Parks and Recreation   Wednesday, August 22, 2012

My anthology this week is Risk, Courage, and Women,  published by the University of North Texas Press in 2007. It is a collection of contemporary prose and poetry by women. You will recognize many of the poets I pull from the anthology from their previous appearances in "Here and Now."

My photos this  week  are from Brackenridge Park in San Antonio.

Brackenridge is a 343 acre public park in Midtown San Antonio. It was created in 1899 from land donated to the city by George Brackenridge.

Located just below the headwaters of the San Antonio River, the park and surrounding area has been a gathering place since prehistoric times. There is evidence of human visitation and occupation extending back at least 11,000 years. Native American artifacts dating as early as 9200 B.C. have been found in the Olmos Basin and near Hildebrand Avenue. Today the park,  in addition to  being the  site of  the San Antonio Zoo, is primarily  a very large wooded area with many walking and biking trails, with picnic sites in the woods and along the banks of the slow-flowing river.

San Antonio  is a city of parks, and Brackenridge is one  of the largest and most beautiful. I realized as I strolled through parts of it for these  pictures that in the years I've  lived in San Antonio I haven't spent  nearly as much time there as I should of.

Also this week, I have my normal  library poets, new poems from me, and a stack of rejects from one of my last books. They're not so bad, so I'm giving them another chance here.

Here' what's up.

I’ll be sad if I see it coming

Naomi Shihab Nye

quickly and surely I sidestep the rant

Rosemarie Waldrop
from As If  We Didn’t Have To Talk


Janice H. Brazil

news from the hutch

Linda Rodriguez
Coyote in Black Leather
Outside Your House at Midnight, Coyote

the elephants sing

Demetrice Anntia Worley
standing ground

Barbara Lovenheim
red dirt road


Lynn Crosbie
For Jayne Mansfield


Wendy Barker
ithaca, on the landing

morning chores

Philippe Jaccottet
from Seedtime - Extracts from the Notebooks 1954-1967

hoodat hoosay hoodat

Ruth Kessler
unlike cain angel-like


Donald Justice
Sonnet: An Old-Fashioned Devil
Two Songs from Don Juan in Hell

the rug

Rosemary Catacalos
Swallow Wings

4 a.m.

Some strange stuff going on in my template in a couple of places again.  Can't figure out what the problem is  or how to fix it so I'm just going to pretend it never happened. Your cooperation with  that  is appreciated.

What could possibly be more interesting to a mortal human being than death.

Maybe it's just me.

I will  be sad if I see it coming

I will be sad
if I see it
sorry for my loss,
sad about the loss
of all the things that were ever
meaningful to me,
sad about things I will never
do again,
sorry about things I did
I shouldn’t of done;
sad about what I should’ve done
but didn’t

but I won’t be

it is not,
as some have compared, like
going into a dark room
or a dark night
where fearful things
for all that -
are things of life, worries
of the living,
and death is about
of those living things,
because death
is about nothing, it is
about an end of all my things,
the cessation of all
that brings me sadness
and sorrow, about
the end of all
that was

the end of the universe
of me
and all my constellations,
a sad thing
but not to be denied...

like the best movie
I ever saw,
it had to have beginning
and it had to have
and end
and no matter how
I wish it were not so,
when I walk from the cool
auditorium into a
sunny afternoon,
it is so,
because movies
cannot go on forever,
all that has a
must an end, like my life,
beginning 68 years
ago, advancing since then
to the end I share
with you,
the final act of
our living
and nothing to be
afraid of…

whenever it happens,
I will leave with the consolation
that even as my consciousness
fades, putting an end to the universe of me,
the holy and indestructible elements
of me
will disperse again,
to bloom again, making,
in the endless
universe of future possibility,
a sunflower, perhaps, in a place
so far away,
growing under the life-enriching
glow of some other sun,
shining in some other time and place…

although there will be no me
to know it then,
knowing it now is enough
for me

My first poet from this week's anthology is familiar to "Here and Now" readers for she is one of my favorites. Naomi Shihab Nye, born of Lebanese parents, grew up in St. Louis and Jerusalem and has lived from many years in San Antonio. This poem is from her book 19 Varieties  of Gazelle: Poems of the Middle East,which I have used here often.


She scrubbed as hard  as she could
     with a stone.
Dripping the cloth, twisting the cloth.
She knew the cloth  much better than most,
having stitched its vines of delicate birds.

The red,  the blue, the purple beaks.
A tiny bird  with head  held  high.
A second bird wit fanning wings.
Her fingers felt the folded  hem.

The  water in her pan was cool.
She  stood outside by the  lemon tree.
Children chattered around her there.
She told the children, "Take care! Take care!"

What would she think of the world today?
She died when she was one hundred and six.
So many stains would never  come out.
She stared at he sky, the darkening  rim.

