For my photos this week, I'm using art from my print book, Seven Beats a Second, published in 2005 by Homemade Creatives (that's me) and Cyberwit.com. All my books since have been eBooks (published by bookbaby) so it's my only print book and the only one of my books that is illustrated.
The artist Vincent Martinez, a senior art major at Texas State University at the time and a good friend of my son's, which is how we hooked up for the project. Most of the paintings are his alone, though a couple are collaborations.
The book includes all of the paintings, presented in full page, as well as pieces of the paintings I cut and pasted to use as illustration for specific poems. It is available at Amazon as well as several coffeehouses in San Antonio (International Academy of Music and the Arts [and coffee] on the corner of Broadway and Pearl and La Taza on Brook Hollow).
As for poetry, well, here's what I've got.
walking in the very early morning
Poem with a Declaration Maybe
put on a happy face
Robert in the Crystal Ball
The Man Who
Slurps His Drink
a weather note - blue
morning slips in, almost unnoticed
When Lost Was Better
On his journey to Tsukushi
a minor poet explains it all
On a Mild Day in Early
notes in passing
In the Fire
Two Stories Down
there was a boy who knew secrets
Singapore Art Museum in the Rain
Watching the Weather Channel
naked rolling, parts rubbing
I had imagined further places
In the Trail of the Wind - American
Indian Poems and Ritual Orations
from Meditations on the South Valley
a foggy morning’s memories of foggy mornings
real and natural night
a fence I cross
Dances for Flute and Thunder - Praises, Prayers and Insults - Four classical Greek
like a morning, slow starting
Sunset, December, 1993
walking my cat on the morning of December 2nd
This short piece is from last week, our first really chill day, strong north winds blowing in a norther.
soars in the western sky
scramble in swirls
on the street,
and nippy winds
Peruvian Landscape #2
Here are a couple of poems by Thomas
R. Smith. The poems are from Smith’s
book, Horse of Earth,
published in 1994 by Holy Cow Press.
1948 in Wisconsin, Smith majored in English at the University of Wisconsin -
In the 1970s and 1980s,
he taught poetry in rural communities of western Wisconsin through the
CETA-funded organization, Artspeople of Wisconsin, for which he also served as
2000 he has taught highly-regarded poetry classes at the Loft Literary Center
in Minneapolis, most recently as an advisor to the Loft Master Track Program.
He also leads poetry
workshops at the annual Minnesota Men's Conference founded by Robert Bly.
In the fall of 2008, he
gave his first poetry workshops in England, as well as lecturing at the Temenos
Academy in London. He delivered a talk at the University of Minnesota's
symposium on Robert Bly's work in April, 2009.
bring a second summer,
as if chicory and asters
have returned to meadows.
They are blue stars
still cloudy with creation,
as the first man and woman
must have seen them.
By those stars we two set out.
The boat leaving the harbor
to let the wind move it.
the fabric ripples, then
goes slack. Years pass,
driving each life toward
the emptiness of the acorn cap
on its branch in October,
the fringed cup downed
and filled again with memory
touch you, still amazed.
Our small boat follows
the water’s curved ache,
a strong breeze billowing
Across the channel of the
a long shiver passes through the
body of a pine grove.
Scaly ice shelves up along the
the walker beside it easily lost
in the great silver day of spring.
I walk with you on a sandy path
on the island.
In the maple trunks a slenderer
sweetness rises and falls.
The nights are sill cold. Maple
sap boils dark and heavy.
I catch the clear drops, almost
flavorless, on a torn branch in
It Is What It Is
Another poem from a couple of weeks ago - the story of a man and his (new) dog.
walking in the very early morning
the moon a splinter
behind sea-foam clouds
in a sky
as dairy milk
the new dog, along the roundabout loop
that Reba and I used to take
in the morning
our first morning walk
was like a marathon run,
Bella walking very
eyes straight ahead,
intent, I’m thinking, on escaping
the strange house where
she had spent her first, scary
different this morning,
more like Reba (poor Reba,
the end, walking her was like
walking an old lady down
a church aisle,
tiny, slow steps, each carefully
is like the old days,
a leisurely stroll,
sniffing at ever tree,
stopping to graze on some grass
by the creek, finding
a couple of suitable spots
to make her mark for all creatures
in the neighborhood
that might be
when we get home,
I go to my office to pack up my computer
and she goes to the bedroom
and jumps on my bed,
meaning, I’m guessing, that I passed
whatever tests she had in mind, having
proven I am morally fit
to share a bed
later, I prepare to take her with me
to my breakfast hangout
(for the next several days
as we bond,
she will go with me wherever I go)
opening the front door enough
to reach out and feed
but foolish me, too open the door,
the door with a cat right outside
too great a temptation,
and Bella roars past me, across the street,
across two more yards, chasing the yellow cat
who steals my cat’s food, and
I’m thinking I’ve really
screwed up now and prepare for the dog chase, but
struck by an idea, I belay the chase
and open the back door to my little SUV
the presumed-lost dog returns,
jumping into the car and sits,
looking at me,
tongue hanging over her drooly chin -
so what are we waiting for
it seems she says,
let’s go see about that
Chicken Wings and Pretty Things
My next poem is by my poet friend from Maryland, Dan Cuddy.
currently an editor of the Loch Raven Review and in the past has been a
contributing editor with the Maryland Poetry Review, and with Lite:
Baltimore’s Literary Newspaper. He has been published in many small
magazines over the years, e.g. NEBO, Antioch Review, Connecticut River
Review and online at Praxilla, The Potomac, and L‘Allure des Mots.
