and rear up straight like  an animal before he gallops  into the woods.
But the plane rose and we were riding  it.
They gave us sugar candies because we were so high, so high.
I looked down on that  land I was  beginning  to  recognize
and wondered  at all the grief I have not  yet experienced,
how it would be to be riding next to the body of the one you have loved
on the day it no longer carries a breath, and I said to myself,
you know nothing, you are your own dead  weight.

When we landed I was  still dragging the sack of stones,
unable  to joke or focus on the guidebook.
"Finding Your Way," it said, and I thought
this will take more than a map.

We were riding a bus into the city.
A baby pressed among the passengers shouted Vamos! every time the bus
Suddenly a laugh,  a stranger,  was sliding into my throat.
I though how far we had  come and finally we were coming into Cuzco.
A young  girl pushed forward toward the door.
I  saw the bright nosegay of flowers she guarded carefully.
Vamos! and she handed me one perfect pink rose,
because we  had  noticed each other, and that was all.
One rose coming into Cuzco and I was thinking
it  should not  be so  difficult to be happy in this world.

I  intended to do only one poem, but here are a couple of bonus pieces. She is my favorite San Antonio poet, after all.


A Kickapoo grandmother pulled
deerhide  moccasins out of her bosom,
said, If you  really want thee
to fit your feet,
walk in the dew a little,
walk in the dew.

She lived in a cattail hut
ringed by mountains.
there was no road to her  house.

I think of her  every day
as I touch the forks and curtains,
the pens and melons
that  line this life,
feeling how we  grow together,
things and the life beyond things,
one gradually fitted motion
moving home across the grass.

At Mother Teresa's

Finally there are enough people to hug!
A room of two-year-olds with raised arms...
we swing  them  into  the air,
their  grins  are windows
in a city of  crumbling walls.
One girl  stays  in the corner
crouched over her shoes.
Hard to keep shoes in this world,
people steal them, they walk away.
Her flaming hair is a house
she lives  in all  around.
When  I  touch it she  looks  up,
suspicious,  then lifts
a stub  of chalk from  her shoe.
Makes three  jagged  lines on the floor.
Can I  read? I not  rapidly,
imagining love me, love  me,  yes,
but she is  too alone to  believe it.
Her  face closes.  I will  never  guess.


You Have to Be Careful

You have to be careful telling things.
Some ears  are tunnels.
Your words  will  go  in and get lost  in the dark.
Some ears are flat pans like the miners  used
looking for gold.
What you say will be washed away with the stones.

You look a long time till you find the right ears.
Till then,thee  are birds and lamps to be spoken  to,
a patient cloth rubbing  shine in circles,
and the slow,  gradually growing  possibility
that when you  find  such ears,
they already know.

By time  this is posted, the  place in question will  be  closed. Makes me sad. I've never understood how a person could sit in a room at home, all alone, and  write. I need a little rub of life around me or I don't have anything to write about. I've spent hours and days in coffee houses. Some were okay, some were not. The  Foundry, now closed, was the best.

This poem tries to find the bigger questions, but what it is, despite that, is just a simple lament.

sic transit mundi
as ideas of community
lose out to silo-constricted
cliques of like-minded souls
who know only souls like their own,
souls who never shock each other, where out-
rage is always outer-directed, where
one never questions another
on anything more serious than
the price of tomatoes
at the market, where all is smoothed
and settled,
where the rub
of friction never produces
new and better
where our culture
and we in our hearts and minds
become impoverished

in this time
when mass culture
pushes us to conform
to the uniform trivialities
that invade our lives,
our anti-silo instincts struggle,
places that strive for mixing bowl
diversity of young and old, straight
and queer, rich and poor, punk

and preppy, neckties and overalls 
believers and deniers, pious and profane,
black and white and all
the colors between, animal lovers,
people lovers, art lovers, those
who draw, those who paint, those
who labor in the sun to build
with their hands, those who sell
and those who buy, those lonely,
seeking a place where friends
can be found or made, and
those who seek solitude and quiet
contemplation, those who sign
petitions and those against whom
petitions are gathered - humanity
that comes from everywhere
to be together somewhere,
such places struggle against the
time, struggle to keep their heads
above the tides of same-o same-o
now like then, me like you, always,
such places more often fail
than survive

like my favored coffee house,
the community that gathered
around it abandoned
by the church that
created it,
for good

sic transit mundi

and forever amen

Another week added to the old  ledger  of blogdom.

As always, everything belongs to its creators. My stuff is available to ever who wants it, just need to give  proper credit to "Here  and Now" and me.

As always, me is allen itz, owner  and  producer of this blog since May, 2006.

As always, I have books  to sell, which is  not  nearly as much fun as writing  them.

Here's the Allen Itz collection, one print book, four eBooks, available as below:

Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Sony eBookstore and Apple iBookstore for iPad,iPhone, i-etc, as well as  Kobo, Copia, Gardner's, 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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