She called the children,  "Come in! Come in!"
She stood on the roof,  tears on her face.
What was  the thing she never gave up?
The simple love of her difficult  place.

Here's one of those old rejects I found. All of the rejects should be from 2010 or before.

quickly and surely I sidestep the rant

I was thinking
I might write a poem
about the abortion  clinic
I  pass  every day after morning coffee,
usually surrounded by anti-abortion protesters
waving signs with pictures of dismembered babies
and other such deeply intellectual arguments
and even though I'm against abortion myself, I
do suffer from an inability
to consider only one side of a question,
making me no friend of those little bands
of papal hustlers determined to insure
a steady supply of poor babies
who can be put in the service of maintaining
a steady flow of golden tribute to the pope's palaces

but I decided that,
despising equally the soul-suckers of all sects,
I would certainly slip into rant mode
should I attempt that particular poem- it
is a slippery slope for sure...

rather than get myself into deep shit
with the more godly inclined
I'm just going to take note
of something I  saw while walking Reba
yesterday -

she was just riding along with me,
on our way to a place where we often
do a morning walk and, all of a sudden,
she started crying and moaning and I
was thinking she's really got to do some
business so maybe we ought to just stop
right here and take a little walk and poop
and pee or whatever it is that is causing
her such deep and vocal distress

so we stopped

and it was a  little upscale shopping center
but Reba was not intimidated by the
upper crusty
of the place
(she is after all queen of all she surveys)

but when I saw the little store
dedicated exclusively
to the sale of gourmet doggie treats,
I quickly hustled her back into the truck
before she saw the sign
and developed a whole new set of life-
expectations, demanding
only the finest
gourmet road kill as her due...

you have to watch
these things
you know
or you'll end up  with a furry,
four-footed Queen of the Nile
instead of the old fish-breath dog
whose queenly assumptions
are mostly a matter  of $-store
dog bone in the morning,
a favorite smelly pillow at night
and a little bit of personal attention
whenever she is feeling down
(as even the humbler queens
sometimes do)


so the anti-religion rant
is avoided today,
replaced by a good dog story
instead, and the poet
is left to thinking, if  god was
more like a good dog,
welcoming in the morning
and satisfied with a good ear-scratch
before going to bed,
there wouldn't be any reason to be
at all

(but one does have to wonder
what would happen to
the institution of marriage
were a god such as that
to the average man)

The first  book from my library this week is Another Language, written by Rosmarie Waldrop and published by Talisman House, Publishers in 1997.

 Born in 1935 in Germany, Waldrop has lived in the United States  since 1958. She is co editor and publisher of Burning Deck Press, as well as the author or coauthor (as of 2006) of 17 books of poetry, two novels, and three books of criticism. She earned a Ph.D. at the University of Michigan in 1966.

I have several poems from her book.

from As If We Didn't Have to Talk

In order not to
I think each movement of
my hands
the page
the interval has  all the rights


The belly of an "a" and
throws the words I stand on
into the white
silence charged  with
all the
possible rains in the world
go on
fall back on
words always already there
the precise spot
as in a fog that
eyes burn
I carry your name away
from out intersection


The years on my face
no spectacular stories adorable
the road just
goes on
without asking
for approval
opaque pulsations
the quality of light not much different
in the distance
it's enough that we're
you don't have to
frenzy of moths close to
while you touch me


Nothing started yet
silence holds
my breath
waits to speak
to be able to
the essential detour


The way this city plays
with our bodies
so much rain the smell of wet
cement  stays in the streets
out of the old shell
we're always walking n a crowd
bookstalls  river iron work
on balconies
nothing has stopped over
the years (surprise)
light seems to lean against
absence of gesture
is a move
what's said is out of the game
it hangs on
but that proves nothing
like everyone we adjust
to  just those questions
we choose to see
boats on the East River
barges on the Seine
garage in the Seekonk
float on into the sky
in my dreams too we walk
along  the roadless widening
angle of the light
to run
legs spider long
breath in our ears
drive by some force again
and  again
to the same sentences


Air rises
irresistible  with distance
place to
a long  time
at the edge of

I think we all need little dose off fiction to keep  us going.


of all the miseries
in the world
is there any worse
than for the one
who lives without

no thought
that a day may come
when a lost love
might return,
no anticipation
that they might enjoy
someday again
that one great meal
their mother used to make
before her passing,
no hope
for the cool breeze
and blue sky
of another spring…

I am a
different kind,
beholden to expectation
as an excuse
to open my eyes each morning
to a new day,
to put on my shoes and socks
and walk whatever
path the night laid out for me
as I slept…

that is not to say
I don’t know
the truth of things,
that I am not
and never will be
a great poet of my time,
that I will never dance
like Astaire, or play the piano
again, or even take the lessons
that might help me play for the first time,
or be a great artist such as I would
love to be, that I will not find
treasure buried in my back yard
or win the lottery or even that the IRS
will forgive all that I owe them, or that
any one of my books might get reviewed
in the New York Time book section
and sell a dozen or more copies…

I know the truth of things
and understand the foolish
and unlikely nature of my dreams,
I know that it is August
and that spring is yet months away,
but I believe it is coming,
that a blue sky and cool breeze
is coming, and that’s enough..

it is all these
expectations, all
my certain knowledge
of uncertain things,
even my silly dreams,
that leave, in my life, little room
for lasting despair

My next poet from the anthology is Janice Hoskin Brazil, one of the editors  off  the book and by unplanned coincidence,  another San Antonian (as are all three  of the editors of the book).