In 2003 his book of poems “Handprint On The Window” was published by Three
Poem with a
I think I’m wrong
Un-American the inner washing
The attempt to be the blank slate
On which the New can write itself
But I doubt whether I can know
Even if it has horns, whistles, wagging tails
Because so much does already
And society has been steered wrong
Without a doubt
The pennies left falling in the dust
Like old buttons
The Emperor’s New Clothes are always
And we, my neighbors and I,
Pretend the parade of stupidity is
A starting point
But I doubt even that
In my own watery thoughts
Not American and Bull-headed
Words Like Birds
This, from a couple of weeks ago, explaining one of the many reasons getting old suck.
put on a happy face
mysterious to me,
and beyond my control,
a situation i have fought against
all of my adult life,
and now I must be resigned
to it -
the worst of being old,
others will decide
and I will go along
put on a happy face
they will say
and i will put my clown's mask
over a seething
The next several poems are by Diane Wakoski. They are from her book The Rings of Saturn, published by Black Sparrow Press in 1986.
on our patio brick
I can read
each autumn morning
by pumpkin light.
Seeing Robert in the Crystal Ball
He's in the corner,
a figure like a crow
with one long shoe, like a tree reaching over
An upside down lighted lamp
floats on the other side of the room,
like a cow grazing in a field.
There are three other people
in this room,
but none in the ball. Only crow-Robert,
on his cottonwood shoe, with his
that once as a room.
The Man Who Slurps His Drink
for the football player
who's smart as an eagle
but a big messy bird, whose stinking nest
you'd never want to visit,
Is it possible,
I ask myself,
for a man to be sensitive to words
when he slurps his drink? Can what
of the mouth have fineness
when it goes in so offensively?
Perhaps I need more anthropology
to giev me wisdom/perspective?
I know the Chinese are trained
to belch and slurp
to show satisfaction over a good meal.
Did this man's
Chicago slum life
teach him to slurp his drink
in my house
to show his appreciation?
Am I a
or is it just hard for me to dismiss
language I don't believe,
unless some bodily condition seems
What would you think
if you heard someone
a bloody mary
Would you really expect him
to be a poet?
Here are several short poems from 2010.
a weather note - blue
cold blue sky
in crystal halos
morning slips in, almost unnoticed
through scattered fog
like golden rain
a quiet morning
in the trees
morning slipping in
the neighbor’s rooster
Here's a poem from a book I think I bought some time ago and never used here, I don't know why.
The poet is Heather Sellers and the book is Drinking Girls and Their Dresses, published in 2002 by Ahsahta Press of Boise State University.
Sellers was born in Florida and received her Ph.D from Florida Sate University in 1992. She received an NEA grant for fiction writing in 2001 and is the author of Georgia Underwater, a collection of short stories which won the Barnes and Noble Discover Award.
When Lost Was Better
I was seven, into
pinafores, pickles and
keeping my hair
wet, a fussy swimming
girl, bad with numbers,
happy marrying words,
making them basic desserts.
I lost my cross, my good
gold cross, in the yard,
maybe in the sink or at
the grocery store, in the green
tile aisles. My mother thought
I lost it in church, on the patio
outside Father Stephen's office.
Nope, I said I was never standing
there. Then April I lost
my pet bird Miss Kelly Green,
my report card, my abilities
to stay quiet for hours at a stretch.
I lost my temper, enjoyed
flailing. I lost my brother's doll,
my mom's plaid jacket, her house keys,
a dollar and my sleeping bag.
I turned eleven, lost everything.
Now strong, tan, long-legged,
blond as batter, tall
heaven and my arms
thin as tails, I found, shining
in the thick new mowed
backyard tarzan grass, my cross,
the tiny grooved piece
of metal, lawnmower chewed and spit
out, my cross in the shape
of an asterisk. I said to myself:
Heather, you are a martyr in shorts
and white sandals at Cherokee Indian
Junior High in Orlando.
I kept the chewed-up cross in my
jewelry box, on a cushion.
But I wish the cross was still lost;
I liked the years looking, missing better.
Lost is lost.
And is like faith, because broken
kept longer and more dearly, in the pink
box in the girl bedroom opposite the
memory of the grandmother, with coins.
And pearls. You don't lose the dead,
they lose you.
Vincent Martinez w/ Dennis Hodges
It was a great Thanksgiving dinner, just a long way getting to it, a journey through most of my life and the places where I lived.
up at 5 a.m.
breakfast, walk the
dog, shower, shave,
pack (not much, just one night,
an extra pair of everything
and a plastic bag
for the drugs
that keep my boat
cross the San Antonio River
on the far south side
of the city
287 miles to go
for my annual
that roll down
from the hill country
to the coastal plains
and the coast
surrounded by century -old
oak, fat cattle, occasional sheep,
of the fracking boom
that is turning villages into
towns and towns
into little cities, all boom,
workers living in
travel trailers and tents,
no housing available, no motels,
that aren’t full, no rooming
in private homes renting
for twice their monthly mortgage
payment, the boom
because i’ve seen it
both the boom and the
but a new generation
and the old one that does,
certain to leave the backdoor
their escape pod
for the first
that the day of the next bust
can be seen
over the horizon- the wildcat
warriors who lost it all
last time, ready to make it back
this time, determined not
lose it again, a second chance
for some, last chance for others, for most
the illusion of good times that will
better, but when good jobs
and big pay checks
are gushing across a region,
who cares what I
In Corpus Christi,
the right fork to Hwy 77
is the way...
