Old is New Again   Wednesday, October 17, 2012

We interrupt this post for a word frrom our sponsor:

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Now back to the post.

I'm doing something different with photos this week.

Last week I used color pictures I had changed to black and white. This week, I'm using the same pictures in the same order, processed using something called "Color Splash" with which some of you,  or maybe all of you, may be familiar. Applying the process changes color pictures to black and white, then, using a little stylus, you can convert back to color parts of the color photo you want to bring back.

In the above picture, for  example, I thought it would be fun to  return the pink to the rabbits inner ear and green to a couple of little sprigs of grass by the rabbit.

Depending on how well it's done, it can be  cool, or not.

My anthology this week is Ten Thousand Leaves - Love Poems fro the Manyoshu. The book, which was published by the Overlook Press in 1988, includes 136 short poems, untitled and uncredited as in the original collection,  all were translated from Japanese by Harold Wright.

The Manyoshu is a twenty volume collection of 4,516 poems by over  four hundred known contributors, as well as a large number of anonymous poets. The collection was compiled in its final form in eighth century Japan. Although the original collection includes poems in very many subjects, the part of the anthology I'm using this week includes only the love poems, all written originally in the tanka form.

Here's this week's posse.

night classes

from the Manyoshu - three poems

Childfoot Visitation
Privy to My Thoughts

it’s going to be a really great day, I’m sure of it

from the Manyoshu - three poems

James Fenton 

back in the day

from the Manyoshu - three poems

Piotr Sommer 
Station Lights

in the garden

from the Manyoshu - three poems

Ishmael Reed 
The Ballad of Charlie James

When the Fallen Rise Again

from the Manyoshu - three poems

Ana Castillo 
Me & Baby

signs of a new Dark Age approaching

going home someday

David St. John 


from the Manyoshu - three poems


Here's my first poem, inspired by another quiet night.

night classes

the stars
are quiet at 2 a.m.
and the moon
coy behind her diaphanous
veil of clouds…

a train whistle
wails from miles away,
miles to go it cries, leaving its love behind,
wails in the passing night,

I seek revelation
but nothing is revealed to me;
there is truth
I’m told,
but it evades me

there is a single place
of everything
and everywhere
and everyone
and every time;
such is my incomplete revelation - find it
and find the secret to all revelations,
the secret to all things,
all places, all times,
to all that is and are
and will be

such is my incomplete revelation
under these silent stars,
this coy moon, this train whistle
passing, leaving it’s love
behind, a map-less revelation
that tells me there are secrets to find
but doesn’t tell me where to find them

secrets taught again and again
in the classroom of late, late night,
waiting to be found,
among the stars
or on the dark side of the moon
or on that train passing
whistling revelations, follow me,
follow me, in an untaught language,
a language of stars and moons
and passing trains
to me

From the Manyoshu:


Not a day goes by
     in which the mist does not rise
           on Mt. Kasuga
Likewise it is you, my lord
      whom  long to see each day


My eyes have seen you
     but I've yet to hold your close
          you're like the laurel
That is growing on the moon
      and I don't know what to do


When spring arrives
      the shrike dives into the grass
           and goes in hiding
You too are unseen, my love,
       yet I gaze towards your home

Next, I have two poems by Antler, from his book, Antler: The Selected Poems. The book was published in 2000 by Soft Skull Press.

Born Brad Burdick in 1946 in Wisconsin, Antler has published three books of poetry and is winner of the Walt Whitman Association award "whose contribution best reveals the continuing presence of Walt Whitman in American poetry."

Childfoot Visitation

One night traveling a Green Tortoise bus
     San Francisco to Seattle,
the rear of the bus converted to pads for sleeping,
Sleeping on my back as we plunged through pouring rain,
     the other weary passengers sleeping.
Suddenly something moving in my beard and under my nose
     woke me  up -
Opening my eyes in the darkness
      I saw in the flickering headlight patterns
     of  passing cars
The small foot of  the little girl sleeping
     beside  her mother.
Clean smelling childfoot flower stretching beneath my nose
     as she changed position in  her dream.
Gently pushing it away,  careful not to wake her,
     I drifted off to sleep
Thinking how many men who never had  a child
     are visited by a childhood foot
     slowly sliding through their beards
     opening their eyes to
     its perfect shape in the twilight?
Suddenly out of Eternity coming to me
     white and pink and smelling good,
For the first time in my life
     a little girl's naked foot
     woke me up.