She says she  grew up the middle child of a career army soldier, living in Germany for seven years. She has a degree in European history from San Jose State University, as well as her masters degree. She says she was in her thirties with two children before she discovered her love of writing. Since then she has been published widely. She is also actively involved in Girl Scouts, Amnesty International,the Peoria YMCA board, and San Antonio Friends in Hospice program.


The old woman
face  lined,
hair thin and wispy,
fingers gnarled, bent by arthritis,
back stooped ever so slightly,
looks up from  her plate and asks,
Care for another piece  of  pie?

Holding my stomach with my hands,
I chuckle. You still make the best pies.

She laughs and I see
not a 95-year-old woman,
but an image in an old photo.
Wearing the gown she wore
to  a West  Point military ball,
a beautiful seventeen yer old
smiled into the camera,
ready to drink in life.

Can't make a good crust anymore though,
she says, rubbing her crooked fingers together.

What where your dreams then, Grandma?
Dancing that night did you know you were holding
a ghost whose memory would be captured
in the name of another man's son?
Swirling, your cadet dies in France
in a war to end all wars.
Who could predict
fifty years later you lose
another soldier in a country you know nothing  about?
Would that seventeen-year-old
have danced long into the night
if she had known war could  be so jealous
as to strike out twice against her?

It's been downhill ever since I turned 90.
She laughs at her own  joke.

The image fades and the face
of a frail old lady stares across
the table at me.
It is still beautiful.
Life is good, Janice,
she says and loses herself
to  memories for a moment.

My voice cracking, I answer,
Maybe one more small piece.

Here's another book  reject, this one, from the subject, probably from 2009.

news from the  rabbit hutch

the three  people
in the booth in front of me
turned around,
craned their necks
to look at  something outside,
something behind me
in the parking lot

I did not turn to look
and it was the hardest thing
I've done, or,  in this instance,
not done in

we are such rabbits,
most of us
ready to hippity-hop
in flop-eared
along with whoever
of our bunny-tailed cousins
heads out first
in whichever direction
for whatever reason...

born followers, as a rule,
ready to hop to
whenever called by
one of the rarities
of our kind -

a leader

raises his head
to issue a call

analytical instincts
set aside;
moral  qualms
common sense
like a recalcitrant mule;
and we  respond -
we come to the leader's call,
we say,
now tell us what  to think,
tell us what to do...

it is our misfortune
that leadership
is not  a moral dimension,
but merely an amalgam
of  attitude
and theater,
so for every Christ on earth
we have Brown Shirts marching;
for  every Gandhi
the killing fields of Cambodia;
for every Martin Luther King
the multitudinous brothers and sisters
of Bull Connors...

it is why today
we have talk of "death panels"
and "killing grandma"
and other such corruptions
of intellect and morality
and common sense -

corrupt leadership
is as  powerful and
alike in kind
as a leadership of the


never trust
anyone over thirty,
we said,
a prescription softened when all of us
who so advised
grew older  than  that  ourselves

as I've grown older and more cynical
I've come to believe the warning
was mostly correct, wrong  only in its
age qualification -

better, I think, in these days,
is not  trust
at all

The next poet from my library is Linda Rodriguez, with two poems from her  book, Heart's Migration, published by Tia Chucha Press of Los Angeles in 2009.

Rodriguez was born in Fowler, Kansas, in 1947. She graduated from Manhattan High School, and attended Kansas State University before dropping out to hitch-hike to Haight Ashbury in the 60s. Since 1970, she has lived in Kansas City, where she was director of the University of Missouri-KC Women’s Center. Rodriguez is vice-president of the Latino Writers Collective, and she has published in numerous journals and anthologies, including Primera Página: Poetry from the Latino Heartland. Her new collection Heart’s Migration won the Elvira Cordero Cisneros Award. She is of Western Cherokee descent.

Her most recent book is a mystery titled, Every Last Secret.

In these two poems she writes of the coyote, the trickster, in human form.

Coyote in Black Leather

Coyote slides on black leather
over the T-shirt
that reins  in biceps, shoulders, chest.
Dark jeans and biker boots cover the rest
of his  long, lithe body as he invades
your everyday, suburban life
like a growl.
You avert your eyes, pretend
you don't watch
his  tight, hard body, his mocking face.
You know he's  bad, doesn't  belong.
Besides, seeing him makes your face  too
red, your breath too
short, your bones too
soft, your  clothes  too tight. You pretend
not to peek,  don't want him to catch you looking
at the hungry way he stares at you.
Coyote has no class.