The Coastal Bend -
sorghum, cotton, refining,
stacks on the horizon
belching steam and red and blue flare
against the horizon,
a sign the refining mix isn’t quite right,
gas by-product flaming, money burning up
in the sky as the operators see it...
all along the ship channel, tankers
bring the crude in, tankers take the finished product
out, a free-port, the largest collection
of refining capacity on the Gulf Coast, all foreign product,
off-shore in - off-shore out,
lingering in this country only long enough
to be processed,
creating the best jobs
in the state for workers and riches for
the Koch brothers
and other multi-nationals
oil and gas
a world market,
interactive and interdependent...
the old King Ranch -
before, one ranch,
a country of it's own,
the Running W brand
on everything, their own workers,
descendants of the Kinenos,
cowboys from Mexico
generations ago along with the
longhorns the ranch was built on,
children educated in ranch schools,
brought up to be proud to be
Kinenos, the mythical
TexMex cowboys who were prototype
for the American cowboy...
the old days...
76 miles across then
by the most direct highway route,
still large now,
no longer the largest,
each taking a part for themselves
when the time came,
the daughters and their husbands,
ranch foremen trusted by the founders,
who became part of the family,
to become the new
creating their own breed of cattle
to withstand the heat and
and harsh living on the coastal prairie
and bringing grasses
from Australia to survive and spread
on that dry, sand and caliche
all the grass is brown,
the ponds that stretch across the pastures
like a network of ink blots on tissue paper
all dry, the sand dunes beneath
the grass beginning to show
again like during the great drought
of the 1950’s when we, coming this way,
would talk about crossing the
The Rio Grande River Delta -
fertile years ago
from generations of seasonal river floods,
plentiful water from the river,
anything could be grown and everything was,
citrus, winter vegetables, papaya, avocado,
gardens for anyone who wanted to plant
Now mostly grain, cotton, sugar cane,
and, in the last 30 years
tourist - “worth more than a bale of cotton,”
the old timers used to say, “and easier to pick.”
And today, i notice an even newer crop,
electricity, the giant windmills
catching the damp ever-blowing gulf winds
and turning them into the power
that powers our life
the old American-way
in the refineries 100 miles north,
the future in the windmills
turning here on the edge of the Gulf,
an old and often neglected
part of the state
helping build the new world...
and their electric product
worth more than even a tourist
and even easier
And finally Brownsville...
Stand on the southernmost edge
of the campus of Southmost College,
on the banks of the Rio Grande River,
and you are at the southmost place
you can stand in the State of Texas, and,
except for a space in Florida the width of a line
on the map, the southernmost place
one can stand in the continental
A fair-sized city, capitol of the great State of AmeriMex,
the fifty-first state...
A poor city, one short bridge span
a much larger city with even
more poor people, people so poor
they would risk their lives
to enjoy the poverty on this side
of the bridge...
Six hours from its beginning,
my trip today ends here...
the same in reverse...
But today, years from my last time
in this city of two worlds,
i am fascinated again, just as i was
many years ago, walking its
strangely, but familiarly, foreign
downtown streets, and
i am captured again
and I commit myself
to coming back
when I have more time,
will not be required
Next, I have a poem from Japanese Love Poems - Selections from the Manyoshu. The poet is Tajihi Kasamaro, about whom no information is given.
The Manyoshu is Japan's most significant early anthology of poetry, dating from the eighth century and earlier. Many of the poems in the Manyoshu have, like this one, a short verse at the end of the poem that restates a major point of the poem. These verses are called "envoys."
On his journey to Tsukushi
By the sea-shore of Mitsu, that reminds one
Of the mirror standing on a girl's comb-case,
I linger, longing for my wife, and sleep alone,
My scarlet sash untied.
I can but weep aloud like the crane crying
In the morning mist at the twilight hour of dawn.
Seeking to relieve me of my sorrow,
If only by a thousandth part,
I go out to gaze toward my home,
Which is - alas! - lost in the white clouds,
That trail across the green mountain of Kazuraki.
I journey onto the far-off land -
Passing Awaji Island now lying before,
And leaving behind me the island of Awashima.
I hear the shouts of sailors in the morning calm,
And in the calm of evening the splash of oars.
Labouring over the waves,
Circling about amid the rocks,
And past the beach of Inabizuma,
I wander on like a bird
Till Ie-no-shima, the "Home Island," comes into sight,
Where thick and swaying on the stony shore
Grows the weed men call "Speak-not" -
Ah, why have I come away from my wife
Without a word of farewell?
Would that my wife and I,
Unfastening our girdles for each other
And with our snow-white sleeves overlapping,
Had reckoned he day of my return
Before I came away upon my journey!
This one is from 2010, an explanation for, among other things, the mysterious movements of the universe. Well, maybe not all that.
poet explains it all
i sit at the booth
at the other end, the one
next to the electric plug,
where i face south
as i eat
that booth was taken
by another south-faced,
at this end, in the
only other booth next
to an electric plug
where i now face breakfast
i’m not sure
what effect this will have
on the gastro-dynamics
of my egg over easy
and extra-crispy bacon
but it does
present a subtly different
view which, could have far-reaching
psychological effects on
those, like me,
who normally eat breakfast
facing toward the south
face the oncoming traffic on the
as well as those, like me today,
who eat breakfast
face interstate traffic
this different orientation
i believe, why
highly motivated people
with the supreme confidence
to write meaningless, totally
often suffer from abandonment issues
and are frequent victims
The next couple of poems are by Cynthia Zarin, from her first The Swordfish Tooth, published by Knopf in 1989.
Zarin, born in 1959, graduated from Harvard University magna cum laude, and Columbia University with an M.F.A.
She teaches at Yale University and has written for many magazines, including, for a period of time, as a staff writer for the New Yorker.
On a Mild Day in Early Spring
On a mild day in early spring my love
made coffee in the copper pot, and we
two sat our on the porch, and, humming
watched the locusts in their winter skins.
On a mild noon in early spring, knee-deep
in the waking pond, we counted ourselves
lucky that our troubles, like the little pigs,
could be counted on the fingers of one hand,
and watched the fish clear eyelet for their spawn.