Privy to My Thoughts

The shit of mice and voles
     contains fungus from truffles they ate
          which contains microorganisms
               without which
      the colossal Douglas Firs
wouldn't be able to take in and  keep
     more water in their root-hairs
          in the dry seasons
     without which they'd die.
No  Avenue of Giants without mice-shit!
No stupendous towering tree trunk longevitys
     without turds,
          little turds of shy
     scurrying pink-toed and white-whiskered
          pink-nosed mousies.
Ah,  wee and cowering timorous beastie,
     what awe-inspiring power
          is  in thy feces!

I  wrote this last week - another exercise in self-deception.

it’s going to be a really great day, I’m sure of it

overnight guests
so my moonshine frolics
were curtailed, then, this morning,
a short day ahead and a long list
of to-dos on my agenda, I start early,
too early for my regular diner,
so I go back to an old 24-7 regular,
newly wified, except their wifi isn’t working
this morning, their login screen,
where they make you look
at a commercial before letting you in,
won’t come up so my first hour
of getting ahead of the curve wasted,
my lost time a treasure tribute
to the gods of fruitless
ambition instead…

then, as the proper hour approaches
for my current regular diner
to open, I haste on over,
arriving at one minute after opening
to find that a new waitress has given
my regular table to a stranger
unseen in these parts
ever before, leaving me,
for my tardiness,
exiled to a north-facing booth
where I will have to eat and work
this morning, suffering,
from my regular south-facing orientation,
south-facing, as I’ve explained before,
being part of my regular morning regimen,
north-facing a proven disadvantage
to my productive eating and working,
this poem being a good example
of how creativity declines
when the muse is faced
with a north-faced compass

so, facing up to the requirements
of the morning, I settle in and order
my normal morning biscuit and gravy,
careful to explain to the new waitress
the details of my biscuit and gravy
requirements, the first being that the
biscuit must be toasty toasted, the biscuits
here, being awful unless toasted
despite this being a breakfast-establish-
ment known and honored throughout the land,
and, furthermore,
I explain
with the patience of a man
who has found and lives in the essences
of his spiritual and psychological
that the sausage gravy must be gathered
with a long wooden spoon
from the very bottom
of the pot
where all the good sausage clumps

all very clearly explained, I thought…

so, of course,
what I had for breakfast this morning
was a soggy, untoasted biscuit
with the consistency of a wet bathroom
towel, covered in sausage soup, with nary
a sausage bit to be found, which I, of course
spilled on my much-abused mouse…

a lesser man than me
would have been defeated by the events
of this morning so far

but not me -

for I am a survivor and a believer in the ultimate
grace of fate, leaving me, at this moment,
with the pleasures of cheerful
as I am that,
as the sun will rise tomorrow
and the moon will shine
in glorious dark tonight,
this is going to be a really

as I await
the smiling notice
of the gods of sunlit-days
and moon-glow nights,
I do pause to wonder,
having now your attention,
if anyone knows how to clean sausage soup
out of the innards of a mouse?

From the Manyoshu:


We have received
      our Imperial Orders
            and from tomorrow
We will sleep among the reeds
      while our wives  remain behind


This journey of mine
      I feel is but a journey
            but there at home -
Left to cling to the children -
      my wife grows  thin in sorrow


The cock is crowing
      as the men of the Eastlands
            take leave  of their wives
Oh, the sadness that they feel
      seeing that long thread of years

The next poet is James Fenton, with a poem from his book, Children in Exile (Poems 1966-1984). The book  was published  by The Noonday Press in 1994.