Coyote is your secret.
You tell him it's more exciting that way.
He lifts the eyebrow bisected by a scar and stares
you into silence. He knows
you're ashamed. He thinks
you're ashamed of him.
Coyote takes you
to  dangerous places.
In dark, dirty bars, he threatens drunks
and fights to protect you.
Coyote  takes you
where no one else can.
Coyote takes you
where you can't admit you want to  go.

Outside Your House at Midnight,Coyote

stands in shadows,only the red eye
of his cigarette showing his presence.
He watches lights in windows
downstairs and your silhouette
against  curtains as you move
from room to room,  readying for bed.
He grinds cigarette into the ground
with his boot,  to join the others
littering  the spot where he lurks,
across the street, vacant  lot,
under trees along the fence line.

As you switch off lights,
room by room, and climb  stairs
to your  bed,Coyote moves out
of the shadows, closer to you
by a few feet more. The outer  rays
of the light on the corner
catch his sharp  features,  golden hair,
the hunger on his face.

He watches you light click  on upstairs.
Closing his eyes, Coyote can see within
your walls as you undress and slide under
covers. Tendons in his neck stand out,
rigid with tension, and he swallows his own
wanting with pain. He opens his eyes
to  the dark again, watches  your last light
wink out, whispers something  so soft
even he won't hear, stays to witness
the vulnerability of your restless body.

Sleep. Coyote's standing watch.

I was in my new coffeehouse several  days ago, when the owner, a singer and music educator, sat at a table in front of me and sang, with a friend, a Spanish  love song. It  was a moment when the air stopped breathing.

the elephants sing

the elephants sing in a low rumble
that their fellows feel
through their feet;
we hear only the smallest
and highest register
of their songs
but feel the rest,
if we are close enough,
through sympathetic vibrations
in our chest, elephant
song, heart-stirring, felt, even if
mostly unheard

the wonder of song,
the elephants singing, the whales,
the dolphins, the birds, and Chavela Vargas,
re-inventor of the ranchera, exploring
in melodic interpretation
the many shades of mystery and romance
in traditional Mexican music, dead
yesterday in her 94th year and the beautiful
Susannah McCorkle, her voice like
a jazz angel singing softly in your ear,
her voice stilled by her own hand,
by her secret depressions…

and so many more,
the singers
and the songs…

and the question about us,
about our urge to sing
when we need only to talk,
our wanting to rejoice through song
in the pains and pleasures
of our lives,
to the singer’s songs
that bring,
like the elephants low rumble,
a trembling to our hearts

Next, I have short poems from two of the poets in the anthology.

The first of the poets is Demetrice Anntia Worley. Born and raised on Chicago's westside, at the time of  publication, she was associate professor of English  at Bradley University. She previously earned a BA in English from Bradley University, an  MA, also in English, at the University of Illinois, Urbana and a DA, again in English, Illinois State University. She has published widely, both poetry and in scholarly publications. 

standing ground

Little brown children, hear the elder's  wise
voices.  They have earned the privilege to  sit
on porches, to tell,what  you call stories,
but what they name life - black  men and women

farmed poor Mississippi  soil; weighted down their
tongues with no sir / no ma'am; separate but
unequal was the norm; as janitors,
maids, factory laborers, they protected

their families with food, homes, education.
They survived so we could live.The stood  their
ground. We create our tomorrow  when we
heed our elders' / ancestors' shrew proverb -

"Standing, with their  roots  firmly planted,is
the reason why Balboa  trees don't fall."

The second of the two poets is Barbara Lovenheim, at the time of publication a Professor in the English Department at Monroe Community College, where she teaches critical and  creative writing in addition to Honors  courses in Critical  Theory and Witchcraft. She has  a BA from  Ohio  University,an MA from Tufts University, and a PHD from the University of Rochester. She is widely published,  both as  a  poet and as a scholar.

red dirt road

On Red Dirt Road where it  crosses  Upper Terra,
I stepped out of my fragile self
and buried my sins in the yielding earth,
fingers flecked with bits of soil:
dust to dust.

I counted out stones for a miniature cairn
marking time and space
watching as  a beetle gingerly made its  way
through the burial ground.

Sitting on my haunches, feet flat to the ground,
I wondered if  spirits could rise from the dead
to haunt the heart of  the  now alive.

Here's a new one from last week.


I don’t see
famous people
so much anymore

since most of the famous
I used to see
are mostly dead

and most of the new
famous people
don’t want to have
to do with old
like me

I make do
mostly knowing
not-so-famous people
just like me

(we are thinking
of forming a club,
and them,
like a slower-moving
motorcycle gang,
of old not-so-famous
and terrorize
nursing homes
where even older

The next poem from my library is by Lynn Crosbie and it is taken from her book, Miss  Pamela's  Mercy. The book was published in 1992 by Coach House Press of Toronto.