In the mild gloom of early spring, my five
fingers, cupped over the pooling lamp, loomed
in the light and filled the room: a ringing
phone; an oxygen mask; a burn from where
a skillet caught its lip and slid; a flue
that needed jockeying, an asterisk.
and then it took our other hands, the graces
in a gold knot, to unclench that whitened fist -
on a mild night in early spring my love.
Head smaller than my fist, ,pin teeth,
the frightened chipmunk clutching the screen
frightens me - quick movement not my own
faring a rainy, eerie afternoon, in a week
of enforced solitude, as though my heart leapt out.
Time inchoate, meaningless. Two birds,
trapped all night inside the porch, arch and din
against the gird, A day equals
a black year - motor of the blood a drill gone mad.
At dawn we found them, wooed them out.
And then, last night, a mole: visitant friar
at the garbage can. Alone, I stamp my foot,
but, bold in company, one guest terrified, become
benign protector of dim habits, earthly
of unearthly scrounging, in or out.
Here's another poem from last week, memories brought back by Thanksgiving trip.
on holiday from a poor country,
crossing the ranch two day ago,
having Thanksgiving dinner
buzzards I thought, but not so
with black bodies, white necks,
back when it was a narrow
two lane - deer, javelinas,
snakes, big snakes, ran over
a rattlesnake once as long as
I was driving, fat, like a
rolled up Sunday newspaper,
if you saw one rattlesnake
crossing the road, you’d see
about a quarter mile or so
the teller unclear as to if
the distance between was due
don’t know the facts of that,
watching for prey, beautiful
the ranch once, a long time
saw their triple-crown winner
no more - now, at his leisure,
and backdoor, inside, a high
Here are two poems, one long and one short, by Alma Luz Villanueva. The poems are from her book, Vida, published by Wings Press in 2002.
This is Villanueva's eighth collection of poetry. She has the author of three novels.
Of Yaqui, Spanish, and German heritage, she was born and raised in the San Francisco Mission District. She holds a MFA in Creative Writing from Vermont College at Norwich University. At the time of publication, she taught in the low-residency MFA creative writing program at Antioch University.
In the Fire
My sixteen-year-old son wrote,
"We all burn in the fire
called time," in an
essay for English -
a friend of his has
died - a sixteen-year-old
boy who never grew
larger than a four-year-old,
confined to a wheel-chair,
stubby legs that never
held him up as he ran,
jumped or simply walked -
hands that looked more
at home in the sea,
finlike and soft -
a large head for his
body,and he was black -
when he looked at you he didn't
mess around, he looked for
truth, and this was son's
friend - my son, perfect
of limb, eye, foot and
hand,taller than me,
he runs steady as
an autumn wind,
blowing every ripe
leaf free -
he runs smoothly,.
sweetly, as spring
and summer winds
coax the spiraling
leaf, then give
cooling, loving shade -
and I wonder, truly
wonder, how he
learned to love
so young, so well -
I remember going to
pick him up at his friend's,
finding them on the couch,
his friend in his arms,
like a baby, watching
cartoons - as they both
turned to smile at me,
simultaneously, I saw
two old men,
two old Buddhas,
who had found the
secret of life: love
and friendship. They were
ten years old. My son's
friend will grow up,
grow tall, become a fully
grown man, have lovers,
children - suffer, know bliss.
In the fire of my son's
To Bobby Easley (November 1997)
with a small
white snake, then
puts it in a pouch to sleep -
The Goddess sets it
Dream, May 1999
Finger Tips On An Inca's Back
I'm thinking it's not too early for my Christmas poem. This one from 2010.
with a blue blue blue Christmas
overhead, strange table, strange people,
strange place, strange echoes
of barristas laughing and strange languages
of mocamuddymacarooniepunietooniess and “talls”
that are short and “grandes” that aren’t so
Starbucks on Christmas Day
and trying to write a poem
in the midst of all that “strange” is..well…
STRANGE! - it’s the curse of a holiday
when none of the places, activities, people
who normally bring the pleasure of regularity to my regular
every-day day are not available, lost in stockings
hung on the mantle with care and
JC Penny gift cards lost in piles
of torn Xmas wrapping and
hot cocoa by a roaring
I have to do with joy to the whole darn world
and Christmas cookies
and fat old bearded men who smell like reindeer
and in the middle of it all
I am a traveler who forgot his visa, a sailing ship
in unfamiliar currents,
a train who has skipped its track, a homing pigeon,
orphaned and ignorant of home
I hate to be a self-designated
but I will be so glad when this day is over
and the world returns
to its customary
Next I have several poems by Brian Turner, from his book Here, Bullet, winner of the 2005 Beatrice Hawley Award. It was published by Alice James Books.
Turner earned an MFA from the University of Oregon before serving for seven years in the US Army. He was an infantry team leader for a year in Iraq with the 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team and Infantry Division. Prior to that he deployed to Bosnia-Herzegovina with the 10th Mountain Division.
Two Stories Down
When he jumped from the balcony, Hasaan swam
in the air over the Ashur Street Market,
arms and legs suspended in a blur
over palm hearts and crates of lemons,
not realizing just how hard life fights
sometimes, how an American soldier
would run to his aid there on the sidewalk,
trying to make sense of Hasan's broken legs,
his screaming, trying to comfort him
with words in an awkward music
of stress and care, a soldier he'd startle
by stealing the knife from its sheath,
the two of them struggling for the blade
until the blood grove sunk deep
and Hasan whispered to him,
Shaukran, sadig, shukran;
Thank you, friend, thank you.
The ghosts of American soldiers
wander the streets of Balad by night,
unsure of their way home, exhausted,
the desert wind blowing trash
down the narrow alleys as a voice
sounds from the minaret, a soulful call
reminding them how alone they are,
how lost. and the Iraqi dead,
they watch in silence from rooftops
as date palms line the shore in silhouette,
leaning toward Mecca where dawn wind blows.