Fenton was born in Lincoln, England, in 1949. He was educated at Magdalen College, Oxford, where he won the Newdigate Prize for Poetry. He has worked as a political and literary journalist with The New Statesman. He was a freelance  reporter in Indochina and spent a year in Germany working for The Guardian. At the time the book was originally published in England in 1982, he was a theater critic for the London Sunday Times.

When I started transcribing this poem I thought it was only one page long. It was only after I finished that page that I saw there were four more pages. Not wanting to waste the page I had already done, I went ahead and did the whole thing.

That is my explanation as to why it  is so long.


So the Chosunese would  imagine the earth to be flat,
"Hooked onto eternity in some way by the corners,"
And they marked their charts: volcanoes,  o leisure,
One-eyed, great joy,  long deserts, converging curves,

There were  large people, white people, overflowing people,  reciprocal
Immortal, cross-legged, perforated, hoary,
Among beautiful clouds, summer prefecture, breathing peace,
    perennial hemp,
There were sorcerers, deep-eyed, mulberry and pear, without entrails.

Then there were chest-binders, fire-rejectors, rice-eaters, hat-band-
Clear-footed, three-bodied, fork-tongued, rat-named,
With helmet-wearers, ear nippers and those  who spin silk from the
There were women,virtuous women and the chief astronomers of Yoo,

Who drank the boiled iris root against feeblemindedness.
A wonderful cure for headache was made
From dog's testicle flower. Honeysuckle
Was  a poultice for boils. Forget  Your Troubles

Was a poison.ewelweed also, for a violent purge
After a spoiled meat, or garlic for an antidote
Which reduced hypertension, or tiger lily for a cough.
Morning Glory was the symbol of a superficial man.

They made the coastline terrible to strangers
And in the interior whole forests were burned down
And the mountain was  kept bare until the topsoil
Washed clean away, to discourage tigers.

But there were leopards and wolves in the unfashionable quarters
Of town, and hordes of masterless dogs
And scavenging pigs among the canals and sewers.
There was small pox, cholera, typhoid and polio.

The traitors' heads  were exposed on the tower  gates.
Squads of soldiers with single-shot rifles
Moved though the  city. For  their grater safety
They carried no ammunition.  Bayonets were fixed.

At  sunset the fires in the hills announced
that Chosun was at peace. The men retired indoors
And the women were allowed onto the streets for one hour.
Then woe betide any man who ventured forth.

The women were  summoned home with gongs at curfew.
They measured their husbands' love according the strictness of their
The husbands were attracted by the upward curve of the big toe,
Love did not make a marriage. Love grew later.

Night belonged to the women and to their work
And their shrill gossip which carried through the darkness.
The men slept or went to court. By ancient custom
All the palace woke a night, for safety's sake.

One lived in Seoul, or one lived in disgrace
In and obscure retreat which it was impolite to disturb.
Pyongyang lay to the north. It  was known
As one of the four  wickedest cities of  ancient or modern  times.

There were no temples or places of worship in Seoul.
There were no wells in Pyongyang. The city was shaped
Like a boat. to  dig for water would undoubtedly
Cause the whole  boat to sink. Therefore to dig wells was treason.

The king's new alphabet made  a clear distinction
Between surd and sonat. It  was good for any practical us
And even the sound of the wind, the chirping of birds
And the barking of  dogs  would be exactly described by it.

But the scholars objected: It was a violation of  faith
To  invent and use letters which did not exist in China.
It  was replied: If a man is accused of a capital crime
The alphabet will  help him make a correct statement

And avoid prosecution. But the scholars objected:
It is not the fitness of the letters for expressing thought,
But the fairness or unfairness of the judge which decides.
So the king told a white  lie: the new alphabet, he said, is  Chinese.

There was the code: between friends, trust;
Between elder and younger, respect;  between husband and  wife,
Distinction in position;  between father and son,
Intimacy;  between the king and ministers, loyalty.