Crosbie  is a Canadian poet and novelist, born in Montreal, and now living in Toronto. She received her Ph.D in English from the University of Toronto, writing her PhD thesis on the work of the American poet Anne Sexton. Most of the poems in her book are too long  for "Here and Now." This one, shorter  than most, is a good representation of her interests and style.

For Jane Mansfield

the boards  of the stage groaned and were
spotted in a grey-blue light. out
throats tightened, when the backdrop
fell down,  smeared, slats of colour
- a mansion like a stone in a fishbowl,
a torn car's shell,  fire and water
and she comes.

she carries here head in her hands,
its jagged edges tucked awkwardly
under. her gown spreads like a puddle,
molded red on her cadaverous rounds.
her finger bones clutch and tear it
from, a skeleton. in a dot shift,
and her wax mouth shudders and gapes.

she told us about the crash, that
metal flaps,  an accordion, cut her.
the radio was on when it, a girl's
mouth twisted into a ribbon in the
wheels, she also showed us pink,
a terrible color,  so bloodless and
chill. like the skin on the moon.
I give her a mural, done from memory.
she totters off,  wall in her arms
leaves a sweet profusion of smiles.
clumps of alabaster, drawn with a

brush of albino hair. the texture
of formica. and lips rise like big red
pudding. your sanguine eyes,  so  black
and misplaced, olives lost in ice
cream.  they look wetly on, past your
bounce and cross,  roots grazing at
your formidable brain.

she's walking an ocelot up and down
my sidewalk when I'm trying to sleep.
her heels are thunderous, and my irises
ache from her tin-foil  bikini. legs
bounding, dimpled, then pared to the
marrow. he said, the difference was
one of class and that you didn't have
any. how could he feel her,  all
stuffed and dejected. look, when the
camera turns her shoulders slump and
her eyes sink like tar  pits.
but your body won't stay still. it
beats a platinum tattoo on the grave,
and shines, a wreath of rhinestones.
they buried you on a cold bleak day,
but you'd have wanted calypso music.
and dancers in tight pants,  supposedly.
straining at the grey edges, on the
brink of a glass resurrection.  push
Plato aside. and wear the robe, and
light the candles. a wind is screaming,
and inverted valentines have covered
the world.

Time for another book reject. I like it, but it didn't make the cut.


always liked that

sounds like some
African antelope
or anteater
from  South American
or maybe a bird
high in the trees
on some small South Pacific
island, crying

maybe I caught it
from the birds

12 hours sleep
last night
and another this afternoon
and I feel like I ought to go
back to bed right now

the sun seems dimmed,
sound smothered
as if through a thick wool blanket,
brain like a blind dog
in the fog,
all sharpness
all passion
buried in a burlap  bag
on a dull plain
suburban crab grass

I think
I'll  quit this poem

my fingers
are tired of typing

The next poem from the anthology is by Wendy Barker.

I've used Barker's poems here often, but this poem is from a book of hers I don't have, The Way of  Whiteness.

Her poem is based on the story of Penelope, faithful wife of Ulysses, who was courted by many men during his absence. They were asked to wait until she completed her weaving, but each night she unravelled that day's work.

ithaca, on the landing

How was it Penelope waited
upstairs all those years,
before he finally

found his way back?
Every night unravelling the weave,
her fear of fixing to the wrong one

knitting her nerves.
But the wool kept the shape of the warp,
she could not straighten the stands

after so many nights.
All day weaving with more and more
wrinkled skeins, all night pulling out

threads with her fingers,
all the winding
and rewinding, back and forth

across the loom after breakfast,
the sound of the soft
contact between wool and wood,

the rhythm, meshing
color upon color, and then
at night the whole thing in reverse,

everything pulled apart
until blue and silver
strands turned dull, lost their sheen.

Sometimes she would stop, try to see
beyond the window's flat shadow.
She could not know him

through that space, she could not know
who he would be
becoming in those years

of sailing, slipping into fern -
lined coves, dashing his prow
against headlands so splashed

with sun and spume
that at first he couldn't even tell
who live there.

And who was it
he would come home to
after all her nights unravelling?

Sometimes during those
unfinished years,  sometimes under
the weight of a blunt moon,

she thought she heard music,
one of the men on the ground floor
singing,so softly singing,

and once she leaned down
over the upstairs landing to see
how they lounged in her chairs.

She travelled  their faces:
not brutes, not swine,but men,
beards curled across their cheeks.

Some young,  smooth
as the rubbed wood of her loom.
And the lean one with the flute,

long thighs relaxed
in sleep, smiling in his sleep.
What if, at night,

she left her weaving alone?
Let it grow, become whole?
What might the tapestry become

if she stopped saying no
over and over, refusing
the downstairs of her own house?