It happens on a Monday, at 11:20 A.M.,
as tower guards eat sandwiches
and seagulls drift by on the Tigris River.
Prisoners tilt their heads to the west
though burlap sacks and duct tape blind them.
The sound reverberates down concertina coils
the way piano wire thrums when given slack.
And it happens like those, on a blue day of sun,
when Private Miller pulls the trigger
to take brass and fire into his mouth:
the sound lifts the birds up off the water,
a mongoose pauses under the orange trees,
and nothing can stop it now, no matter what
blur of motion surrounds him, no matter what voices
crackle over the radio in static confusion,
because if only for this moment the earth is stilled,
and Private Miller has found what low hush there is
down in the eucalyptus shade, there by the river.
PFC B. Miller
(1980 - March 22, 2004)
Katherine, Jenny, Jackie, Lisa & Tony
Vincent Martinez w/ Mark Taylor & Dennis Hodges
This one from a week or so ago.
was a boy who knew secrets
a box of old photos
taken from a mother's closet
when she died...
it seems, artifacts
from a time long past,
a past imaginable only to people
so different from today, relics
of some other time,
shades of gray,
like clouds from a dim
a few hand-tinted,
in their colors, like the work
of an apprentice
the people, young people,
mother, father, aunts and uncles
in uniforms of the last
world war, vibrant, in the midst of the best days
of their lives, long dead now,
everyone, mouldering in the graves
they, in their vitals, never imagined
would be dug for them...
and the boy,
sitting in a cooking pot
on a sandy
school picture, in the Roy Rodgers
shirt, a hand-me-down from
a slightly older cousin...
sanding on a porch
with his mother and father
and older brother,
just back from his war...
with his younger brother...
such a quite looking boy,
solemn, like he knows secrets
no one else can see...
the boy who never smiles...
he don't much remember
but he knows the boy's secrets,
now his secrets
and yet, unlike the boy,
he can smile
he has practiced
he got it almost right
Next, here are two poems by Elizabeth Seydel Morgan. The poems are from her book, Without a Philosophy, published in 2007 by Louisiana State University Press.
A native of Atlanta, Morgan was The Louis D.Rubin Writer-in Residence at Hollins University at the time of publication. This was her third collection of poetry.
Singapore Art Museum in the Rain
More than a century of sticky boys
and Christian Brothers sweating in long robes
raised their faces to the open arches
when a hot wind blew down the Straits
rattling he palm fronds that clicked
like marbles in a bag, or bamboo sticks played
down louvered shutters by students out
to make a clatter.
Now the boys and the brothers gone,
the old verandas have been glazed
with ultraviolet-blocking windows
that in this gallery protect the replica
of Leonardo's flying man.
A guard barks twice, a black-eyed child
from Thailand withdraws his starfish hand
from an invention of the man of Vinci
who couldn't keep his hands off anything.
Suddenly outside the graygreen glass
the famous rain of Singapore
spills down the afternoon,
pours through listening frets of palm leaves,
glazes the black taxis on Bras Basah Road.
And where the gutters meet the corners,
water arcs like fountains.
Inside, the priceless Leonardo painting
flown over the Red and Arabian Seas,
the tip of India,the Bay of Bengal:
John the Baptist as a Youth,
a curly haired Italian with a secret smile,
the boy who could be gazing out the window
Watching the Weather Channel
Is it raining on you, Linda,
down in San Antonio -
raining too much?
Here in Virginia
the grass breaks
under out feet; the creek's
left stones for cows to lick.
The TV screen shows us cracks
in the earth where there used to be hay,
simulated systems massing
and fading over the globe.
We say we pray for rain
but what do we know
about asking for what we need?
We pray for the hurricane
to go around you - but send us its fringe,
the way we pray for the hand of Death
to pass on to another geography.
naked rolling, parts rubbing
a slow Sunday
and we were trying
to decide what to do
and I suggested we get
and roll around on the grass
in the backyard,
body parts together
but there’s a bit of a chill
in the air,
probably to much chill
to be rolling around outside
no matter how fiercely we
I was thinking
well we could go down to
the art museum
and take a look at the
settle down naked
in front of the Monet
and give him an impression -
on the carpet rubbing
body parts together
that might make the old guy forget
all about water
but they have these guards
that follow us around from room
and I don’t know why
maybe they can read minds
and don’t abide
people rubbing naked parts
in front of the Monet -
if we moved over
in front of the
he did a lot of his own
naked parts-rubbing, as I
understand it, and what’s
that nude going to do after
descending the staircase
but some parts-rubbing, cause
why else go downstairs
naked as a jaybird
if there weren’t some parts-
but the guards
are so guardedly attentive
the museum is out
and I was thinking we might take a drive
in the hill country - the way the leaves are changing
in our backyard, there must be piles
of red and orange and yellow and gold
leaves laying on the ground
under some of those big hill country
oak trees, ripe for some good old rustic naked parts-
rubbing rolling around, but it is even
colder in the hills than it is here
so there’s the chill factor to consider,
plus all those rattlesnakes
who love to hid in leaf piles
on these chilly days, or maybe
up in the trees - they do like to climb
oak trees to sleep through the winter -
and I think they might not welcome
people waking them up, rolling around
naked in the leaves, rubbing parts
together with sylvan abandon, despite
the fact it was a snake in a tree
that started all this naked rolling about
and parts-rubbing in the first place…
or, we might just do what we always
on lazy Sunday afternoons, could
just take a Sunday afternoon
you in the easy chair
and me on the
like we always
Pork Chop Reflected
Vincent Martinez w/ Mark Taylor
From Hungry as we are, an Anthology of Washington area poets, I have this poem by Sid Gold.