Somewhere there existed one God.  He  was  kindly
but remote, and therefore of restricted interest.
The women worshipped the devils which swarmed
Like disease - or  they pretended to  worship them,

For although the devils' power  for evil was unlimited,
Their ability to read a man's thoughts went no further
Than average human. What the devils wanted was worship.
One might  pretend to worship, and thus placate  them.

At every great tree in a village, at ever mountain pass,
Sacrifice must be made with some part of oneself.
It was enough  to spit, or leave a rag from one's clothes,
Or, for blood, a handful of sprinkled chicken's feathers.

God knew men's hearts and minds.
He would forgive the feathers, and ignore the spitting.
But the men grew impatient with the  placation of devils.
Science was more dignified. So they turned

To the soft almanacs of the  diviner or fortune-teller
To learn  where best to select a grave-site
Through which succeeding generations would be prosperous.
It was vital to die at home,or the spirit would be  restless

And it was vital to know and worship  one's ancestors.
If a man's house caught fire,
It was vital to rescue the family tree.
To lose one's ancestors was permanent disgrace.

No wonder they feared war and hated foreigners,
Who marked their charts with Deception By,
False River and Insult Island.
Christians were especially forbidden to enter Chosun

But  were not to be stopped. Disguised as mourners,
"Under a vow of silence," their foreign faces veiled,
They passed through the Hermit Kingdom, the Land of Morning
Until the dogs smelled them out, and howled for their martyrdom.

Fall  has fallen;  what a wonderful day. I wrote this in the morning of the first below-60 degree day of the season.

back in the day

late rising,
both the sun
and I,

almost seven and
still dark,
my eyes sprung open

as I stand bare in the chill,
north wind pushing
through hills

trees rustling,
all the tinkle-jangles
hanging in the patio in melodious discord

birds mute to the morning
until a warm sun rises -
even the neighbor’s cock does not crow

and for me,
a good night’s sleep
brings a fresh new day

of a new and welcome season

sent sulking
scraggly tail dragging

it being one of the inevitable
of life
that even the worst days

become historical references -
the bad-old days

in the day…
you can story to the campfire

as it
and warmly burns

From the Manyoshu:


While I wait for you
      with longing in my breast
            back here at home
My bamboo blinds are fluttered
      by the blowing autumn breeze


Off in the distance
      there I see my loved one's home
            on the horizon
How I long to be there soon
      get along black steed of mine!


From Furu Mountain
      I can look directly down
            and see the capital
But I lie awake in longing
      even though you're nearer now

Next, I have  several short poems by Piotr Sommer, from his book, Continued, published by Wesleyan University Press in 2005.

Born in 1948, Sommer is a Polish poet, essayist, and translator and editor of World Poetry. The poems in the book were translated by a number of different translators, but no credit is given on individual poems.


Where are we? In ironies
that no  one will grasp, short-lived
and unmarked, in trivial points
which reduce metaphysics to absurd
detail, in Tuesday that falls on
day two of May, in mnemonics of days.
You can give an example or take it
on faith, cat's paw at the throat.

And one also likes certain words and those - pardon me -
syntaxes that pretend that something links them together.
Between these intermeanings the whole man is contained,
squeezing in where he sees a little space.


I forget about the other world.
I wake up with my mouth closed.
I wash the fruit with my mouth closed,
smiling, I bring the fruit into the room.
I don't know why I remember cod-liver  oil,
whole years of misery, the cellar bolt on the floor,
the self-sufficient voice of the grandmother.
Still, this is not the other world.
And again I sit at the table with my mouth closed
and you bring me delicious bursting plums
and I repeat after someone I also forget:
there is no other world.

Station Lights

Station lights connect with those above,
the days of the week connect,
the wind with the breath -
there's  nothing that doesn't.

The broken heating plant in Zeran
and my child,  and the woman
I picked out years ago because of
her white knee-socks with blue stripes.

Interesting how the world
connects tomorrow and the day after that.
If that's not it,
maybe you'll tell me what is.