Another stab at a morning poem from last week.

morning chores

little blackbird
skitters across the parking lot
chasing a crumb
of something blowing
in a sunrise breeze

big daddy
watches, puffs and preens,
does his macho

little blackbird
runs down
the racing crumb
with one quick stab
of her beak, satisfied that the morning
has begun, looks at the
puffed-up prancing
sighs, oh well,
she whistles softly
through her
not quite done yet

The next poems from my library are by Philippe Jaccottet, from his book, Seedtime - Extracts from the Notebooks 1954-1967. The book was published in the United States by New Directions in 1977.

Jaccottet, a poet and translator, was born in  Moudon, Switzerland, in 1925.
After completing his studies in Lausanne, he lived several years in Paris. In 1953, came to live in the town of Grignan in Provence. He has translated into French Goethe, Hölderlin, Mann, Mandelstam, Góngora, Leopardi, Musil, Rilke, and Ungaretti, as well as Homer's Odyssey. As a poet he was awarded the German international Petrarca-Preis in 1988.

The poems in the book were translated from French by Michael Hamburger, the prose by Andre Lefevere.

The pieces  are untitled, arranged by year and month, so that's the way I'll present them.



     The reeds: how their velvety ears burn, allow the slow escape of a stream of seeds, a crop, in the most absolute silence. A woman giving birth:  moans of pain, blood. In absolute silence, sweet, irresistibly slow, the plant bursts and scatters itself on the mercy of the wind.



     Just before eight, when the sky is completely overcast, the world is brown only, a table of earth. A lamp lit in the street here, yellow like a sun without rays, there a guilded door opens, a shadow looks,long, at the weather that will come to the garden.


     The mobile, translucid constellations of rain on the windows, they are only veils on the march, seen from afar, curtains closing.The panting,  irregular wind from the south; the wind from the north, mechanical.



     Frozen snow in the morning.
     At night, after a day of uninterrupted snow, a landscape white, brown and black,  seldom seen here. That weight on the trees,  so light, as if we looked at them through gauze. A joy of childhood over the whole village: old men throw snowballs.



Heart more dark than the violet
(eyes soon closed again by the chasm)
learn to exhale that fragrance
which opens so gentle a way
across the impassable.



     Rain on thousands of leaves and what burns deep down in man. Fire, twisting.

     Eight o'clock. At night. Above the chestnut trees laden with flower, above the perfumes, those emanations, that agitation,  that activity, the surprising blue of heaven, luminous and dark at the same time, profoundly blue, much bluer than during the day, and the clouds with their blinding domes.

     Also that water running in the earth, right in the sun: memory of a mountain stream. Water, and its facets, its blades or scales of sun. Its clues.  Burying its mirrors.

Another book reject, from the same 2009-2010 period as the other rejects.

hoodat hoosay hoodat

     early to bed last night,
barely made it
to  8:30

     really tired

     dreams all night

     woke up 
from a dream
that reminded me
of a place and people
in my past, fond memories

     then realized
that I was only dreaming
I woke up
and all the fond  memories
from the past
were dream memories
inside of a dream
inside of a dream of waking up

     seemed so real
when I dreamed it,
so confusing when I woke up
from the waking-up  dream

     it's like  a door slam
that wakes you up at  2 a.m.
and you have to decide whether
the door really slammed
or did you just dream a slamming

     like the voice
that seems to come from right beside the  bed...

The next poem from this week's anthology is by Ruth Kessler.

Kessler was  born in Poland, grew  up  in Israel, and at the time of publication lived in Rochester, New York.Her poetry, translations and short fiction has appeared in many publications. The recipient of numerous awards and honors, she has completed two poetry collections, a short story collection and a children's book.

unlike cain angel-like

There's a certain race of men
(now I know  my brothers and  sisters)
who harbor in their breast a bit of trembling,
naked water...
Race of ill-omened tenderness, of Abel
returned to life
     Rosario Castellanos

Passover  eve.
A foreign country.
A small apartment in Paris.

welcome: chopped liver,  matza, sweet wine.

history's records
banging on memory's door, crying,
pointing a blaming finger.


the hosts:
a Jew and a Polish gentile married after The War.
And The War even now madly scattered
charred puzzle pieces.
How did hers fit in?

in one living room corner
distant relatives' acquaintance-talk of the husbands,
twining of  common roots.

Polish fare on the table
dressed for the Jewish occasion.
the hideous wallpaper
its thick orange stripes, its huge orange eyes.

in the tiny kitchen the faucet dripping.

the drawn-out meal:
The overcooked meat.
The small silences.
The awkward tiptoeing of  people
who never met

the Untouchable Subject
stealing     in an unguarded moment
between the main course and the salad
into the room.

the intent scraping of forks and knives on the plates.

the host suddenly turn toward his wife:
Show them the letter.

an old tine cookie box.
Imagine inside
a folded sheet of paper
lying humble and pale as a matza.

official yellowed stationery,
fading typescript

Imagine words throbbing:

State of Israel...thanks...heroine...
...Righteous among  the Nations...