The anthology was published in 1995 by The Washington Writers Publishing House.
Gold hails from New York City, and, at the time of publication was, or had, taught writing at George Washington University, the University of Maryland, Bowie State University and other area schools.
it's nice to have
in the middle of the afternoon
say about 3:30
as if you had noti8gn
to do nothing
thinking about all
those poor stiffs working
the loading dock who'll be
too beat after years
to get stiff anymore
until they're laid out stiff
a phony peace painted
on their mugs with rouge
thinking about maybe
what you'll do for dinner
read the paper real slow
coffee & pie
dreaming about that beer that paper
while you're stacking those
damned crates & checking them
against the bill
it almost makes you
if you don't watch out
Like White Furry Cat
Vincent Martinez w/ Mark Taylor
This is another new one from last week. Like the poet said, you really can't return home again and, after a while, you quit wanting to.
I had imagined further places
back at the old home stand,
where i always have breakfast,
toasted biscuit and lumpy gravy,
and a single turkey sausage patty
for Bella, waiting in the car
for her second morning walk,
a trail of familiar sniffs
after two days of discovery,
a whole new universe of sniffs
laid out for her
and she was so excited,
and with curiosity, it’s inevitable
by-product - intelligence, for
incurious creatures, and that goes
for you and me and other creatures like
you and me, cannot be intelligent,
and intelligent creatures
cannot help but be curious,
and so it is with Bella, each day
of discovery walks
and she becomes a smarter dog
- and i get thinner, by 6 pounds so far,
and certainly healthier,
making it a creature to creature win/win,
one gets smarter while the other
can button his favorite coat, unbuttoned
by structural necessity for the past
five years -
where i always have breakfast
and where morning poems
have been written, for better or worse,
for several years -
and now it’s time for another one...
the journey of the previous two days
a return to the place from whence
leaving at 18,
succeeding over the course
of 50 years only to this near retreat,
300 miles north, a partial day’s travel,
which doesn’t seem like much of an escape
for the better part
of a lifetime
i had imagined further
no family left for me
in that place,
but for those in graves,
but Dee has family to visit,
which she does often and i do
this one time a year
and that time
was yesterday and the day
the little town that was mine
and those graves
that are what remains there for me,
and then enjoy breakfast
at the restaurant
mid-way between the towns
two stop lights
and my part of the annual
Next I have selections from In the Trail of the Wind - American Indian Poems and Ritual Orations. The book was published in 1971 by Farrar,Straus and Giroux.
The pieces in the book are arranged around a variety of subjects, with pieces by various peoples under each subject.
from "The Beginning"
Then He Descended
Then he descended
while the heavens rubbed against the earth.
They moved among the four lights,
among the four layers of he stars.
The world was not lighted;
there was neither day nor night nor moon.
Then they perceived that the world was being created.
Then creation dawned upon the world.
Thus It Is Told
Thus it is told, it is said:
there have already been four manifestations
and this one is the fifth age...
The first Sun or age which was founded,
its sign was 4-Water,
it was called the Sun of Water.
Then it happened
that water carried away everything.
The people were changed into fish.
Then the second Sun or age was founded.
Its sign was 4-Tiger.
Then it happened
the sky was crushed,
the Sun did not follow its course.
When the Sun arrived at midday,
immediately it was night
and when it became dark,
tigers ate the people...
The the third Sun was founded.
Its sign was 4-Rain-of-Fire.
It happened then that fire rained down,
those who lived there were burned...
Its sign was 4-Wind
when the fourth Sun was founded.
It was called the Sun of Wind.
Then everything was carried away by the wind...
The fifth Sun,
4-Movement its sign.
It is called the Sun of Movement...
That was when there was light,
when dawn came,
the Sun of Movement which now exists.
4-Movement is its sign.
This is the fifth Sun which was founded,
in it there will be earthquakes,
in it there will be hunger.
Now We Come Southwards
Long ago in the north
Lies the road of emergence!
Yonder our ancestors live,
Yonder we take our being.
Yet now we come southwards
For cloud flowers blossom here
Here the lightning flashes,
Rain water here is falling!
"In the Tail of the Wind"
It Was the Wind
It was the wind that gave him life. It is the wind that comes
our of our mouths now that gives us live. When this ceases to
blow we die. In the skin at the tips of our fingers we see the trail
of the wind; it5 shows us where the wind blew when our ancestors
Breathe on Him
Breathe on him!
Breathe on him!
Life you alone can give to him.
Long life,we pray, O Father, give unto him
The Wind Blows From the Sea
By the sandy water I breathe in the odor of the sea.
From there the wind comes and blows over the world.
By the sandy water, I breathe in the odor of the sea.
From there the clouds come and rain falls over the world.
The Lands Around My Dwelling
The lands around my dwelling
Are more beautiful
From the day
When it is given me to see
Faces I have ever seen before.
All is more beautiful,
All is more beautiful,
And life is thankfulness.
These guests of mine
Make my house grand.
We Spirits Dance
Down west, down west we dance,
We spirits dance,
We spirits weeping dance.
The sky will weep,
At the end of the earth;
The sky will weep.
as my eyes
I feel this summer
in the spring
Where will you and I sleep?
At the down-turned jagged rim of the sky you and I will sleep.
"Of Rain and Birth"
Butterfly, butterfly, butterfly, butterfly,
Oh, look, see it hovering among the flowers,
It is like a baby trying to walk and not knowing how to go.
The clouds sprinkle down the rain.
"The Words of War"
clear the way
in a sacred manner
Song of Reproach
even the eagle dies
"The Arrival of the Whites"
The Surrender Speech of Cuauhtemoc
Ah, captain,I have done everything within my power to defend
my kingdom and deliver it from your hands. But as fortune has
not favored me, take my life; it will be most fitting; and in so
doing you will bring an end to the Mexican kingdom, for
already you have ruined and destroyed my city and my people.