The afternoon sun
round the corner of the town,
and every inch of skin
and every thought
is clearly exposed,
and nothing can be hidden
as everything comes to the surface:
unanswered letters,
short memory.


When we first met, we were really young.
I saw nothing wrong in writing poems about myself.
Didn't I know that I too would be ashamed of something?
Didn't know who your were?

Shame and laughter lock my mouth in turn.
I'm ashamed to think of it; I'm amused to be ashamed.

A busy day as tour guide for out-of-towners. Among the places visited, the Japanese Tea Garden which I featured in photos several posts ago.

in the garden

school of koi -
cold, shallow water -
rainbow huddle


on green rocks -
sun-bright pearls fall to puddles


steep climb,
solid rock protrudes on either side -
anti-gravity for old knees


rock concert next door -
ka-thunka, ka-thunka - pale
water dimples rivulets of green

jitter-bug the koi


young boy
stands on high rock
in fearless-explorer pose

mother clutches tight the air
on either side


lush green oasis
in a granite cup

clothing not


waters his jungle

paid by the beauty,
always wishes for rain

could drink tea,
watch his garden grow
without him

From the Manyoshu:


Should I sleep alone
      in my lonely empty home
            in the capital
How much worse it must be
      than all my nights of travel


The drizzling rain
      falls and causes to drop off
            the leaves of autumn
My bed quilts are very cold
      and I have to sleep alone


Wet by autumn rain
      that continues to fall
            in this wretched place
It is your house, my beloved,
     that never leaves my mind

Here's a poem by Ishmael Reed from his book, New and Collected Poems. The book was published by Antheneum in 1989.

The Ballad of Charlie James

Hunter's Point: Night
Papa Charlie Jame awakes
to see the 'Frisco police
at the foot of his bed
"Bring them hands from
underneath them sheets so's
we can see them. Let us see
what you got beneath those
sheets," they said, shooting
seventeen rounds of ammunition
into Charlie's bed

He survived the crazy rhythms
in his chest
his lungs whistling like
ghost winds, but he couldn't
survive the police

Hazardous to your health
if you are poor, Indian, or
Chicano, or if you're a sixty
year old black man asleep in
bed "Bring  them hands from
underneath those sheets so's  we can
see them. let us see what you got
beneath those sheets"

Like in Count Albuquerque's
town, where underneath the freeway
a lone woman wears "I Want Your Body"
on her t-shirt, a black man can get
shot for just horsing around
They use the redman for target
practice, the hang the Mexican
in jail.
O ain't it a shame what they did
to poor Charlie James. Hae mercy
and ain't it a shamev
"He just played dominoes
drank soda water, and looked
out the window" his neighbors said
Thinking of his poor wife  in a
Georgia loony bin
she saw her children die
one by one
Thinking of his mother out
there in the backwater cemetery
her shroud faded
her eye sockets, windows for
spiders, "Bring them hands
from underneath those sheets so's
we can see them. Let us see what you
have beneath those sheets"
The sign on Charlie's door
"Making love is good for you"
His stomach will hold no more
no more bad coffee
his lips have seen their last
O ain't it a shame what they did
To Charlie James. Have mercy ain't
it a shame.

They said his homicide was justified
the parrot D.A. "concurred"
The police were just doing their
duty, they said, and the
parrot D.A. "concurred, concurred"
O the parrot D.A. "concurred
O ain't it a shame what they did
to poor Charlie James
"Making Love is Good  for You"
"Bring them hands from underneath
those sheets so's we can see them
Let's see what you have beneath those

Sitting outside  of my coffeehouse, taking in all the redevelopment of one of the oldest streets in the city, appreciating how San Antonio, like many cities, is trying to pull people from the nature destruction of far-flung suburbs and back closer to the center of the city, both to recreate and to live.