Imagine this receipt of the heart
now quickly refolded, now quickly put back
into the tin box.

the hush.

not the unimaginable:
a young, powerless woman
turning a deaf ear to Authority's orders,
hearing only what's human and groans;
exchanging death sentences of strangers,
of Jews,
for her own

But imagine
the bus driver not waiting for her;
the snow falling no differently on her coat, frayed at the cuffs like ours;
a fine for an overdue library book imposed on her as on us;
the one rose in her  living room vase
lasting no longer than ours.

the young  man waiting behind her     dyed-haired,frail
to pay for the evening paper
having no notion....

her walking among us -
unlike Cain
angel-like -
unknown, unmarked,
masquerading as you or me.

our host now say softly
She has always been a good-hearted woman.

That's all.

the words fall on the table  between us
plain and homely as the boiled potatoes

in the tiny kitchen the faucet continues to drip.

the orange stripes of the wallpaper closing in
on his words   then the silence
like the columns of some ancient temple,
half-destroyed half-unearthed.

the bells of a distant church beginning to toll.

the night standing outside the window,
a dumb, indifferent witness
ready to swallow this story
like so  many others.

Passover eve in a foreign country.
a small apartment in Paris.
not having a proper Seder.
Not telling stories of the coming out of Egypt.

I wrote this last week, my morning poem, following a poem by one of my housemates  at Blueline's "House of 30."


the poet asks,
where are you from?
another way of asking,
where is your home?

is home where you are?

or is home where you come from?

or is home a collection of memories?

my father left the place
where he was born and raised,
an insular little German community
in the central Texas hill country,
when he was in his mid-twenties

and until he died
forty years later,
that place was home, a collection
of memories he refreshed
every year with a trip

to see his aunts and uncles
and cousins and, until they were both
dead, his mother and father; a trip home
to a place where he could speak to his friends
in the German he grew up with, a place
where he could drive around the hills he remembered
climbing as a child, a place where he could eat
the food he grew up on or have a beer
at the little open-air saloon
where he drank his beer when he was young,
where he danced with pretty blond German girls,
where first loves were found
and consummated…

my home memories
are much more complicate,
many memories, moments under a hot
South Texas sun
or a night sky
vast and desert-bright,
riding my bicycle on a dirt sidewalk
past my elementary school to
a twenty-five cent movie
downtown, a drunk night in an
Indiana bar, palm trees, cactus, flowers
blooming under a soft spring rain,
beach tides, the tides of nights
lost and alone, a bride, a child, crab grass
and dandelions, trees I planted
and never saw to grow,
lives I touched and never stayed to know,
hospital corridors, lingering death,
death on a sunny afternoon,
desperation, contentment, loss and gain,
and on and on
and on…

so many memories of the many places
I call home

how much simpler was my
being from that one place he called

These are the last  poems this week from  my library. They're by Donald Justice and are from his book, Selected Poems, published Atheneum in 1979.

Sonnet: An Old-Fashioned Devil

                                    Tu le connais, lecteur, ce monstre delicat...

Who is it snarls our plow lines, wastes our fields,
Unbaits our hooks, and fishes out our streams?
Who  leads our hunts to  where the good earth yields
To marshlands,  and we  sink, but no one screams?
Who taught our children where the harlot lives?
They gnaw her nipples and they drain her pap,
Clapping their little hands like primitives
With droll  abandon, bouncing on her lap.
Our wives  adore him;us he bores  to tears.
Who cares if to our dry and yellow grass
He strikes a match or two, then disappears?
It's only the devil on his flop-eared ass -
A beast  too delicate  to bear him well -
Come plodding by us on his way to hell.

                              Summer, 1948

Two Songs from Don Juan in Hell

1     Sganarelle's Song

The gardens are golden with  leaves,
Notes drawn on the season's Exchange;
But my purse is as limp as the sleeves
That amputees learn to arrange.

     No, no, nothing assuages
     The pains of damnation
     Like regular  wages
     And a two-week's vacation.

The sun and the moon are as bright
As  coins that collectors collect.
But why should my purse  be so light
With no sun for the moon to reflect?

     No, no, nothing assuages,etc.

2     Don Juan's Song

The devil's like a jealous, jealous husband,
But I must blame his horns upon another.
Oh, evil's like a young wife from the country,
Approachable, but hardly worth the bother.

Damnation's like an heiress, much  proposed to.
Why has she chosen me to be her groom?
Hell is a cheap hotel, if continental:
The bridal suite is just a small,  hot  room.