"We Shall Live Again"
Come all! Stand up!
Just over there the dawn is coming.
Now I hear
A breakfast consideration (from 2010).
right down from me,
the bald headed fella
with the handlebar mustache,
is having a flapjack,
normally i would say he’s having
a pancake, but men
with handlebar mustaches
(women, too, i guess)
don’t have pancakes, they
i had a handlebar mustache
and i can tell you it’s just the way of the
reminding me of the movie
when the super-tough
an elemental man
whose bells and whistles
do not include eletronica,
to the sexy chica's invitation, says
“machete don’t text” -
neither do Superman, Batman,
Aquaman and the Flash,
having nothing to do
with the kid at the table
right over from me, eating
one of the restaurants famous
(not a whisper of whisker yet
on the kid
so certainly no handlebar
so no flapjacks to him today)
his mother bet him $2 he couldn’t
eat the whole thing
and from the size of his father
must keep a lot of $2 bills
around the house
to pay off bets like that one...
it seems from the conversation
that the family, mother, father, son,
are in the city to day to watch their
graduate from basic training
at Lackland Air Force Base
a ritual i completed
nearly 45 years ago, on a
cold, cold early January morning
a few days into the new year and
a bare month before my 22nd birthday
i had neither handlebar mustache
at the time,
but made up for it later
I have several poems by Jimmy Santiago Baca. They are from his book Martin & Meditations on the South Valley, published by New Directions in 1987. The book is two long poem series. In the past I have concentrated on the "Martin" series. This week I'm going to the shorter poems in "Meditations on the South Valley." The poems are numbered I through XXVIII. I'm using poems from near the middle of the series.
I am remembering the South Valley.
Rain smacked tin-roofs
like an all night passenger train,
fiery flames of moon flashing
from the smoke stack.
Beneath the rain shaded sky,
faint surge of rain pulsing down my windows,
rain's blue month curling around everything
myself maize root
swollen in pregnant earth,
rain seeping into my black bones
into earth's hungry mouth.
I am part of the earth
Antonio, you want to say something
with your polished brown-wood eyes.
Your legs bend to steady you
on the unseen horse. You turn your back
to see me, then go
into red hills of sunlight
in the backyard, down curving paths
of moss and fire,
awake the sleeping Goddess of Dirt,
to plant your yellow flower soul
in her mouth
with a stick.
are music storms,
filled with the black song of earth,
your heart's reddened eye
peers at a blue alfalfa flower,
glowing with your destiny.
I love the wind
when it blows through my barrio.
It hisses its snake love
down calles de polvo,
and cracks egg-shell skins
of abandoned homes.
Stray dogs find shelter
along the river,
where great cottonwoods rattle
like old covered wagons,
stuck in stagnant waterholes.
Days when the wind blows
full of sand and grit,
men and women make decisions
that change their whole lives.
Windy days in the barrio
give birth to divorce papers
and squalling separation. The wind tells us
what others refuse to tell us,
informing men and women of a secret,
that they move away to hide from.
The Magic Toof
Here are several of my own shorter poems from the last couple of weeks.
a foggy morning’s foggy morning
a universe of shrink-wrapped
the deep-throat rumble
of a diesel engine
on the street,
the hungry mew
of a black cat
in the gray…
by the bay, fish
jumping, the slap
of their tails
on the water,
a shot in the dark…
by the Coca Cola
near my grandmother’s
house, clackity-clack, clickity-
click of empty bottles
on the conveyor…
in the harbor,
the lighthouse moans,
the Russian tanker
on shrimp boats
to voyage to their
sniffing the rustle
in the bushes,
when the bushes
by my window,
garbage cans pulled
to the curb…
of the mist broken
by singular sounds, rising
as from the
over the trees and rooftops
on this winter night
a pale stallion
radiant among those of its kind
destined to pull plows
and hay wagons
and elderly ladies in rickety buggies,
and porch lights
that seek to deny the dark
how I wish
those other lights
would lose finally their fight,
their competing smoulder
of human fears
only the ordinary shadows
of ordinary night
so I could walk in the black
of real and natural night,
bathed in the reflected glow
of the soft princess
who shines high above
temperatures last night
one night later,
I can hear the leaves
in the dark,
almost like rain,
like Corn Flakes
falling in small sprinkles
on a hardwood floor
it is the sound
of a season changing,
a crackling, brown and dry,
under a cold sky,
the moon brightly seen through
falling on the roof
from the tree up front,
a sharper sound,
against the lighter rattle
of falling leaves
on the dry
here in the back
this slight sound
a fence I
to winter’s first
Next, I have several short pieces by ancient Greek from the anthology, Dances for Flute and Thunder, Praises, Prayers, and Insults. The book was published in 1999 by Penguin Books.
The poems were translated by Brooks Haxton.
The first poet from the book is by Bakchylides, a fifth century B.C. poet about whom I could find nothing in English.
Praise and Lamentation
Eudemos built this altar on his farmland
thankful that he spirit of the west wind gave
in answer to his prayers swift help
at the winnowing of barley from the sun-split husk
Our sweet child, lifeless, woke
in us the woe that none may speak.
The next two poems are by Meleagros, poet of the second century B.C.
Idea of Beauty
Shy, he stepped off into the cornfield. I could see
his back muscles under the damp shirt quiver and go slack.
Turning again to face the shade, he smiled at me, not
squinted, smiled, and finished tugging shut his fly.
Now when the cornstalks in the night wind slide
like fire, I see him. He steps closer in my dream.
I don't know, where he sleeps, if sleep refreshes him,
but here it works me like hot metal over a flame.
Cremate me, what's left, my dear.