when the fallen rise again

a beautiful day,
sitting outside for a breath
of fresh ideas,
a day alive with the prospect
of happening, the busy traffic
on Broadway a few yards away, the sounds
of a city on the move in the morning,
cars and trucks and bicycles
to-ing and fro-ing, going,
up-town people going down-town,
downtown people going up
to the center of the city, where Broadway
begins in a cluster-maze of donkey paths
paved just where the way donkeys left them, understood only
by natives, a trap for tourists who don’t know
to stay in their tourist-places, not to mingle
with the rest of us who enjoy their
money, but not necessarily too much
of their presence among us…

old Broadway, from
the tangle up-town, far north to
Old Austin Highway,
past the old neighborhoods
with grand houses, nestled
in the shade of great oak and pecan trees,
and specialty-shops for the some-day rich
and some-day famous on bicycles
with streamlined helmets
so that their some-day heads
may never be cracked by the reality
of hard and unforgiving asphalt…

the part of the street I sit by today -
an old retail and commercial area
for near-downtown shoppers, isolated now,
a concrete island bypassed by
new highways more directly routed
to the suburbs where large houses,
each almost identical to the others,
crowd postage stamp sized lots,
and Wal-Mart’s and nail salons
and churches of every religious confusion
and gas stations, the only deity
worshiped by all,
life-blood of the on-the-movers,
bless us dear Lord
and our holy Texacos and Exxons -

old Broadway left behind here
where I sit,
its old stores vacant,
pushed-in back doors,
old hardware stores
now flop houses for the drunk
and disorderly,
black alleys where low-market whores
ply their trade,
five dollar blowjobs
or a ten dollar fuck standing against a brick wall
bestrewn with graffiti -
“Aunt Mable fucked here, overdosed on reality
and fake, clenched-face passion”

right here on old Broadway, best times,
like a step off a mountainside,
falling to worst times…

and now rejuvenation…

decayed buildings levelled or rehabbed,
whores sent on to wherever
old whores go
when respectability overtakes
them, some landmarks
torn down to make room
for high rise condos, landmarks
like the old restaurant where
all strata of San Antonio
(except folk from the West Side,
or from the East Side, or from the South Side -
the blacks and the unreconstructed browns)
met for pancakes after football games
and fried chicken after church on
Sunday, the place where
Congressman Henry B. Gonzales
punched out the Republican
businessman who called him a
“communist,” that great liberal
warrior making the day of all the more
intimidated dissenters who would have liked
to do the same…

that restaurant gone, pancakes now at IHOP
and fried chicken at Popeye’s…

but not all has been lost…

three blocks away from where I sit,
located now, not
under the open Texas sky as before,
but the underside of the fly-over intersection of
I-35 and I-10 - The Pig Stand, last of what they claimed
was the first chain of drive-in restaurants in the
country, still there,
carhops on their roller skates
long gone, but still the same greasy spoon
where I first had breakfast more than
50 years ago, still there…

the air of new life
brewing now on old Broadway, a climb
back up the mountain
to where happy days can come


life ebbs
and life flows,
my life, your life
and the lives of streets and cities

and it is reassuring to us
who feel the rising
coldly creeping,
to see the fallen
rises again, to see
life re-emerge from the

From the Manyoshu:


Perhaps a strong man
      should not  offer love without
            having  love returned
But this grieving ugly warrior
      still  finds his love is growing


Like a crying child
      who grasps at his mother's sleeves
            and pulls her back
I have just been cast aside
      and feel helpless in my plight


Upon your leaving
      I would have that  stretching road
            rolled and folded up
And burned to destruction -
      had I but flames from heaven!

Next,  I have a  poem by Ana Castillo. The poem is from her  book My Father Was a Toltec, published in 1995 by W.W. Norton.

Born in 1953, Castillo is a Mexican-American poet, novelist, short story writer and essayist. She has published a number of novels, poetry collections, translations, and non-fiction books and has received the American Book Award , a Carl Sandburg Award, a Mountain and Plains Booksellers Award for her fiction and an NEA grant for her poetry.