And here's my last book reject  for the week.

the rug

I am looking
at a man
with the worst toupee
I have ever 

I am reminded
of high-gloss
aluminum siding
or the white plastic
they put around
new cars now when
they ship them, except
his toup is coal-in-the-hole
black, not white like
the plastic

     it's hard
     not to stare

the vanity
of middle-aged men
is not something that  can be
nor their capacity for denial

     but this rug...

has the guy
ever looked in the mirror
when he puts it on
in the morning?

I don't know how he could,
and still walk
out the door  with it  on his head

maybe he's blind
as well as bald,
which seems to me
it ought to be the solution
and not the problem

     I mean

how much can you care
about how you look
when you can't see yourself?

     not much

I'm an optimist
by nature
and barring proof
from my own eyes otherwise
I'd just imagine my bald head,
if I had one,
as the chrome on a 1957 De Soto,
the shining, blinding apex of me,
and assume I look
i look  great

My last poet from this week's anthology is Rosemary Catacalos.

The poet, who grew up speaking Spanish, English, and Greek, has received National  Endowment for theArts, Stanford University/Stegner,and Dobie-Pisano writing fellowships. From 1997-2003 she was an Affiliated Scholar  at Stanford's Institute for Research and Women and Gender. Her poems have  appeared widely in anthologies, including  twice in Best American Poetry. She is former executive director of the Poetry Center and American Poetry Archives in San Francisco and, at the time of publication, she was executive director of Gemini Ink, San Antonio's center for literary arts and ideas.

swallow wings

for Maya Angelou, with profound
respect and gratitude

I been to church, folks,
I'm an East Side Meskin Greek and
I been to church. I'm here to say
I grew uphearin' folks sing over hard
times in the key of, Uh, uh girl it's ain't nothin'
;about letting to  a this life.
I grew up in a 'hood where every day at noon
black girls at Ralph  Waldo Emerson Junior High School
made a sacred drum of the corner mailbox, beatin'
on it to raise the dead. And make them dance.
I grew up readin' in the George Washington Carver
Library, and marvelin' at the  white
lightnin' gloves that Top Ladies of Distinction
use  for church. I grew up where grits is indeed
groceries, and a huge mountain of a woman passed
my house daily, always sayin' the same thing:
Your name is Rosemary? My name Rosemary, too.
I grew up, folks, and I been down 'til I couldn't
get no more down in me. And now a preacher lady
come to town and caused me to paint my face and
put on some good clothes and go to church.
And I'm here to say I have a right
to  take this tone, 'cause it ain't nothin'
'bout lettin' go a this life.
Swallows keep makin' their wings
out to be commas on the sky.
World keep sayin' and, and, and,  and

My last  poem for the week - i wrote it very early in  the morning a week ago.

4 a.m.

up early,
4 a.m.
the deep and dark
of the night’s blackest

okay, but when it was done
it was done -
a life lesson
not to hang on to a done thing

move on
like I did this morning,
wash face
scratch dog
liberate teeth
from their little glass
dress in the dark and
search the high grass in the
front yard
for the morning paper
that isn’t there yet…

the Sunday paper,
not Sunday
for those, including
the newspaper carrier,
who went to sleep
on Saturday
and haven’t awaken yet
to Sunday

again my powers
over universal mechanics
of making the world conform
to my schedule

sitting at the diner
having breakfast,
a table of police officers
next over from mine

in the denial of the universal order
and its
to goodness and good sense -
they are relaxed
about the crazy calls
they got tonight,
like the
naked woman
on the interstate overpass
trying to get change
for a quarter
from everyone who passed

at ease at
4 a.m.,
shift change just around the corner,
only an hour
they can go home
and slip into a warm and comfortable
bed with their warm and comfortable wives
or girlfriends or boyfriends,
but their radio, the ever-present menace
to their sense of
well-being, sits between them,
comes to life
like a snake uncoiling
from a sunny
and a dispatcher,
a soft feminine voice,
says “garble garble,”
police code
for saddle up troops
and all four officers jump up
and head for the door,
their holsters
as they hurry out,
checking for the security
of the thick plastic grip on the
blue steel pistol
that rides there, adjusting the belt
that carries it and all the other tools
of their trade, all hanging
on their hips,
checking the tool box
as they quickly walk,
making sure they didn’t forget
reassuring themselves
that they didn’t
leave anything important
on the table
because they know
there’s still time before
shift change
to kill or be killed
even as the coffee, still warm,
sours in their

I signal Terry
for a refill,
my sixth cup, souring
in my belly

4 a.m. -
to late for some

too early for

We're done for the week.

Everything here belongs to its creators. My stuff, as usual, is yours for the price of proper credit for me and for "Here and Now."

I'm allen itz, owner and producer of this blog, and poet with books to sell.

I've decided that the hard-sell on poetry just doesn't work, so I'm going soft. Following are where you can get my books cheap, and,  with them, who knows,  a possible life-defining experience.

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Places and Spaces

Always to the Light

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