Pour into the ashes in my urn
a fifth of sour mash, stir well,
and bury. Let my stone say,
Love gave death a snot.
Next, here are two short pieces by first century B.C. poet Zonas.
You who pull the oars, who meet the dead,
who leave them at the other bank, and glide
alone across the reedy marsh, please take
my boy's hand as he climbs into the dark hull.
Look, The sandals trip him, and you see,
he is afraid to step there barefoot.
Let me drink, my sweetness,
from the clay cup, I who come forth
out of the same clay,
under trhe same clay so to lie forgotten.
This short piece classical invective is by Ammiaus, poet of the second century A.D.
So may the dust lie light upon Nearchos,
that, with ease, the dogs may drag him out.
I finish off my old poem for the week with these two from December, 2010.
in the last moment
before dusk falls
the sky is clear,
like the "it's a boy" blankets
you get at the hospital
a new born son
almost transparent blue,
in the soft sky,
flattened a little
on one side like a globe.
at the South Pole,
so it won't role off your desk
Antarctica folded in on itself
a chill wind
blowing from the top of the hill,
raising a shower
of golden leaves
from trees along
light winter-home taste
of chimney smoke in the air
than the numbers on the thermometer reads
a morning, slow starting
barely a hint
in the dark
that it’s 7 a.m.
a reflected shadow
against the tree line
to the east -
an overcast sky, but no fog,
passing car lights, needle
prick the dark morning -
before the morning
before Christmas day, frantic
on hold, like everyone’s
fed to full
on all the frantic in the fridge
and they’ve reached, already,
a post-feast stupor,
shoes off, on the couch,
that kind of day
if we’re lucky
and think to live well,
like a morning,
slow starting, sets
the rhythm for the day
Gloria & Brian Ciravino
Last from my library this week, I have two poems by Adrienne Rich. The poems are from her book, Dark Field of the Republic, Poems 1991-1995.
It was published in 1995 by W.W. Norton.
Sunset, December, 1993
Dangerous of course to draw
parallels. Yet more dangerous to write
as if there were a steady course, we and our poems
protected: the individual life, protected
in mid-air, innocent
I walked out on the deck and every board
was luminous with cold dew It could freeze tonight
Each board is different of course but each does gleam
wet, under a complicated sky: mounds of swollen ink
heave gray unloading up the coast
a rainbow suddenly and casually
unfolding its span
Dangerous not to think
how the earth still was in places
while the chimney's shuddered with the first dischargements
And now as you read these poems
- you whose eyes and hands I love
- you whose mouth and eyes I love
- you whose words and minds I love -
don't think I was trying to state a case
or construct a scenery:
I tried to listen to
the public voice of our time
tried to survey our public space
as best I could
- tried to remember and stay
faithful to details, note
precisely how the air moved
and where the clock's hands stood
and who was in charge of definitions
and who stood by receiving them
when the name of compassion
was changed to the name of guilt
when to feel with a human stranger
was declared obsolete.
This is the story of walking my cat in the morning. It's from a couple of days ago, illustrating how all of my pets often need counseling.
walking my cat on the
morning of December 2nd
I walked my cat this morning,
not that I meant to,
but cats happen…
it started a week ago
chased off an intruder cat
who was threatening
our front-porch cat, hissing
and eating the food
I had put out…
has developed a serious
following along with us
as Bella and I take our morning
walk - the two of us
on one side of the street
while front-porch cat,
observing propriety, walks
quietly on the other side
(also insuring plausible
should we meet up with
a gathering of her feline kind -
who me, I can hear her say,
walking with a dog, never happened,
pure coincidence that we were just going
the same way
at the same time)
obviously a serious
misunderstanding, a mis-reading
of the situation,
as she just happens to be walking
on the same street
as the dog, stopping
when the dog stops to sniff,
stopping to scratch
when the dog stops to
scratch, clearly into the same moment
as the dog, a cat moment
in a dog moment and the dog
doesn’t understand it anymore
than I do and cares even less -
though it was difficult
the first couple of days, it
being hard to get anywhere
when the dog stopped every twelve
feet to check the cat’s
but she has on this day
at last accepted
that she does not
walk alone, that she has a cat
accompaniment in her morning
aria and so what, though she, too,
will deny any such thing
if mention is made
(the cat, a feral female,
so that she might
enjoy a more cosmopolitan lifestyle
rather than her previous life
constantly under the eye of horny
Toms, lives on our
front porch, waiting for me
several times a day, displaying
her willingness to accept food
from my hand, tribute to her tire-
less work porch-guarding, and
other than that, we have no
relationship, refusing to be touched
by me -though we do exchange several
meows every morning - so it’s not like
she doesn’t recognize my existence
as part of her world)…
but, let’s face it,
she never followed me around before,
so it has to be all about
her hero, the
not that there’s anything wrong
from Jazz Splice
(The artist's representation of my son and his friend, Andres Londono, who, as the Ray-Gunn Show Choir, created "chimeras, ideals, errors," a CD of electronic (mostly) and jazz improvisations, originally sold with the book "Seven Beats a Second.)
And so, finally caught up to where I'm supposed to be and when I'm supposed to be there.
Nothing's changed - everything in the post belongs to the people who created it. My stuff is mine, too, but you borrow it. If you do, please properly credit "Here and Now" and me.
And I'm still allen itz, owner and producer of this blog, and purveyor of fine books made by me.
Go here and buy them all - they're cheap.
Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iBookstore, Sony eBookstore, Kobo, Copia, Garner's, Baker & Taylor, and eBookPie.
Places and Spaces
Goes Around, Comes Around
Pushing Clouds AgainstWind
And, for those print-bent, available
and several coffeehouses in San Antonio
Seven Beats a Second
Sonyador - The Dreamer