Me & Baby

Chicago, c. 1984

It's me, the pregnant Puerto Rican  girls, short Mexicans

with braids down to there, and all the babies in the world

waiting for their numbers to be called . At  3 p.m.,

there's an empty chair past Egberto with bad breath

from beer the night before, Marta and her sister with

strollers between them, autistic boy of the twisted cheeks,

and finally, me & baby get a seat. Women divided

from us by desks, type our cereal,milk, juice coupons,

government approved and labeled at the market. A woman

in back complains in Spanish; another wishes she had welfare.

An African with delicate tribal scars along her face

places her little one on my lap  while she

goes to the bathroom.The Salvadoreans, too glum,

having missed a day of work, don't say a word to anyone.

At 4:45 a man on the night shift left the kids  with is  wife. He

never lifts his eyes.We must have been an ugly sight.

Baby needs solids the doctor at the clinic has said.

i'll speak up when i get my chance. If they ask me for forms,

and the doctor's written request,  i'll pound my fists

on those coupon covered desk. At 5 of 5 i kick the wall instead.

The office is officially closed, coupon books put away, clerks

freshen lipstick, nutritionist hangs her smock, her day ended.

And we, of the numbers uncalled, must come back, take a new

number, start again.  Clear  the entrance. If there are no

empty chairs, please don't  block the way. Sorry, ma'am.

We open at i. We'll see you tomorrow.  Best to arrive temprano.

It's the little signs  that tell  the story.

signs of a new dark age approaching

Old World Delicatessen
ten blocks from my house,
bratwurst (imo - the best of the wurst),
sweet red cabbage,
and the best pom frites
ever oven-fried…

but no more…

yesterday, at my occasional
visit for lunch, shock
and grief
near to manly weeping,
the restaurant
dark and dusty and
another sign of the impending
collapse of world civilization
and decency…

so many signs that the dark ages
approach again,
sneaking around the corner
of Dumbshit and Divine,
tea party cry babies a
other malcontents
on the march, Republicans,
religious fanatics
at home and abroad,
diseased minds
with plans for you and me,
global warming,
ozone depleting,
skies filling
with the wastes of our lives
like a septic tank hanging over us,
glaciers melting,
polar bears starving,
the universe contracting,
and the Old World Delicatessen closing…

the signs are there,
pretty damn serious if you ask me,
laid out for every insightful mind to see…

and I just want you to know,
as the end approaches,
that it’s been a pleasure making
your acquaintance
and, by the stars that fall
around us,
how I will miss you,
and those oven fries, too,
the very best fries
in this universe and any other universe
within 12 parsecs - and though
I’m told there may be no beer in heaven,
these pom frites will be there, I’m sure,
in their rightful place on the menu
at the Heavenly Host Café…

too bad I’ll never get a reservation


This is the second week without one of my old  poems.

Well, I'll fix that right  now.

going home someday

are dancing
on the head of a pin
down at the south-facing booth
where, on most days,
i rest my breakfast bones,
a trio of religiosos,
wise men in their field,
arguing out, it sounds like,
the proposed
text of some religious
book or pamphlet

they were at it last week
as well, occupying, then too, my

the three,
one, older, hawk-nosed
and bald, another younger,
rotund to the butterball degree,
and bald, and a third, young
with hair,
argue this week
as to what is the most important
tenet of the Christian religion, virgin birth
or the resurrection

not being of the faith
it’s perhaps not kosher
for me to weigh in on this discussion
but i know lots of Christians
and they, almost all but the Paulists,
think highly of sex
and would most certainly
vote thumbs down on the idea
propagation with-
out sex -
most, i’m sure, would find the idea
of putting up with teenagers
the precedent pleasure
of sex
to be not worth the trouble

are these guys really that wise?

i ask
because it seems obvious to me
the one central element of Christianity
that sustains the belief of all its
is the resurrection of Christ
and his promise
of ever-lasting life for all
who put their faith in him

everlasting life - that’s
a hard sell to beat - even i,
the non-believer’s non-believer
am attracted to that, though my
version of such everlastingness
is not predicated on a ride through
the clouds
in a golden chariot,
but a simple, more base rebirth
as the atoms
that temporarily gathered to make me
dispersed to a new purpose

and the soul?

i don’t know about the soul,
a slippery concept,
at best,
but i am finding it enticing to believe
that the essence of me
that animated the gathering
of atoms that was my physical self
was just a small part
of a larger essence of us
to which that part which was me
will return, then dissolve into
the everything,
the whole
from which i have been
for these few years of human life
distant and distraught

a return home

Here are two poems by David St. John, from his book, Study of the World's Body, published in 1994 by HarperCollins.

Born in Fresno, California, in 1949, St. John was educated at California State University, Fresno, where he received his B.A. In 1974.  He received an M.F.A. from the University of Iowa.

He has taught creative writing at Oberlin College and John Hopkins University. He currently teaches in the English Department at University of Southern California  in Los Angeles, where he serves as Director of The Ph. D. Program in Literature and Creative Writing.


I am the shadow you once blessed

Though I was  told later  you meant only
To bless a small monkey carved of ebony

On the leg of a particular chair

Didn't you notice
That when you fell to your knees I too
Fell & kissed the scarlet earth

Blackened by the lyre of your wings


They were sitting on the thin mattress

He'd once rolled & carried up the four floors
To his  room only to find it covered early all
Of the bare wood
Leaving just a small path alongside the wall

& between them was the sack
Of oranges & pears she'd brought its neck
Turned back to expose the colors of the fruit
 & as she opened a bottle of wine
He reached over to a tall stack of books
& pulled out The Tao & with a silly flourish
Handed it across the bed to her    she looked up
& simply poured the two squat water glasses
Half-full with wine & then she
Took the book     reading silently     not aloud
As he'd assumed & suddenly he felt clearly
She knew the way
Two people must  come upon an understanding
Together of course but separately
As the moon & the wave  remain individually one

Struggling for something to write about for my daily poem, I decided  to fall back on the old reliable barku (which I invented, etc.).


stealth rain
comes - goes
like my eggs,

in full bloom
sun glow
the hillside

usually yellow -
one growing
and ten feet

the moon
a crescent
like a midnight

graze on
wet pasture -
I graze
on scrambled

rests under park
trees -
old man,
heavy pack

at midnight,
groans -
a rhinoceros
at my gate

From the Manyoshu:


To love someone
      who does not return that love
            is like offering prayers
Back behind  a starving god
      within a Buddhist temple


The things you told me
      were said to stave off silence
            and to console me
When I came to know the truth
       oh, the bitterness I felt!


Using fine pillars
      of the highest grade  cypress
            does the woodsman
Fabricate in wasted haste
      a mere temporary hut?

When you're feeling down, the best thing to do is to embrace whatever you can get your arms around.

I wrote this one last week on a gloomy Saturday morning.


it’s a funky day

the sky is in a

the sun is in a

the clouds
are in a funk

the trees and the grass
and sidewalks are
in a funk

out on the farm,
the cows and pigs and chickens
and geese and cats
are in a funk

in the city
the taxis and the signs
and the policemen on little bicycles
are in a

in Washington D.C.
the Republicans and the Democrats
are in a funk

on the moon
the cheese is in a
and on Mars
the rover
is in a red-dusty funk

atoms and molecules
and the little specky things in the air
are in a

can someone please tell me
what color is a funk

cause I’m thinking
I might be in one

and I just want to be

Everything here belongs to the people who made it. The stuff that I made is available for any use as long as proper credit for me and for "Here and Now" is cited.

And "me" would be allen itz, owner and producer of this blog, poet and. very recently, short story writer. These are my books, earlier poetry eBooks and my latest collection of very short stories, all available at the eBook retailers listed below.

Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Sony eBookstore, most all of the Apple machines, plus Kobo, Copia, Gardner's, Baker & Taylor, and eBookPie.  


Places and Spaces

Always to the Light

Goes Around, Comes Around

Pushing Clouds Against the Wind

And,  for  those  print-bent, available
at Amazon
and several coffeehouses in San  Antonio
Seven Beats  a  Second

                                                                           Short Stories




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